The Punter's De-Brief: Thomas wins again ahead of major defence

Golfer Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas with his latest trophy
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With the year's final major, the US PGA Championship, looming large, Steve Rawlings looks back at all last week's golf action with his customary review piece here...

“With hindsight, a lumpy bet on Poults to beat Tommy and a decent wager on Thomas yesterday would have seen me make a nice profit for the week but years and years of experience have taught me that waking up slightly ruing not backing an odds-on shot is a far better feeling than waking up regretting chasing losses.”

Last week was a busy ol' week and although I didn't preview it or even have a bet, in addition to the three tournaments covered last week, I also got caught up with the magnificence of Georgia Hall's victory in the Women's British Open at Lytham. The 22-year-old from Bournemouth was extremely impressive on the back-nine yesterday and it was impossible not to enjoy the way she calmly took the title.

Back to the men's golf, and there were wins for the fairly well-fancied, Gaganjeet Bhullar, at the Fiji International, courtesy of a chip-in eagle at the penultimate hole, Andrew Putnam won for the first time at the Barracuda Championship, and Justin Thomas won his eighth title in 44 starts at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Bhullar was matched at no bigger than [26.0] before the off but he looked in trouble when the leaderboard, incorrectly, put Anthony Quayle's final score at -14 with the Indian on -12 with two to play. The Australian was matched at a low of [1.33] at just past three in the morning UK time and I suspect someone believed they were buying money at that price but his score was corrected to -12 and Bhullar leapfrogged him with and eagle three on the par five 17th before parring the last to win. Ouch.

Putnam was fairly well-fancied too. The 29-year-old American was matched at [55.0] on Monday but he shortened to around [34.0] before the off and Thomas was well-backed as well. Incredibly, given his ridiculous strike rate, the world number two was matched at a high of [34.0] on Monday but he was well-tipped up by a few shrewd judges and he was a more realistic [22.0] shot by the off. He's now shorter than that to defend his US PGA title this week but with a strike rate of 18% since he won the CIMB Classic in October 2016, he's arguably still a value price at around [16.0].

Rory McIlroy was matched at just [3.85] early on during round four but he fell away soon after the start and Thomas was able to cruise to victory unchallenged.

My Bets

I had a bit of a disastrous week. None of my pre-event picks ever looked like winning and my in-play picks were equally poor.

I highlighted how poor Tommy Fleetwood has been in third rounds of late on Saturday morning but only had a tiny bet on Ian Poulter against him in their two-ball and as highlighted in the In-Play Blog yesterday, I thought Thomas was a very fair price at just a shade of odds-on but I didn't play him at all.

With hindsight, a lumpy bet on Poults to beat Tommy and a decent wager on Thomas yesterday would have seen me make a nice profit for the week but years and years of experience have taught me that waking up slightly ruing not backing an odds-on shot is a far better feeling than waking up regretting chasing losses. As some wise old sage once told me many years ago, there's never a last race, there's only ever a last race of the day. Being disciplined and holding fire when things aren't going your way is one of the secrets to longevity in this game. Whether you're backing or laying.

What Have We Learned This Week?

There's little point in analysing the result at Firestone as sadly, that was the last edition of the event. The schedule hasn't been finalised for next year yet but this week's major, US PGA Championship (previewed here) will move to May next year and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is going to be replaced by the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The FedEx St Jude Classic, traditionally played in the week before the US Open is now no more with the brand new WGC event being played at that event's venue - TPC Southwind.

At only 29, Andrew Putnam was a little young compared with most Barracuda winners but he was the third Barracuda champ in-a-row to be winning for the first time on the PGA Tour and he was the latest to be up-with the pace at halfway.

Putnam trailed first round leader, Ollie Schniederjans, by ten points after round one but he made a significant move in round two to sit tied for third and just two points back at halfway before leading with a round to go. I messed up by covering the first and second at halfway only as Putnam was the 14th winner at Montreux in 16 years to sit inside the first three places at the halfway stage.

I'll be back later in the week with a look at some of the side markets at the US PGA Championship but in the meantime, here's my preview of the year's final major.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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