The Punter's In-Play Blog: Woodland putting well enough to win again

Gary Woodland – in-contention in Vegas
Gary Woodland – in-contention in Vegas

There's just one round to go at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open on the PGA Tour so read Steve's final in-running thoughts for the week here...

“Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay, who were both well-fancied before the off, and my pre-event pick, Chesson Hadley, are all contenders if the top two struggle but Woodland looks the value given the flatstick’s behaving and I’ve recycled some of the Spaun stakes on him at 16.015/1.”

10:25 - December 05, 2017

Windy weather has created a very different Shriners Hospital for Children Open than we're used to. The joint leaders after three rounds, J.J Spaun and Beau Hossler, sit on nine-under-par and that's the highest leading third-round total by six strokes since the tournament went to one course in 2008. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 10:20.

J.J Spaun -9 3.8514/5
Beau Hossler -9 4.03/1

Tony Finau -6 6.611/2

Patrick Cantlay -5 13.5
Gary Woodland -5 16.015/1
Chesson Hadley -5 17.5
Tom Hoge -5 30.029/1

-4 and 55.054/1 bar

A ten foot par putt on the 18th yesterday kept J.J Spaun tied for the lead with Beau Hossler and it's hard to know whether they're far enough clear given the calibre of the chasers and that both men are looking to get off the mark on the PGA Tour.

Hossler's bogey-free 66 in very tricky conditions yesterday was a cracking effort and the best round of the day but can he back that up today with the chance of his first title on the line? Although he didn't score brilliantly, Spaun did well to hold it all together yesterday and having the experience of the pressure of the lead yesterday could well stand him in good stead today. The market is right to slightly favour him over Hossler and third round leaders have great record here but the chasing pack is exceptionally strong and I can't help but think both leaders look a little vulnerable.

I thought Spaun was a great price on Friday night and so had a reasonable wager but I've layed a bit back now and the one that catches the eye today is Gary Woodland...

Woodland enjoys Nevada and he has a very good record in the Barracuda Championship in Reno. His name cropped up fairly quickly when researching the event but with putting so important here, it didn't take me long to discount him. Woodland's tee to green game is nearly always very good but his putting can be awful. So far this week, it hasn't been though and according to the in-running stats, he's putting as well as anyone. He ranks 10th for Strokes Gained Putting for the week so far and that's an awful lot better than usual.

Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay, who were both well-fancied before the off, and my pre-event pick, Chesson Hadley, are all contenders if the top two struggle but Woodland looks the value given the flatstick's behaving and I've recycled some of the Spaun stakes on him at 16.015/1.

16:20 - December 04, 2017

Nicolas Colsaerts seemed to keep hold his nerve well in the early stages of round three of the Turkish Airlines Open but having been matched at a low of 1.910/11, his challenge started to unravel when he found water on the 11th with his approach. He went on to drop two more strokes and after a disappointing two-over-par 73, he now trails by two. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 16:10.

Shane Lowry -14 4.03/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat -14 4.3100/30

Justin Rose -12 4.94/1
Nicolas Colsaerts-12 15.5
Padraig Harrington -12 16.5

Thomas Pieters -11 18.5

-10 and 40.039/1 bar

A combined bet on the front two, Shane Lowry and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, currently pays a shade over even money but that doesn't interest me at all.

Lowry has only ever led or co-led twice and he was under immense pressure on both occasions. Back in 2009, he won the Irish Open as an amateur, having begun round four tied for the lead, but he had to wait seven years to lead again after 54 holes and it didn't go well. He led the 2016 US Open by four strokes but he ended the event three adrift of Dustin Johnson and it's taken him a while to get over the disappointment.

In addition to his homeland success, Lowry has won the Portugal Masters in 2012 and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational three years later and on both occasions he came from slightly off the pace. He trailed by four in Portugal and two in Ohio.

Lowry isn't especially prolific and he was very disappointing on the last occasion he held a chance to win - at the BMW PGA at Wentworth in May. Lowry eventually finished sixth behind Alex Noren but he looked a likely winner when he stood over a short birdie opportunity at the 14th hole. He was matched at just 3.02/1 before missing the putt and driving out of bounds on the very next tee and that performance left a bit of an impression on me. I'm happy to swerve him here.

If you knock on the door regularly enough it will eventually open is an adage heard plenty of times when watching golf but the more times the knock goes unanswered the less faith the knocker tends to have and I just wonder whether this will be another missed opportunity for Aphibarnrat. He's been in quite brilliant form for a while now but he threw away the KLM Open in September and he hit 1.42/5 at the Italian Open last month before making a complete mess of the 16th hole to eventually finish second. His excellent form deserves a victory but you don't always get what you deserve in this game and I wouldn't be surprised if he came up short again tomorrow.

Colsaerts will feel freer chasing tomorrow and I've backed him back to cover my lay. I don't really expect him to win but it made sense to shave off a fraction of the profits to enjoy a stress-free Sunday - especially given I'm going to the Man City -Arsenal game and won't find it easy to trade.

I'd be very happy to see Padraig Harrington back up today's low third round to take the title, as I backed him after round one, but of the leading contenders, the one I like is last week's winner, Justin Rose. Of all the frontrunners, Rose looks the most likely to deliver again tomorrow but I'm happy to leave him alone too.

Low scores are perfectly possible here and I can see us getting an off the pace winner. There are six players tied for seventh and four of the lead and six tied for 13th and five back. It's almost inconceivable that none of those 12 will go low tomorrow and the one I like is the defending champ, Thorbjørn Olesen.

09:40 - December 04, 2017

The third round of the Turkish Airlines Open is in progress and I'll be back at the close of play with a look at that one. Nothing's changed since yesterday's update but I did get another small bet matched overnight. I tried to lay the clear leader, Nicolas Colsaerts, in the top-five and top-ten markets and also in the each-way market but all I was able to get matched, at a price I wanted to lay, was a small bet in the each-way market at 2.829/5.

The action is currently live on Sky Sports and Colsaerts has just parred the first two holes.

Over at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, the second round hasn't quite finished (due to darkness) but the scene has been set. Kelly Kraft trails JJ Spaun by three strokes and he still has two and half holes to play but I'd be surprised if that has a huge bearing on the market. I couldn't establish where he was on the par five 16th hole - the shot tracker on the PGA Tour website ambiguously states he's played his third shot from the fairway but it fails to inform where it's landed. He may well pick up a birdie there but 17 and 18 are no pushovers so I suspect Spaun will begin round three at least two clear. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back at 09:30.

J.J Spaun -11 3.613/5

Kelly Kraft -8 12.5 (played 15 holes of round two)

Robert Garrigus -7 17.016/1

Patton Kizzire -6 16.015/1
Aaron Baddeley -6 22.021/1

Whee Kim -5 30.029/1
Stephan Jaeger -5 55.054/1

-4 and 17.016/1 bar

This isn't a strong leaderboard by any means and I fancy Spaun is a cracking price at around the 5/2 mark. As stated in the preview, six of the last ten winners have been in front after 36 holes so leading at halfway here is a big plus. Two of the four winners that weren't in front had trailed by a solitary stroke and Ben Martin, the winner in 2014, was still only tied for fifth and two off the lead through 36 holes. Being up with the pace is usually essential.

Spaun won nicely enough on the Tour last August when tied for the lead through 36 holes and he may well take some catching. I managed to get matched at an average of 3.711/4 last night but anywhere around the 3.55/2 mark looks more than fair.

16:10 - December 03, 2017

Back-to-back seven-under-par 64s have seen Nicolas Colsaerts ease four clear at the Turkish Airlines Open with two rounds to play. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 16:00.

Nicolas Colsaerts -14 2.789/5

Eddie Pepperell -10 8.415/2

Kiradech Aphibarnrat -9 11.521/2

Matthew Fitzpatrick -8 12.011/1
Shane Lowry -8 14.013/1
Matthew Southgate -8 44.043/1
Stephen Gallacher -8 46.045/1

Lee Westwood -7 36.035/1

Peter Uihlein -6 40.039/1
Thomas Pieters -6 44.043/1
Soren Kjeldsen -6 60.059/1
Jordan Smith -6 80.079/1

-5 and 25.024/1 bar

Thorbjorn Olesen was six clear at this stage 12 months ago before going on to win by three but it wasn't all plain sailing and I don't suspect it will be for Colsaerts this year either. Four strokes is a big lead but there's a long way to go yet and he looks vulnerable to me.

He's never led by this many but Colsaerts has led or been tied for the lead at this stage eight times previously and he's only gone on to win once - at the Dutch Futures event on the Challenge Tour in 2009. He's only ever won twice on the European Tour and the second of those two victories was in the now defunct Volvo Match Play event five years ago so he's only actually won one stroke play tournament - the 2011 Volvo China Open.

On the last eight occasions that he's been within a couple of the lead at halfway he's gone backwards and he just doesn't inspire any confidence. At the Alfred Dunhill Links a month ago he sat third and two off the lead through 36 holes but shot rounds of 73 and 71 to finish 25th! In July, he fell from sixth to 19th with weekend rounds of 78 and 68 at the Scottish Open and it just goes on and on. Twice last year he sat within one of the lead before finishing 22nd and 27th and in 2015 he fell from third to 20th at the Italian Open.

How he starts tomorrow will be crucial. It is possible for even the flakiest players to get far enough clear that they relax and just go further clear but any sort of shaky start could lead to an out and out implosion and he looks worth taking on. He's drifted since the close of play and I can see why. I've layed him at 2.6213/8 and I'm also going to look to lay him in the place markets.

My bets have been poor so far, with my each-way selection, Peter Uihlein, who's tied for ninth, fairing best but Padraig Harrington, who I backed after round one, did supply a bit of a magic on the second hole this morning. How's this for an up-and-down!

Over at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, the morning starters were greatly advantaged yesterday as the wind picked up in the afternoon. Sod's law, of course, dictated that all my four picks were drawn in the afternoon so I'm behind the eight ball there too.

The second round has begun and it looks wide open so I'm going to leave that alone for now and take a look at the close of play.

15:35 - December 02, 2017

I thought I was going to have a good first day when my first glance at the Turkish Airlines Open leaderboard revealed one of my three picks, Lucas Bjerregaard, at the top following three straight birdies but it all went a bit pear-shaped after that and all three of my picks look to have too much on their plate already.

Dan Geraghty's each-way pick, Haydn Porteous, shares the early lead with Joost Luiten and Nicolas Colsaerts but the one I like is Mike Norman's pick, Tyrell Hatton, who trails the leading trio by three strokes after a four-under-par 67 to kick off the tournament.

I was lucky enough to get a small bet matched at 11.010/1 at the close of play but he's a fair price at anywhere around the 10.09/1 mark. His form of late has been incredible and after a decent start I can't see any reason why he won't contend. He was a fair price at around the 12/1 mark before the off so I was more than happy to take just a few ticks shorter now that he sits inside the top-ten and ties after round one.

In addition to the Hatton bet, I've thrown a few pounds at Padraig Harrington at an insultingly big 34.033/1. The three-time major winner won the Portugal Masters this time last year so he's no back number just yet and I thought that was big enough given he trails by only a stroke after the first day's play.

The Shriners Hospital for Children Open, which I previewed here, has only just kicked off and all of my picks have been assigned an afternoon tee-time today.

Turkish Airlines Open Pre-Event Selections:
Peter Uihlein @ 36.035/1
Alex Levy @ 55.054/1
Lucas Bjerregaard @ 90.089/1

In-Play Picks:
Tyrrell Hatton @ 11.010/1
Padraig Harrington @ 34.033/1
Nicolas Colsaerts layed @ 2.6213/8
& Nicolas Colsaerts layed @ 2.829/5 in the each-way market

Nicolas Colsaerts backed back @ 16.015/1
Thorbjørn Olesen @ 42.041/1

Shriners Hospital for Children Open Pre-Event Selections:
Chesson Hadley @ 34.033/1
Bubba Watson @ 55.054/1
Scott Piercy @ 80.079/1
Brian Stuard @ 250.0249/1

In-Play Pick:
J.J Spaun @ 3.711/4
Gary Woodland @ 16.015/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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