The Punter

The Punter's In-Play Blog: Clark and Guerrier looking to get off the mark

Golfer Wyndham Clark
Wyndham Clark in action in Charlotte on Saturday

There's a round to go at both the Italian Open and the Wells Fargo Championship and both events have leaders looking to win for the first time on their respective Tours...

  • Clark leads by two in Charlotte

  • Guerrier leads by one in Rome

  • Can Fleetwood pounce from off the pace?

10:40 - May 7, 2023

There's a round to go at both the Italian Open on the DP World Tour and the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour and after some spectacular scoring in round three, there are similarities between the two tournaments, with three players three clear of the remainder in Rome and two players three ahead of the field in Charlotte. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard at the Wells Fargo Championship with prices to back at 10:25.

Wyndham Clark -16 2.226/5
Xander Schauffele -14 2.68/5
Tyrrell Hatton -11 20.019/1
Adam Scott -11 32.031/1
Sungjae Im -10 42.041/1
Tommy Fleetwood -10 50.049/1
Harris English -10 95.094/1
-9 and 160.0159/1 bar

There were 11 men tied for the lead at one point early on in round three at Quail Hollow yesterday so it's somewhat disappointing to have such a spreadeagled field with a round to go and it's very hard to look past the front two.

Sergio Garcia was beaten in a playoff in this event in 2005 having led by six with a round to go but it's hard to envisage that both Wyndham Clark and Xander Schauffele will shoot a poor final round, although I'm in no rush to back either man to convert.

An argument can certainly be made for backing the second favourite, Schauffele, given he only trails by two, that he's three clear of the remainder, and that he's a seasoned campaigner with seven PGA Tour titles to his name already. If forced to name a winner, he'd be the one, but at 2.68/5, I'm happy to let him go unbacked.

Clark was extremely impressive yesterday, hitting all but the final green in regulation to fire a bogey-free eight-under-par 63 and the stats say he has a 40% chance of converting but it's never easy to back up a low round and he's in search of his first win in the PGA Tour.

Clark and his partner, Beau Hossler, were one clear at the Zurich Classic pairs event with a round to go two weeks ago, where they eventually finished third, but this is the first time he's led through 54 holes of an individual event since he finished seventh at the Honda Classic back in 2019, having led by a stroke.

Although he's yet to win, he did very little wrong when losing a playoff to Brian Gay at the Bermuda Championship back in 2020 and he certainly wouldn't be winning out of turn.

As highlighted yesterday, we've seen plenty of winners make up lots of ground from halfway here but it's not so easy to come from off the pace with just 18 to play.

Every course winner since this event was inaugurated in 2003 has been inside the top-seven places and since Rory won from four back in 2010, every winner has been within three of the lead so it's very hard to look past the front two.

If and when Tommy Fleetwood gets off the mark on the PGA Tour it's likely to be from off the pace so he's a tempting price at 50/1 and Sungjae Im is in fantastic form and is likely to go low again, so they'd be my idea of alternatives to the front two.

Over in Italy, three men have separated themselves from the remainder. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard there with prices to back at 10:30.

Julien Guerrier -12 4.77/2
Adrian Meronk -11 2.727/4
Romain Langasque -11 4.47/2
Marcel Siem -8 22.021/1
Mattieu Pavon -8 22.021/1
Daniel van Tonder -8 27.026/1
Tapio Pulkkanen -8 36.035/1
-6 and 75.074/1 bar

Romain Langasque's nine-under-par 62 in round three yesterday moved him up from a tie for 19th to a tie for second so in theory, he's shown us that a lot of ground can be made up here but that really was a freak score.

It was four strokes better than anyone else could muster and it's put him in a great position to pick up his second DP World Tour title. He won his first three years ago at Celtic Manor - at the Cazoo Wales Open.

As always, it's hard to back up a super low score so that's against him but I prefer him to the leader, fellow Frenchman, Julien Guerrier, who's in search of his first win after 15 years and 190 starts on Tour.

