The Punter's De-Brief: Matsuyama cruises to sensational Shanghai success

Hideki Matsuyama with the WGC - HSBC trophy
Hideki Matsuyama with the WGC - HSBC trophy

It's not been a good week for our man but Steve still takes his customary look back at all last week's action with lessons learned for the future...


"Over at the Sanderson Farms Championship, we’ve now had three renewals at the Country Club of Jackson and all three winners have been winning their first PGA tournament at a triple figure price."

Anyone who backed the well-fancied Hideki Matsuyama at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China had barely a moments worry all weekend. Having traded at 2.568/5 with a three-stroke lead at halfway, he began round four trading at around 1.75/7, with the same margin lead, and he pulled away on Sunday to win by a very comfortable seven shots.

Matsuyama was a pre-event 26.025/1 shot and the biggest he was matched at before the off was 28.027/1. This was his third and biggest win to date on the PGA Tour and it's moved him up from 10th in the official world rankings to number six.

Over in the States, Dave Tindall's fancy, Cody Gribble, won with almost as much ease as Matsuyama - scooting four clear on the back-nine to win by four. Matched at 120.0119/1 before the off, I was surprised to see that he wasn't matched any higher than 400.0399/1 in-running given he opened up with a one-over-par 73. Having recovered brilliantly in round two, shooting 10 shots fewer, rounds of 67 and 65 over the weekend saw him get off the mark on the PGA Tour at just the eighth attempt.


My Bets

I've no regrets about missing out on either winner but it's been a miserable week from start to finish and my each-fancy Ross Fisher's bogey at the 72nd hole in China to drop out of the places pretty much sums it all up.

Matsuyama was short enough for me given how poor he putts most of the time but he improved dramatically with the flatstick and won with ease and I couldn't see the reason for the Gribble gamble, so even with hindsight it was always going to be a struggle.

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I quite fancied Chris Kirk with a round to go but he was never going to get the job done having parred his first 10 holes and it's been a week to forget and move on.


What Have We Learned This Week?

After some very dramatic renewals, the last couple of WGC-HSBCs have been a bit dull with nobody coming from off the pace and a fast start is essential. Matsuyama sat two off the lead and tied for third after round one and that's fairly typical. Phil Mickelson trailed by five strokes when he won here in 2009 but every other winner has been within four strokes after the opening round and concentrating on the leaders early on makes sense.

Course form doesn't look vital. Knox won on debut last year and Matsuyama's course form figures read WD-T41-WD prior to this year's heroics.

Over at the Sanderson Farms Championship, we've now had three renewals at the Country Club of Jackson and all three winners have been winning their first PGA tournament at a triple figure price. Whether Gribble will fare any better than Nick Taylor or Peter Malnati remains to be seen but at 120.0119/1, he was well-fancied in comparison as they were both matched at a 1000.0 before the off. Caution before the off is most certainly advised.

Gribble ranked an impressive third for Scrambling but it was his putter that won him the tournament. He ranked first for all the putting stats and that was typical. Taylor and Malnati both ranked inside the top-seven for Strokes gained Putting and Putting Average.

It's clearly a tough event to bet on but I'm going to look at form at the FedEx St Jude Classic again next year. Greg Owen very rarely figures anywhere and the 44-year-old from Mansfield has never won on the PGA Tour but he was tied for second yesterday and he was second at the FedEx St Jude last year.

The European Tour's Final Series begins this week and I'll be back later with my preview of the first event - the Turkish Airlines Open - and I'll preview the Shriners Hospitals Open for Children tomorrow.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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