18:10 - September 24, 2022
Having led by six at the halfway stage and having been matched at a low of just 1.422/5, pre-event 42.041/1 chance, Rasmus Hojgaard, began round three of the Open de France in disastrous fashion today - finding water four times in three holes!
Following a par at the first, he made an eight at the par three third and a six at the par five third. And his eight at the third could have been even worse. After three whacks into the water off the tee, he holed a 14-footer for the quintuple-bogey eight!
He composed himself brilliantly after that though and having drifted out to above 5.04/1 he touched even money again when he became only the third man all day to birdie the tough par four 17th.
That gave Rasmus a three-stroke lead but he bogeyed the par four 18th after a poor drive forced him to lay up and George Coetzee cut the lead to one when he rolled in his birdie putt from eight feet. Here's the 54 hole leaderboard with prices to back at 18:05.
Rasmus Hojgaard -12 3.02/1
George Coetzee -11 5.49/2
Thomas Pieters -10 5.69/2
Paul Barjon -10 14.5
Antoine Rozner -9 12.5
Paul Yannik -9 19.018/1
Jordan Smith -8 26.025/1
Jamie Donaldson -8 50.049/1
Victor Perez -7 46.045/1
Guido Migliozzi -7 90.089/1
Andrew Wilson -7 170.0169/1
-6 and 150.0149/1 bar
Having led from the start and having wobbled today, Rasmus is going to do really well to convert from here and he makes little appeal at 2/1 given the poor record of 54-hole leaders at Le Golf National.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics of the preview, eight of the last 11 54-hole leaders have been beaten.
Every winner here has been inside the top-ten places through 54 holes, but we've seen winners come from two, three, four, five and seven adrift with a round to go. And when Graeme McDowell defended the title eight years ago, he trailed by eight with a round to go!
Coetzee traded at a low of 1.330/100 in 2019 (the last time the tournament was staged) and JB Hansen was matched at just 1.241/4 so don't be surprised if we witness even more drama tomorrow than we saw today.
Le Golf National is a tough place to front run and if you're planning on trading in-running tomorrow, bear in mind that the 17th and 18th holes have ranked as the two most difficult holes on the course in three of the last four renewals. Anyone that posts a score will be worth siding with.
I'm going to get involved in-running tomorrow as this is a venue at which we regularly see two or three players trade at odds-on without winning but I've also had a small bet on Italy's Guido Migliozzi at 100.099/1.
He trails Hojgaard by five but things can soon change around here and he finished second to Antoine Rozner at the Qatar Masters in March last year (beaten by a stroke), having sat tied for 18th and six adrift through 54 holes and he moved up from 14th to second at the Made In HimmerLand last May so he's shown he can close on a Sunday.
18:40 - September 23, 2022
Rasmus Hojgaard followed up his opening nine-under-par 62 yesterday afternoon at the Open de France with an impressive six-under-par 65 this morning.
I took the decision to take him on after he'd played ten holes and it briefly looked like it might be a good move.
Having started round two at the 10th, and having birdied the first hole to go odds-on, he parred the next three and bogeyed the fifth to go back to odds-against.
It briefly looked like Rasmus may lose his way, but he soon turned it around, birdying three of his last four to lead by eight!
For much of the day it looked like he'd be the first man in DP World Tour history to head into the weekend with an eight shot lead but George Coetzee, who traded at a low of 1.330/100 on the last occasion we were here in 2019, birdied three of his last five to get within seven and Frenchman, Paul Barjon, holed this bomb on the par five 14th for eagle to get within six before paring his way in.
Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 18:30.
Rasmus Hojgaard -15 1.528/15
Paul Barjon -9 17.5
George Coetzee -8 17.5
Antoine Rozner -7 20.019/1
Alex Bjork -7 26.025/1
-6 and 36.035/1 bar
Looking back, six men have led by half-a-dozen at halfway on the DP World Tour since 1996 and only three of them converted.
