The Punter's In-Play Blog: All change at the Joburg

Golfer Zander Lombard
Zander Lombard, nicely placed after two rounds of the Joburg Open

The Joburg Open has been reduced to 54-holes, it will finish tomorrow, and we now have an odds-on jolly so Steve's back to survey the new landscape...

"It’s tricky to know how Lawrence will react tomorrow but looking at the stats, anyone that doesn’t mind backing an odds-on shot should be more than happy with odds of around 4/5."

22:10 - November 26, 2021

As per the tweet below, the DP World Tour have taken the quite logical decision to reduce the Joburg Open to 54-holes, and tomorrow is now the third and final day.

As you can see by the latest prices below, the reduction of the tournament's length has had quite a dramatic affect on the market and the four-stroke leader, Thriston Lawrence, is now trading at odds-on.

Thriston Lawrence -12 1.84/5
Zander Lombard -8 5.85/1
Ashley Chesters -7 13.012/1
Shaun Norris -6 9.417/2 (played 12 holes of round two)
Angel Hidalgo -6 44.043/1
Hennie Du Plessis -5 70.069/1
-4 and 80.079/1 bar

I've had a little look to see if anyone's led by four at this stage in a 54-hole event recently on the European Tour and three men have been in Lawrence's position previously. They all went on to win.

Jeev Milkha Singh shot rounds of 64-63-71 to win the Austrian Open by a stroke in 2008, Alex Levy struck rounds of 62-63-69 to win the 2016 European Open in a playoff, beating Ross Fisher in extra time, and Sergio Garcia maintained his four-stroke advantage at the Andalucía Masters three years, firing rounds of 68-64-69.

I've also looked at four-stroke leaders after three rounds in 72-hole stroke play events on the European Tour since 1996 and of the 39 players to have been in that scenario, 28 went on to win. An impressive strike rate of 72%.

Given the stats, Lawrence is certainly not too short and I'm regretting missing the announcement.

How Shaun Norris finishes off his second round is going to be significant. Given he's won twice in Japan this year already, if he can pick up another two or possibly three strokes, he'll have the belief that he can win again, and he'll be a huge danger to Lawrence.

The market is quite erratic and if Lawrence drifts again before I go to bed I may throw a few pounds in his direction but that's a big if. He was trading at 11.010/1 an hour ago which was just about fair but he's too short now.

It's tricky to know how Lawrence will react tomorrow but looking at the stats, anyone that doesn't mind backing an odds-on shot should be more than happy with odds of around 4/5.

17:50 - November 26, 2021

Play did resume today at the Joburg Open and they managed to get another 12 or so holes in. Play was eventually stopped for fading light at 18:35 and they'll return early tomorrow, at 6:30, to finish up round two.

The number of withdrawals is currently up to 23 and the leaderboard hasn't changed much, although Shaun Norris, who still has half a dozen holes of his second round to play, has nudged in to the top-five. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 17:45.

Thriston Lawrence -12 2.727/4
Zander Lombard -8 6.05/1
Ashley Chesters -7 12.011/1
Shaun Norris -6 9.08/1 (played 12 holes of round two)
Angel Hidalgo -6 32.031/1
Hennie Du Plessis -5 42.041/1
-4 and 30.029/1 bar

Brandon Stone is another to have made progress on return and he birdied three of his last four holes to get to -3 but given he's still nine back, he probably needs to pick up another couple of strokes when he plays the last four holes of his second round in the morning.

Stone looks to have too much on his plate but I was tempted by Norris. But like Stone, Norris returns to finish off on the tougher back-nine and for that reason I'm still happy to sit on my hands.

12:10 - November 26, 2021

The final event of 2021 European Tour season was a cracker, with world number two, Collin Morikawa, finishing with a flourish to catch a stuttering Rory McIlroy in Dubai. It was a dramatic and enthralling conclusion to the season but the start to the rebranded DP World Tour is something of a damp squib so far.

The Joburg Open started on time on Thursday but dangerous weather at the end of the day meant the opening round didn't conclude yesterday and the second round has just been suspended due, again, to the threat of dangerous weather, with some of the late starters yet to have even started their second rounds.

We've seen an understandable raft of withdrawals - the Betfair Sportsbook has refunded stakes on all players who pulled out - due to the new covid variant in the area and the related travel restrictions and it's a bit of a mess with a huge draw bias. Here's the current standings with prices to back at 12:00.

Thriston Lawrence -12 2.8415/8
Zander Lombard -8 5.79/2
Ashley Chesters -7 13.012/1
Angel Hidalgo -6 42.041/1
Hennie Du Plessis -5 42.041/1
-4 and 20.019/1 bar

Back-to-back 65s have seen Thriston Lawrence open-up a four-stroke lead over fellow South African, Zander Lombard - a winning tip for Dave Tindall - and with the top-five all having completed their second rounds, it's quite clear that those drawn PM-AM have had a result.

Nobody out on the course or yet to start their second rounds is within seven of the lead and Lawrence will start round three in front unless somebody does something truly astonishing when play resumes.

It's difficult to believe that the covid variant won't cause more withdrawals and the next couple of events (both in South Africa) may be in jeopardy.

I'm more than happy to sit this one out for now and see how things look at halfway. It's tempting to play the first two and hope they kick on but I'm far from convinced they will.

Having been matched at a high of 450.0449/1 when the market first opened, Lawrence was generally a 230.0229/1 chance before the off with form figures reading MC-MC-MC-6. He clearly found something in round four of the Blair Atholl Championship a month ago to go from 26th to sixth in round four but he now has a long wait to start round three and that won't help. His red-hot form could disappear as fast as it arrived.

After a terrible run of form, Lombard has shown glimpses of late, sitting sixth and just three off the lead after round one last time out in the Dubai Championship (finished 24th) and at around 9/2, he looks a more attractive proposition than the leader but I'm going to wait and see how the event develops over the next 24 hours.

There's a chance that we don't get much more (or any more) play today and if that happens the draw may even out a bit with those drawn AM-PM getting to play the course in kinder conditions in the morning.

Pre-Event Selections:
Dean Burmester @ 12.5
Marcus Helligkilde @ 42.041/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 2 u Neil Schietekat @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back 2 u Oliver Wilson @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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