09:55 - June 12, 2022
There's just one round to go at the Canadian Open and the defending champion, Rory McIlroy, may feel slightly aggrieved to have so much work left to do after yesterday's impressive five-under-par 65.
The 36-hole leader, Wyndham Clark, rallied on the back nine to remain in-the-mix but Rory's nearest market rivals at the midway point - Matt Fitzpatrick, Scottie Scheffler and Keith Mitchell - all failed to break par.
Despite missing a straightforward six-footer for birdie at the last, with most of the halfway contenders falling away, Rory's 65 could have seen him in a very commanding position but Sam Burns matched Rory's excellence and there were huge moves from off the pace by a pair of top-class performers.
The US PGA champion, Justin Thomas, climbed 18 places up into a tie for third with a sensational bogey-free 63 and Tony Finau moved up 15 places to sit alongside Rory with a superb 62. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:40.
Rory McIlroy -11 2.727/4
Tony Finau -11 4.57/2
Justin Thomas -9 6.25/1
Sam Burns -9 8.615/2
Alex Smalley -9 23.022/1
Wyndham Clark -9 26.025/1
Jim Knous -7 240.0239/1
Austin Cook -7 240.0239/1
Matt Fitzpatrick -6 65.064/1
-6 and 150.0149/1 bar
I don't think we could have asked for much more than this with a round to go.
The world number one, Scheffler, has fallen away but with the defending champ and world number eight, McIlroy, leading alongside a rejuvenated Tony Finau, with two other players inside the world's top-ten, Thomas and Burns, hot on their heels, we're all set for something of a treat later.
Rory's bidding to defend a title for the first time in his career and he's attempting to become the sixth man in history to defend this title. And he looks a fair price to do so.
Back in 2019, on the last occasion the tournament was staged, at Hamilton Country Club, Rory began the final round tied for the lead alongside Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar and he was trading at just a shade over 2/1. He shot 61 on Sunday and won by seven!
Since then, Rory's led or co-led five times and he's only converted once (at the WGC Champions in China in November 2019) but his overall record is solid enough. Rory's led or co-led on 24 occasions all told and he's gone on to win 12 times.
Given how notoriously difficult it is to back up a low score, and given how poor Finau's record is in-contention, I'd much rather play McIlroy at less than 2/1 than Finau at 4.57/2 but we can't escape the fact that both Thomas and Burns are huge dangers.
Thomas described yesterday's 63 as "easy" going on to say.
"I didn't do anything great. I just didn't do anything bad, but I took advantage of some of the opportunities when I had them there in, kind of the middle of the course, and just stayed patient and waited for my run."
Thomas must be oozing confidence after his victory at Southern Hills and it's no surprise to see that he's shortened up for next week's US Open in the last 24 hours, which I've previewed here, but just like Finau, he needs to back-up yesterday's brilliance and that's never easy. Golf has a nasty habit of feeling "easy" one day, and less so the next.
Burns is bidding to win his second title in-a-row and his fourth in 17 starts so I'm glad to have him onside after round one and I've also added Alex Smalley this morning at 24.023/1.
Smalley is yet to win on the PGA Tour but having so many big names around him on the leaderboard should help him today. All the attention will be on Rory and co and the 25-year-old might just sneak past them all if he continues to play as well as he has.
After three straight three-under-par 67s, Smalley ranks fifth for Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, and Greens In Regulation and he ranks fourth for Scrambling. Bo Van Pelt, who's tied for 15th, is the only man in the field to have made more birdies than Smalley, he's played the par fours better than anyone else and he ranks number one for Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.
It's been a truly exceptional performance up until now and given he ranks only 47th for Putting Average and 61st for Strokes gained Putting, it's quite clear why he isn't already leading. If he can continue to play so well from tee-to-green and get a few more putts to drop today, he might just cause a surprise.
Matt Fitzpatrick will be disappointed to have shot level-par again yesterday but he's playing very nicely, and the course suits him perfectly. He's trailing by five now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him put in a run and I was also tempted to play him at around the 60.059/1 mark.
Over at the Scandinavian Mixed, the men have largely dominated again and there's just one woman inside the top-16 with a round to go but Linn Grant is the one they all have to beat.
The 22-year-old Swede came into the event in fine form and the pre-event 50.049/1 chance is now a warm favourite. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:45.
Linn Grant -16 2.427/5
Jason Scrivener -14 4.1
Henrik Stenson -13 5.24/1
Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez -12 25.024/1
-10 and 50.049/1 bar
Sitting in a tie for fifth on -10, my in-play pick, Kristoffer Broberg, isn't quite out of it yet but he'd have been leading if he'd putted just fairly well yesterday. He missed countless short putts and it was quite frustrating to watch. I dread to think how he feels! Maybe they'll start dropping today but I won't hold my breath.
The halfway leader, Jason Scrivener, struggled off the tee yesterday and he makes little appeal this morning and I'm happy to leave the leader alone too.
Grant is almost certain to feel the nerves today as she attempts to become the first female winner and I was tempted to back the Ryder Cup captain, Henrik Stenson, at 4/1.
He's far and away the most experienced person on the leaderboard but he won't be immune to nerves. Stenson's never won in his homeland. He'd surely loved to correct that today but the value probably sits with the 33-year-old Spaniard sitting alone in fourth - Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez - at 25.024/1.
He's only ever won three times on the Alps Tour so this is a big deal for him too but 25.024/1 looks a little generous given he's generally a 16/1 chance on the high Street.
I've had a tiny bet on the Spaniard and I'll be hoping for a huge turnaround on the greens by Broberg but other than that, I'm more than happy to just sit back and enjoy what should be a fabulous event.
A victory for either Swede will be fabulous to see and I'm looking forward to watching.
As highlighted earlier, I've already previewed the US Open here and I'll be back tomorrow with the Debrief.
08:25 - June 11, 2022
Matthew Fitzpatrick threatened to run away from the remainder of the field at the Canadian Open when he birdied four holes in five around the turn at St. Georges yesterday and he's already been matched at a low of just 2.3811/8 but a double-bogey six at the par four 14th stopped him in his tracks and after a tired finish to his round, that saw him bogey the last three holes, we're left with a very open event to survey this morning. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 08:15.
Wyndham Clark -7 19.5
Rory McIlroy -6 4.67/2
Matt Fitzpatrick -6 6.86/1
Keith Mitchell -6 13.012/1
Alex Smalley -6 23.022/1
Jim Knous -6 100.099/1
Austin Cook -5 160.0159/1
Scottie Scheffler -4 9.28/1
Sam Burns -4 15.014/1
Shane Lowry -4 15.014/1
-4 and 28.027/1 bar
The last time St. Georges staged the Canadian Open, in 2010, the winner, Carl Pettersson, trailed by nine strokes in a tie for 68th at halfway so with as many as 32 players within five strokes of Wyndham Clark's lead, this is a wide-open event.
Pettersson shot an incredible ten-under-par 60 to move up into a tie for second behind Dean Wilson (trailing by four) and having watched plenty of the coverage over the first two days I'm not really sure how he did it.
Clark opened up with a 63 on Thursday and Austin Cook fired the best of the day yesterday, a six-under-par 64, but with the course firming up as it dries out, and with the rough as tough as it is, unless someone finds every single fairway, it's hard to see anyone going any lower.
The defending champion, Rory McIlroy, is the man to beat according to the market but after 32 professional wins worldwide, he's yet to make a successful defence.
I'm not convinced that's a huge negative but when pondering if he's a fair price at less than 4/1 on a congested leaderboard with still two rounds to go, it's definitely something to consider.
Similarly, Fitzpatrick is yet to win a PGA Tour event and if yesterday's finish is anything to go by, that could be a significant stumbling block.
Trailing by just three, the world number one, Scottie Scheffler, is an obvious danger and my first in-play pick, Sam Burns, didn't play very well off the tee yesterday but he still scored nicely early on, and he's still on the premises, alongside Scheffler on -4.
It's a wide-open event and one to be wary of but I have added one more, yesterday's low scorer - Austin Cook.
It's long odds-on that Cook fails miserably to back up yesterday's sensational 64 but I couldn't ignore 180.0179/1 about a PGA Tour winner that's clearly found something, who's only two off the lead.
Beaten in a playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2020, Cook hasn't yet fulfilled his potential and his four-stroke romp to victory at the RSM Classic in 2017 remains his only title to date but he's a huge price to double his tally of titles here and I was happy to get him onside.
Over on the DP World Tour, a year after leading the inaugural event with a round to go, Jason Scrivener will take a two-stroke lead into the weekend at the Scandinavian Mixed.
The Aussie shot a disappointing 73 on Sunday 12 months ago to finish seventh (beaten by six) and at 33, he's still in search of his first DP World Tour title, so I'm in no rush to back him at around 5/2.
With my attention on Canada and US Open research (preview out later today), I've barely watched any of the action in Sweden this week so I'm happy to give the tournament a largely wide berth but I have thrown a few pounds at the highly-talented Kristoffer Broberg at 23.022/1 given he only trails by four.
Broberg won the Dutch Open in September so he has that to draw on and I thought he was fractionally big at in excess of 20/1.
10:55 - June 10, 2022
The second round of the Scandinavian Mixed is well underway and the Italian amateur, Carolina Melgrati, is the surprise leader but I'm happy to leave the event alone for now.
Sky Sports appear to have done away with their morning coverage of the DP World Tour events and that's really disappointing as I end up getting to see very little of the coverage over the first two days, with the PGA Tour event almost always a better watch on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
We've got five of the world's top ten in attendance at the Canadian Open this week, playing around a spectacular classic old course in St. Georges, and I can't be alone in preferring to watch the coverage there instead of viewing the Swedish action.
The Scandinavian Mixed is also being played at a really nice course (Halmstad) but with only one of the world's top 100 in the field - world number 60 Alex Noren - it simply doesn't have the appeal that the Canadian Open does.
I'll take a more detailed look at the Scandinavian Mixed at the halfway stage but for now I'm focusing on the Canadian Open, where pre-event 300.0299/1 chance, Wyndham Clark, leads after a seven-under-par 63 in round one.
Matt Fitzpatrick, alone in second on -6, and the defending champ, Rory McIlroy, who shot a four-under-par 66, are both trading at single-figure prices and I'm more than happy to leave them both alone.
Fitzpatrick is a great fit for the course and he's very happy with his game, but he's short enough at 5.59/2 given he's yet to win on the PGA Tour.
"Really, really happy with the way I played today, just solid all around," Fitzpatrick said after his round. "Had a couple opportunities to chip it a little bit closer, but other than that, I'm being really picky. Everything in my game was going well."
As highlighted in the preview, the last winner at St. Georges, Carl Pettersson, in 2010, was trailing by nine strokes after both rounds one and two so rushing in on the early pacesetters may not be a wise move but I'm happy to have small bet on the bang-in-form Sam Burns at 14.5.
Burns, who has won three of the last 15 events he's played in on the PGA Tour, bogeyed the 18th hole to finish on -3 but he looks a fair price sitting in a tie for ninth given he was a 20.019/1 shot before the off.
Burns is attempting to win back-to-back titles having won the Charles Schwab Challenge, but he's had a nice break since then and looking at his stats from the first round, there's scope for improvement with the putter. He ranked only 62nd for Strokes Gained Putting yesterday so an improvement with the flatstick should see him contend strongly.
Scandinavian Mixed Pre-Event Selection:
Alex Noren @ 11.521/2
Kristoffer Broberg @ 23.022/1
Canadian Open Pre-Event Selection:
Brendon Todd @ 120.0119/1
Sam Burns @ 14.5
Austin Cook @ 180.0179/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2 pts Daan Huizing @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
2 pt J.T Poston @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
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