12:05 - January 17, 2016
The final round of the Joburg Open is currently live on Sky Sports but I've now turned my attention to the Sony Open. Here's the third round leaderboard with prices to back at midday.
Brandt Snedeker -16 2.829/5
Zac Blair -16 5.69/2
Kevin Kisner -15 3.8514/5
Si Woo Kim -14 18.017/1
Fabian Gomez -12 55.054/1
-11 and 55.054/1 Bar
History suggests the winner will come from the front three on the leaderboard here. Looking all the way back to 1970, only eight winners were outside the top-three with a round to go and winning from off the pace is really rare. Grier Jones was five back in 1972 and both Corey Pavin (in 1987) and Lanny Wadkins (1991) were six adrift but in the 24 years since, Vijay Singh, who trailed by four strokes in 2004, is the only winner to me more than three strokes off the lead.
Snedeker heads the market and rightly so. The putts didn't drop yesterday but he's still in command and he's successfully converted a lead or co-lead on three of the last four occasions he's been in this sort of position. I'm not sure he's the value now though.
I'm not keen on the chances of co-leader, Zac Blair, who's looking for his first win on the PGA Tour. He clearly has a bright future ahead of him and he will win in time but Kevin Kisner looks a much bigger danger to Snedeker and he looks a value price at anything above 3.55/2.
Kisner finished 2015 brilliantly - finishing second at the HSBC Champions in China and winning the RSM Classic - and he started 2016 well last week with a top-ten finish at Kapalua. He'll be relaxed and confident ahead of the final round and if I hadn't been involved until now, he'd be my fancy, so I've layed some of my Snedeker bet back and made Kisner a winner too.
The negatives that apply to Blair, also apply to Si Woo Kim - getting off the mark on the PGA Tour here looks unlikely. Russel Henley won three years ago at the first attempt but he was the first winner since the 1990s not to have played the course at least twice and he was the first winner in his 20s to win since Paul Stankowski in 1997.
I'll give an honorary mention to my pre-event pick, Fabian Gomez, who sits alone in fifth, but his lacklustre first round left him too much to do and frustratingly, he appears too far back still.
I'll be back tomorrow with my de-brief.
09:55 - January 17, 2016
The fourth and final round of the Joburg Open is up and running and will be live on Sky Sports very shortly - at 10:00. One of my pre-event picks, Paul Dunne, sits tied for fourth alongside halfway leader, Ross McGowan, America's Daniel Im and Mike Norman's 125/1 each-way pick, Jacques Blaauw, so I've got plenty of interest still.
England's Anthony Wall, who's only ever won once on the European Tour (16 years ago!), is tied at the top with promising young South African's Zander Lombard and Haydn Porteous and those three are two strokes clear.
With so much inexperience at the top of the leaderboard, it's still a really tricky one to call and I'm just going to let it roll and shout on Dunne and Blaauw. If forced to pick out a bet at this stage, I'd probably go for Porteous, who at just 21-years-old, has plenty of scope. He's already a winner on the Challenge Tour - winning the Kenya Open last April - and I'd certainly prefer to take a chance on him or Lombard, rather than back Wall at a shorter price. Wall has been playing on the European Tour for a very long time (now aged 40) and he's had numerous chances to double his tally.
Wall's sole victory came in the 2000 Alfred Dunhill Championship, which was reduced to just 54-holes, and he's led or been within one of the lead with a round to go on seven previous occasions without converting.
I can't see anyone taking up the running and powering to the line here and I expect all sorts of dramas. Taking on anyone that trades very short may pay dividends and I can also see someone winning from some way off the pace so getting with anyone that posts a score from deep could be the way to go too.
I'll be back soon with a detailed look at the current state of play at the Sony Open.
10:45 - January 16, 2016
The cream has already risen to the top at the Sony Open, with Brandt Snedeker showing the way. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 10:30 UK time.
Brandt Snedeker -12 4.3100/30
Kevin Kisner -11 5.49/2
Zach Johnson -10 9.28/1
Luke Donald -10 16.5
Zac Blair -10 30.029/1
Chez Reavie -10 38.037/1
Scott Piercy -9 25.024/1
Jerry Kelly -9 32.031/1
Sean O'Hair -9 36.035/1
Morgan Hoffman -9 42.041/1
Si Woo Kim -9 80.079/1
-8 and 38.037/1 Bar
Waialae Country Club isn't an easy place to come from behind so we probably need to concentrate on the 11 players listed above. Vijay Singh came from tied 11th and five off the lead in 2005 but he's the only winner this century to be outside the top-ten at this stage and five behind is the furthest any winner has trailed by over that period.
Even if we eliminate everyone on -8 and below, there are still a number of very strong candidates for the title. Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Jerry Kelly, who won the title in 2002, is nicely poised and Scott Piercy looks dangerous. Luke Donald has played well here in the past and arguably should have won in 2007. It's great to see him back in-contention on the PGA Tour after even considering retirement, but I fancy there are sharper, more recently battle-hardened players to side with and I like the ones at the very top.
I nibbled away at Snedeker last night and I've added Zach Johnson this morning at what looks a tasty price. The reigning Open Champ and 2009 Sony winner is a best priced 7/1 on the High Street so I was surprised to see him as big as 9.28/1.
The third round of the Joburg Open has just started and it's live on Sky. It looks a minefield and I still haven't made an in-running move there but I'll be back in the morning with a look at both events with around to go.
18.15 - January 15, 2016
We've reached the halfway stage of the Joburg Open and although England's Ross McGowan has established a three-stroke lead over the remainder, the event is still wide open.
The Sportsbook go an industry best priced 11/2 about McGowan and he's 7.06/1 on the exchange but I don't fancy backing him. The 33-year-old is a winner on the European Tour, he claimed the now defunct Madrid Open in 2009, and he won on the Sunshine Tour last April but winning here would be a huge deal.
Following his win in Spain, McGowan lost his form completely, largely due to injury, and he lost his European Tour card in 2011. He's been in the wilderness a bit since then but he regained his European playing privileges via Q-School last year. It would be great to see him win again but he's really going to have his work cut out to keep the pack at bay here and it's never easy to back up a low round. He shot a nine-under-par 62 on the easier West Course today.
Between 2010 and 2014, classy South Africans, Charl Schwartzel (twice), Branden Grace, Richard Sterne and George Coetzee, won the title having been right up with the pace. None of them were further than a stroke back at this stage and Charl (once) and Sterne were both tied for the lead but the other four winners have come from further back. And some of them have come from much further back...
Andy Sullivan sat in a tie for 21st and five off the lead at this stage last year, Sterne won the first of his two titles from six adrift at this stage in 2008 and when Anders Hansen won a year later, he was tied for 49th and fully eight strokes adrift at halfway!
There are 19 players within three strokes of each other behind the clear leader and so if McGowan comes back to the field - as I suspect he will - the event is extremely competitive. I've looked hard at the leaderboard but there isn't anyone I want to side with so I'm going to stick with what I have for now, which isn't much, and see what tomorrow brings.
All five of my extremely modest pre-event picks have made the cut and Paul Dunne, who's five off the lead and tied eighth, is faring best.
Over at the Sony Open, the weather was kind on day one and the scoring good but my three pre-event picks have all started poorly. Peter Malnati and Robert Gomez are six shots off the lead, after a pair of one-under-par 69s, and Chris Kirk is even further back, having opened up with a dire four-over-par 74.
Five players are tied at the top and I'm a tiny bit miffed that one of the five is Brandt Snedeker. As stated, in the preview, he was the one towards the head of the market I came closest to backing.
The second round has just gotten underway and I'll be monitoring play to see if I want to side with anyone in-running. With 19 players within two strokes of the lead, it's far too tight to get stuck in right now but as highlighted in the In-Play section of the preview, Waialae isn't a catch-up course so I might get involved as the second round develops and if I do I'll post any bets to Twitter.
I'll post again in the morning with a more detailed look at the state of play in Hawaii at the halfway stage.
Joburg Open Pre-Event Selections:
Brandon Stone @ 28.027/1
George Coetzee @ 30/1 (Sportsbook)
Trevor Fisher Jnr @ 30.029/1
Christiaan Bezuidenhout @ 55.054/1
Paul Dunne @ 85.084/1
Sony Open Pre-Event Selections:
Chris Kirk @ 55.054/1
Fabian Gomez @ 110.0109/1
Peter Malnati @ 110.0109/1
Sony Open In-Play Picks
Brandt Snedeker @ 4.77/2
Zach Johnson @ 9.28/1
Brandt Snedeker layed @ 2.89/5
Kevin Kisner backed @ 3.8514/5
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter