Rasmus Hojgaard leads the Cazoo Classic by three strokes and Russell Henley holds the same advantage at the Wyndham Championship. Can either man convert their lead?
“Russell Henley is also odds-on across the boards on the High Street but in contrast to Hojgaard, he looks well worth taking on.”
10:25 - August 14 2021
A ten-under-par 62 in round three by 20-year-old Danish star, Rasmus Hojgaard, has seen the two-time European Tour winner go from six off the lead at halfway to three clear with a round to go at the Cazoo Classic in Kent. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:15.
Although it's never easy to back up a low round, Hojgaard looks a very fair price at odds-against this morning.
Both Hojgaard's European Tour wins, at the Mauritius Open and the UK Championship, came from off the pace and this is the first time he's held a clear lead with a round to go. He was tied at the top at the Oman Open back in March 2020, in-between his two victories, before going on to finish sixth after a final round 74 so that's a slight concern but he's most definitely the one to beat.
Since 1996, three-stroke 54-hole leaders on the European Tour have a 66% strike-rate and I suspect that to have improved by this evening.
As highlighted yesterday, the two men now tied for second, Calum Hill and Jordan Smith, have had issues closing out events in the last couple of weeks and the two tied for fifth aren't exactly prolific. Richard Bland has won only once, and Dale Whitnell is yet to taste victory on the European Tour.
The dangers to the leader may well come from much further back and he looks a fair bet at odds-against. He's odds-on across the boards on the High Street and so he should be.
Over at the Wyndham Championship, tricky pin placements pushed the scoring up in round three and although he could only manage a one-under-par 69 at Sedgefield on Saturday, the runaway halfway leader, Russell Henley, still leads by three. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 10:15.
Russell Henley -15 2.0421/20
Tyler McCumber -12 21.020/1
Kevin Na -11 16.015/1
Kevin Kisner -11 17.016/1
Branden Grace -11 21.020/1
Rory Sabbatini -11 26.025/1
Roger Sloan -11 30.029/1
Scott Piercy -11 40.039/1
Rory Sabbatini -11 26.025/1
Webb Simpson -10 20.019/1
-10 and 40.039/1 bar
Russell Henley is also odds-on across the boards on the High Street but in contrast to Hojgaard, he looks well worth taking on.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, since returning to Sedgefield the in-running stats in the 13 renewals of the Wyndham championship are just odd. We've seen eight 54-hole leaders win, which bodes really well for Henley, but J.T Poston won from three back two years ago and after Herman's success last year, we've had four winners come from four back with a round to go.
Henley is the fourth man to enter the final round of a PGA Tour event this season with a clear lead having also held a clear advantage through rounds one and two and the first three have all been beaten - Sam Burns at The Genesis Invitational, Louis Oosthuizen at the Open Championship and Harris English at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational only last week.
Henley also co-led this year's US Open through rounds one, two and three before finishing 13th, highlighting just how hard it is to win wire-to-wire. Add in the fact that third round three stroke leaders have a surprisingly poor 44% strike rate on the PGA Tour over the last 15 seasons and Henley starts to look opposable. Especially when we consider how many high-quality players are within four and five strokes.
We also have to consider that the conditions will have altered considerably after heavy overnight rain and when they tee-off earlier than originally planned today (leaders off at 14:12 UK Time), in attempt to get done before the forecasted stormy weather, Sedgefield is going to play soft and yield plenty of birdies. That would ordinarily suit a frontrunner but if Henley's only slightly off, I can see him getting swallowed up today.
Pre-event picks, Kevin Na and Justin Rose, are still on the premises in North Carolina and Andy Sullivan has an outside chance of getting involved at the London Club but the order of the day today is to back Hojgaard and lay Henley.
07:30 - August 14 2021
England's Jordan Smith traded at a low of 1.51/2 to win the ISPS Handa World Invitational two weeks ago and Scotland's Calum Hill was matched at just 1.341/3 last Sunday in the Hero Open. Both men finished the respective tournaments poorly to finish third and fourth but they've given themselves a chance of redemption at the Cazoo Classic as we head into the weekend. Here's the 36 hole leaderboard with prices to back at 07:15.
Although they've both won on the Challenge Tour, the two leaders at halfway, Dale Whitnell and Rhys Enoch, are both in search of their first European Tour wins and as already mentioned, the two players tied for the third have both given up great chances to win over the last two weeks.
British Masters winner, and first round leader, Richard Bland, commands respect now that he's finally tasted victory but this is a really tough event to call and I'm more than happy to treat the tournament with plenty of caution.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the eventual winner isn't listed above and the one I like this morning is Daniel van Tonder, who's one of seven men tied for eighth place.
The South African won four times on the Sunshine Tour last year and he came from off the pace to win the Kenya Savannah Classic on the European Tour in March. He knows how to get the job done and he's no bigger than 33/1 on the High Street so I was happy enough to chance him at 44.043/1.
Over on the PGA Tour, first round leader, Russell Henley backed up his opening 62 at the Wyndham Championship with a six-under-par 64 and he's most definitely the man to beat with a four-stroke lead. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 07:25.
Garrett Willis led the Greensboro Open at halfway by four on the Korn Ferry Tour back in 1999, before eventually finishing second to the 2003 USPGA Champion, Shaun Micheel, but Henley's four-stroke 36-hole lead is the biggest halfway advantage we've seen at Sedgefield this century.
He's the seventh man to hold a clear lead here since 2011 and three of the previous six went on to win.
On the PGA Tour since 1996, 48 players have held a four-stroke lead and 20 of them (41.7%) went on to win.
Henley's held at least a share of the lead at this stage on six previous occasions and he has a 33% strike-rate. He won the Chiquita Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour wire-to-wire in 2012 and he won the Sony Open by three, having led by two at halfway, in January 2013 but on the last four occasions he's been beaten.
When he was tied for the lead at the US Open back in June, Henley hadn't been in front at halfway since the Travelers Championship in 2016 (finished 11th) so it was a huge ask but he fared OK. Having been tied for the lead through rounds one, two and three, he eventually lost his way on Sunday to finish 13th, beaten by six, but there's nothing in his CV to suggest he can't kick on and collect the trophy here. He hasn't won in four years but he's a three-time PGA Tour winner and he's not too short at around 2.47/5.
Henley shot 63-65 over the weekend last year to climb up into the top-ten so he clearly loves the place and he might just take some stopping.
Anyone that backed the course specialist, Webb Simpson, each-way at around 12/1 is on good terms with themselves. He's a huge danger to the leader but with four shots to make up (as does Paul Krishnamurty's each-way selection, Rory Sabbatini, and Scott Piercy), I'm happy to leave him out now at less than 5/1. He's highly likely to place but he's not always the easiest to get across the line.
In contract to the Cazoo Classic, where an off-the-pace winner is perfectly possible, I suspect the winner is already in-the-mix here. Jim Herman won from five back and tied 36th at this stage 12 months ago but he needed to shoot 61-63 on the weekend to take the title and the majority of winners here are up with the pace at this stage, so backing outsiders from off the pace looks like a futile exercise.
Both of my pre-event picks, Justin Rose (-10) and Kevin Na (-8) are in-contention so I'm just going to sit on my hands for now and see what today brings.
10:20 - August 13, 2021
The second round of the Cazoo Classic is well underway and the morning starters are looking to take advantage of the slightly easier early conditions.
There was a differential of 0.81 strokes between the morning and afternoon starters on day one and the first round leaderboard was dominated by those that began the event early yesterday - although in-form Englishman, Jordan Smith, is now tied for the lead with the first round leader, Richard Bland.
Smith now heads the market but he's been really poor in-contention in each of the last two events and the one who interests me is the prolific American, John Catlin, who sits on -4, and three off the lead.
Catlin begins his second round this afternoon so he may well be further back by the time he tees off but I was happy to take a very small chance on him at 26.025/1.
Over at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour, the opening round hasn't quite finished after we lost two hours of play due to poor weather yesterday. Russell Henley shows the way and heads the market after an eight-under-par 62 but course specialist, Webb Simpson, is only three off the lead, despite beginning the tournament with a double-bogey six!
As you'd expect given we haven't even completed the first round, the tournament looks wide open with 29 players within four of Henley's lead and I'm going to leave the event alone for now.
Cazoo Classic Pre-Event Selection:
Andy Sullivan @ 26.025/1
John Catlin @ 26.025/1
Daniel van Tonder @ 44.043/1
Wyndham Championship Pre-Event Selections:
Kevin Na @ 55.054/1
Justin Rose @ 80.079/1
Find Me a 100 Winner Picks:
Back 2 u J.T Poston @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back 2u C.T Pan @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back 1 u Steven Brown @ 230.0229/1
Place order to lay 5u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back 2u Steven Brown Top -20 Finish @ 13/2 (Sportsbook)
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