Guerrier twice converted from the front on the Challenge Tour back in 2017 but on the two occasions that he's led or co-led on the DP World Tour he's finished third and he looks opposable.

Matt Cooper's each-way pick, Adrian Meronk, looks the man to beat and he's a fair price at the industry best 7/4 with the Sportsbook but I'm happy to let him go and cheer on yesterday's in-play pick, Daniel van Tonder.

It's not beyond the realms of possibility that the front three all fluff their lines today and last year's winner, Robert Macintyre, sat seventh and three off the lead at this stage so someone winning from four adrift wouldn't be a huge shock.

10:40 - May 6, 2023

A level par 72 in round two of the Wells Fargo Championship has seen the first-round leader, Tommy Fleetwood, slip out of the places but he's still one of a dozen players within two strokes of the lead. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:30.

Tyrrell Hatton -8 7.613/2
Wyndham Clark -8 11.521/2
Nate Lashley -8 36.035/1
Xander Schauffele -7 7.87/1
Justin Thomas -7 8.415/2
Sungjae Im-7 10.09/1
Adam Scott -7 23.022/1
J.J Spaun -7 30.029/1
Adam Svensson -7 34.033/1
Tommy Fleetwood -6 26.025/1
K.H Lee -6 48.047/1
Michael Kim -6 130.0129/1
Max Homa -5 24.023/1
Patrick Cantlay -4 25.024/1
-5 and 60.059/1 bar

Tyrrell Hatton heads the market but in front hasn't been the place to be here.

Tyrrell Hatton at Quail Hollow.jpg

We've witnessed 15 editions of the Wells Fargo Championship and one US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow since this event was inaugurated in 2003 and Tiger Woods, in 2007, is the only halfway leader or co-leader to have gone on to win.

As many 26 players have led or co-led at this stage at Quail Hollow since 2003 and Tiger is the only one to win but we've witnessed some outrageous comeback wins.

The 2016 winner, James Hahn, was five adrift at this stage, as was Justin Thomas when he won the US PGA here in 2017, two of the three playoff protagonists in 2012, the winner, Rickie Fowler, and the runner-up, Rory McIlroy, both trailed by six, and when Rory won the first of his three titles, he trailed by nine in a tie for 48th in 2010, so it's fair to say this is a wide open event still.

I'm not absolutely convinced he's a terrific price at 25.024/1 given he trails by four in a tie for 13th but I was happy to get the defending champion, Max Homa, onside.

In addition to winning this event twice, he successfully defended his Fortinet Championship title in September, and he finished runner-up at Riviera in February at another event he'd won previously - the Genesis Invitational - so he has a habit of playing extremely well in the same tournaments.

Matched at a high of 130.0129/1, Homa looked in a spot of bother yesterday afternoon but he birdied four in-a-row from the 13th to throw his hat in the ring and he may well kick on over the weekend.

22:50 - May 5, 2023

With the wind picking up on Friday afternoon, the late starters at the Italian Open averaged almost exactly a stroke more than those that began the event on Thursday afternoon and there was a draw bias in favour of those drawn PM-AM of 1.18 strokes.

France's Matthieu Pavon made the most of being assigned the favourable draw and he's maintained the advantage of two strokes that he held over the field after round one. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 22:40.

Matthieu Pavon -9 5.04/1
Adrian Otaegui -7 6.411/2
Julien Guerrier -7 18.017/1
Adrian Meronk -6 6.411/2
Victor Perez -5 11.010/1
Alexander Bjork -5 19.018/1
Tapio Pulkkanen -5 46.045/1
Jordan Smith -4 19.018/1
Jorge Campillo -4 24.023/1
-4 and 42.041/1 bar

This is a trappy looking heat as we head into the weekend and the halfway leader and favourite, Pavon, looks vulnerable.

Matthieu Pavon at the Italian Open.jpg

The 30-year-old Frenchman has only ever won on the Alps Tour and the French Tour and he's never really convinced in contention on this bigger stage.

Pavon led twice on the DP World Tour at this stage in 2018 and it didn't end well. He finished 31st in the Oman Open having led by two at halfway and he finished 10th in the Irish Open having been tied at the top at halfway.

He's fared better lately, finishing second at the Portugal Masters in 2021, having sat second at halfway, and he shot 68-65 over the weekend at the Open de España last October to move up from fifth to second, but he looks opposable.

The next three in the betting all have very strong claims and I wouldn't put anyone off any of them.

Adrian Otaegui, who will be playing alongside Pavon in the final two-ball in round three, has developed into an impressive closer if his six-stroke victory at Valderrama in October is anything to by and Matt Cooper's each-way fancy, Adrian Meronk, looks a huge danger if he can get a few more putts to drop but the one I prefer at the prices on offer is the current fourth favourite, Victor Perez.

Perez a fair price to pounce at 10/1

Perez, who won the Dutch Open last May and the Abu Dhabi Championship in January, has had the pressure of playing with the Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald, over the first two days and that would have been tough.

The Frenchman was matched at a high of 75.074/1 when he looked like falling away in round two, but he finished his round in style in the tricky afternoon conditions, playing the last seven holes in five-under-par.

I was more than happy to get him onside at 11.521/2 given he's a best priced 9/1 on the High Street, and that he and Meronk were similarly priced before the off. Given they're separated by just a stroke, the disparity in their current prices looks a bit big.

In addition to backing Perez, I've also thrown a few pounds on the fairly prolific South African, Daniel van Tonder, who's alongside my pre-event pick, Jorge Campillo, on four-under-par. I thought 80.079/1 was generous.

I'll be back in the morning with a look at the Wells Fargo Championship at the halfway stage.

10:10 - May 5, 2023

The second round of the Italian Open on the DP World Tour is well underway and Frenchman, Matthieu Pavon, is three strokes ahead after 14 holes of his second round.

My sole selection before the off, Jorge Campillo, started nicely today to move into second place and he's been matched at a low of 7.613/2 but he's lost his way a bit over the last four or five holes.

I'll be back this evening with a look at the state of play there at halfway but for now I'm concentrating on this week's PGA Tour event in Charlotte, North Carolina - the Wells Fargo Championship - where England's Tommy Fleetwood leads after an opening bogey-free, six-under-par 65.

Tommy Fleetwodd at the wells Fargo.jpg

There are five players tied for second, including two of Dave Tindall's three each-way picks - 66/1 shot, Taylor Moore, and 125/1 chance, K.H Lee - and there are nine players tied for seventh, just two behind Fleetwood, so it's a crowded leaderboard.

Xander Schauffele, who sits second, is the current favourite and he's already been matched at a low of 4.03/1.

The world number five and pre-event 18/1 chance reached seven-under-par through 15 holes, but he tripped up on the infamous 'Green Mile' with bogeys at 16 and 18.

After a solid three-under-par 68 on his first start since his missed cut at the Masters, the three-time Wells winner, Rory McIlroy, is next best and the only other player trading at a single-figure price is the bang-in-form, Patrick Cantlay, who shot a four-under-par 67 with Tiger Woods' former caddie, Joe LaCava, on the bag.

Cantlay and LaCava.jpg

Cantlay's a tempting price at 10.09/1 and I doubt he'll go away but I'm happy to sit on my hands for now and take another look tomorrow.

As highlighted in the preview, a slow start can be overcome here and there's a very long way to go.

Italian Open Pre-Event Selection:
Jorge Campillo @ 42.041/1

In-Play Picks:
Victor Perez @ 11.521/2
Daniel van Tonder @ 80.079/1

Wells Fargo Championship Pre-Event Selection:
Tony Finau @ 18/1 (Sportsbook Enhanced Win Only)

In-Play Pick:
Max Homa @ 25.024/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Picks:
Back 2 pt Brian Harman @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Back 1.5 u Matt Kuchar @ 190.0189/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Back 1 u Adam Schenk @ 340.0339/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Back 0.5 u Jimmy Walker @ 850.0849/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Back 2 u Aaron Cockerill @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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