Tour stalwarts, Sam Torrance, Michael Campbell and Ian Poulter all failed to convert 36 hole six-stroke leads. Chapchai Nirat, Martin Kaymer, Thorbjorn Olesen are the three to go on to win.
As you'd expect, that's a very small sample size, as it's such a big lead, and I don't think we can read too much into it.
This is the first time Barjon has played in his national open and I'm not convinced he's one to side with. He's been plying his trade on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he earnt his sole success to date at the Huntsville Championship in May last year, and he began this week trading at around 250.0249/1.
Coetzee clearly loves the course and is arguably more likely to reel in the leader than Barjon but the one I like is Antoine Rozner at 20.019/1.
Hojgaard probably needs to faulter quite badly to lose and he looks fairly priced at around 1.51/2 but Rozner looks the best-priced alternative.
18:25 - September 22, 2022
With the wind and the rough down, 21-year-old Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, has just fired a course record nine-under-par 62 around Le Golf National to set the early pace.
Matched at a high of 48.047/1 but generally a 42.041/1 chance before the off, Hojgaard is now trading at less than 3/1 with still three rounds to play.
The young Dane is no stranger to a fast start and over the last 12 months, he tops the 1st round scoring average stats on the DP World Tour, with an average score prior to today of 68.28, but he's doesn't fare quite so well on day two as a rule.
Averaging just 70.78 for his second rounds, he ranks only 49th and building on a strong start is something he's aware he needs to improve on.
Hojgaard has fallen down the leaderboard on day two on each of his last nine starts and I'm in no rush to side with him yet.
It's always frustrating to get so little information about the courses used on the DP World Tour and yet again conditions weren't as expected.
As highlighted in the preview, as a rule of thumb, the fairways need to be found at Le Golf National and Driving Accuracy is a more important stat than Driving Distance but the rough has been kept short this year and the leader, who's just set the course record, had this to say after his round.
"Today was just very good. To be fair, I don't feel I was that good off the tee, but my approach play was very good today."
Rasmus is making his course debut this week and he currently ranks 146th for Driving Accuracy. I'm a huge fan but he wasn't on my shortlist this week.
Hojgaard has only ever been tied for the lead after the opening round once and this is the first time that he's held a clear advantage, but the omens look good.
He dropped from tied first to ninth after his fast start at the 2019 Mauritius Open but bounced back to win. That was the first of his three DP World Tour titles, and he could very easily make it four this week, although first round leaders don't have a superb record of late here.
Between 2003 and 2009, four first round leaders or co leaders went on to win here and the luckless Jean van de Velde lost a playoff in 2005 after leading by a stroke after round one but since Martin Kaymer's playoff success in 2009, Bernd Wiesberger, in 2015, is the only first round leader or co leader to go on to win.
Coincidentally, Wiesberger did what Hojgaard did in Mauritius in 2019 - dropping to ninth after round two before rallying to win.
With a third and an eighth placed finish to his name here, from just two previous starts, it was no surprise to see Alexander Bjork start nicely and he sits second, two strokes behind Rasmus, and they're the only two players trading at a single-figure price this evening.
The pre-event favourite, Thomas Pieters, trades at 12.5 after an opening four-under-par 67 that sees him sit inside the top-ten, alongside last week's winner, Robert MacIntyre, but the second favourite, Patrick Reed, has plenty to do after a dreadful finish to his opening round.
The ever-unpopular American was matched at a low of 12.011/1 this morning when he reached three-under-par after 14 holes, but Paris' infamous finishing stretch appears to have done for his chances as he finished double-bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey.
I'll be back at the halfway stage or sooner if I get involved in-running but I'm happy to sit on my hands for now.
Ewen Ferguson @ 70.069/1
Rasmus Hojgaard layed @ 1.855/6
Antoine Rozner backed @ 20.019/1
Guido Migliozzi @ 100.099/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 2u Max Kieffer @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 2u Sami Valimaki @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter