The Punter's De-Brief: Comeback king Kisner kills off Kuchar to lift the trophy

Golfer Kevin Kisner
Kevin Kisner with the WGC Match Play trophy

It's been a busy week with events in Texas, the Dominican Republic and India played out over the two main tours. Our man looks back at all the drama from all three tournaments here...

"I was hoping Bjerregaard would trade a bit lower than he did (4.1) and I thought Kuchar was too big before the final to lay anything back. The market moved in favour of Kisner and he was the marginal favourite by the time they teed off. I thought that was wrong but it clearly wasn’t."

A year after an embarrassingly heavy 7&6 defeat to Bubba Watson in the WGC-Match Play final, 80.079/1 chance, Kevin Kisner, has gained the sweetest of redemptions with a 3&2 win in this year's final over 70.069/1 shot, Matt Kuchar. It was this sixth year in-a-row that an American had taken the title.

The victory had looked unlikely after he'd lost his opening match on Wednesday to Ian Poulter and it had looked an impossibility when he trailed 3 down to Tony Finau through seven holes on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, he was matched at a high of 790.0789/1, but he kept plugging away, eventually beating Finau 2 up and Keith Mitchel 2&1 on Friday to get into a playoff with Poults, which he won with a birdie at the third extra hole.

Kisner wasn't spectacular in the final but he didn't have to be. Kuchar shot three-over-par and he looked shattered. His stormy quarter-final tie with Sergio Garcia, where he called in an official after Sergio did this couldn't have helped.


Yes, Sergio was daft to do what he did and yes, Kuchar was acting within the rules to call in the official and win the hole but it didn't look great and it was a missed opportunity to repair his somewhat tarnished reputation. Surely, he could have just retrospectively given Sergio the putt and moved on in the spirit of the game?

Kuchar's been (quite rightly) heavily criticized for not paying his stand-in local caddie anywhere near the usual percentage when he won in Mexico in November and that followed on from this piece of pure ignorance back at the US Open last year.


Kuchar was Joe Dyer's each-way pick and I'd backed him after the group stage at 16/1 so I obviously wanted him to win for financial reasons but he wouldn't have been the most popular of winners - unlike the week's other two victors...

The PGA Tour's other event, the Corales Puntacana R & C Championship was won by the third-round leader, pre-event 80.079/1 chance, and ever popular Irishman, Graeme McDowell.

G-Mac had started slowly in the Dominican Republic, and his first round 73 had seen him trailing by seven. He was matched at a high of 230.0229/1 but back-to-back eight-under-par 64s on Friday and Saturday had put him in front and he looked like he might stroll to victory after a fast start yesterday. The 39-year-old Irishman birdied three of the first four holes before adding a fourth at the par five seventh. His price plunged to less than 1.330/100 but as is so often the case with this game, victory wasn't as straightforward is it looked like it might be.

A bogey followed at the par three ninth before he parred the next seven holes in-a-row and all of a sudden, it looked like he was going to get beat. Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, threatened to post a score from off the pace but he bogeyed the last and it was left to Chris Stroud, a pre-tournament 160.0159/1 shot, to push G-Mac the hardest.

Back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15 saw the 37-year-old Texan hit the front and he was matched at a low of 1.341/3 but he bogeyed the par three 17th, just as McDowell did this to make birdie.

Both players bogeyed the par four 18th and G-Mac had won his first title in four years. Unfortunately for the Portrush-born McDowell, victory in the event doesn't get him in to the US Masters or more importantly, the Open Championship at Portrush but the shift up the world rankings gives him a chance now and there can't be anyone not cheering him on to get in the field.

We may have witnessed odds-on shots getting beat at both the WGC - Match Play and the Corales Puntacana R & C Championship but neither event came anywhere close to being as dramatic as the Indian Open, where 200.0199/1 chance, Stephen Gallacher, birdied three of the last four holes to claim the prize with his son Jack caddying for him.

Gallacher, who had been tied for the lead with Julian Suri after round one, looked like he'd blown his chance a few times. A second round 74 left him with plenty of work to do (seven off the lead at halfway) and he looked like his chance had gone completely after he made a quadruple-bogey eight on the seventh hole in round four having had to play five off the tee! Suri birdied eight and nine shortly after Gallacher's gaff and the American was matched at just 1.162/13 as he looked to be assuming command but long-odds-on players got their fingers burnt when Suri made a quad of his own on the ultra-tough 14th and that wasn't the end of the market carnage!

Spain's Jose Campillo, who's yet to win on the European Tour, looked like he was going to benefit from sorry Suri's slip-up but he failed to birdie the par five 18th after a great drive and moments after he'd posted an eight-under-par tournament total, and been matched at just 1.21/5, his score was changed from a six-under-par 66 to a five-under-par 67! The European Tour is notorious for score changes due to human error but this one was a big blooper, and a very costly one for some trading the tournament in-running.

As it transpired, Gallacher's remarkable finish meant he would have beaten Campillo anyway and the Spaniard didn't even finish second. Japan's Masahiro Kawamura, who hit a low of 2.166/5, salvaged a par at the last having driven out of bounds to finish one in front of Campillo and one behind Gallacher.

My Bets

The place part of my last-minute Lucas Bjerregaard bet at the Match Play and a top-20 place for Sam Burns at the Corales, together with some (not very good) trading in India, resulted in a marginally profitable week but it could and should have been miles better.

I didn't lay any of my Bjerregaard bet back, or my Kuchar wager, and having gone out on Saturday night, my reactions weren't up to much yesterday morning and I didn't make the most out of the carnage in India.

I was hoping Bjerregaard would trade a bit lower than he did (4.1) and I thought Kuchar was too big before the final to lay anything back. The market moved in favour of Kisner and he was the marginal favourite by the time they teed off. I thought that was wrong but it clearly wasn't.

I usually take a look back at what we may have learned throughout the week at this stage but after such a busy week I need to crack on with research for this week's event - the Valero Texas Open - as well as continue with all my US Masters study. The Augusta spectacle is now less than a fortnight away so if you want something to whet your appetite, check out Dave Tindall's ten year trends piece here.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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