The Punter's In-Play Blog: DJ leads but is he vulnerable in front?

Golfer Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson – the third round leader at Hilton Head

There's just a round to go at the RBC Heritage and world number one, Dustin Johnson, is out in front but the stats suggest that isn't the place to be. Read Steve's final in-play thoughts for the week here...

“The last six third round leaders have all been beaten and the last five winners have been trailing by at least four strokes at this stage so win or lose, backing DJ makes no appeal at the price.”

11:20 - April 21, 2019

Despite bogeying two of his last three holes in round three yesterday, pre-event favourite, Dustin Johnson leads the RBC Heritage with a round to go. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:15.

Dustin Johnson -10 2.6613/8
Ian Poulter -9 7.613/2
Shane Lowry -9 12.011/1
Rory Sabbatini -9 16.015/1
Patrick Cantlay -8 10.519/2
C.T Pan -8 36.035/1
-5 and 25.024/1 bar

DJ is clearly the man to beat and he's converted each of his last three 54 hole leads -at the WGC Mexico Championship and Saudi International in February and at the Canadian Open last July - but I'm in no rush to steam in at around 13/8.

The world number one has already been matched at 1.564/7, following three-birdies in-a-row on the back nine yesterday, that saw him go a couple clear of the field, but he bogeyed two of his last three holes and one could argue that he rode his luck a bit yesterday. He was fairly inaccurate off the tee at times and his birdie two at the tough par three 14th (below) could have very easily been a bogey or even worse. Would it have gone in the water if it hadn't been on line?

Looking at the three players tied for second, Paul Krishnamurty's fancy, Rory Sabbatini, who's already hit the first lay back target, looks fairly priced at 16.015/1 given he knows how to win. Shane Lowry was matched at just 3.052/1 yesterday but he hit a wall on the back nine, failing to make a single birdie before bogeying three of the last six holes, but I'm not surprised that Ian Poulter is a much shorter price than both of them to take the title. Poults clearly loves it here and he led with a round to go 12 months ago. A four-over 75 saw him finish seventh but third round leaders have an awful record here of late and that's another reason why I'm happy to overlook DJ.

As highlighted in the preview, the last six third round leaders have all been beaten and the last five winners have been trailing by at least four strokes at this stage so win or lose, backing DJ makes no appeal at the price.

I've added two for now and I'll be monitoring the early play later for anyone getting off to a fast start. It's difficult to pick out who might perform well today but I've plumped for a pair who experienced very different days yesterday...

Looking for his first PGA Tour title, Trey Mullinax stuttered in round three so needs to bounce back today, whereas Webb Simpson, who only just made the cut, shot a superb bogey-free, six-under-par 65 to get to within four of the lead. I thought they both looked a little over priced at 44.043/1 and 65.064/1 respectively.

09:35 - April 20, 2019

The stormy weather forecasted did arrive at Hilton Head yesterday and play was suspended at the RBC Heritage for three hours and 43 minutes in the afternoon. It wasn't an unexpected occurrence and I thought we might see a complete loss of all afternoon play after the suspension but they came back out at 16:31 local time so the advantage I thought those drawn AM-Pm was largely lost.

Had play been called for the day, those due to play yesterday afternoon would have got to play their second rounds, or the majority of their second rounds, this morning in far calmer conditions but it hasn't worked out that way and a number of players dropped shots as darkness descended yesterday.

Jordan Spieth is having fun and games over on the 13th, having bogeyed the 12th, and one of my picks, Graeme McDowell, got to within two of the lead but he finished bogey-bogey before the hooter went. He still has five holes of round two to play.

The first round leader, Shane Lowry, who birdied his first two holes of round two before the suspension, has just two holes left to play. Here's the latest leaderboard with prices to back at 9:25 and, where applicable, holes played in round two.

Shane Lowry -9 (played 16 holes in round two) 8.88/1
Trey Mullinax -8 20.019/1
Dustin Johnson -7 3.8514/5
Emiliano Grillo -7 18.5
Rory Sabbatini -6 50.049/1
C.T Pan -6 60.059/1
-5 and 24.023/1 bar

I can't help thinking the best tactic here is to continue to watch and wait. There's a danger that Dustin Johnson could get away from the field and continue to shorten up but there's a long way to go still and the last five winners have all trailed by at least four strokes at halfway. With 11 players tied for seventh and only four adrift of Lowry's lead and a further 11 tied for 18th and five off the lead, it looks far too open to get seriously involved but I can't resist a small play on the in-form 2014 winner, Matt Kuchar, who looks just too big to ignore at 48.047/1.

Kuchar is one of those tied for 18th and five off the lead so he has work to do but he loves it here, he's already won twice this season, and he's no bigger than 40/1 on the High Street. I'm more than happy to take a small chance at 48.047/1.

I'll be back tomorrow when, hopefully, we'll be back on track with just one round to go.

08:00 - April 19, 2019

Shane Lowry, playing in the morning wave of starters yesterday, shrugged off last week's missed cut at Augusta in fine style to fire an impressive bogey-free 64 at Hilton Head to lead the RBC Heritage by a stroke after round one.

Lowry heads a quintet tied for second on -5 and of the five, only Ryan Palmer teed off in the afternoon but curiously, those that did start later averaged slightly better scores overall. Thursday's overall scoring average was 71.03 but the afternoon starters only averaged 70.39 compared to the 71.68 averaged in the morning.

Pre-event favourite, Dustin Johnson, has hardened up at the head of the market (now trading at 6.86/1) after a three-under-par 68 yesterday afternoon that sees him sitting tied for 15th but he might just find he's on the wrong side of the draw after today. The weather forecast looks really bad today, with winds gusting to over 40 knots, and a suspension of play is a distinct possibility with heavy rain and storms predicted as the day wares on.

If we do see a suspension of any length today, those, like Lowry, that played yesterday morning, that are due to play this afternoon, could well get a complete reprieve until tomorrow. The forecast advises of another windy day tomorrow but far less so than today and if today's afternoon starters don't get out until tomorrow, they're almost certain to be advantaged quite considerably.

With the weather such an unknown, I'm going to sit on my hands for now and see what today brings but it was always my intension to play the waiting game anyway. As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, we've seen all sorts of fun and games here on a Sunday so keeping plenty of powder dry until then makes sense.

I'll be back in the morning when we may or may not have reached the halfway stage.

Pre-Event Selections:
Matthew Fitzpatrick @ 50/1 (Sportsbook)
Graeme McDowell @ 65.064/1
Luke Donald @ 75.074/1
Aaron Baddeley @ 140.0139/1
Patton Kizzire @ 140.0139/1
Zach Johnson @ 170.0169/1
Kevin Streelman @ 180.0179/1
Russell Henley @ 250.0249/1
Austin Cook @ 350.0349/1
Sam Burns @ 360.0359/1
MacKenzie Hughes @ 460.0459/1
J.J Spaun @ 600.0599/1

In-Play Picks:
Matt Kuchar @ 48.047/1
Trey Mullinax @ 44.043/1
Webb Simpson @ 65.064/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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