Pre-tournament favourite and world number one, Dustin Johnson, has hit the front in Canada but is he a good thing to convert at odds-against? Read what Steve thinks ahead of today's final round here...
“DJ is looking for his 19th PGA Tour title, whereas the other three contenders are all looking for their first, and he really should be able to put that winning experience to good use on a track that he clearly loves.”
11:30 - July 29, 2018
Dustin Johnson birdied five of his first six holes in round three to hit the front, and to trade at odds-on at the RBC Canadian Open, but a wobbly spell saw him play his next seven holes in two-over-par before a quite brilliant approach from a fairway bunker on 14 sparked an impressive revival. Having hit [1.66] already, odds-on backers will be hoping he can get the deal done today and he's set himself a target of a 25-under-par total. Here are the current standings with prices to back at 11:25.
Profits have already been bagged in Germany, with pre-event pick, Richard McEvoy, backed at [170.0] and layed at an average of [5.4], but I've had a terrible week aside from that, and especially so at this event.
Pre-tournament pick, Bubba Watson, missed the cut and so too did Ben Crane, who I backed after round one! He followed an opening 66 with a second round 76 and yesterday's in-play pick, Joaquin Niemann, was as equally disappointing as my halfway play in Germany, Alex Levy. I really ought to take the hint and put the spade down but I'm very tempted to back DJ at odds-against.
I swerved him yesterday as his putting still looked shoddy (he took 32 on Friday) but the flat-stick behaved yesterday and he's definitely the one to beat now, with his three rivals all looking to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.
As a multiple winner on the European Tour, Byeong Hun An, is the biggest threat to DJ and he looks far and away the most likely man to benefit should the world number one misfire today. A win for Kevin Tway would be fitting, given his dad, Bob, won the title 15 years ago at Hamilton Golf and Country Club and Whee Kim has been threatening to break his duck for a while now but if Johnson performs even close to his best I can't help but think it's his to lose.
DJ is looking for his 19th PGA Tour title, whereas the other three contenders are all looking for their first, and he really should be able to put that winning experience to good use on a track that he clearly loves (already been second here twice previously).
Should I get a positive result in Germany, and provided his price doesn't drastically shorten before the off, I may well play up some winnings on DJ at around the 11/10 mark.
Either way, I'll be back tomorrow with the De-Brief.
20:30 - July 28, 2018
A weather delay of more than two hours made for a long day in Hamburg today but the third round of the Porsche European Open has finally finished and my pre-event pick, Richard McEvoy, and American, Bryson DeChambeau, are tied at the top with a round to go. Here's the latest standings with prices to back at 20:20.
With four players clear of Paul Casey alone in fifth, it's very hard to look beyond the front-five with a round to go. There wasn't an awful lot of change on the leaderboard today and last year's winner, Jordan Smith, was in front at this stage so I haven't looked beyond the main protagonists with a round to go.
I'm happy to dismiss Paul Casey, who's missed some very short putts this week. Of course, he could easily putt better tomorrow and he's far better from off the pace than he is on it but he threw away the Travelers Championship a month ago and I wonder how he'll react if he does strike the front? I'd wager poorly again.
Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Matthias Schwab, who has already hit the lay target, continues to impress and it surely won't be too long before the impressive young Austrian gets off on the European Tour and I'm delighted to see my man, McEvoy, still very much on the premises but with players like Casey, DeChambeau and the US Masters champ, Patrick Reed, in attendance, both the young Austrian and the veteran Englishman look set to miss out. If either of the two Americans put the afterburners on tomorrow, Schwab and McEvoy could soon be toast.
Obviously, I'll be cheering McEvoy on and he can gather much inspiration from the fact that only last week he won wire-to wire on the Challenge Tour. In an odd way, having such big names in and around the lead could help him to keep his expectations low and who knows, it might just be his lucky day tomorrow but it's highly likely that we're going to see the title going the way of an American, but which one?
DeChambeau holds the single stroke advantage over Reed but I prefer the latter. I'm not for a second crabbing Bryson's in-contention record but Patrick's a ruthless closer and I was quite surprised to be able to back him at [3.4] at the close of play. I layed some of my potential profit back on McEvoy in-running earlier and I've recycled some back on Reed.
The third round of the RBC Canadian Open is well underway and live on Sky and I'll be back again tomorrow with a look at that one with a round to go.
14:00 - July 28, 2018
After two rounds at the RBC Canadian Open, only one player, Ollie Schniederjans, has made more birdies than the halfway leader, Kevin Tway, but he's already on his way home! Incredibly, Ollie made seven on Thursday and eight yesterday but he still managed to miss the cut by five strokes having posted a +1 two round total. Here are the standings at halfway with prices to back at 13:55.
Kevin Tway -13 [9.0]
Keegan Bradley -12 [8.8]
Whee Kim -12 [17.5]
Byeong Hun An -11 [12.0]
Johnson Wagner -11 [32.0]
Dustin Johnson -10 [3.7]
Joaquin Niemann -10 [13.5]
Aaron Baddeley -10 [50.0]
Zac Blair -10 [55.0]
-9 and [30.0] bar
The very obvious presence inside the top-nine, listed above, is pre-tournament favourite and world number one, Dustin Johnson. His long game's in great nick again and he ranks first for Strokes Gained Off the Tee but his scrambling and putting figures aren't great and he looks a shade short to me. This is basically a birdie-fest so there's no let up and he'll need to start holing more. He also looks a little on the short side given how open the tournament is and from how far back we've seen some recent winners come from here...
Jhonattan Vegas trailed by three in a tie for tenth at this stage last year when he doubled-up but he came from five back and outside the top-20 when he won here for the first time in 2016. The 2015 winner, Jason Day, was only four adrift at this stage but on the previous occasion this venue was used, in 2013, Brandt Snedeker won having trailed by eight at halfway!
It's tempting to throw a few pounds at a few outsiders from off the pace, given the recent stats, but I'm happy to have a very small bet on teenage sensation, Joaquin Niemann, who's been hitting greens relentlessly so far this week. It's only a matter of time before he gets off the mark and I thought he was fairly priced at [13.5].
18:20 - July 27, 2018
The wind picked up fractionally this afternoon but it wasn't enough to put off first round leader, Bryson DeChambeau, who birdied four of his last seven hole to continue to hold sway. Here's the 36 holes leaderboard with prices to back at 18:15.
Bryson DeChambeau -10 [3.4]
Marcus Schwab -9 [12.0]
Richard McEvoy -7 [26.0]
Patrick Reed -8 [4.8]
Romain Wattel -8 [28.0]
David Drysdale -8 [20.0]
Alex Levy -7 [13.0]
Bradley Dredge -7 [50.0]
Paul Casey -6 [12.5]
Jeunghun Wang -6 [40.0]
Renato Paratore -6 [70.0]
Philip Mejow -6 [200.0]
-5 and [42.0] bar
There's no reason to think DeChambeau can't go on to convert, or that US Masters winner, Patrick Reed, who putted really well today, can't go on to win either but they're both short enough in the market and as a result, there might just be a little value elsewhere.
Austria's Marcus Schwab is improving nicely, I'm delighted to see pre-event pick, Richard McEvoy, has moved in to a tie for second and I managed to get a tiny bet matched on Jeunghun Wang at a decent price as he finished round two strongly but the one I like best at this stage is Alex Levy.
It's a job to know which Levy will turn up over the weekend and he's been a bit out of sorts for a while but this course clearly suits him (he was beaten in a playoff 12 months ago) and he might just have turned a corner today. He finished really well with birdies at his last four holes.
One of the reasons Levy has been struggling of late is his immense desire to get in to the European Ryder Cup team ahead of September's biannual battle at Paris National. To represent his country in it's capital would be a career defining achievement and with a place on the team within his sights, it's been weighing heavy on his shoulders. So much so, that the dream is fading fast but it was very encouraging to see him play well alongside the European team captain, Thomas Bjorn, for the first two days and he may just be the one to benefit should the Americans fail.
I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the RBC Canadian Open once they've reached the halfway stage.
11:10 - July 27, 2018
After what was a fantastic week's entertainment at Carnoustie, this week's golf has a bit of an 'after the Lord Major's show' feel about it and I must confess, I'm struggling to muster much enthusiasm for the Porsche European Open in particular.
The long, largely featureless Porsche Nord Course has little about it to get the juices flowing and having all my pre-event picks struggle doesn't help much either.
Bryson DeChambeau led after the opening round and he's been matched at low of [3.9] already but I'm happy to sit on my hands for now. We have to go all the way back to the Qatar Masters in February to find the last first round leader to go on to win on the European Tour (Eddie Pepperell) and it's more than a year since a solo first round leader when on to win (Matt Wallace - 2017 Portugal Masters).
This isn't the first time Bryson's led on the European Tour. He was one clear after day one of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Championship but he finished 54th! Of course, he's a very different player now, and a two-time PGA Tour winner, but even so, I was happy to swerve him at around 3/1 and I'm happy to continue to sit on my hands.
US Masters champ, Patrick Reed, is on the move this morning, after a grumpy day yesterday that was saved by birdies at his last two holes. He didn't endear himself to anyone with his bad-tempered outburst below but it doesn't appear to have unduly affected him and he's now hit the front.
It looks a tough one to call with the cream rising to the top. Last year's runner-up, Alex Levy, is making a move this morning, Paul Casey is lurking at just three off the lead and Joe Dyer's each-way fancy, Scott Hend, who like DeChambeau and Casey, tees off this afternoon, is also on the premises. The value could be with the early starters today though. The wind looks like it might be getting up now and the afternoon starters on day one shot an average of almost a shot more than the early starters yesterday.
Over at the RBC Canadian Open, the first round is yet to be finished, thanks to a dangerous weather break yesterday afternoon, but it doesn't look like anyone will catch Robert Garrigus, who fired a nine-under-par 63 yesterday morning.
My two pre-event picks, Bubba Watson and Jhonattan Vegas have been disappointing and I'm largely happy to play the waiting game here for now too but I mentioned the link to Torrey Pines in the preview and I felt the 2010 Farmers Insurance Open winner there, Ben Crane, was big enough to chance modestly at an average of [110.0], after he began the tournament with a six-under-par 66 to sit tied for fourth.
Porsche European Open Pre-Event Selections:
Julien Guerrier @ [110.0]
Richard McEvoy @ [170.0]
Tapio Pulkkanen @ [250.0]
Sebastian Heisele @ [250.0]
Alexander Knappe @ [250.0]
Pedro Oriol @ [300.0]
RBC Canadian Open Pre-Event Selections:
Bubba Watson @ [27.0]
Jhonattan Vegas @ [75.0]
Ben Crane @ [110.0]
Joaquin Niemann @ [13.5]
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