07:15 - May 8, 2022
The rain continued to fall in Maryland yesterday and the field at the Wells Fargo Championship averaged a whopping 3.66 strokes over-par in round three.
Only four players managed to break par on the day and having been matched at a low of 2.56/4, the three-stroke 36-hole leader, Jason Day, shot a very disappointing nine-over par 79.
The Aussie now trails the third-round leader, Keegan Bradley, by seven shots and he's currently trading at 120.0119/1! Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 7:10.
Keegan Bradley -8 2.3411/8
Max Homa -6 3.9
Anirban Lahiri -4 19.5
James Hahn -4 27.026/1
Matt Fitzpatrick -3 19.5
Rory McIlroy -2 23.022/1
Cameron Young -2 50.049/1
-2 and 70.069/1 bar
The rain is finally forecasted to stop today but it's still going to be tough. The wind will continue to blow (gusting up to 25mph) and it's going to be even colder than it's been with the temperature struggling to reach 10 °C.
With the course soft, and the rain gone, the scoring should improve a bit and it's not inconceivable that someone somehow posts a reasonable score from off the pace.
Looking back at recent previous events at TPC Potomac, Francesco Molinari won from the front in the final edition of the Quicken Loans National in 2018 but 12 months earlier, both playoff protagonists, the winner Kyle Stanley, and the runner-up, Charles Howell III, trailed by four in a tie for seventh and a year before Andrew Putnam won the final edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour from the front in 2013, David Lingmerth took that title from eighth place and four back.
Those stats suggest an off the pace winning can't be discounted but if either of the front two shoot anything around par they're going to take some catching.
Keegan Bradley's three-under-par 67 yesterday was a magnificent knock in the conditions, and he's put himself in a great position.
Incredibly, Bradley, who's weakest part of his game is putting, ranks first for both Putting Average and Strokes Gained Putting after three rounds but he's no certainty to keep that up and kick on for the win.
Bradley has led or been tied for the lead three times previously on the PGA Tour and he's finished second on every occasion. All four of his PGA Tour titles were won from off the pace.
If Keegan blinks, the 2019 winner, Max Homa, looks set to capitalise and he's a perfectly fair price to do so at just a shade under 3/1.
Homa won the Fortinet Championship in September having trailed by two strokes with a round to go and he won the Genesis Invitational last February having trailed by two after 54-holes.
His neat and tidy tee-to-green game will stand him in great stead (ranks first for Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green after three rounds) and Keegan's not the only one putting nicely. Homa ranks fourth for Putting Average and fifth for Strokes Gained Putting.
The defending champ, Rory McIlroy, who was matched at a high of 400.0399/1 when he looked like he may not even make the cut, is not out of the tournament by any means.
When he won this event for the first time 12 years ago (his first PGA Tour title) he made the cut on the number, and he was still four off the lead with a round to go but he'll probably need a bit of help from the front two given he trails by six.
The Irishman certainly can't be ruled out, and I can see why he's trading so short. He trailed by half-a-dozen strokes after three rounds when he won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2016 and he won the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour in 2014 having trailed by seven!
Over at the British Masters, I've also added Adri Arnaus overnight at 60.059/1. The Spaniard won in his homeland last week having trailed by seven so being six adrift won't faze him and he'll feel like this is a free hit.
19:35 - May 7, 2022
Thorbjorn Olesen started the third round at the British Masters tardily, bogeying the first and parring the next three but he got his round back on track in spectacular fashion with this hole-out eagle two at the par four fifth.
The eagle two at five didn't ignite the Dane and he played the next 11 holes in one-over-par but a terrific approach at the par five 17th set up another eagle, this time from just a few inches, and he then made a quite brilliant birdie three at the ultra-tough 18th to take a three-stroke lead into Sunday. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 19:30.
Thorbjorn Olesen -11 2.447/5
Marcus Armitage -8 7.413/2
Hurly Long -8 14.013/1
Rasmus Hojgaard -7 12.011/1
Fabrizio Zanotti -7 20.019/1
Justin Walters -7 22.021/1
Richie Ramsay -7 26.025/1
Chase Hanna -7 32.031/1
-6 and 50.049/1 bar
As highlighted yesterday, Olesen has had his problems away form the course recently but that hasn't stopped him so far this week and if his past record is anything to go by, he's going to take some stopping tomorrow.
Olesen has led by three strokes with a round to go five times previously and he's only failed to convert once.
The stats for three-stroke 54-hole leaders on the DP World Tour also suggest he's a fair price at about 6/4 given we've seen 133 players lead by three since 1996 and 93 went on to win. That's a 70% strike-rate but the third-round leaders have struggled at this venue...
Paul Casey won the 2003 Benson and Hedges International Open at the Belfry by four strokes, having been tied for the lead after three rounds, but the last five course winners have all come from off the pace - trailing by four, two, three, five and three strokes.
The last player to lead by three on the DP World Tour was another Dane, Nicolai Hojgaard at the Ras al Khaimah Championship in February, and after a bit of a wobble, he went on to win by four, and of those in the chasing bunch here, it's Nicolai's twin, Rasmus, that I like the best.
Rasmus won the once only staged UK Championship here at the Belfry in 2020 having sat tied for fourth and fully five off the lead so he should have plenty of positive vibes going into round four.
We're witnessing all sorts of carnage in the rain at the Wells Fargo Championship, where the clear third round leader, Jason Day, is now chasing after a terrible start to round three. I'll be back in the morning with a look at that one.
13:25 - May 7, 2022
Despite incessant rain on Friday, the Wells Fargo Championship has reached the halfway stage but with the downfall forecasted to continue all day today, a suspension of play is highly likely. Nevertheless, here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 13:20.
Jason Day -10 2.962/1
Max Homa -7 7.413/2
Denny McCarthy -6 19.018/1
Luke List -6 20.019/1
Kurt Kitayama -6 30.029/1
James Hahn -6 44.043/1
Keegan Bradley -5 17.5
Brian Harmen -5 26.025/1
Chad Ramey -5 55.054/1
Matt Fitzpatrick -4 21.020/1
Tyrrell Hatton -4 27.026/1
-4 and 38.037/1 bar
The weather is a significant spanner in the works here. It's long odds-on that the tournament will be played over 72 holes but we can't assume it will be.
TPC Potomac has stood up remarkably well to the considerable and continuous rainfall so far but there's only so much it can take and if the tournament does get reduced, Day looks a big price. If it doesn't, he looks a bit short.
It's now four years since the Australian's last victory - in this event but at the tournament's usual host course, Quail Hollow - and he's not been brilliant in-contention of late.
Since winning the Players Championship wire-to-wire in 2016, Day has led or co-led at this stage four times and he's finished third, fifth, fifth and tenth. He looks opposable.
Max Homa, the shock winner of this event a year after Day, sits alone in second and he's a clear and present danger to Day but I'm happy to throw a few darts at three players at much bigger prices, secure in the knowledge that there are plenty of unknowns here and it's not a tournament to go mad in.
Tyrrell Hatton, a best priced 22/1 shot on the High Street, looks a reasonable price at 27.026/1 given he's not frightened to win. He's alongside Matt Fitzpatrick, who's yet to win on the PGA Tour and yet he's a considerably bigger price and that doesn't make much sense to me.
I've thrown a few pounds at last week's Find me a 100 Winner near miss, Kurt Kitayama, at 30.029/1, given he did very little wrong in-the-mix last week and I've also backed one of the four former tournament winners inside the top-seven and ties - James Hahn at 46.045/1.
Hahn won the event at Quail Hollow in 2016, 12 months before Brian Harman, who sits tied for seventh, took the title on the last occasion the tournament was moved away from Quail Hollow. Harman won the event at Eagle Point.
The defending champ, Rory McIlroy, has been a bit of a flop this week, only just making the cut, but the four men to win the event before him are all in-contention.
19:20 - May 6, 2022
We've reached the halfway stage of the British Masters and Germany's Hurly Long leads after rounds of 67 and 68. Here's the 36 hole leaderboard at the Belfry with prices to back at 19:10.
Hurly Long -9 8.27/1
Thorbjorn Olesen -8 7.413/2
Richie Ramsay -8 10.09/1
Marcus Kinhult -8 11.010/1
Rasmus Hojgaard -7 7.613/2
Danny Willett -6 13.012/1
Marcus Armitage -6 16.015/1
Justin Walters -6 30.029/1
Sebastian Soderberg -6 36.035/1
-5 and 30.029/1 bar
Last year's winner, Richard Bland, was tied for the lead at this stage 12 months ago but the Belfry is most certainly somewhere where the winners can come from off the pace.
Bland dropped back to tied 12th and three off the lead in round three before rallying to win last year and Rasmus Hojgaard, who's in-contention again here, won the UK Championship at the Belfry in 2020 having sat tied for 24th and seven strokes off the pace.
The current leader, Long, has won before. He came from two strokes adrift with a round to go at the Italian Challenge Open Eneos Motor Oil on the Challenge Tour two years ago but that tournament was reduced to 54-holes because of rain and on the only two occasions he's led a tournament through two rounds (both 54-hole events on the Pro Golf Tour), he's been beaten.
Winning an event of this magnitude is a big ask for a fairly inexperienced 26-year-old and two of the three players tied for second make little appeal either.
Richie Ramsay and Thorbjorn Olesen both have a wealth of experience and between them they've won eight DP World Tour events but it's seven years since Ramsay won the third of his three titles and Olesen hasn't won for four years.
Ramsay hasn't been great in-contention for a while now and he looks like one to oppose. He sat tied for third (trailing by one and two strokes respectively) at the Kenya Open and the Canary Islands Championship in March and May last year but finished 47th and 23rd.
I'd trust the more prolific Olesen more and I'm not at all surprised to see him favourite but he's had travails away from the game, when he was formally charged with sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft and common assault, following an incident that occurred at the end of July 2019.
Olesen was suspended by the Tour temporarily and it wasn't until December last year that he was eventually cleared of all charges.
All that may well be behind him now, but I'd be surprised if he's quite ready to win again just yet. He started slowly today (played the first 13 holes in one-over-par before a late rally) and he dropped away tamely last week after sitting ninth and just three off the lead (finished 33rd beaten by ten) at halfway.
The 2019 winner, Marcus Kinhult, has thrown his hat in the ring with a fast finish to round two, playing the last four holes in four-under-par to get alongside Olesen and Ramsay but the one I like at this stage is the Tournament Host, Danny Willett.
The 2016 US Masters champ was matched at a high of 250.0249/1 after he'd played the first eight holes of the tournament in three-over-par, but he's been in fine fettle since.
After recovering nicely to post a one-over-par opening 73 yesterday, he flew up the leaderboard this morning before bogeying the ninth (his final hole of the round) to post a seven-under-par 65.
Willett has been fairly ruthless on the DP World Tour of late, winning on three of the last five occasions that he's been within three of the lead at this stage since November 2018.
Over at the Wells Fargo Championship, the first-round leader, Jason Day, has eased further clear with a three-under-par 67 in round two this morning but I'll take a closer look at that one tomorrow.
Hopefully they'll get to the halfway stage today, but water is starting to pool on the fairways as the rain continues to tumble and a suspension of play has to be a strong possibility.
09:35 - May 6, 2022
The first round of the British Masters ended with Ryan Fox and Thorbjorn Olesen tied at the top on six-under-par after the pair had opened with impressive rounds of 66 around the Belfry.
Fox has already began his second round and I'll be back later today or first thing in the morning with a look at the event at the halfway stage as I'm happy to sit on my hands for now.
Last year's winner, Richard Bland, sat third, trailing by two, after the opening round but a slow start can be overcome here.
Rasmus Hojgaard trailed by nine after round one when he won the UK Championship here in 2020 and three of the four course winners before him were at least four shots off the lead after the opening day's play.
As a rule of thumb, with the wind usually calmer in the mornings and with the courses at their pristine best, the day one early starters tend to outscore the afternoon wave but that hasn't been the case at either event this week.
There wasn't much of a draw bias at the Belfry yesterday with the afternoon starters just shading it, averaging 72.69 compared with 73.23 averaged by their morning counterparts, but the afternoon starters at the Wells Fargo Championship averaged more than a stroke less than the morning wave (1.09) in Maryland.
To the frustration of those of us that followed Dave Tindall in on 80/1 poke, Denny McCarthy, in the First-Round leader market, who shot five-under-par in the morning, day one afternoon starters, Jason Day (-7) and Joel Dahmen (-6), sit first and second after round one with five players tied for third on five-under-par and there are as many as nine men tied for eighth on -4.
We don't have much to go on with regards to the in-running stats at this year's Wells Fargo Championship. As highlighted in the preview, with the event's usual host course, Quail Hollow, being prepared for the Presidents Cup in September, the tournament has switched to TPC Potomac.
It's a cracking course and I'm enjoying watching the golf there, but we don't have an abundance of course form to evaluate. What we do have points to a patient approach...
Francesco Molinari sat tenth and four off the lead before hacking up here in the final edition of the Quicken Loans National in 2018 and the two playoff protagonists a year earlier, Kyle Stanley and Charles Howell III, came from miles back. The pair trailed by five and six strokes respectively after round one, but they were ten adrift at halfway!
Rich Beem won the Kemper Open wire-to-wire here in 1999 but Stuart Appleby won that event 12 months earlier having sat 36th and six off the lead after round one, the two winners before Appleby sat outside the top-ten and three off the pace, Frank Lickliter trailed by four after the opening round when winning that event in 2001, and Michael Putnam won the last edition of the Mid-Atlantic Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour here, having been tied for 48th and six off the lead after the first round in 2013, so we have numerous examples of slow starters claiming the spoils.
Jason Day is the only man trading at a single-figure price this morning but the pre-event favourite and defending champ, Rory McIlroy, was matched at a low of 4.67/2 yesterday when he started the event well, racing to four-under-par through six holes but he ended the day on -3 in a huge tie for 17th alongside 21 others including one of my Find Me a 100 Winner picks, Chase Seiffert, and Sergio Garcia, who I expect to struggle today.
The once very popular Spaniard has been losing his lustre for a few years now and yesterday's stroppy outburst, in which he very much appeared to hint at a move to the new Saudi Tour, when an official began timing his ball search on the par five 10th early, went down like a lead balloon with just about everybody.
British Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Nicolai Hojgaard @ 40.039/1
Adrian Otaegui @ 50.049/1
Danny Willett @ 13.5
Rasmus Hojgaard @ 13.012/1
Wells Fargo Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Tony Finau @ 28.027/1
Tyrrell Hatton @ 27.026/1
Kurt Kitayama @ 30.029/1
James Hahn @ 46.045/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
2 pts Sung Kang @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
1 pt Chase Seiffert @ 400.0399/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
½ pt David Lingmerth @ 880.0879/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
2 pts Guido Migliozzi @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
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