The Punter's In-Play Blog: Munoz the man to beat at Deere Run

Golfer Sebastian Munoz
A relaxed Sebastian Munoz after round three in Illinois

Sebastian Munoz takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of the John Deere Classic and our man rates his chances of converting...

"Given three of the four one-stroke 54 hole leaders at Deere Run went on to lift the trophy, the 4.03/1 available about Munoz on the exchange this morning looks more than fair."

10:00 - July 11, 2021

A second consecutive four-under-par 67 in round three sees pre-event pick, Sebastian Munoz, shows the way at Deere Run but with 11 players within three strokes, the John Deere Classic is tough to call. Here's the 54- hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:50.

Sebastian Munoz -16 4.03/1
Brandon Hagy -15 7.413/2
Kevin Na -14 10.09/1
Cameron Champ -14 13.012/1
Ryan Moore -14 13.012/1
Adam Long -14 17.016/1
Scott Brown -14 25.024/1
Maverick McNealy -13 18.017/1
Jhonattan Vegas -13 25.024/1
Chez Reavie -13 27.026/1
Luke List -13 30.029/1
-12 and 50.049/1 bar

Major champions Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau have all won the John Deere Classic from off the pace in the last decade. Johnson sat tied for third and only four off Troy Matteson's lead in 2012, Spieth won the first of his two titles a year later, having sat tied for sixth and six off the pace, and in 2017, DeChambeau came from four back and tied for fifth to claim the title.

Sean O'Hair won from five back and tied seventh in 2005 so since the tournament moved to Deere Run in 2000, we've seen winners come from four, five and even six back with a round to go but none of them have passed lots of traffic. O'Hair's tied seventh is the furthest down the leaderboard any winner has sat after three rounds.

The scoring is always good here and the chances of all 11 players listed above failing to go low are long but that didn't stop me putting a few pounds on Rafa Cabrera-Bello at huge odds.

The Spaniard is yet to win on the PGA Tour and his temperament in-contention has always been questionable but his ability to go low isn't in doubt. He got off the mark on the European Tour way back in 2009 when he shot 60 in round four to win the Austrian Open, having sat eight strokes off the lead with a round to go, and he won the Scottish Open back in 2017 having trailed by four. If there's to be a bizarre result, Rafa could provide it from five back and tied 15th. I've thrown a couple of pounds in his direction at 250.0249/1.

Having backed him before the off, I've tried hard to find a reason to desert the leader, or at least to lay some of my bet back at 4.03/1, but I can't.

Although we've witnessed some top-drawer players winning from off the pace here, we've also seen four of the last six renewals go the way of the third-round leader and it's impossible to crab the Colombian 's record in-the-mix...

On the first occasion he led after three rounds, he won in his homeland on the Korn Ferry Tour (at the 2016 Colombian Championship) and he also converted a one-stroke lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship to get off the mark on the PGA Tour in September 2019.

He lost a two-stroke lead at the Greenbrier Classic on the first occasion he led through three rounds on the PGA Tour back in 2017 (finished third) and he finished second at the LECOM Health Challenge on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018, having led by a stroke in 2018 but there's nothing in his record to suggest he's flaky and he's the man to beat.

Munoz's nearest rival, 30-year-old Brandon Hagy, is yet to win on any tour and on the two occasions he entered the final round in front on the Korn Ferry Tour, he finished fifth.

The bigger dangers to Munoz are sitting at least two adrift and if Kevin Na gets on a roll he could be in trouble but given three of the four one-stroke 54 hole leaders at Deere Run went on to lift the trophy, the 4.03/1 available about Munoz on the exchange this morning looks more than fair. He's a 3.259/4 chance on the Sportsbook and that looks about right.

I'll be back later today with my Open Championship preview.

21:45 - July 10, 2021

With just one round to go, Thomas Detry and Matthew Fitzpatrick are tied at the top at the Scottish Open but world number one, Jon Rahm, is hot on their heels and he's still the man to beat. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 21:40.

Matthew Fitzpatrick -14 3.814/5
Thomas Detry -14 6.86/1
Jon Rahm -13 2.962/1
Lucas Herbert -12 14.013/1
Scottie Scheffler -11 19.5
Min Woo Lee -11 60.059/1
Wade Ormsby -11 110.0109/1
Xander Schauffele -10 32.031/1
Lee Westwood -10 90.089/1
-10 and 120.0119/1 bar

Detry is yet to taste victory on the European Tour and I can see his wait for a win continuing.

In addition to having to cope with the pressure of getting that monkey off his back, he won't have the comfort of playing with his old mate, Jon Rahm, tomorrow. The pair played Palmer Cup together way back in 2014 and the Belgian clearly enjoyed being paired with the world number one today.

He'll be alongside Matthew Fitzpatrick in the final two-ball and it's impossible to make a case for taking on the Sheffield star. Fitzpatrick has already won six European Tour events and his record when leading or being tied for the lead after three rounds is exceptional.

He's been in front through 54 holes seven times and he's gone on to win on four occasions. The worst he's finished is second. Fitzpatrick claims he's not an especially good links player but I'm not convinced I believe that. He's going to be hard to beat but he doesn't look a fantastic price and the two men directly behind look extremely dangerous.

World number one, Rahm, tops the Greens In regulation stats after round three and if his putter warms up fractionally, he's clearly the one they all have to beat but he's not the only contender looking to win back-to-back events following his brilliant success in the US Open...

Australia's Lucas Herbert, who shot a brilliant 64 today, won the Irish Open last week and he ranks third for Putting Average after three rounds. He's improved his score each day and he'll go into tomorrow's final round feeling as if it's a free hit after he tucked away his second European Tour title last week.

Herbert led this event at halfway last year before getting derailed in round three in the foulest of weather but he rallied superbly on Sunday to finish fourth having sat tied for 22nd and six adrift on Sunday morning so we know this week's performance isn't just down to him riding a wave of adrenaline after last week. The course suits him and he looks a decent price at 14.013/1 given he trails by just two and that he has only three men ahead of him.

Having backed Rahm after the opening round at 4.94/1, I'm more than happy to let that position roll and add a small wager on Herbert.

I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the John Deere Classic. The third round is currently in progress and the action's live on Sky.

09:00 - July 10, 2021

After playing his first ten holes of round two in seven-under-par yesterday morning, world number one, Jon Rahm, was matched at just 1.4640/85 to win the Scottish Open but he played his last eight holes in one-over-par and at the halfway stage, he's tied for the lead with Thomas Detry and the first-round leader, Jack Senior. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:40

Jon Rahm -11 2.568/5
Thomas Detry -11 12.5
Jack Senior -11 38.037/1
Matt Fitzpatrick -10 8.27/1
Lee Westwood -10 14.013/1
George Coetzee -10 25.024/1
Justin Thomas -8 13.5
-8 and 30.029/1 bar

Despite his pedestrian finish to round two, Rahm is clearly the man to beat but his record when leading at halfway isn't spectacular. It's probably safe to assume that he would have won the Memorial Tournament a month ago when he had to withdraw after round three with a six-shot lead, due to a positive COVID test, having been two-clear after two rounds, but he's yet to actually convert a 36-hole lead or co-lead.

He's been tied for the lead at halfway on the PGA Tour three times and he led the 2017 WGC Dell Technologies Championship by two but he failed to convert on all four occasions. I'm not convinced we can read too much into that though given the way he powered on in round three of the Memorial Tournament.

Matt Fitzpatrick is the man the market considers most likely to trouble Rahm and now that he's finally won again, at the DP World Championship last year (an event both he and Rahm have won twice apiece), he commands plenty of respect.

Fitzpatrick had gone more than two years in-between victories, and he'd finished second on six occasions in-between his successful defence at the European Masters in 2018 and his win in Dubai in December. On occasions, he hadn't looked especially resilient in-the-mix but the win in Dubai will have changed all that and him winning wouldn't be anything of a surprise. He's yet to win an event on a links track but it's probably only a matter of time before he does, and it may well be as soon as Sunday.

Westwood and Fitzpatrick.jpg

My Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Lee Westwood, rallied superbly yesterday, finishing eagle-birdie-birdie when he had looked like drifting away and I'm hopeful that he can contend over the weekend but the one that looks fractionally big at this stage is Justin Thomas.

Only two years ago, when he finished ninth in this event, Thomas was talking about how he needed to continue to learn the craft of links play, which is why he's here when other big American names have swerved the event, and he's certainly going in the right direction.

That ninth-place finish could and should have been better as he shot 70 in round three to fall from sixth and three off the lead to 21st and eight back before a rallying 65 on Sunday. He followed that with a very respectable 11th in the Open at Royal Portrush the following week and at a bigger price than the perennially disappointing Thomas Detry, who's still yet to get off the mark on the European Tour, Thomas represents the value at halfway.

Although playing alongside his old friend Rahm, should help Detry today, he really is one to swerve and that connection is more likely to prove a fillip for the Spaniard than it is for the Belgian.

Justin Thomas is another to have seen his Open Championship odds slash and having hit a high of 36.035/1, he's now trading at around 24.023/1 and I'm amazed how well Rory McIlroy's price is holding up for next week's major.

Despite a disappointing performance in the Irish Open last week and a missed cut in Scotland this, McIlroy is still the second favourite behind Rahm and I can't see how. Surely the likes of Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson have better credentials now and yet all they've done is drift this week, presumably because they haven't played anywhere.

Over on the PGA Tour, the John Deere Classic is a tricky event to get to grips with. Here's the halfway way leaderboard with prices to back at 8:45.

Luke List -13 7.413/2
Sebastian Munoz -12 9.617/2
Ryan Moore -11 14.013/1
Lucas Glover -11 14.013/1
Chez Reavie -11 15.5
Brandon Hagy -11 19.018/1
Chesson Hadley -11 21.020/1
Adam Schenk -11 22.021/1
Chase Seiffert -11 29.028/1
Patrick Rodgers -10 26.025/1
Nick Taylor -10 38.037/1
Russell Henley -9 19.5
-9 and 32.031/1 bar

As highlighted yesterday, both of Jordan Spieth's victories at Deere Run came from off the pace and he trailed by five at halfway in both 2013 and 2015, as did the last John Deere Classic winner, Dylan Frittelli in 2019.

In addition to those three renewals, since the turn of the century we've witnessed another five winners come from at least four strokes back and it's abundantly clear that ground can be made up here.

The winner in 2000, Michael Clark, sat tied for 15th and eight off the lead, Sean O'Hair trailed by six in a tie for 14th before he won in 2005 and Jay Williamson was beaten in a playoff in 2008, having sat tied for 30th and eight off the lead at halfway.

Given there are as many as nine players within two of the lead and that it's perfectly possible to win from off the pace here, this is an event to be wary of and I'm certainly in no rush to side with the leader, Luke List, who at 36, is still in search of his first victory on the PGA Tour.

To his credit, he did very little wrong when losing a playoff at the Honda Classic in 2018 and he won on the Korn Ferry Tour last month when he couldn't get into the field at the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour but I'm more than happy to be onboard Sebastian Munoz in second and I wouldn't swap.

List won his only other Korn Ferry Tour event - the South Georgia Classic in 2012 - after leading at halfway but on the last four occasions he's led or been tied for the lead he's been beaten.

Of those within a couple of the lead, Dave Tindall's fancy, Lucas Glover, interests me the most. As highlighted in the preview, the Charles Schwab Challenge is an event that correlates well with this one and Glover finished eighth there last month having only just made the cut.

He made a huge move yesterday with an impressive eight-under-par 63 but like List, who also shot 63, he has to back that up today and it's ten years since Glover last won on the PGA Tour so at just 14.5 I can let him go unbacked.

The stats tell us that this is still wide open so it's not a tournament to get stuck into, but I was happy to add Jim Herman at a big price.

With three wins on the PGA Tour, and two in the last two years, the 43-year-old veteran is ridiculously prolific for someone that rarely contends so I thought he was big enough at 140.0139/1 given he trails by only five in a tie for 18th.

Jim Herman wins Wyndham.jpg

09:50 - July 9, 2021

This game certainly tests you at times. Following the frustration of Lee Westwood getting caught and passed at the Scottish Open yesterday by Jack Senior, scuppering the win part of the Find Me a 100 Winner first round leader bet, round one of the John Deere Classic has finished with last week's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Chesson Hadley, tied for the lead with Sebastian Munoz, the man I wanted to put up this week! I wrote this about in the column.

"Sebastian Munoz would have been a pick if his price of 100.099/1 had held out but he's been backed into 90.089/1 over the last 24 hours or so. The Colombian is a strong putter with a recent high finish in an event the correlates nicely (third at the Charles Schwab Challenge) so I can see why he's been supported."

Jordan Spieth has won this event from off the pace twice. He sat tied for 64th and six back after round one in 2013 and he was tied for 101st and eight adrift in 2015 but the majority of winners are up with the pace from the get-go.

The last four winners have been inside the top-ten and no more than four adrift after round one and we've seen four players either win or get beat in a playoff in the last 15 years, that have led after the first round.

Munoz ranks second for Greens In Regulation and third for Stroke Gained Tee to Green after round one and if he keeps playing like that he should be there or thereabouts on Sunday but the one that interests me the most today is Cameron Champ.

Champ has been putting very poorly of late but he appears to have found something if yesterday is anything to go by and I'm happy to chance him at 55.054/1 given he trails by only three in a tie for seventh.

23:20 - July 8, 2021

Pre-tournament 1000.0 chance, Jack Senior, leads the Scottish Open after a seven-under-par 66 around the Renaissance Course but a host of big names are tucked in behind and we've already seen plenty of movement in the Open Championship market.

Jon Rahm, who sits tied for fourth and two off the lead, has hardened up at the head of the market for next week's major and Justin Thomas' price has moved ten points south after his opening 65 which sees him sit one behind Senior, alongside my Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Lee Westwood.

Westwood's 55/1 place in the First Round Leader market provided some profit but it's fair to say I'm no big Senior fan.

It's obviously a wide-open event but with the forecast changing and the weather not looking anywhere near as bad as feared earlier in the week, I don't think the winner will come from too far off the pace. The scoring will continue to be good in benign conditions and making up ground will be tough.

It was impossible not to be impressed by Rahm today and there's nothing wrong with his price of 4.84/1. The world number one has a phenomenal strike-rate on the European Tour, winning six of his 19 starts, including his last two - the Open de Espana and the DP World Tour Championship in 2019.

Scottish Open Pre-Event Selections:
Tyrrell Hatton @ 23.022/1
Bernd Wiesberger @ 48.047/1

In-Play Picks:
Jon Rahm @ 4.94/1
Justin Thomas @ 13.5
Lucas Herbert @ 14.5

John Deere Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Troy Merritt @ 60.059/1
Patton Kizzire @ 60.059/1
Sebastian Munoz @ 90.089/1 (added after preview published)

In-Play Picks:
Cameron Champ @ 55.054/1
Jim Herman @ 140.0139/1
Rafa Cabrera Bello @ 250.0249/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Scottish Open
Back 2 u Andy Sullivan @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Back 2u Lee Westwood @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.35/4

Back 1u Lee Westwood @ 75.074/1 First Round Leader
1u each-way First Round Leader @ 56.055/1 Sportsbook

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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