The layers are in clover after huge outsiders win on either side of the Atlantic but what have we learned this week? Read Steve's customary lookback to see what he thinks here...
"Underdogs had always had a good record in Vegas but a three-year period between 2011 and 2013 when the well-fancied trio of Kevin Na, Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson all won, suggested that the event's profile may have changed but the last three winners have been matched before the off at 250.0249/1, 300.0299/1 and 670.0669/1."
Pre-event 160.0159/1 shot, Thorbjorn Olesen, took control of the Turkish Airlines Open at the halfway stage and he held on impressively to win comfortably by three strokes. Pre-tournament favourite, Bernd Wiesberger, got to within two strokes of the Dane on the back nine yesterday before faltering and England's David Horsey was matched at a low of 3.412/5 when he got to within a stroke, but Olesen held his nerve superbly after a little wobble around the turn and he was very much the deserved winner.
Over in the States, massive outsider, Rod Pampling, birdied the final hole to win the Shriners Hospital for Children Open by two strokes. The 47-year-old was matched at a whopping 670.0669/1 before the off in an event he shouldn't really have played in! An administration error by the PGA left the field at 144 instead of 132 and Pampling, who was winning on the PGA Tour for the first time in over ten years, was one of the 12 players that got into the event courtesy of the mistake.
For much of the back-nine, Lucas Glover had looked the most likely winner and he was matched at a low of 1.434/9 but the 2009 US Open Champ finished poorly - failing to birdie the easy par five 16th, before bogeying 17 and 18.
It's been a poor week again but stakes were kept to the minimum after a sticky patch so it's not been an expensive one.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I went against Olesen at halfway with both Thongchai Jaidee and Joakim Lagergren but their chances went very soon in round three and I was far too dismissive of Pampling.
With hindsight, I should have given a lot more credence to his win on the Web.com Tour last year, when he converted from the front, but I had too many ancient memories of flaky efforts in-the-mix by the Aussie. He was never a player to rely on in-contention and nothing typifies that better than the 1999 Open when he led the Championship after round one but shot 86 in round two to miss the cut by three!
What Have we Learned This Week?
The Shriners is most certainly an outsider's event again and you need to be up with the pace to win.
Underdogs had always had a good record in Vegas but a three-year period between 2011 and 2013 when the well-fancied trio of Kevin Na, Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson all won, suggested that the event's profile may have changed but the last three winners have been matched before the off at 250.0249/1, 300.0299/1 and 670.0669/1.
The 2015 winner, Smylie Kaufman, won from seven strokes adrift at halfway and he was still seven back after round three but that looks like quite a sizable and freaky anomaly as nine of the last ten winners now have been inside the top-five and no more than two back at halfway and the nine were all inside the top-three and no more than two back with a round to go.
I should have blindly followed the stats. Pampling led after rounds one and two and he was sitting second and just a stroke off the lead with a round to go but he was always a juicy price. And he was yet another example of the poor third round bounce-back. Time and time again we witness someone lead for two rounds, drop slightly off the pace in round three, and then bounce back to win in round four.
Going to a new venue is never easy and this week's event in Turkey highlighted how difficult it is to try and gauge what sort of test awaits. The Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort's website described the course as being reminiscent of Surrey's heathland courses but I couldn't really see the resemblance.
The European Tour website eventually informed us on the eve of the event that "hitting fairways off the tee will be very important this week with the rough being penal and the course being tree lined" and that backed up what I'd read elsewhere, but even though the fairways were framed by pines, on the vast amount of occasions anyone strayed from the fairway and ventured in to the trees they had no problem playing from them. Time and time again I saw players find the green from the trees having hit it wide off the tee and Olesen ranked 63rd for Driving Accuracy so hitting it straight wasn't as important as I'd suspected it would be.
I apologise if my course info in the preview was somewhat misleading but an awful lot of changes were made to the course in the lead up to the event - including a new lake and a disappearing hole thanks to the building of a villa - but there was no mention of the changes on the course's website and it takes the European Tour an age to put any venue details up on their website, if indeed they do so at all!
I could never have linked the two events before the off but with hindsight it's interesting to note that Olesen has also won the Perth International which is staged at Lake Karrinyup which is another tree-lined venue where inaccuracy off the tee usually goes unpunished.
In-and-out form creates great value again
After Olesen had won the Alfred Dunhill last year I commented in the De-Brief about how inconsistent he was. He'd won then, and not for the first time, after a run of poor form and he's gone and done it again! In his last ten starts before this week, he'd missed seven cuts, twice finish 50th and his best effort was a tied 30th at the Olympics. Olesen often plays really well without any prior warning and if you wanted someone to back blind week after week there can be few better candidates. And that's a better strategy than backing consistent players that don't win very often like Bernd Wiesberger.
The Sporting Life's Ben Coley compared the winner and Wiesberger with the tweet below and that highlights the difference between the two nicely. Olesen rarely contends but he knows how to win when he does, whereas Wiesberger's form is consistent but he very rarely wins. Throwing a few pounds at players like Olesen at a huge price each week is a far better plan than backing someone with Wiesberger's profile in the hope that they'll finally get across the line again.
If Olesen wins, he'll have more European Tour titles than Wiesberger from fewer starts despite having less than half as many top-fives.? Ben Coley (@BenColeyGolf) November 6, 2016
Is Koepka one to swerve?
Brooks Koepka was matched at just 2.166/5 in-running yesterday but yet again he came up shy when in with a great chance to win and he's becoming expensive to follow. Like Wiesberger, Brooks is a class act that doesn't win very often and like Wiesberger, he's never a big price.
He was up against relatively weak opposition yesterday in Glover and Pampling and a player of his calibre, with so much game, really should have bossed the tournament once he arrived on the premises at halfway. He didn't do much wrong yesterday but he never got going on the front nine and his three-putt par on the easy par five ninth was very much a momentum stopper.
This week's events are the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the OHL Classic and I'll be back later today and/or tomorrow with my previews.
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