09:25 - August 14, 2022
Here are the 54-hole leaderboards with prices to back at 9:15 for both the ISPS Handa Invitational and the FedEx St Jude Championship.
Ewen Ferguson -11 1.9520/21
John Catlin -8 5.79/2
Connor Syme -7 12.011/1
Marcus Helligkilde -7 14.013/1
Jack Senior -7 19.018/1
Borja Virto -7 34.033/1
Richard Mansell -6 24.023/1
-5 and 80.079/1 bar
J.J Spaun -13 7.413/2
Sepp Straka -12 13.012/1
Cam Smith -11 5.14/1
Will Zalatoris -11 5.59/2
Trey Mullinax -11 17.016/1
Troy Merritt -10 34.033/1
Tyler Duncan -10 50.049/1
Matt Fitzpatrick -9 21.020/1
Tony Finau -9 24.023/1
Sam Burns -9 24.023/1
Sungjae im -9 28.027/1
Brain Harman -9 65.064/1
Ryan Palmer -9 110.0109/1
Andrew Putnam -9 120.0119/1
Hayden Buckley -9 120.0119/1
-8 and 60.059/1 bar
Ewen Ferguson leads course winner, John Catlin, by three on the DP World Tour with Connor Syme alone in third and four back but it's a whole different story in the States where there are as many as 16 players within four strokes of J.J Spaun's lead. I'll start with the action in Northern Ireland...
The stats for three-stroke 54-hole leaders on the DP World Tour suggest Ferguson's a fair price at just a shade of odds-on given we've seen 135 players lead by three since 1996 and 95 of them went on to win.
That's a 70% strike-rate but Ferguson finished eighth in the Kenya Open in March having led by four through 54 holes and the last two course winners have won from some way off the pace here.
Catlin sat tied for eighth and four off the lead before closing with a 64 to win by two in the Irish Open in 2020 and Daniel Gavins won this event last year having trailed by seven with a round to go!
All three players to lead by three with a round to go on the DP World Tour this year have converted. Haotong Li at the BMW International Open, Thorbjorn Olesen (British Masters) and Nicolai Hojgaard at the Ras al Khaimah Championship, but all three made hard work of it and all three looked beat at one stage.
Ferguson won the Qatar Masters from three off the lead and tied seventh through three rounds just three weeks after his collapse in Kenya so in theory, now a winner on the DP World Tour, he should be far more composed with the lead this time but I don't expect it to be plain sailing today.
In addition to Catlin, Jack Senior, tied for third, is a course winner and the promising Dane, Marcus Helligkilde, and the in-form Connor Syme, alongside Senior, look big dangers too.
Like Ferguson, Spaun is also looking to win wire-to-wire but he's much tougher to fancy at the FedEx St Jude Championship and both Cam Smith and Will Zalatoris are ahead of him in the market.
With his move to LIV Golf looking highly likely, a win for Smith today would be extremely unpopular. It would lift him up to number one in the Official World rankings and it would give him a great chance of signing off from the PGA Tour by claiming the FedEx Cup Playoff Series. Greg Norman will be enjoying the prospect but he's certainly in the minority.
The pressure of reaching the top of the rankings may well take its toll on Smith and of the two market leaders, Zalatoris may be the better option.
It's surely only a matter of time before the talented 25-year-old lifts a trophy and having split with his long-term caddie, Ryan Goble, only last week, after a slow start (sat tied for 87th after round one!), he and Joel Slack appear to have bonded nicely.
Slack caddied for Ben Crane when he won here eight years ago and that course experience appears to have helped the new team.
I'm really looking forward to watching this one unfold and I'll be cheering on everyone bar Smith but I'm not getting any further involved.
It's a ridiculously tough tournament to untangle but my sole pre-event pick, Matt Fitzpatrick, and my three in-play picks, Tony Finau, Sam Burns and Tyler Duncan are still in with a chance.
09:05 - August 13, 2022
The FedEx Cup leader and world number one, Scottie Scheffler, has missed the cut at the FedEx St Jude Championship and so too has the pre-event favourite, Rory McIlroy.
Scheffler struggled badly on the greens and following his Open Championship defeat, Rory looked rusty, but the man who beat him at St Andrews, Cam Smith, heads into the weekend at the head of the market. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 8:55.
J.J Spaun -11 13.012/1
Sepp Straka -10 24.023/1
Troy Merritt -10 16.015/1
Denny McCarthy -9 21.020/1
Cam Smith -8 7.26/1
Tony Finau -8 9.08/1
Brian Harman -8 28.027/1
Ryan Palmer -8 50.049/1
-7 and 20.019/1 bar
I was really quite keen on 160.0159/1 Find Me a 100 Winner pick, J.J Spaun, in the Wyndham Championship so it's quite frustrating to see him turn up a week later having missed the cut at Sedgefield and having been matched at a whopping 960.0959/1 before the off.
Spaun is attempting to emulate Ben Crane in 2014 and win here wire-to-wire and up until Crane's victory eight years ago, up with the pace was the place to be here.
Crane was the sixth wire-to-wire winner in 18 years at TPC Southwind and that's a decent strike-rate given how tough it is to lead a PGA Tour event from start to finish.
Last year's winner, Abraham Ancer, sat second at halfway and just two off the lead but the 2020 winner, Justin Thomas, trailed by seven strokes at this stage.
That's as far back at halfway as any course winner this century but an off the pace winner can't be ruled out if last year's renewal is anything to go by...
Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama muscled their way into the playoff last year having both been matched at 1000.0 when trailing by eight and nine strokes respectively after three rounds and Daniel Berger's victory six years was unusual given how slowly he started.
He trailed by six after the opening round and, like Thomas, by seven at halfway. He was matched at a 190.0189/1 in-running so there's plenty of evidence to suggest a slow start can be overcome here.
After six missed cuts in-a-row, the Honda Classic winner, Sepp Straka was matched at 1000.0 before the off and he's clearly happy to be back on Bermuda greens but well done if you picked him out before the off given he'd shot just one round in the 60s since May!
The two-time PGA Tour winner, Troy Merritt, was generally a 440.0439/1 chance before the off and he might just hang around. The 36-year-old finished second to Crane here eight years ago and having ranked first and second for Driving Accuracy in each of his last two starts, his accuracy off the tee could stand him in good stead.
It's difficult to envisage Denny McCarthy getting off the mark on the PGA Tour in an event of this magnitude and all things considered, a winner coming from at least three strokes back at this stage looks likely with the Open winner, Smith, and the bang-in-form, Tony Finau, quite rightly adjudged the two most likely winners at this stage.
With rumours rife that Smith is about to jump ship to join the LIV Golf Tour, he'd be far from a popular winner but it's impossible to ignore his claims.
In-contention 12 months ago, the Aussie was matched at just 2.3811/8 before finishing fifth and if he can keep his mind on the job in hand, he might just take some stopping.
Finau is attempting to win his third PGA Tour event in-a-row and although that's a huge ask, I prefer his chances to Smith's. I've had a very small wager at 9.08/1.
My pre-event selection, Matt Fitzpatrick, is alongside the 2020 winner, Justin Thomas, on -6 and five off the lead and although I'm hopeful he can get into the mix over the weekend, that's quite a bit of ground to be made up and he'll be rueing his bogey at the par five 16th late on yesterday. They both trade at around 21.020/1 and that doesn't look generous.
In-play pick, Sam Burns, who's a 25.024/1 chance this morning, was matched at just 8.07/1 after a strong start to his second round but he's alongside Fitzpatrick and Thomas now after bogeying two of his last four holes. That was obviously disappointing but Find Me a 100 Winner fancy, Kevin Kisner, made a nice move yesterday.
Kisner found his silky-smooth touch on the greens yesterday to post a six-under-par 64 to get to -7 for the tournament and that was only bettered by two others yesterday.
Will Zalatoris and Tyler Duncan both made big moves with seven-under-par 63s and I'm happy to throw a few pounds in the direction of the latter.
Duncan's sole success to date came from off the pace at the RSM Classic in 2019 so he'd be a very unlikely winner but he's topping the putting metrics at halfway and he looks a little over-priced at 150.0149/1 given he trails by only four and that he's no bigger than 66/1 on the High Street.
21:10 - August 12, 2022
Scotland's Ewen Ferguson was matched at a low of just 2.111/10 to win the ISPS Handa World Invitational this morning after he'd birdied the 17th at Massereene (his eighth hole of round two) to get to 10-under-par for the tournament.
He hit the buffers after that though, with back-to-back bogeys at the second and third before he battled back to post level-par.
We're all done and dusted with Massereene now though and having fired a nine-under-par 62 around the host course, Galgorm Castle, Ferguson will be happy to get back there over the weekend. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 21:00.
Ewen Ferguson -9 3.7511/4
Borja Virto -8 14.5
Filippo Celli -7 21.020/1
Felix Palson -7 46.045/1
Connor Syme -6 8.415/2
Jordan Smith -5 8.07/1
Dale Whitnell -5 17.016/1
Renato Paratore -5 27.026/1
John Catlin -4 17.016/1
Richard Mansell -4 21.020/1
Richard Bland -4 30.029/1
John Murphy -4 60.059/1
Robin Petersson -4 100.099/1
-3 and 80.079/1 bar
Ferguson's closest pursuers are a trio of outsiders so he's perhaps understandably a short price but he's too short for my liking.
The last seven winners at Galgorm were all trailing at this stage and Ryan Fox is the only one of the seven to be within a stroke through 36 holes.
Sitting in a tie for third, the Italian amateur, Filippo Celli, is an interesting runner. He was the low amateur at St Andrews last month (finished T47) and looks to have a bright future but the dangers to the leader are likely to come from further back.
Connor Syme, who finished second in Wales last week, is a very obvious danger alone in fifth and the well-baked Englishman, Dale Whitnell, and the pre-event favourite, Jordan Smith, are alongside my Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Renato Paratore, who Matt Cooper also backed before the off, in a tie for sixth.
And just one shot further back is the course winner, John Catlin, who's one of five players tied for ninth and just five off the lead.
This looks a tough one to untangle at this stage and I'm happy to continue to sit on my hands and see where we are after round three.
08:15 - August 12, 2022
Ewen Ferguson sets the pace at the ISPS Handa World Invitational after a sensational nine-uner-par around Galgorm Castle and with a lead of four, the 3.39/4 available may look generous this evening if he can back that up with a reasonable knock around Massereene this morning but I'm more than happy to wait and see what the day brings.
Over at the FedEx St Jude Championship, the law of sod has dictated that last week's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, JJ Spaun, who was matched at a high of a whopping 960.0959/1 before the off after his missed cut in the Wyndham Championship, should kick the event off nicely with an eight-under-par 62.
Spaun sits alongside Si Woo Kim, who with Sedgefield form aplenty, was a very popular pick last week.
Alone in third is the extremely promising Sahith Theegala, who's already traded at odds-on in two separate events this season - the Phoenix Open and the Travelers Championship - and in amongst the group trailing by two in a tie for fourth is Tony Finau, who's bidding to win his third event in-a-row.
As an indication of just how tight the first FedEx Cup playoff event is, Finau is the only player trading at a single-figure price this morning and this one looks like an event to be patient with too but I have had one small bet.
In a tie for eighth on -5 is one of last year's beaten playoff protagonists, Sam Burns, and he looks a fair price this morning at 15.014/1.
I've had a modest opening play on him but I'll take a more detailed look at both events once we reach the halfway stage.
ISPS Handa World Invitational Pre-Event Selection:
Guido Migliozzi @ 55.054/1
FedEx St Jude Invitational Pre-Event Selection:
Matt Fitzpatrick @ 26.025/1 (Enhanced Win Only - Sportsbook)
Sam Burns @ 15.014/1
Tony Finau @ 9.08/1
Tyler Duncan @ 150.0149/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 2u Renato Paratore @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
1 U Kevin Kisner @ 350.0349/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 1 u Matt Kuchar @ 460.0459/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
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