The Punter's In-Play Blog: Forecast points to a crapshoot in Vegas

Golfer Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay - the strong favourite in Vegas with a round to go

Former winners, Patrick Cantlay and Martin Laird are tied at the top at the Shriners for Hospitals Open but will they get blown of course in round four? Read Steve's final thoughts on the event here...

“I wouldn't be in any sort of rush to back the two leaders anyway so with the forecast suggesting it won’t be easy, taking them on makes sense.”

12:40 - October 11, 2020

The big surprise in round three was the horrendous performance by the pre-event favourite, Bryson DeChambeau, who now trails by seven after a level par 72 that could have been much worse. He played his first six holes in five-over-par! The 2009 winner, Martin Laird, and the 2017 champ, Patrick Cantlay, are now tied at the top and two shots clear of the remainder. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 12:35.

Patrick Cantlay -20 15/82.86
Martin Laird -20 11/26.6
Matthew Wolff -18 13/27.4
Brian Harman -18 13.5
Wyndham Clark -18 22/123.0
Austin Cook -18 23/124.0
Will Zalatoris -17 22/123.0
Kevin Na -17 24/125.0
-16 and 49/150.0 bar

With a two stroke lead over the remainder, Cantlay and Laird understandably sit first and second in the betting and the fact that six of the last nine winners were in front with a round to go certainly boosts their credentials but the fly in the ointment looks to be the weather forecast.

The wind is predicted to blow at a consistent 22 knots per hour this afternoon - gusting to 30 - and on the last few occasions we've seen windy weather at TPC Summerlin, we've seen some funny results.

When Cantlay won in the wind in 2017, he only trailed by four with a round to go but he beat Meen-Whee Kim and Alex Cejka in a playoff and they'd trailed by five and eight respectively. Smylie Kaufman won from tied 28th and seven back five years ago and Matthew Wolff showed us all yesterday what could be done before the wind picked up in round three - shooting a ten-under-par 62 to move up into a tie for third.

This course is a very different examination when the wind gets up and a longshot winning from off the pace can't be ruled out. I shall keep an eye on the early play but for now I've added all the players trailing by three and four strokes that weren't already onside - Will Zalatoris, Harold Varner, Si Woo Kim, Adam Hadwin and Abraham Ancer at juicy odds.

I wouldn't be in any sort of rush to back the two leaders anyway so with the forecast suggesting it won't be easy, taking them on makes sense.

22:05 - October 10, 2020

With halfway leaders, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry, both shooting over-par rounds today, Tyrrell Hatton has moved clear of the field at the BMW-PGA Championship. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 22:00.

Tyrrell Hatton -14 20/211.96
Victor Perez -11 12.5
J.B Hansen -11 21/122.0
Tommy Fleetwood -10 9/110.0
Patrick Reed -10 9/110.0
Shane Lowry -10 16.5
David Horsey -10 43/144.0
Ian Poulter -9 41/142.0
Eddie Pepperell -9 49/150.0
Matthew Fitzpatrick -8 47/148.0
Masahiro Kawamura -8 159/1160.0
Pablo Larrazabal -8 199/1200.0
Andy Sullivan -7 219/1220.0
-6 and 399/1400.0 bar

With a three-stroke lead, Tyrrell Hatton is most certainly the man to beat and it's no surprise to see him trading at odds-on. Since 1996, 124 players have led a 72-hole European Tour event by three strokes and 86 of them went on to win. That equates to an impressive 69%, suggesting Hatton is most definitely not too short. Given his class, and the fact that his two nearest challengers were both outsiders before the off, he looks a very fair price but this is not the place to go in heavy on the favourites after 54 holes. The last seven have all been beaten.

If he does get beat tomorrow, he won't be the first to trade so short and fail. Far from it. In the last six years, we've had five players trade at odds-on and lose before the fourth round has even begun and off the pace winners have been fairly common.

Alex Noren was matched at 219/1220.0 on Sunday morning three years ago, as he sat outside the top-20 with a round to go. That's as far off the lead as any winner has been at Wentworth through 54 holes since 1990 but he was the third winner in eight years to trail by seven strokes with a round to go!

Simon Khan sat tied for 13th and seven back before his win in 2010 and Rory McIlroy trailed Thomas Bjorn by seven in 2014 (Bjorn was matched at just 1.20). Between 1990 and 2006, 12 of the 16 winners led or co-led with a round to go and Tony Johnstone, in 1992, was the only winner not to be inside the front three places through 54 holes. He sat tied for fifth and three off the lead but it's been a completely different kettle of fish since David Howell's victory in 2006.

In addition to the three aforementioned winners from seven adrift, we've seen victories from three, four and five strokes back. And in addition to all those big off-the-pace winners, we nearly witnessed another huge comeback win in 2016 when the runner-up, Rikard Karlberg, began the final day fully eight strokes adrift of third round leader, Scott Hend. Karlberg was matched at 1000.0 in-running but he'll look back and rue his bogey at the 16th hole as he finished up losing by one having been matched at just 7/17.8.

