11:30 - March 27, 2022
The final round of the Qatar Masters is underway and live on Sky Sports and the semi-finals of the WGC Dell Matchplay will be underway shortly.
Scottie Scheffler is the narrow 3.39/4 favourite, ahead of his semi-final opponent, Dustin Johnson. Kevin Kisner and Corey Conners will meet in the other semi but I've more than had enough of the tournament so I'll concentrate on the Corales Puntacana R&C Championship, where in-play pick, Ben Martin, still leads.
Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:20.
Ben Martin -14 3.55/2
Chad Ramey -12 5.85/1
Jhonattan Vegas -11 6.05/1
Nate Lashley -10 15.014/1
Thomas Detry -10 16.015/1
David Lipsky -10 19.018/1
Cameron Percy -10 28.027/1
Martin Trainer -10 40.039/1
-9 and 32.031/1 bar
There have only been six previous renewals and so far, we're yet to see an off the pace winner with four victors having led with a round to go.
The 2017 winner, Nate Lashley, who's back in contention this time around, sat tied for fifth with a round to go and the 2020 champ, Hudson Swafford, sat second. Both men trailed by just two.
Given the tournament stats, and the fact that Martin has successfully converted from the front on the only two occasions he's led with a round to go previously - at the 2013 Mylan Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour and the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2014 - I'm happy to stick with what I have.
Jhonattan Vegas looks a big danger but having thrown a few pounds away on Graeme McDowell yesterday, I'm going to leave the tournament alone for now and shout on Martin and my only other in-play pick, Martin Trainer.
G-Mac started nicely yesterday, and he was matched at a low of 6.05/1 after a three-under 33 front nine but he came home in 40 and now trails by seven!
The Sportsbook have dangled a bit of a carrot by offering 40/1 about Trainer with three places so I've layed a bit back on the exchange at 42.041/1 and reinvested each-way.
15:10 - March 26, 2022
Having gone out in 40 in round two, the halfway leader of the Qatar Masters, Pablo Larrazabal, came home in 40 today.
He wasn't at his best on the front nine but he managed to get to double-digits under-par at the turn and he was matched at a low of 2.6613/8 before disaster struck on the back nine.
Larrazabal racked up three bogeys in-a-row from the 11th and just after it looked like he'd rescued the round with a birdie at the 16th, he three-putted both the 17th and 18th to end the day trailing by two. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 15:00.
Adrian Meronk -8 4.77/2
Matthew Jordan -8 5.85/1
Kalle Samooja -7 8.27/1
Pablo Larrazabal -6 11.010/1
Wilco Nienaber -6 13.012/1
Adrian Otaegui -6 14.013/1
Edoardo Molinari -5 30.029/1
Ewen Ferguson -5 38.037/1
Niklas Norgaard Moller -5 40.039/1
Chase Hanna -5 50.049/1
-4 and 40.039/1 bar
Although it's a bunched leaderboard, and there are 31 players within five of the lead, the stats tell us we can't scan too far down the leaderboard.
The 2019 Qatar Masters winner, and the last man to win at Doha, Justin Harding, had led at halfway before shooting 73 on Saturday to tumble to 10th and three off the lead and only two other winners have been further back with a round to go.
Sergio Garcia won from 11th and three back in 2014 and Ernie Els sat 10th and five adrift in 2005. It's clearly not an easy place to win from too far back with a round to go as Ernie is the only winner not to be within three of the lead with a round to go.
If that trend continues, the winner is currently sitting inside the top-ten places and given how inexperienced the top-ten is, I'm very surprised to see Pablo Larrazabal trading at 11.010/1.
He's an extremely erratic player but he knows how to win and he's no bigger than 17/2 on the High Street.
The front three are all yet to win on the DP Tour and they all look worth taking on so having already backed Larrazabal, I'm happy to leave the event alone now and see what tomorrow brings.
08:15 - March 26, 2022
I'm not a fan of the WGC Dell Matchplay and so far, this year's edition has done nothing to endear me to it.
I picked out two picks before the off and one for the Find Me a 100 Winner column - Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey, and 125/1 outsider, Lucas Herbert, who did remarkably well to avoid progression.
Spieth won his first game comfortably but was hopeless thereafter, Casey suffered back spasms on Wednesday and played only two holes all week and Herbert, who just needed to avoid defeat yesterday to the biggest outsider in the field, Takumi Kanaya, also failed to progress.
Having won his first two ties, Herbert was never at the races yesterday. He lost 2&1 to Kanaya so the pair needed to playoff to decide who won Group 7 and after two shots each on the opening hole, my man looked highly likely to progress.
Having found a fairway bunker off the tee, Kanaya could only advance 60 yards to the fairway with his second shot, whereas Herbert had 17 feet for birdie, but Kanaya hit his third to within two feet for a conceded par four before Herbert three-putted to lose! Missing his par putt from inside three feet.
Herbert would have only needed to beat Corey Conners today to secure the place side of the bet so it was a disappointing outcome.
Only one of the top-16 seeds progressed to this stage of the tournament last year but seven had made it through this time and six of them are in the same half of the draw. And yes, Herbert would have been in the weaker half.
There are some great match ups today with Jon Rahm playing Brooks Koepka and last year's finalists, Billy Horschel and Scottie Scheffler, meeting again but I'm putting the spade down now.
Tyrrell Hatton, who I backed yesterday morning, did progress and I'd like to think he'll beat Seamus Power in the round of 16 but he'll bump into Scheffler or Horschel for a place in the last four if he does. And waiting for him in the semis will be either Rahm, Koepka, Dustin Johnson or Richard Bland.
