The Punter's De-Brief: Aussies edge it in extra-time as 35/1 BB tip wins again

Golfers Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith
The Australian duo with teh Zurich Classic trophy

Garrick Higgo has won the Gran Canaria Open and Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith have claimed the Zurich Classic. Our man looks back at the two events here...

"In the last three weeks, the clear leaders at the US Masters, the RBC Heritage, and at yesterday’s Gran Canaria Open, have all been bigger prices than they should have been."

Matt Cooper's 35/1 each-way selection, Garrick Higgo, began the final round of the Gran Canaria Open with a two-stroke lead and he never looked like getting caught. A birdie at the second was followed by an eagle at the fifth and it was impossible not to be impressed by the smooth manner of his victory.

Max Kieffer, who had been an unlucky loser the week before to another of Matt's fancies, John Catlin, at the Austria Open, did very little wrong and he was matched at a low of 5.04/1 when he got to within two of the young South African but the result was never really in any doubt and the 21-year-old closed it out in style with a birdie four at the par five 18th to win by three.

Higgo's 25-under-par winning total of 255 is the lowest winning total on the European Tour by two strokes. Matched at a high of 50.049/1, Higgo was a very well-backed 36.035/1 on the exchange at the off and the runner-up was a pre-event 100.099/1 chance.

Higgo's victory was closely followed by a playoff success on the Challenge Tour for Brandon Stone and it looked highly likely the South African pairing of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen were going to make it a clean sweep for the South Africans.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans soon developed into something of a match between Schwartzel and Oosthuizen and the Australian duo of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, with the event swinging back and fore between the two teams.

The Aussies were matched at a low of 1.21/5 when they led by a couple with half-a-dozen holes to play but the gap was reduced to one when they bogeyed the 13th and the lead switched on the 15th when Schwartzel holed for birdie from just inside 15 feet and Smith missed for par from just outside 15 feet.

Smith then drove into the water at the drivable par four 16th and it looked a done deal. The South Africans were matched at low of 1.11/10 but they failed to get up-and-down from behind the green for birdie and Leishman produced this bit of magic to get his team back on level terms.

Both pairs bogeyed the 17th and parred the last and we were into extra time but it took only a matter of seconds for that to be over when Louis Oosthuizen stepped up on to the tee box and delivered this somewhat disappointing drive.

The Australians had been well-fancied 14.013/1 shots before the off and the South Africans had began the event as 50.049/1 chances.

My Bets

It's been another week in which I didn't quite get the rub of the green.

I backed Kieffer in-running after the opening round at 16.5 but he was no match for the winner. The luckless German did nothing wrong again and I can't have any complaints given how impressive Higgo was but the Zurich result was frustrating.

My 130.0129/1 Find Me a 100 Winner picks, Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein, finished third, beaten by just a solitary stroke, but the way the event panned out, they didn't trade any lower than 13.012/1 and the South Africans winning would have been a better result than the Aussies, given I backed them at 23.022/1 at halfway.

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I also backed the winners with a round to go at 4.57/2 and I also layed the South Africans in-running last night at 1.51/2 so it's been another profitable week but a victory for Schwartzel and Oosthuizen would have been slightly better.

Close pairings prosper

There was much amusement surrounding the pairing of Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler at the Zurich last week. Watson apparently asked plenty of people to pair with him that declined before Scheffler eventually agreed but that was only after he'd had several invitations declined.

It was something of a reluctant and almost accidental pairing that didn't quite stay the distance. They were in-contention for three rounds but a one-over-par 73 saw them fall to a tie for eighth whereas the first three teams were all tight.

Louis and Charl have been playing against each-other and with each-other since they were kids, the Aussie pairing had very clear chemistry, and the third placed team, Werenski and Uihlein, were also very familiar. Both were born in Massachusetts and both now live in Jupiter Florida.

It may pay to follow the pairings that have very obvious and strong bonds going forward.

Leaders offer up value once more

There aren't many angles in to exploit nowadays but one that I've noticed of late is the price of the leaders going into round four, on either tour. In the last three weeks, the clear leaders at the US Masters, the RBC Heritage, and at yesterday's Gran Canaria Open, have all been bigger prices than they should have been.

Hideki Matsuyama began the fourth and final round of the US Masters leading by four and trading at 1.9420/21 when the strike-rate for four-stroke 54-hole leaders on the PGA Tour since 1996 was 74%.

A week later, Stewart Cink began the final round of the RBC Heritage trading at 1.51/2 with a five-stroke lead, when the strike-rate for five-stroke leaders since 1996 was 86%, and Higgo was too big yesterday morning too.

As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, since 1996, two-stroke leaders on the European Tour have a strike-rate of 44% and yet Higgo was readily available to back at well in excess of 2/1.

One could argue that there are plenty of other factors to consider that explain why those three were bigger than the stats suggested they should have been but to counter that, how do you explain the world number one being too big to convert at Augusta in November?

Like Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson led by four back in November and he was considerably shorter than Matsuyama at around [1.42 but given the 74% strike-rate for four-stroke 54 hole leaders, that was still fractionally generous.

We've got a couple of lovely events to look forward to again this week with the Tenerife Open on the European Tour and the Valspar Championship in the States. I'll be back later today or more likely tomorrow with my previews.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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