Our man looks back on an entertaining final round in Morocco and South Carolina where both winners won from off the pace. Read Steve's customary weekly look back at last week's golf action here...
“This was the fourth time in five years that the winner had trailed by four strokes with a round to go and the odd man out - Branden Grace - was three back after 54-holes last year.”
Almost seven years after he won two events in a month to force his way into Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup team at Celtic Manor, 36-year-old Italian Edoardo Molinari has finally won his third European Tour title.
It had looked for much of yesterday's fourth and final round as though the Trophée Hassan II would go the way of either England's Paul Waring, who was matched at a low of 2.3811/8, or third round leader, Paul Dunne, who was matched in running at just 1.392/5, but then Molinari swooped with this, the only eagle of the day at 18.
The only eagle on the 18th hole today.? The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 16, 2017
And it belonged to the winner. pic.twitter.com/MPLaB88E0J
Dunne, who had begun the event as a 65.064/1 chance, had started the day leading by two strokes and I couldn't help but feel for him. He bogeyed the first and birdied the second but birdies at five, ten and 15 were all followed immediately by a bogey and he just couldn't pull away. To his credit, he birdied the final hole to extend the event into extra-time but as he couldn't match Molinari's par at the first extra hole, the wait for his first title continues.
Having trailed the leader by four, Molinari had been trading at around 50.049/1 before the fourth round and he was matched at 360.0359/1 before the off.
Over at the RBC Heritage, the rapid rise of former YouTube trick shot star, Wesley Bryan, continued as the 27-year-old notched his first PGA Tour title in fine style. Picked out brilliantly before the off by Dave Tindall, Bryan won from four back as the leaders folded like a cheap suit and it rounds off and incredible run from mini-tour obscurity to PGA Tour star.
Bryan only qualified for the Web.com Tour last year but he didn't hang about once he got there, winning three times in six months to gain promotion to the PGA Tour. After top-four finishes at the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic and a seventh place at the Valspar Championship, two poor efforts (at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Puerto Rico Open) suggested Wesley's hot streak was over and he was generally an 85.084/1 chance on the exchange before the off.
Like Molinari, Bryan trailed by four with a round to go and he was matched at 40.039/1 yesterday morning.
Pre-event pick, Pablo Larrazabal, got to within a stroke of the lead after ten holes yesterday and he was matched at a low of 3.412/5 but he finished the event extremely poorly, dropping four strokes over the last eight holes to fall outside the top-ten and my in-play picks were equally disappointing but that was all forgotten later on...
I picked out half a dozen huge outsiders before the off at the RBC Heritage and my picks after rounds one and two - Russell Henley and Adam Hadwin - were disappointing but my intention from the start had been to concentrate on those players slightly off the pace after three rounds.
As detailed in the In-Play Blog, I backed the winner at 40.039/1 yesterday morning and even though I ended up backing both Ollie Schniederjans and Graham DeLaet late on to guarantee a profit, it was a cracking result. And hot on the heels of pre-event 60.059/1 pick, Russell Henley, at the Shell Houston Open, and in-play winner, D.A Points at 30.029/1 in Puerto Rico, long may it continue!
What Have We Learned This Week?
I'm going to repeat the system again next year at the RBC Heritage. I may back a few outsiders before the off again but it's all about the in-play.
This was the fourth time in five years that the winner had trailed by four strokes with a round to go and the odd man out - Branden Grace - was three back after 54-holes last year. It seems increasingly difficult to get the job done from the front here and although the third round leader, Jason Dufner, was matched at a low of 2.6213/8, he lost his way badly to finish outside the top-ten but he wasn't alone...
Graham DeLaet, who had begun round four in second finished tied for sixth, Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson, who started the day tied for fourth finished alongside Dufner in a tie for 11th and so did Ian Poulter, who had begun the day in fifth place.
On many occasions I've advocated laying contenders for the title in the Top 5 Finish market but I didn't heed my own advice yesterday. Laying the five leaders yesterday morning in the place market would have been extremely profitable!
The first and second yesterday - Bryan and Luke Donald - played the par fours better than anyone else, in six-under-par, and nobody putted better than either of them. Bryan had 99 putts all week and Donald a 100 and yet again it was all about short game prowess at Harbour Town. Bryan got up-and-down from around the green 27 times throughout the week.
This week's tournaments are the Shenzhen International in China on the European Tour and the Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour and I'll be back either late today or tomorrow with my previews.
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