Given the number of winners from off the pace, I've added a few at huge prices this evening and I'll be watching the early play closely tomorrow.

The most obvious challengers to Hatton are Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Shane Lowry but I've swerved everyone within four strokes and covered everyone trailing by between five and seven strokes. All the bets are detailed below. Having backed Hatton, I either want him to go and get the job done or I want another bizarre off the pace winner at Wentworth.

11:30 - October 10, 2020

Former winners, Patrick Cantlay and Martin Laird, are amongst a group of five at the head of affairs in Vegas but it's world number six, and first round leader, Bryson DeChambeau, that still heads the market. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 11:20.

Patrick Cantlay -14 4/15.1
Brian Harman -14 13.5
Martin Laird -14 19/120.0
Peter Malnati -14 21/122.0
Austin Cook -14 29/130.0
Bryson DeChambeau -13 16/54.2
Sergio Garcia -12 17.5
Sungjae Im -12 19.5
Stewart Cink -12 43/144.0
James Hahn -12 45/146.0
Wyndham Clark -12 74/175.0
Nate Lashley -12 79/180.0
-11 and 49/150.0 bar

So easy has the scoring been over the first two days that a pair of three-under-par 68s wasn't enough to see anyone through to the weekend and the cut mark of -7 is the lowest 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history. They've been going super low but the weather may just hold them up slightly over the weekend with the wind predicted to rise a bit this afternoon and significantly so tomorrow afternoon.

With the weather in mind, this is a very difficult event to assess at this stage. Historically, being up with the pace is where you need to be at TPC Summerlin but when we've had blustery conditions, in 2015 and 2017, the winners and playoff protagonists have come from some way back.

Smylie Kaufman trailed by seven strokes after rounds two and three when he won here five years ago and Cantlay was also seven back at this stage in 2017. And the two he beat in a playoff, Meen-Whee Kim and Alex Cejka, were six and nine strokes adrift at halfway. If the wind blows harder than forecast, and it's predicted to gust at around 30 knots on Sunday, we could see some carnage but if it doesn't reach the highs forecast, we should be concentrating on the leaders.

If we strip out the 2015 and 2017 editions, three strokes (DeChambeau two years ago) is the furthest any winner has trailed by at this stage in the last 15 years and seven winners since 2006 have been in front at halfway.

It's a confusing picture and so much depends on the wind but I certainly don't think we scan too far down the leaderboard given how much quality there is inside the top-12 listed above.

With pre-event pick, DeChambeau, just one off the lead and still favourite, I'm not in a bad position but I have added one more this morning - the recent Safeway Open winner, Stewart Cink at 45/146.0 - who appears a little big given his obvious current form, the fact he trails by only two, and his ability to handle windy conditions.

20:45 - October 9, 2020

We've reached the halfway stage of the BMW-PGA Championship and three class-acts have edged a couple of shots clear of the field. Here's the 36 hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:40.

Matthew Fitzpatrick -12 3.9
Shane Lowry -12 100/304.3
Tyrrell Hatton -11 16/54.2
Victor Perez -9 15.5
J.B Hansen -9 47/148.0
Adri Arnaus -8 39/140.0
Grant Forrest -8 79/180.0
Eddie Pepperell -7 49/150.0
Scott Hend -7 179/1180.0
Patrick Reed -6 24/125.0
Gavin Green -6 149/1150.0
Ryan Fox -6 169/1170.0
Tommy Fleetwood -5 29/130.0
-5 and 149/1150.0 bar

Danny Willett was tied for the lead at this stage before going on to win last year but it's perfectly possible to win from some way off the pace. Chris Wood was tied for 28th and eight strokes adrift at halfway when he won here in 2016 and four of the last six winners have trailed by at least five strokes through 36 holes.

The very obvious off the pace candidates are Patrick Reed and Tommy Fleetwood, who trail by six and seven strokes respectively, but it would be something of a surprise if one of the front three didn't go on to convert from here.

All three leaders had strong claims before the off and they're very difficult to separate now but I just prefer Tyrrell Hatton.

The first round leader did exceptionally well to chase down Matthew Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry in trickier conditions this afternoon and I can see why he's the one that's been shortening up all evening. Having been a 7/24.7 chance at the close of play, he's now down to 16/54.2. I've had a small bet at 7/24.6 but it really is a small bet and I could have very easily left the event alone for now.

As highlighted in the In-Play tactics section of the preview, I like to play a few at big odds that are off the pace with a round to go here but I felt Hatton was just big enough to get onside with two to go. All three leaders are solid and dependable performers in-contention but Hatton has been the more prolific of the three of late.

11:00 - October 9, 2020

The second round of the BMW-PGA Championship is well underway and I'll return to that one at halfway, either this evening or first thing in the morning, but for now I'm concentrating on the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where the US Open champion, Bryson DeChambeau, shows the way after a nine-under-par 62 in the morning yesterday.

Having already been matched at a low of 13/82.66, when he raced to seven-under-par after just ten holes of his opening round, DeChambeau trades at 11/53.2 this morning and that looks short enough to me with so much of the tournament to play. The morning starters enjoyed an advantage of almost a stroke yesterday and I suspect we'll see a similar disparity today. Plenty of players should pass Bryson before he tees off in round two and I can't see that price getting any shorter.

Course specialist and 2017 winner, Patrick Cantlay, is one of five players tied for second and he and DeChambeau dominate the market. Cantlay's a 11/26.6 chance and it's 29/130.0 bar and I fancy there's quite a bit of value to be had today.

Having backed DeChambeau before the off at 9/110.0, I've layed a little back this morning and recycled the stakes on three players in-contention at very juicy prices.

James Hahn and Nate Lashley were both backed last time out they both look big this morning. After a ninth at the Safeway Open and a sixth at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, Hahn is holding his form very nicely and he looks generously priced at 54/155.0 after yesterday's opening seven-under-par 64 that sees him sit tied for seventh.

I really quite fancied the chances of Lashley at the Sanderson Farms Championship last week so it's a bit frustrating to see him fly out of the blocks here but there's still plenty of juice in his price this morning at 89/190.0 given he sits alongside Cantlay in a tie for second.

Having won and finished runner-up at the Desert Classic, another low scoring event in the desert, Andrew Landry was someone I briefly looked at on Monday but his recent form figures and his two missed cuts here were off-putting. Even so, given he's won two PGA Tour events in the last two years, I should have thrown a few pounds at him at 1000.0 and I'm more than happy to do so at 129/1130.0 given he trails by just two strokes. That's an insulting price for someone that knows how to win.

19:20 - October 8, 2020

I've decided to add Eddie Pepperell at 24/125.0 in the BMW-PGA Championship. He was on the shortlist before the off and he's just one off the lead after a five-under-par 67 this afternoon. He' tees off early tomorrow at 7:45.

15:55 - October 8, 2020

The hot group at the BMW-PGA Championship at Wentworth this morning was the Patrick Reed-Lee Westwood-Tyrrell Hatton three-ball and just after they'd played the par five fourth hole, their 14th hole of the round, after starting at the ninth, the trio dominated the leaderboard.

Hatton eagled the fifth to get to six-under-par, Westwood birdied it to get to -4 and Reed parred it to remain on five-under-par. It was a joy to watch the three top-class protagonists weave their way around Wentworth but the last four holes proved costly for Reed and Westwood. Reed played them in three-over and Westwood +2 leaving Hatton alone on top on -6.

The afternoon starters still have plenty of holes to play so it's perfectly possible that Hatton gets caught by the end of the day and the stats suggest that'll be no bad thing for the Englishman.

Since Nick Faldo won his fourth and final BMW-PGA Championship title way back in 1989, as many as 45 players have led or co-led after round one of the BMW-PGA Championship and course specialist, Luke Donald, in 2011, who like Faldo 31 years ago, won wire-to-wire, is the only one of the 45 to go on to win. Whoever sits atop of the leaderboard this evening, they look worth swerving.

As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, a slow start can be overcome here and four of the last six winners have trailed by at least five strokes after round one. There really is no rush to get involved. I'll have another look tonight and I'll update again if I do get involved but for now I'm happy to sit on my hands.

Over on the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, US Open champ, Bryson DeChambeau has just begun and I'll have a look at that one tomorrow too. As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, it's a different story at TPC Summerlin

Last year's winner, Kevin Na, trailed by five in a tie for 43rd after round one and that's the furthest any winners trailed after the opening round in as far back as I checked (1996). And that's including the old five round editions staged up until 2003. In contrast to Wentworth, a decent start is imperative in Vegas.

BMW-PGA Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Aaron Rai @ 59/160.0
Sam Horsfield @ 59/160.0
Rasmus Højgaard @ 69/170.0
John Catlin @ 94/195.0

In-Play Picks:
Eddie Pepperell @ 24/125.0
Tyrrell Hatton @ 7/24.6
Ian Poulter @ 43/144.0
Matthew Fitzpatrick @ 47/148.0
Masahiro Kawamura @ 159/1160.0
Andy Sullivan @ 229/1230.0
Pablo Larrazabal @ 239/1240.0

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Pre-Event Selections:
Bryson DeChambeau @ 9/110.0
Kevin Na @ 99/1100.0
Cameron Champ @ 99/1100.0
Denny McCarthy @ 99/1100.0
Aaron Wise @ 119/1120.0
Sam Burns @ 219/1220.0

In-Play Picks:
James Hahn @ 54/155.0
Nate Lashley @ 89/190.0
Andrew Landry @ 129/1130.0
Stewart Cink @ 45/146.0
Will Zalatoris @ 22/123.0
Abraham Ancer @ 54/155.0
Si Woo Kim @ 59/160.0
Adam Hadwin @ 64/165.0
Harold Varner @ 64/165.0

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

New on Betting.Betfair – Betslip

You can now bet without leaving Betting.Betfair with our brand new on-site betslip for Exchange markets. You'll see the Exchange back and lay prices at the end of articles - simply login and place your bets as you would do on the main Exchange site

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles