It's been a long and busy week of golf and Steve Rawlings looks back at all the action - and ahead to Augusta - here...
"I dipped in and out of play on Sunday afternoon and Scheffler’s semi-final with Matt Kuchar felt like it just went on and on and on so by the time the final started I’d absolutely had my fill."
With three tournaments played across the two main tours, stretching out from first thing Tuesday morning to late on Sunday night, last week felt like an inordinately long week of golf.
It ended with a victory for Dave Tindall's each-way fancy, Billy Horschel, in the WGC Dell Matchplay but I must confess, I'd more than had enough of the event by the time the pre-event 85.084/1 chance got the better of 60.059/1 shot, Scottie Scheffler, in the final and Jason Sobel summed the tournament up perfectly.
Match play is a brilliant format to play against your buddies - or your enemies. Competition in its purest form. Pro golf at the highest level, though, is an entertainment product. As an entertainment product, this is an inverted pyramid. Each day less exciting than the previous.? Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) March 28, 2021
I dipped in and out of play on Sunday afternoon and Scheffler's semi-final with Matt Kuchar felt like it just went on and on and on so by the time the final started I'd absolutely had my fill.
A tricky wind and fatigued players didn't help yesterday but the pace of play was painful, and I'd have much preferred to have watched the finale to the Corales Puntacana R&S Championship in the Dominican Republic - an event eventually won by 60.059/1 chance, Joel Dahmen.
As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, 50.049/1 chance, Dahmen, begun the fourth and final round tied for the lead but after a fast start, it wasn't all plain sailing.
In search of his first win on the PGA Tour, the 33-year-old played his last ten holes in two-over-par and this was how close Rafael Campos came to taking the event into extra time on the 72nd hole.
As a golf fan, you hate to see this gut-wrenching missed putt from Rafael Campos. pic.twitter.com/8CoSN0Yceq? Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) March 28, 2021
Renowned for his honesty regarding the limitations of his game and the fact that he's playing golf for the cash and not for titles, Dahmen could easily go in again now he's get off the mark and it was quite obvious just how much this first PGA Tour title meant.
"I'm hoping it's the first of many more, but I'm going to celebrate like this will be the last one."
Dahmen is one of the good guys.
A couple of days prior to the drama in the Dominican Republic and the soozefest in Austin, Daniel Van Tonder won his first European Tour event in extremely dramatic fashion at the delightful Karen Golf Course in Kenya.
Van Tonder, a pre-event 60.059/1 chance, was matched at a high of 300.0299/1 after he'd bogeyed the 14th and 15th holes in round four on Friday, following a run of five birdies in-a-row, but an expected birdie at the 72nd hole saw him sneak into a playoff with Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond and he produced this piece of magic at the third extra hole to seal the deal.
Justin Harding, who won the Kenya Open at Karen last Sunday, went into the fourth round on Friday with a three-stroke lead and he was matched at a low of 1.9420/21 before he faded badly to finish tied for 14th.
Jazz was matched at a low of just 1.282/7 before he bogeyed the par three 16th and Calum Hill was matched at just 1.574/7 after a great drive on 18, when alongside Jazz and one clear of Van Tonder, but he made a scruffy bogey to miss out on extra time by a stroke.
Although trading the final round of the Kenya Savanah Classic provided a bit of profit, it was a frustrating and largely disappointing week.
I backed Harding in Kenya at halfway at 5.79/2 so his final round collapse was frustrating and Masahiro Kawamura, backed each-way at 125/1 before the off, eventually finished tied 14th after an awful third round. Jordan Spieth, backed each-way in the Matchplay at 25/1, lost to Kuchar in the round of 16 on the final hole, despite being two up after two and two up after ten, when victory would have seen the place part of the bet paid and two of my in-play picks at the Corales came close but ultimately fell short.
Danny Willett, backed at 65.064/1 after round one, was matched at a low of 4.03/1 during round three but he played poorly on Sunday and Graeme McDowell, backed at halfway at 34.033/1, finished tied for fourth after he bogeyed the last two holes to get beaten by two. He hit a low of 5.69/2.
Do we need another format change?
I'm perhaps not the best one to judge given I'm not a big fan of match play golf and that I'm barely even interested in the Ryder Cup but the WGC Dell Matchplay is just a mess of an event as far as I'm concerned.
The first three days are taken up by the group stage and unless you win all three matches in your group it's a matter of luck whether you progress or not to the knockout stage.
As many as nine players won two of three ties but didn't progress whereas Robert McIntyre did get through to the knockout phase, despite winning only one of his three matches.
In contrast to the Ryder Cup, which builds to a crescendo with the singles matches all being played at the same time, after the group stage at the WGC, the field gets whittled down over the next two days and interest just wanes and wanes. The players that progress to the final day all seem to be knackered and they very often produce substandard and very slow golf. And it's basically just boring.
Personally, I'd love to see them just scrap it entirely but at the very least a return to a purer do or die straight knockout format would be a huge improvement. I won't hold my breath.
Latest odds for the 2021 Masters
As you'd expect, Horschel and Kuchar have been fairly big movers in the US Masters market - the WGC champ is now 120.0119/1 having been backed at bigger than 400.0399/1 and Kuchar is 170.0169/1 having drifted out to 500.0499/1 and bigger - but the one that I like at the prices is Paul Casey.
The Englishman was slow out of the blocks last week, losing his first match to Mackenzie Hughes, but he played well enough after that and as Paul Krishnamurty highlights here, the Englishman is a cracking fit for the year's first major and 55.054/1 looks generous enough on the exchange.
With the US Masters now just ten days ago, the defending champ, Dustin Johnson, is a late entrant into this week's only event, the Valero Texas Open, and I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter