The Punter's De-Brief: Magical Mexican gets off the mark at last

Golfer Abrahm Ancer
Abraham Ancer with his WGC trophy

Our man hit the woodwork with a couple of monster-priced picks but he's in a philosophical mood this morning after a decent week's trading....

"Yes, I woke up feeling a bit aggrieved as I came close to backing two winners at 130.0129/1 and 140.0139/1 but I can just as easily look at it differently and consider myself lucky that my picks traded as short as they did."

Having begun the final day of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational leading by two, pre-event 50.049/1 chance Harris English was caught by Bryson DeChambeau on the first hole in round four when he bogeyed and Bryson birdied.

DeChambeau, a 12.5 chance before the off, was matched at a low of 2.226/5 but that was as good as it got for the world number six who wasn't anywhere near as composed as English after that.

English had led the event from the start and, when he led by four as he turned for home, he was matched at a low of 1.182/11 to become the seventh wire-to-wire winner at TPC Southwind since 1996. But it wasn't to be.

Although put on the clock, thanks to his playing partner's antics, it looked as though nothing could faze English, but he found water off the tee on the par three 11th, which led to a double-bogey five, and he did the very same thing at the par three 14th. Clearly rattled, he made a complete mess of the simple 16th to record a bogey six and he eventually came home in 40 to miss the playoff by one. Bryson came home in 41!

Playing well ahead of the final two-ball, and matched at 1000.00 in-running, pre-tournament 48.047/1 chance Hideki Matsuyama posted a seven-under-par 63 to get to 16-under-par. Sam Burns, who'd been a general 90.089/1 chance before the off, was also matched at 1000.00 before he equalled Hideki's tournament total with a Sunday six-under-par 64. The pair had begun round four trailing English by nine and eight strokes respectively!

Australia's Cameron Smith, who had begun the final round trailing by two, was matched at a low of 2.3811/8 before he messed up at the end, bogeying 15 and double-bogeying 18. The last man to join the playoff party was Mexico's Abraham Ancer who was looking to get off the mark on the PGA Tour having finished runner-up four times previously.

The pre-event 55.054/1 chance had begun the final round trailing by four and trading at 18.017/1 after he'd finished round three with back-to-back bogeys. He was matched at a high of 190.0189/1 in-running but, after all three had parred the 18th at the first time of asking, the 30-year-old prevailed.

Matsuyama came closest to winning the event at the first extra hole when his lengthy birdie attempt lipped out. He was matched at a low of 2.226/5 and Burns hit a low of 2.021/1 when he hit his approach to within six foot and just inside of Abraham's at the second extra hole (the 18th again). But after Ancer had holed his left-to-right putt in impressive fashion, Burns failed to respond and the Mexican was left holding the trophy.

Earlier in the day, pre-event 42.041/1 chance Calum Hill, who had begun the final round of the Hero Open tied with fellow Scot, Grant Forrest, a pre-tournament 85.084/1 chance (backed down from 110.0109/1), was matched at a low of just 1.341/3. Hill opened up round four in fine style, playing his first six holes in four-under-par but soon lost his way.

Grant had started his final round slowly, parring the first and bogeying the second, but it wasn't long before he seized control, playing holes three to 11 in a fabulous six-under-par. He boarded the par train after that though, and James Morrison, who had begun the final round trailing by four, applied the pressure.

Morrison, who was one of my three Find Me a 100 Winner picks, finished with a fantastic flourish, birdying five in-a-row from the 11th.

When Forest bogeyed 16 and Morrison birdied 18, my man was matched at a low of 1.330/100 as he led by a stroke in the clubhouse.

I was confident of a playoff at least with the tough par three ahead of Forest but he hit a cracking tee-shot there, tapped in the birdie putt and birdied the last to win by one. Ouch.

There was more pain to come at the day's final event, where Find Me a 100 Winner fancy, Scott Piercy, and in-play pick Andrew Putnam dominated the early part of the final round.

Piercy, who was backed at 140.00139/1, 10 points higher than Morrison, was matched at a low of 4.47/2 and Putnam, a pre-event 220.0219/1 chance, who I backed at 15.014/1, was matched at just 1.84/5 as the two looked like fighting out the finish. But after an eagle at eight, and a birdie at nine, South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen, a pre-event 65.064/1 chance, threw his hat in the ring.

It was all still up for grabs when I finally turned in - in the early hours - but I woke up to find my additional lays had not been matched and that Van Rooyen had finished in front of my two.

Ancer and Van Rooyen were winning for the first time on the PGA Tour and Forest's victory was his first on the European Tour.

My Bets

I would have loved to have seen either Morrison, Piercy or both win for the Find Me a 100 Winner column, but it's been a cracking week.

I didn't lay anything back on English but I don't really have any regrets because, had Morrison got over the line, I'd be moaning that I layed too much back on him.

I layed the Englishman several times, firstly at 5.04/1 and finally at 1.351/3, and I also layed back Piercy at 5.04/1 and Putnam at 1.84/5 and that's what it's all about for me.

The kudos of bagging a pre-event winner at a huge price is lovely but winning is hard and so many players trade short without getting across the line (as the three events yesterday highlighted) so laying back positions is the way to go.

Yes, I woke up feeling a bit aggrieved as I came close to backing two winners at 130.0129/1 and 140.0139/1 but I can just as easily look at it differently and consider myself lucky that my picks traded as short as they did.

It's been a good week and that monster-priced winner is on it's way. I just need a bit of fortune like Van Rooyen received on 18 yesterday. He finished the tournament with a birdie three to stretch his lead but look how close he came to throwing it away and handing victory to Putnam.

Smith showing another tick for the Sony

Fabian Gomez, Justin Thomas and David Toms have won at both TPC Southwind and Waialae Country Club, home of the Sony Open. And Southwind winners, Harris English, Harrison Frazar and Brian Gay, have all also been placed in Hawaii.

Matt Kuchar, who won the Sony Open in 2019, also finished fifth at TPC Southwind on debut so there was already a strong correlation between the two venues. It's been strengthened further this week as the 2020 Sony Open winner, Cameron Smith, should have got into the playoff at least.

Keep an eye on the Weather

There was a huge draw bias in Scotland last week of nearly six strokes and that was one of the reasons Morrison was a pick in the Hero Open after he'd been assigned the advantageous early start on Thursday.

We often see some big market drifts on Wednesdays so waiting until the day before the event starts and checking the weather before finalising your bets isn't a bad idea.

We've got the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs begin this week on the PGA Tour - the Wyndham Championship - and we're off to Kent for the Cazoo Classic on the European Tour. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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