The Punter's In-Play Blog: South Africans value to claim Zurich prize

Golfers Branden Grace and Justin Harding
Branden Grace and Justin Harding - value at the Zurich with a round to go

There's now just a round to go at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are strong favourites to convert from the front but our man thinks they're opposable...

“The South African pairing of Branden Grace and Justin Harding trail the leaders by just a stroke and they look like the value at this stage. With a gap of two strokes back to anyone else, the dangers look ahead and not behind and I was happy to play them modestly at 5.85/1.”

11:50 - April 28, 2019

I can't pretend to be especially enamoured by the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in its relatively new pairs format but with a round to go it's set up nicely for an entertaining finish. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:45.

Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer -23 2.8615/8
Scott Stallings/Trey Mullinax -23 4.77/2
Branden Grace/Justin Harding -22 5.85/1
Brian Gay/Rory Sabbatini -20 27.026/1
Peter Malnati/Billy Hurley -20 46.045/1
Sergio Garcia/Tommy Fleetwood -19 17.5
-19 and 38.037/1 bar

Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are clearly the two to beat with a round to go and they shot the best foursomes round on Friday. The Spanish/Texan duo have made for a great partnership so far and if they repeat Friday's feat in this much tougher format the rest have no chance but I'm far from convinced they're value at less than 2/1.

Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax shot 70 on Friday - five strokes worse than Rahm and Palmer - and that duo is far easier to dismiss. Mistakes are far more common with only one ball in play and the pair will need to find more fairways than they did early on in round two.

The South African pairing of Branden Grace and Justin Harding trail the leaders by just a stroke and they look like the value at this stage. They can't afford a mistake like the one made on Friday, when they made an expensive double-bogey after Harding had found water off the tee at the par three third hole, but with a gap of two strokes back to anyone else, the dangers look ahead and not behind and I was happy to play them modestly at 5.85/1.

It's extremely difficult to score well in this format and concentrating on the leaders makes sense but the Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood pairing is still dangerous. Those two are likely to keep the ball on the short grass more than any other pairing in-contention but they've got plenty to do given they trail by as many as four strokes. They need to play really well and they probably need a bit of help too so I'm happy to take a chance on the South Africans at a decent price.

21:00 - April 27, 2019

For the third day in-a-row, we've witnessed much change in Morocco and with a round to go at the Trophée Hassan II Erik Van Rooyen has struck the front. Here's the 54 hole leaderboard with prices to back at 20:50

Erik Van Rooyen -8 3.711/4
Jorge Campillo -7 4.57/2
Sean Crocker -6 9.89/1
Julian Suri -5 10.519/2
Wade Ormsby -5 20.019/1
Lee Slattery -5 26.025/1
Grant Forrest -5 32.031/1
Jordan Smith -4 22.021/1
David Lipsky -4 28.027/1
Masahiro Kawamura -4 36.035/1
-3 and 50.049/1 bar

This is now a fabulous opportunity for any one of the front three to claim their first European Tour win but I'm in no rush to side with any of them. Van Rooyen has performed better than Jorge Campillo in-contention and he's a fair price to convert but we've seen plenty of change between rounds so far this week and in four editions of the Trophée Hassan II here at Royal Golf Dar Es Salem we're yet to see a 54-hole leader go on to take the title.

Rhys Davies won from two adrift in 2010 when Louis Oosthuizen gave up the lead, Jeunghun Wang took the title in extra time in 2016, having trailed by three in a tie for fifth after three rounds, Edoardo Molinari sat sixth and four back through 54 holes when he won in 2017 and Alexander Levy came from just a stroke behind and second place to win 12 months ago.

There's every chance that the front three wobble under the pressure on what is now a really tough course and I'm happy to take a small chance on a couple of players sitting four off the lead - the first round leader, Jordan Smith, and halfway leader, David Lipsky.

Royal Golf Dar Es Salem is a tough enough test under any conditions but a drying wind has turned it into a real grind. We saw a number of players tumble out of contention today and I suspect we'll see much the same tomorrow. It's impossible to know whether Smith and/or Lipsky will be the ones to move forward and capitalize on any misfiring up front but I thought they both looked overpriced given their profiles.

10:30 - April 27, 2019

As the stagger unwound and the winds picked up, it soon became apparent that those drawn AM-PM had been disadvantaged at the Trophée Hassan II. Both the early and late starters had averaged 74.77 on day one but it was a different story yesterday with the afternoon starters averaging 76.88 - 1.48 strokes more than those that had completed their rounds yesterday morning.

The first-round leader, Jordan Smith, struggled in the afternoon wind and although he only trails by a stroke, he shot ten strokes worse than he'd done on Thursday morning. Here's the halfway leaderboard with prices to back at 10:20.

David Lipsky -5 8.415/2
Sean Crocker -5 12.011/1
Julian Suri -4 7.87/1
Jordan Smith -4 8.615/2
Lee Slattery -4 29.028/1
Dimitrios Papadatos -4 36.035/1
Jorge Campillo -3 13.5
Erik Van Rooyen -3 15.5
Matthias Schwab -3 26.025/1
Guido Migliozzi -3 38.037/1
Alejandro Canizares -3 50.049/1
Kristoffer Reitan -3 90.089/1
-2 and 29.028/1 bar

This is a fascinating halfway leaderboard with a great blend of players in-the-mix. American pair, David Lipsky and Sean Crocker, set the pace and the former looks fairly priced given he won the Alfred Dunhill at Leopard Creek as recently as December.

A number of players in-contention are looking to get off the mark on the European Tour, so it's no surprise to see the likes of Lipsky, Julian Suri and Jordan Smith, heading what is a very open market. They all know what it feels like to win and I'd favour them over Jorge Campillo and Erik Van Rooyen, who have both had a number of chances to claim a victory on the European Tour.

Lipsky, in particular, is a tempting price this morning but the tournament looks extremely tough to call still and I'm happy to take a small chance on another recent winner instead.

Guido Migliozzi was extremely impressive when claiming the Kenya Open in March and the 22-year-old Italian, who won the Italian Amateur Championship a remarkable six times in-a-row between 2011 and 2016, could be one to keep on the right side of. He won three times on the Alps Tour before qualifying for the European Tour via Q-School and he couldn't have been more impressive in Kenya.

Migliozzi clearly knows how to win and he's been overlooked here at 38.037/1 given he trails by just two strokes at halfway.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is still behind schedule and I'm happy to let it play on without me. I'll take a good look tomorrow when we're back on schedule and I may get involved then but for now my only in-play pick for the week is on the young Italian in Morocco.

11:10 - April 26, 2019

There can be no moaning about the draw at the Trophée Hassan II after the opening round. The morning starters averaged 74.77 and so did the afternoon wave so I can't use that as an excuse for the diabolical start by my team. Kurt Kitayama shot level par and that was as good as it got but that was still seven off the lead set by Jordan Smith.

Paul Krishnamurty's Find Me a 100 Winner pick, Matthias Schwab, has started nicely this morning and he's already caught Smith and the in-form American, Julian Suri, is making a move too but I'm going to sit and wait a bit longer and survey the situation at halfway.

Rhys Davies was leading by two after two rounds when he won here back in 2010 but the last three course winners were all trailing at halfway so it's wide-open and a lot will depend on what Smith does this afternoon.

Over at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, my sole selections, Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, haven't even started yet after we lost most of day one to a seven and half hour weather delay. I can't pretend to have had much interest in the tournament in the first place and a substantial weather delay hasn't helped any so I'm leaving this one alone for now too.

Trophée Hassan II Pre-Event Selections:
Nacho Elvira @ 38.037/1
Kurt Kitayama @ 55.054/1
Adri Arnaus @ 65.064/1
Josh Geary @ 110.0109/1
Oliver Wilson @ 160.0159/1

In-Play Picks:
Guido Migliozzi @ 38.037/1
Jordan Smith @ 22.021/1
David Lipsky @ 28.027/1

Pre-Event Selections:
Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman @ 85.084/1

In-Play Pick:
Branden Grace and Justin Harding @ 5.85/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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