The well-fancied Kiradech Aphibarnrat has won Down Under but there's been a huge shock on the PGA Tour where [1000.0] chance, Ted Potter Jr, got the better of his more illustrious rivals at Pebble Beach. Read our man's customary look back at all the weekend's action here...
“Potter is the second [1000.0] winner in three years at Pebble Beach and the 2017 runner-up, Kelly Kraft, was also matched at the maximum before the get-go so although the majority of Pebble winners are straight out of the top drawer, this is starting to look like a tournament where throwing a few pounds at a few outsiders before the off might produce a bit of fun.”
Having only decided to play last Sunday, [26.0] chance, Kiradech Aphibarnrat has won the second renewal of the World Super 6 Perth on the European Tour. Two late bogeys on the back-nine on Saturday looked likely to see him miss out on a top-24 spot but he holed a 12 foot par save on the 54th hole to get into a nine-man playoff for the remaining eight places and after bogeying the first extra hole, he was the last man to qualify for the match play phase when he finally defeated Anthony Quayle at the fourth extra hole.
Having looked tired after a prolonged day where every match he played went the distance or to extra holes but he was magnificent in the final, with the highlight being this eagle two at the fourth hole.
Over in the States, course specialist, pre-event favourite and two-time former winner, Dustin Johnson was a warm favourite to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am but rank outsider, Ted Potter Jr, who had been matched at [1000.0] before the off (a general 300/1 chance with the industry) opened-up a lead he never looked like relinquishing when he produced this bit of magic on the at three seventh.
Potter had begun the final round tied for the lead with DJ and a birdie at the first hole looked likely to confirm many people's suspicions that he couldn't live with the likes of Johnson, Jason Day and Jon Rahm in the heat of battle on a Sunday at Pebble but he bounced back brilliantly with birdies at four of his next six holes before parring in serenely for a three-stroke win.
With course form figures reading MC-16-MC and current form figures of MC-MC-73, and without a PGA Tour victory since his maiden win at the Greenbrier Classic almost six years ago, he wasn't on too many shortlists at the start of the week!
My lay book prior to the final day's play in Perth is detailed in the In-Play Blog and given Aphibarnrat was my biggest loser that was never going to be a great result. I did lay back the beaten finalist, James Nitties, who I hadn't layed before the off, at [2.32] but I still lost £172 pounds on the event and Ted Potter's win wasn't great given pre-event [75.0] selection, Chez Reavie, and in-play [80.0] pick, Phil Mickelson, were tied for second but it could have been worse. I did at least manage to lay a nice chunk back on Reavie at [3.6] so it was far from a disastrous week.
What Have We Learned For Next Year?
Potter is the second [1000.0] winner in three years at Pebble Beach and the 2017 runner-up, Kelly Kraft, was also matched at the maximum before the get-go so although the majority of Pebble winners are straight out of the top drawer, this is starting to look like a tournament where throwing a few pounds at a few outsiders before the off might produce a bit of fun.
With the course running firm and fast and with a little bit of wind, the par five 15th proved a tricky hole again and it's worth bearing in mind if your betting in-running. The hole cost Reavie his chance of glory when he recorded a bogey six there and Phil Mickelson, who played an exquisite chip shot from the rough for his third stroke, was the only man in-contention to birdie the hole.
DJ was matched at only [4.5] to win as he stood on the 15th tee, even though he trailed by fully three strokes, and I can only conclude that the market incorrectly assumed a birdie of better was on the cards. As it transpired, despite a great tee-shot that put the green within range, DJ plumed for a lay-up and he couldn't get close enough with his third to give himself a realistic chance of a birdie. Time and time again the market assumes that this is a birdie hole when the reality is that a bogey is a more likely outcome.
Yet again, the World Super 6 Perth has been almost universally well-received with the vast majority of golf fans really enjoying the quick-fire nature of the event but I won't be getting too involved from a betting perspective next year.
Last year I layed the first 31 in the market and only eight made it to the final day and this year it was 10 from 33 but in a carbon copy to last year, the fancied player went on to win the final, despite trailing early on.
'Anything can happen'
Two renewals is a small sample size to draw too many conclusions from but here's a few observations.
The field quality is weak and anything can happen in the early stages. Former world number one, Lee Westwood, and defending champ, Brett Rumford, both traded at single figure prices when they led the stroke play element through 36 holes but both shot 78 on Saturday and neither progressed to the match play phase. Nobody is safe with 18 to play and nerves hit even the most the experienced in the field.
In both renewals, half of the players to finish inside the top-eight of the stroke play element, which resulted in them missing the first round of 16, won their first match play matches, in the second round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals. I theorised that they might be disadvantaged against opposition that had already played a tie but that doesn't appear the case.
To progress to the final, even those that play well need a slice of luck. As already stated above, Aphibarnrat bumbled his way to the final with both his quarter-final and semi-final opponents messing up the final hole and the runner-up, Nitties, should have been knocked out in the first round. He trailed by two with two to play against Nick Cullen, but Cullen missed a five-footer to progress at the fifth hole before Nitties birdied the last to tie. It seems to me that the opening rounds are very hard to predict with the better players falling by the wayside but what limited evidence we have, luck appears to take a backseat in the final itself...
On both occasions the more experienced player kept his composure when their opponents didn't. It's one thing getting to the match play phase and winning a few ties (usually against others in the same boat) but when faced with a life changing six-hole final to win for the first time and to secure a place on the European Tour, the pressure seemed to tell for Nitties, as it had done for Phachara Khongwatmai 12 months earlier.
Nitties, a [370.0] pre-tournament chance, who was 971 places below his opponent in the world rankings, traded at a low of [1.51] after he went one-up but his driving went to pot after that and the vastly more experienced Aphibarnrat was ruthless once he smelt victory.
Winning match play experience may have helped the Thai - his last victory was in the Paul Lawrie Match Play in 2015.
Trading wise, the timing of the tournament made for a pretty hopeless situation in the UK. I'd have loved to have tweaked my book by playing the matches and trading what I was seeing but (unsurprisingly) there wasn't an awful lot of liquidity in the early hours and what little money there was in the market knew what had happened way before I did. The Fox pictures Down Under were several minutes ahead of Sky's in the UK and I ended up giving up.
I'll probably do the same again next year and lay the market leaders modestly before the off but I won't bother with even trying to trade before the semi-final stage. There's obviously a chance I could wake up to find all four semi-finalists are in the book but there's as much chance of finding out I haven't layed any.
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with previews of this week's two events - the brand new Oman Open on the European Tour and the Genesis Open in the States.
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