Chesson Hadley has stretched his lead to four as we head into Sunday at the Palmetto Championship and he's a fair price to convert at just a shade of odds-on...
“This will feel like a free hit for Higgo and he could do anything today. If he relaxes and feels he has nothing to lose he could just post a score that’s low enough to win and I was happy to add him at 22.021/1.”
13:10 - June 13, 2021
The third round of the Palmetto Championship is now all done and dusted and as a result, Chesson Hadley has hardened at the head of the market. Harris English missed his birdie putt on 18, Dustin Johnson made a complete mess of the hole and made a bogey five and Hadley missed a birdie putt from five feet so here's the standings with a round to go.
The final round of the Scandinavian Mixed is currently live on Sky and I'll be back tomorrow with the De-brief to look back at both events but in the meantime, he's my preview for next week's US Open.
09:25 - June 13, 2021
Inclement weather prevented the third round of the Palmetto Championship from concluding yesterday and the last two pairings still have to finish up on 18, with Dustin Johnson the only man yet to tee-off. The horn went as he stood on the tee-box about to hit. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 09:15.
After a bright start to round three, Harris English's playing partner, Tain Lee, was matched at a low of 5.14/1 but his round unravelled on the back-nine so whether he knocks in his 16 foot birdie putt on 18 is irrelevant but how the other three finish off is pertinent.
English has a very makable ten-footer to get within three of the lead and Hadley has found the fairway with his drive. It's frustrating that they haven't concluded their third rounds as it's nice to look at the stats and see where we are but however it finishes, Hadley doesn't look too short at around 1.910/11.
Since 1996, 55 players have led by four with a round to go in a 72-hole stroke play event on the PGA Tour and 41 of them went on to win. That's a strike-rate of almost 75% so if the gap is still four when they begin their final rounds, Hadley is way too big at present.
Should English knock his birdie putt in though, and the gap gets reduced, the chances of the leader converting are altered considerably given the strike-rate for three-stroke leaders on the PGA Tour since 1996 is only 44%.
Having backed the leader at 6.05/1 at halfway, I'm happy to sit on my hands for now and see what happens. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that English misses and Hadley makes birdie and if that were to happen, five strokes is a huge lead. Since 1996, 29 players have led by five strokes with a round to go on the PGA Tour and only four of them failed to convert.
Although he struggled off the tee yesterday, and he currently trails by six, it would be ridiculous to rule out the world number one, Dustin Johnson, but given he doesn't have to return to the course early this morning to finish off and that he's only recently won twice on the European Tour, Garrick Higgo at 20.019/1 is my idea of the value play this morning.
This will feel like a free hit for the 22-year-old South African and he could do anything today. If he relaxes and feels he has nothing to lose he could just post a score that's low enough to win and I was happy to add him at 22.021/1 last night.
The only other feasible candidate is England's Tyrrell Hatton, who's four-under-par 67 yesterday was one of the strangest rounds ever recorded on the PGA Tour. There were no birdies and no bogeys in his third round but he double-bogeyed the second and eagled the fifth, the 15th and the 16th!
I'll be back later today with my US Open preview.
16:10 - June 12, 2021
It was impossible not to feel a bit sorry for Sweden's Caroline Hedwall this afternoon. Having coped better than most in the challenging and worsening conditions, the 32-year-old had a putt on the par five 16th to go three clear of the field and she was matched at a low of just 2.6213/8 but it all went a bit pear-shaped after that.
The six-time LET winner missed the birdie attempt and then drove into the water at the 17th. To her credit, she made a great par save on the last but her late slip has tightened up the field considerably. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 16:00.
Jason Scrivener -12 4.47/2
Rhys Enoch -12 9.08/1
Caroline Hedwall -12 9.08/1
Alice Hewson -12 20.019/1
Adrian Otaegui -11 9.417/2
Ashley Chesters -11 13.5
Scott Hend -11 16.5
James Morrison -11 16.015/1
David Drysdale -11 23.022/1
-9 and 30.029/1
Rhys Enoch and Jason Scrivener, matched in-running at highs of 650.0649/1 and 330.0329/1 respectively, were the big movers from off the pace this morning, before the wind blew at its hardest, and they'll be in tomorrow afternoon's final two-ball.
Scrivener's the man to beat according to the market but with nine players separated by a single stroke, he looks short enough given he's now 32 and yet to win on the European Tour.
It's been a tricky event to evaluate from the word go and it's still devilishly hard but Adrian Otaegui may be worth a punt at odds in excess of 8/1. The 28-year-old Spaniard has already won three European Tour events and he was especially impressive at the Scottish Championship in October when he fired a final round 63 to win by four.
I'll be back in the morning with a look at the Palmetto Championship with a round to go.
11:20 - June 12, 2021
After back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to tie the lead, Dustin Johnson was matched at a low of 1.454/9 to win the Palmetto Championship but a scruffy finish has seen him drift back to odds-against. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:10.
Chesson Hadley -11 5.95/1
Dustin Johnson -9 2.226/5
Tain Lee -7 60.059/1
Harris English -6 14.013/1
Erik Van Rooyen -6 29.028/1
Seamus Power -6 32.031/1
Pat Perez -6 32.031/1
Chez Reavie -6 40.039/1
Wilco Nienaber -6 44.043/1
-5 and 32.031/1 bar
Despite missing the 17th fairway by a country mile (made par) and making a double-bogey at his final hole, DJ heads the market and rightly so. As Justin Ray highlighted, he found something on Thursday and he's clearly the man to beat but yesterday's finish was a little disconcerting and I'm happy to swerve him at such a short price.
Dustin Johnson gained a season-high 5.53 strokes tee-to-green today in his bogey-free opening round 65.? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) June 10, 2021
He gained 2.4 strokes off the tee, also a season-high in any round.
DJ could very easily kick on over the weekend and win with ease and he's been well-backed to win his second US Open next week but I'm happy to pass him up after yesterday's funny finish and back the leader...
After missing four cuts in-a-row, Chesson Hadley was playing so poorly that he took a month off to reboot and it seems to have worked. Largely ignored before the off and generally a 630.0629/1 chance, Hadley has even surprised himself and there's a strong possibility that he could struggle over the weekend and that the first two rounds have just been a purple patch but he's the value at halfway.
It's now nine years since Hadley won his one and only PGA Tour title, at the Puerto Rico Open, but he's won four times on the Web.com Tour (twice in 2013 and twice in 2017) and although he's never led at this stage on the PGA Tour, he successfully converted both of his 36-hole leads on the Web.com Tour.
Excluding a couple of two-stroke leaders that subsequently withdrew (Jon Rahm last week and Hunter Mahan at the RBC Canadian in 2013), since 1996, 159 players have led a 72-hole PGA Tour event by a couple of strokes at halfway and exactly a third of them (53) went on to win.
With DJ his closest rival, Hadley's odds can't possibly sit in line with the record of two-stroke leaders but should DJ struggle, he has quite an advantage, with pre-event 1000.0 chance, Tain Lee, the only other player within four of his lead.
Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Chez Reavie, is amongst the group tied for fourth and five off the lead so I certainly haven't given up on him but Hadley looks the value at halfway.
The third round of the Scandinavian Mixed is well underway and currently live on Sky and as expected, the leaders have struggled. There's been lots of change on the leaderboard already and I'll be back later on with a look a that one at the conclusion of round three.
21:20 - June 11, 2021
Having been matched at a low of just 3.7511/4, pre-event favourite, Sam Horsfield, endured a terrible second round at the Scandinavian Mixed today, shooting ten more strokes than he'd shot on Thursday to tumble from tied first to tied 34th!
Co-first-round leader, Christine Wolf, faired only slightly better, shooting a level-par 72 to remain on -8, slipping back into a tie for 15th, and we can expect much change again tomorrow with tee-times moved up with the threat of poor weather in the forecast.
The wind is predicted to blow hard all day tomorrow, gusting up to 35 MPH in the afternoon, so I can see why the leaders tee-off as early as 7:40 and they're both worth swerving.
After an eight-under-par 64, Sweden's Caroline Hedwell leads on -13 with Joost Luiten one back and Steven Brown and Darren Fichardt tied for third on -11 but it's anyone's guess what the leaderboard looks like after tomorrow's third round.
At least one or two players will somehow carve out a decent score and we're bound to see plenty of change but I've gone through the field umpteen times in search of likely candidates and it's tough.
I quite like the chances of Ryan Fox but he's no value at around 20/1 given he trails by five. Aaron Rai is an interesting runner at 200/1 with the Sportsbook though...
Rai trails by fully eight strokes but that was as far as he trailed by at halfway when he won the Scottish Open last year when the wind got up in round three and I'm happy to take a very small chance on him each-way.
The second round of the Palmetto Championship is well underway and Dustin Johnson is trying hard to make inroads into Chesson Hadley's lead. I'll be back with a look at that event tomorrow once they've reached the halfway stage.
22:00 - June 10, 2021
Pre-tournament 15.014/1 favourite, Sam Horsfield, needed to birdie two of his last three holes at the Scandinavian Mixed (previewed here) to draw alongside Austria's Christine Wolf on eight-under-par and it was nice to see the first day end with the lead shared by a man and a woman but the early signs suggest a lady winning is highly unlikely.
England's Felicity Johnson is the only other woman inside the top-ten and the early indications suggest the men are likely to dominate.
According to Matt's stats in the tweet below, the men missed more fairways and greens than the women but they hit it closer to the pin and they scored considerably better and if that continues for four days, it's very difficult to see anything but a male winner.
Watching Thomas Bjorn, Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam play their first rounds today was very enjoyable and it's going to be fascinating to see how the event pans out but I'm more than happy to sit on my hands for now.
Horsfield won twice on the European Tour last year - the Hero Open in England at the beginning of August and the Celtic Classic in Wales just two weeks later - and he's very much the man to beat now but I'm happy to see what tomorrow brings.
Over on the PGA Tour, Dustin Johnson has found some form ahead of next week's US Open and at the time of writing, he shares the lead at the Palmetto Championship with Dave Tindall's First Round Leader tip, Doc Redman, after both men fired six-under-par 65s. The afternoon wave still have plenty of golf to play so fingers crossed nobody gets past DJ and the Doc.
Other than backing the Find Me a 100 Winner selections, who were all drawn in the afternoon today, I'm yet to get involved and I'm in no rush to side with anyone - especially Johnson. At 3.55/2, DJ is even shorter than Horsfield and he's a big mover in next week's market too...
Johnson touched a high of 21.020/1 in the US Open market before the off this week but he's now back in to 15.014/1.
I'll have another look at the Palmetto tomorrow morning and I'll update again if I get involved before round two starts.
Scandinavian Mixed Pre-Event Selection:
Emily Kristine Pedersen @ 50.049/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back 4 u Vincent Whaley @ 15/8 Top 30 Finish
Back 2 u Camilo Villegas @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 1 ½ u Satoshi Kodaira @ 190.0189/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Back 1 ½ u Chez Reavie @ 240.0239/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4
Palmetto Championship In-Picks:
Chesson Hadley @ 6.05/1
Garrick Higgo @ 22.021/1
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter