The Punter's In-Play Blog: Charley clear at Albany but can he convert?

Justin Rose – paired with Hoffman in round four
Justin Rose – paired with Hoffman in round four

Charley Hoffman has extended his lead in the Bahamas to five but is he a safe conveyance to seal the deal? Read Steve's final in-play thoughts for the week here...

“The last two winners here have nursed home big leads and I can see Hoffman holding on but I’m more than happy to take a very small chance with Justin Rose at 7.613/2.”

11:10 - December 03, 2017

In breezy conditions, nobody was able to break 70 at Albany Golf Course in round three of the Hero World Challenge and Charley Hoffman's two-under-par 70 has seen him extend his lead from three to five. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 11:10.

Charley Hoffman -14 1.728/11
Jordan Spieth -9 6.411/2
Justin Rose -9 7.613/2
Francesco Molinari -8 36.035/1
-7 and 29.028/1 bar

With only 18 in the field, this isn't a typical PGA Tour event but nevertheless, I've looked backed to see the record of five stroke leaders on the PGA Tour since 1996 and the stats suggest Hoffman is way too big at around 1.75/7.

A total of 28 players have held a five-stroke advantage after 54 holes over the last 21 years and only five have failed to win. That equates to a conversion rate of 82% and if that was the only factor considered then Hoffman is a cracking bet but it's not quite that simple.

I looked at his poor record when leading at halfway yesterday and his record when leading through 54 holes isn't any better. He won a playoff on the Web.Com Tour 15 years ago having been tied for the lead after 36 and 54 holes but that was the only time he's converted from the front after two or three rounds. He's since led through three rounds six times and he's been beaten every time, although it's well worth noting that his last two efforts have been decent. He was beaten by just a stroke at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and he lost a playoff at the Canadian Open in July so he's definitely better in-the-mix than he once was.

The last two winners here have nursed home big leads and I can see Hoffman holding on but I'm more than happy to take a very small chance with Justin Rose at 7.613/2.

Albany resident, Rose, knows the course intimately and he's a far better chaser than leader. In the last month or so we've seen him win in China and Turkey from off the pace and he's value to rack up the hat-trick. He shot a course record 62 in round four here two years ago and that memory can only create positive vibes. If Hoffman can keep calm and get round in level par or thereabouts he'll take an awful lot of beating but all things considered, Rose looks a fairly priced alternative.

14:50 - December 02, 2017

Pre-event 800.0799/1 chance, Jordan Zunic, will take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Australian PGA Championship, after a sensational eight-under-par 64 in round three, but the market can't quite decide whether he or Cameron Smith, who sits second on 14-under-par, should go into the final round as favourite. The two are both trading at around the 2.56/4 mark with Adam Bland, who's alone in third on -13, trading at around 9.617/2.

Marc Leishman, who hit a low of 1.84/5 during round two, has fallen seven off the pace after a two-over-par 74 today and he makes no appeal at 15.014/1. My in-running pick, Greg Chalmers, shot a very disappointing one-over-par 73 and he looks out of it so I'm just going to move on and leave the event alone now.

If forced to pick between the two market leaders I'd plump for Smith, who has impressed in-the-mix on a number of occasions, but I'm more than happy to leave the event alone.

The Hero World Challenge looks intriguingly poised with Charley Hoffman three clear at halfway after he birdied his last five holes in round two. Tiger Woods hit a low 7.06/1 after an impressive start to round two but he finished poorly, playing the last seven holes in two-over par, and he trails Hoffman by five.

Hoffman won a playoff on the Tour in 2004, having been tied for the lead at halfway, but this is the eighth time he's led or co-led on the PGA Tour and he's zero from seven so far. Admittedly, he's been tied for the lead four times and only led by a stroke twice so he's only ever held a nice clear advantage like this once before but that didn't go well.