Over at the Corales Puntacana R&C Championship, the first round leader, Ben Martin, did, as suspected (see yesterday's post), enjoy the better of the weather yesterday afternoon and after a second successive six-under-par 66, he now leads by two. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:10.
Ben Martin -12 5.14/1
Alex Smalley -10 5.04/1
Chad Ramey -9 10.09/1
Adam Schenk -9 10.519/2
Graeme McDowell -8 16.015/1
Nate Lashley -7 17.5
-6 and 34.033/1 bar
We've only had six previous renewals so it's a small sample size but so far, eighth and five adrift (Nate Lashley in 2017) is the furthest any winner has trailed at this stage.
If that trend is to continue, the winner is listed above and the two former winners, Lashley and Graeme McDowell, look fairly priced. G-Mac sat tied for seventh and three back at this stage when he won here in 2019, so he won't be fazed by being four off the lead at halfway.
G-Mac is no bigger than 12/1 on the High Street so I'm happy to add him at 16.015/1 and I've also thrown a few pounds at huge outsider, Martin Trainer.
Trainer was on the shortlist for the Find Me a 100 Winner column and although he has plenty to do (trailing by seven), I was happy have a very small bet at a huge price.
20:50 - March 25, 2022
We've reached the halfway stage of the Qatar Masters and despite a shaky four-over-par 40 on the front nine in round two today, the first-round leader, Pablo Larrazabal, still shows the way.
The Spaniard lost his tee-ball at the par five ninth before making a seven and after trading at a low of 4.77/2, his price jumped to 20.019/1 as he made the turn but he rallied superbly, eagling the 10th before adding birdies at 11, 16 and 18. Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:45.
Pablo Larrazabal -9 5.59/2
Adrian Meronk -8 7.87/1
Wilco Nienaber -8 8.07/1
Chase Hanna -8 21.020/1
Romain Langasque -7 10.519/2
Matthew Jordan -6 27.026/1
Daniel Gavins -6 28.027/1
Lukas Nemecz -6 40.039/1
Ewan Ferguson -6 50.049/1
-5 and 40.039/1 bar
This event looks wide-open still. The forecast suggests we'll get a blustery weekend and that will offer up the chance of another off-the-pace winner at Doha.
Scoring will be tougher over the weekend but there's always one or two players at least that manage to go against the grain and somehow carve out a score.
We've seen a couple of winners come from as far as five back at halfway here and three men have won from outside the top 20 places and seven back at this stage - Ernie Els in 2005, Adam Scott in 2008 and Sergio Garcia in 2014.
Admittedly, we don't have anyone of that calibre in the field this week but someone winning from off the pace is a distinct possibility. Picking quite who that may be is tough though.
I toyed with backing Triston Lawrence, Ewan Ferguson and Marcus Kinhult and a bit further down the leaderboard, Oliver Wilson, Laurie Canter and Mikko Korhonen are interesting runners at triple-figure prices but after much deliberation, I've decided to leave the event alone for now and shout on the leader.
Having backed Pablo before the off, I'm hopeful he can hang tough tomorrow and that he's had his wobble. He's a great wind exponent and he's putting superbly so there's nothing to suggest he can't hold his ground, although his record when leading at halfway is far from spectacular.
He's led eight times previously and he's only gone on to win twice. Starting with his 13th place in The Dutch Futures on the Challenge Tour in 2007 and ending with his victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2019, his finishing positions when leading at the stage read 13-1-9-8-5-29-3-1.
08:45 - March 25, 2022
The second round of the Qatar Masters is well underway, and I'll be back later to look at that one at the halfway stage but for now I'm going to concentrate on the week's two PGA Tour events - the Corales Puntacana R&C Championship and the week's main event, the WGC Dell Match Play.
The forecast suggests there might be a slight draw bias in the Dominican Republic today, just favouring the afternoon starters at the Corales Puntacana R&C Championship, so with that in mind, I've had a very small bet on the first-round leader, Ben Martin.
It's eight years since Martin won his one and only PGA Tour title - the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - and he began the tournament as a largely unfancied 260.0259/1 chance but he was ninth here 12 months ago so he clearly likes the track.
He's led five times after round one and never bettered 14th place and he even managed to miss the cut at Riviera in 2011 having been tied for the lead after round one, so there are plenty of negatives, but I thought 19.018/1 was a fraction big given the forecast.
The wind is predicted to drop fractionally at around lunchtime local time and that may favour the leader with Vaughn Taylor, tied third and three off the lead, the only other player in the top-six teeing it up in the afternoon.
Over at the WGC Dell Match Play, the groups are all going to conclude today, and I've surprised myself and had an in-play bet.
I'm not a huge fan of the tournament but looking at all the scenarios on the PGA Tour website here, I thought Tyrrell Hatton represented a bit of value.
Having won his first two matches, Hatton, who plays Daniel Berger today, is the favourite to progress from Group 13 and should he do so he's most likely to meet Seamus Power in the first knockout round tomorrow. I thought 24.023/1 was fair.
Qatar Masters Pre-Event Selections:
Pablo Larrazabal @ 40.039/1
Justin Harding @ 44.043/1
WGC Dell Match Play Pre-Event Selections:
Paul Casey @ 40.039/1
Jordan Spieth @ 44.043/1
Tyrrell Hatton @ 24.023/1
Corales Puntacana R&C Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Hudson Swafford @ 55.054/1
Brice Garnett @ 55.054/1
Ben Martin @ 19.018/1
Graeme McDowell @ 16.015/1
Martin Trainer @ 280.0279/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
1.5 pts Lucas Herbert @ 125/1 (each-way - Sportsbook)
0.5 pts Lucas Herbert @ 170.0169/1
Back 2 u Sebastian Soderberg @ 110.0109/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back 1 u Rafael Campos @ 350.0349/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
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