There's a round to go at both the EGC Workday Championship and the Puerto Rico Open and Steve's back with his final thoughts on the two events here...
"Although evidently scorable, the opportunity to blow a chance of victory with a horror hole is clearly available around the Concession and we can almost guarantee drama this evening."
10:55 - February 28, 2021
The Concession Club in Florida has proven to be a worthy replacement to the wonderful Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico and as the WGC Workday Championship enters the final day we have an intriguing leaderboard to ponder. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 10:45.
Collin Morikawa -15 2.89/5
Brooks Koepka -13 5.04/1
Billy Horschel -13 8.88/1
Webb Simpson -12 10.519/2
Rory McIlroy -11 14.013/1
Patrick Reed -11 18.5
Viktor Hovland -10 30.029/1
Scottie Scheffler -10 48.047/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick -10 50.049/1
Hideki Matsuyama -10 60.059/1
-9 and 85.084/1 bar
Playing in Florida for just the third time, having appeared in next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational a couple of times previously (once as an amateur), California's Collin Morikawa takes a two-stroke lead into the final round but he's being chased hardest by a couple of Floridians - Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel.
Morikawa looked to be shooting clear when he led by five after back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 and he was matched at a low of just 1.584/7 but just as Reed had done on Friday after hitting the front, Morikawa played his last six holes in two-over-par, dropping shots at the two par fives - 13 and 17.
Over the last 15 seasons, two-stroke 54 hole leaders have a 40% strike rate on the PGA Tour so at 2.89/5, given how well he's putting this week (usually the weakest part of his game), the world number six looks a perfectly fair price. This is the first time he's ever held a clear lead with a round to go (was tied for the lead at the 3M Open when finishing second last year) but I see no reason to oppose him.
As witnessed at the US PGA Championship last year, Morikawa has no issues with being in-contention and he's very much the man to beat, although the dangers are clear and obvious.
Koepka has enjoyed playing in his home state and given he'd only played nine holes in practice, he's gotten to grips with the Concession very nicely but there is a danger that the shoulder issues he had again yesterday could hinder him greatly. I know the old adage is beware the injured golfer but that saying perhaps should have a caveat along the lines of, unless they're playing against the very best players in the world around an extremely funky layout. And it's the funky layout that's keeping me cautious...
Although evidently scorable, the opportunity to blow a chance of victory with a horror hole is clearly available around the Concession and we can almost guarantee drama this evening.
The talent on display is obvious and if the front three or four stutter they'll soon get overtaken, just as the leaders after rounds one and two have been. Rory McIlroy is a tempting price at 14.013/1 given how quickly he can string a run of birdies together but I just can't see him keeping the mistakes of the card so I'm going to continue to sit on my hands.
Pre-event picks, Reed and Hovland are still on the premises and I'm thoroughly enjoying the spectacle created by the Concession so I'm happy to leave the event alone and concentrate on this week's other PGA Tour event - the Puerto Rico Open - where the trends suggest I might get a result...
Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:50.
Grayson Murray -14 6.05/1
Rafael Campos -14 6.25/1
Branden Grace -13 5.49/2
Cameron Percy -13 7.87/1
Brandon Wu -12 10.519/2
Andrew Putnam -12 10.519/2
Nelson Ledesma -12 23.022/1
Jhonattan Vegas -11 20.019/1
Ted Potter Jr -11 29.028/1
-10 and 60.059/1 bar
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, only two of the 12 Puerto Rico Open winners (since he it became a PGA Tour event) have been outside the front three places with a round to go and only two winners have trailed by more than two strokes so this is not an easy place to play catch up and we need to be concentrating on the leaders, although the blustery weather should help the chasers.
Grayson Murray and Rafael Campos were both trading at in excess of 250.0249/1 before the off so having layed most of the players trading at less than 100.099/1, either of them kicking on and winning would be great for my book but I've layed both players trailing by a stroke in tied third and of the two, Grace looks the most dangerous.
After that, my only pre-event pick, Andrew Putnam, sits tied for fifth alongside one I have layed (Branden Wu) and one I haven't (Nelson Ledesma) and one of my Find Me a 100 picks, Ted Potter, is just three off the lead in a tie for eighth.
Murray and Grace look the two to beat. The former has been brilliant the last two days and after an opening 71, he'd be the first winner here not to break 70 in round one. Grace needs no introduction and he again looks a fair price (as he did yesterday) but if I can't get Putnam or Potter over the line, the one I'll be cheering on is Campos.
Campos is the only Puerto Rican on Tour and winning his home event would be a dream come true but we perhaps saw a sign of how difficult it's going to be when he missed his par putt on 18 from just a foot!
"I got over it and just kind of blanked out," Campos said, "which is frustrating, because I wanted to be bogey-free today."
I'll be back tomorrow with the De-brief.
12:20 - February 27, 2021
Pre-event pick, Patrick Reed, was matched at a low of 5.24/1 when he struck the front during round two of the WGC Workday Championship yesterday and my only other selection, Viktor Hovland, was flying along too. Things were going well.
For the first time in his professional career the likable Norwegian birdied five holes in-a-row early in his second round and he looked to have put himself in a nice position with two more birdies at seven and eight (his 16th and 17th of the round).
Reed, playing in the same group as Hovland, had finished his round tardily, playing the final third in two-over-par, having played the first 12 holes in six-under, so it was a frustrating finish but Hovland trumped him in fine style be racking up an eight on the par for ninth. And that included a fine putt from just inside ten feet to avoid it being a nine!
To his credit, young Hovland took it superbly but his chance looks well and truly lost now and Reed's up against too. Oh well, here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 12:15.
Brooks Koepka -11 4.1
Collin Morikawa -10 8.07/1
Cameron Smith -10 10.519/2
Billy Horschel -10 15.014/1
Tony Finau -9 9.89/1
Webb Simpson -9 11.010/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick -9 16.015/1
Patrick Reed -8 15.5
Kevin Kisner -8 40.039/1
-7 and 40.039/1 bar
A combination of a little less wind, friendlier pin placements and the players familiarity with the venue, saw the Concession Club average 70.89 yesterday, compared with the day one average of 71.99, and two players shot 64 - Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa. And as many as five players matched the day one low of 66, including the new leader, Brooks Koepka, and he's going to take some stopping.
Brooks is a machine in-contention and he's a worthy favourite.
Given we've not seen this venue before and so have no history to look back on, I'm going to sit back and let the event unfold without any further involvement at this stage. Reed's finish yesterday and Hovland's eight aside, I'm really enjoying watching the event and I'm happy to continue to sit on my hands.
Over at the Puerto Rico Open, Branden Wu has hit the front at the halfway stage and he leads Greg Chambers by a stroke.
As highlighted in the preview, up with the pace is the place to be here and the one I like at the prices is Branden Grace, who sits tied for third with Rafael Campos and just two off the lead. I thought he was a poor price before the off at just a shade of 20/1 and he's one of the players I've layed but 7.06/1 looks fair today.
10:55 - February 26, 2021
The world number one, Dustin Johnson, and the US Open champion, Bryson DeChambeau, both opened up the WGC Workday Championship at the Concession Club in Florida with five-over-par 77s, and they already look out of it, but with as many as 12 players separated by just two strokes at the head of affairs, we look set for an exciting event. Here's the first round leaderboard with prices to back at 10:50.
Webb Simpson -6 9.617/2
Matthew Fitzpatrick -6 13.012/1
Brooks Koepka -5 9.89/1
Sergio Garcia -5 27.026/1
Billy Horschel -5 30.029/1
Kevin Kisner -5 42.041/1
Jon Rahm -4 7.613/2
Tony Finau -4 15.5
Patrick Reed -4 16.5
Sungjae Im -4 24.023/1
Cameron Smith -4 29.028/1
Wade Ormsby -4 370.0369/1
Rory McIlroy -3 16.015/1
-3 and 40.039/1 bar
The Concession held up well to the onslaught of the world's best on day one, averaging as close to it's par of 72 as possible at 71.99. Despite it's generous fairways, it's far from a bombers paradise and Rory McIlroy, who ranked eighth, was the only player in the top-34 to rank inside the top-ten for Driving Distance on day one.
Billy Horschel, who sits tied for third, ranked number one for Driving Accuracy and four of the top-12 ranked sixth or better for that stat yesterday.
Tommy Fleetwood, who putted poorly to shoot a three-over-par 75, hit more greens than anyone else but Fitzpatrick ranked tied second for Greens In Regulation and four players inside the top-12 ranked tied fifth or better for GIR.
Matthew Fitzpatrick and Brooks Koepka in tied third, ranked tied first for Scrambling and it looks like saving shots around the greens is going to be key this week.
One of the commentators mentioned yesterday that the course had more of a Carolinas feel about it than a Florida feel and Webb Simpson and Fitzpatrick leading may well back that up. Both have very good records at Harbour Town - home of the RBC Heritage - and with that in mind, my only in-play pick this morning is another player who enjoys that venue - South Carolinian, Kevin Kisner.
This is Kisner's first outing since he finished tied for 32nd at the Sony Open but he's had time off to be at home after the birth of his third child, so he's not been injured or ill. He played typically neat and tidy Kisner golf yesterday to shoot a five-under-par 67 and I thought the 40/1 with five places available was fair with the Sportsbook this morning. He's already won a WGC event (the match play in 2019) so he won't be frightened to win this one and the course appears ideal for him.
Both of my pre-event picks birdied the last three holes yesterday and of the two, I'm far more confident about Patrick Reed, who sits on -4, but it's the Puerto Rico Open, where ole Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey leads after the opening round, that's taking up most of my attention.
My sole pre-event pick, Andrew Putnam, started nicely enough, shooting five-under-par, despite finishing the round five-five, and three of the four Find Me a 100 Winner selections have started OK too, with only Martin Trainer totally out of it already.
As highlighted in the preview, this is very much an event for outsiders so before the off I layed almost everyone trading at less than 100.099/1 so it's going to be interesting to see how the week pans out.
WGC Workday Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Viktor Hovland @ 32.031/1
Patrick Reed @ 36.035/1
Kevin Kisner @ 40/1 each-way (Sportsbook)
Puerto Rico Open Pre-Event Selection:
Andrew Putnam @ 40.039/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
All Puerto Rico Open
Back Padraig Harrington 2 u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Ted Potter Jr 2 u @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Johnson Wagner 1u @ 360.0359/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 12.011/1 & 10u @ 2.26/5
Back Martin Trainer 1u @ 440.0439/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 12.011/1 & 10u @ 2.26/5
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