He led what's now called the Dell Technologies Championship by three strokes through 36 holes in 2015 but he was outside the top-ten after round three! To his credit, he rallied in round four to finish third but he isn't one to go to war with and I can see why Jordan Spieth, who sits alongside Tommy Fleetwood in second, is the one the market favours but I'm happy to swerve him.

Justin Rose is still lurking in fourth (four behind the Hoff) and Hideki Matsuyama looks an interesting runner in a tie for fifth alongside Woods, Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari and Matt Kuchar but I'm going to continue to sit on my hands.

The defending champ, Matsuyama, started the tournament poorly and he was three-over-par after 13 holes of round one but he's found his form since and I was tempted to play him at around the 14.013/1 mark but after much deliberation I'm going to hold fire and see what today brings. Hoffman's record from the front is poor but he may have a different mind-set in a limited field event and I'm happy to leave the event alone and just enjoy the spectacle for now. I do like the favourite in Mauritius though...

First and second round leader, Arjun Atwal, is still in front, albeit tied with Louis De Jager on 13-under-par, with Dylan Frittelli and Miguel Tabuena tied for third on -12. There's a gap of two back to the remainder and I'm happy to back Frittelli at 3.412/5. The pre-tournament second favourite has been mixing it with the best players on the European Tour recently, finishing second in Turkey and fourth in Dubai, and he looks the one to beat.

15:35 - December 01, 2017

It's been a funny week so far. There's an abundance of golf with three tournaments on the go simultaneously and watching Tiger Woods returning to the fray at the Hero World Challenge has been fantastic but from a betting perspective I'm struggling to get involved.

Given the market had been open for so long, because of the Woods return, I couldn't see much value before the off at the Hero World Challenge and it still looks difficult after the opening round in the Bahamas. Sod's law dictated that my sole selection, Brooks Koepka, who became a popular pre-tournament pick with many, should underperform and its Dave Tindall's other selection, Tommy Fleetwood that leads by a stroke over Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar after the opening round. Koepka could only manage a one-under-par 71 and he trails by five so he needs a low round today to get in to contention.

I'm going to leave the event alone for now but I was tempted to play Sarah Stirk's fancy, Justin Rose, who trails by two. I thought he was a reasonably price at 9.417/2 but given he's alongside Kevin Chappell and the likes of Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth I'm happy to sit and observe for now.

At the Australian PGA Championship, the well-fancied, Marc Leishman, and rank outsider, Adam Bland, lead by a couple of strokes over Greg Chalmers. The front two were drawn afternoon-morning which transpired to be the better side of the draw and Leishman looks the man to beat now.

Already matched at 1.84/5, the world number 13 has a six stroke lead over Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott has missed the cut but I can see why he's being taken on - on the exchange. He's never won in his homeland and only last week we saw Jason Day blow a great opportunity there after being matched at just 1.42/5.

I don't want to back Leishman but I'm in no rush to take him on either. Cameron Smith, who trails by three, is the most likely to worry him, according to the market, but I quite like Chalmers. The veteran lefthander has already won the event twice and having moved in to contention from the wrong side of the draw, he could be the value at 18.017/1 and I've had a tiny bet.

Over at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, first round leader, Arjun Atwal, has seen his four stroke lead reduced to just one, with Dylan Frittelli, Laurie Canter and Louis De Jager all tied for second. Frittelli's second round looked like being quite ordinary right up until the end but having played the back-nine first, he birdied the par three eighth hole before this stunning tee-shot on the par four ninth led to a tap-in eagle two.

Frittelli now heads the market but I haven't yet given up on my man, Louis Oosthuizen, who trails the leader by just three and I'm going to wait and see what tomorrow brings here too.

AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open Pre-Event Selections:
Louis Oosthuizen @ 8.07/1
Zander Lombard @ 80.079/1

In-Play Pick:
Dylan Frittelli @ 3.412/5

Hero World Challenge Pre-Event Selection:
Brooks Koepka @ 14.013/1

Australian PGA Championship In-Play Pick:
Greg Chalmers @ 18.017/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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