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The Punter’s In-Play Blog: Wiesberger shows the way but Erik and co are lurking

The Punter’s In-Play Blog: Wiesberger shows the way but Erik and co are lurking

09:05 – July 14, 2019

Berndt Wiesberger followed up his second round 61 with a six-under-par 65 and he goes into today’s final round of the Scottish Open with a two-stroke lead. Here’s the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 8:55.

Bernd Wiesberger -20 [1.99]
Erik Van Rooyen -18 [4.6]
Romain Langasque -16 [24.0]
Nino Bertasio -16 [30.0]
Matt Wallace -15 [19.0]
Adrian Otaegui -15 [50.0]
Lee Slattery -15 [65.0]
Jamie Donaldson -15 [90.0]
Lorenzo Gagli -11 [140.0]
Henrik Stenson -14 [46.0]
Matthew Fitzpatrick -14 [46.0]
Andrea Pavan -14 [120.0]
-13 and [95.0] bar

Since 1996 on the European Tour, 165 players have led by two with a round to go in a normal 72-hole event and 72 of them (44%) went on to win. The last four have all been beaten and only two of the last 12 have successfully converted, making odds-on about Wiesberger look short enough but dig a little deeper and it’s clear why he’s so well fancied…

Wiesberger, who is looking for his sixth European Tour title, is the only player in the top-four places to have won on the European Tour previously and he’s got a decent record when leading through three rounds too. This is the eighth time he’s led after 54-holes and he’s successfully converted four of his previous seven.

Paul Krishnamurty’s 40/1 each-way fancy, Erik Van Rooyen, is clearly the biggest danger to my pre-event pick but he’s yet to impress in-contention. He led the Irish Open by four with a round to go last year but finished fourth after a poor 74 in round four and he again hit 74 when leading at the Trophee Hassan II in April. He’s a great links player and he’s won on both the Sunshine and Challenge Tours so it’s probably only a matter of time before he holds it all together and gets across the line on the European Tour but I’m not sure he’s a terrific price to do so tomorrow.

The dangers could well be lurking a little bit further back and the two I like are the tenacious Matt Wallace and the 2016 Open Champion, Henrik Stenson. Wallace claimed after his third round 64 yesterday that his long game needs work and that his putter had saved him and that couldn’t be more different to Stenson’s day. The 43-year-old Swede played immaculately from tee-to-green but missed far too many very makeable putts.

Frustration eventually got to Stenson and after two rounds and 16 holes without a single dropped shot, he double bogeyed the par three 17th. Given how low the scoring is, it’s hard to envisage anyone winning from much further back than five or six strokes and Wallace and Stenson look the logical value alternatives to the leader. Both are exceptional players capable of very low scores.

I may have jumped the gun a bit by laying Wiesberger back at an average of [2.6] around the turn yesterday but it felt like the right price given how much of the event there was left to play and I’ve got no regrets, Unless I do something really daft today, the lay backs have guaranteed a profitable event and I’ve got a free run at it now.

There’s only one round to go at the John Deere Classic and it hasn’t got any easier! Here’s the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9.00.

Cameron Tringale -16 [5.2]
Andrew Landry -16 [5.5]
Bill Haas -15 [10.5]
Adam Schenk -15 [10.5]
Ryan Moore -14 [10.5]
Vaughn Taylor -14 [14.0]
Dylan Frittelli -14 [16.0]
Nick Watney -14 [17.5]]
-13 and [23.0] bar

Michael Kim, who won by eight, was five clear with a round to go last year and he was the fourth 54-hole leader to convert in five years but three of the last seven winners have trailed by as many as four strokes with a round to go. Jordan Spieth, in 2013, had trailed by six, so there’s definitely scope for an off the pace winner.

Of the two leaders, although he wobbled a bit during round three, I prefer Andrew Landry to Cameron Tringale. The latter is still looking to get off the mark on the PGA Tour, whereas Landry has a victory and very brave playoff defeat to his name already. He was impossible to fault when going down to Jon Rahm in extra time at the Desert Classic last year and he was very impressive when winning the Texas Open a few months later.

Sitting just one off the lead is Bill Haas who’s won six times on the PGA Tour but he’s won just once in the last six years (the 2015 Desert Classic) and so poorly has he been playing that he’s slipped all the way down to 377th in the Official World Rankings. He’s missed his last three cuts and if he fell away tamely today nobody would be surprised. He’s highly likely to be rusty, and the same can be said of Nick Watney, who’s looking for his first victory since 2012! Maybe these two should have been playing in Scotland, at the Renaissance Club, because both appear to have been reborn. Watney’s appearance on the leaderboard isn’t as surprising as Haas’ but he’s just as hard to fancy given how long it’s been since he properly contended.

Alongside Haas, and one ahead of Watney, is Adam Schenk but he’s hard to fancy too given he’s never before bettered seventh on the PGA Tour and at around the same price, I prefer the look of Dave Tindall’s fancy, Vaughn Taylor, South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli and the 2016 winner, Ryan Moore.

Moore is another one coming in from the cold but he won’t be frightened to win again. He won the CIMB Classic back-to-back so he wouldn’t be setting a precedent if he doubled up here and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off him at around the 9/1 mark.

Collin Morikawa is an interesting candidate given his undoubted quality and the fact that we’ve seen classy types, Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth, both make their breakthrough here recently but I’m going to put the spade down for now. I’ve thrown enough darts here already and it looks devilishly hard to call still.

If Wiesberger goes in, I may play up some of my winnings on Moore and/or Morikawa but I’m more than happy to sit this one out for now.

I’ll be back later today with my Open Championship preview.

10:55 – July 13, 2019

Before I start with the John Deere Classic, I’ve had another look at the Scottish Open, now that I’ve had a chance to survey the halfway stats, and I’ve added another modest in-play pick – Guido Migliozzi.

The Italian has already won two titles this year and I like the look of his stats. Despite ranking only 114th for Driving Accuracy, so far this week he ranks fifth for both Greens In Regulation and Putting Average so he’s playing really nicely from the fairway (or rough) onwards and [60.0] looked big given he only trails by three. I fancy he’ll be inspired by playing alongside major champion, Justin Thomas, and he knows how to win.

Low scores have been a constant theme this week and over at the John Deere Classic, a nine-under-par 62 has seen Jhonattan Vegas take up the running at halfway. Andrew Landry drew alongside Vegas after two thirds of his second round but he played the last six holes in one-over-par. Here’s the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back a 10:40.

Jhonattan Vegas -13 [5.1]
Andrew Landry -12 [9.0]
Lucas Glover -11 [8.4]
Daniel Berger -10 [14.5]
Russell Henley -10 [20.0]
Cameron Tringale -10 [20.0]
Harold Varner III -10 [22.0]
Adam Schenk -10 [32.0]
-9 and [32.0] bar

Vegas heads the market but the 2009 US Open winner, Lucas Glover, currently occupies second favouritism, despite being behind Landry in third. For nine holes of his second round, he looked highly likely to trail by many more strokes but then this happened at the par five tenth.

That incredible albatross two at the par five tenth gave him impetus and he picked up another three birdies to post seven-under-par for the day.

Looking at past results at Deere Run, frontrunners have fared well. The last three winners have sat first or second at halfway, as did the four winners between 2008 and 2011 but as highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, we’ve witnessed all sorts of late drama here and we’ve also seen a few winners from off the pace. Jordan Spieth trailed by five after 36 holes when he won both of his JDC titles (2013 and 2015), we’ve seen others win from four, five and six adrift at this stage this century and Jay Williamson was beaten in the playoff in 2008, having trailed by eight at this stage.

It’s a similar story to the tournament in Scotland and it looks just as unpredictable. It’s an event to be wary of and I probably shouldn’t be getting involved but I’ve felt compelled to throw a few pounds at Russell Henley at [21.0].

A streaky player, more than capable of some super low scoring, he’s just the type for this event but his flat-stick figures have been too bad to be true this season so having looked at him before the off, I decided to swerve him. I was frustrated to see him go low late on Thursday and I wasn’t around as he moved through the field yesterday so I was quite relieved to see that he double-bogeyed the last to give me a chance to get onboard, having already been matched at [5.0].

Cameron Tringale is the man with the hottest putter so far this week and alongside Henley, he’s trading at the same price, but I prefer Henley, who’s already won three big titles on the PGA Tour.

21:55 – July 12, 2019

Pre-event pick, Bernd Wiesberger, birdied his last five holes this morning to shoot his lowest ever score – a ten-under-par 61 – to tie the lead with Lee Slattery and Paul Krishnamurty’s each-way selection, Erik Van Rooyen. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 21:45.

Bernd Wiesberger -14 [5.5]
Erik Van Rooyen -14 [6.4]
Lee Slattery -14 [15.0]
Henrik Stenson -12 [7.6]
Nino Bertasio -12 [60.0]
Justin Thomas -11 [9.0]
Guido Migliozzi -11 [50.0]
Adrian Otaegui -11 [60.0]
Kalle Samooja -11 [130.0]
Lorenzo Gagli -11 [230.0]
-10 and [20.0] bar

Wiesberger heads the market but it’s going to be tough for him to back up today’s round tomorrow and the dangers are plentiful. Pre-event favourite, Rory McIlroy, trails by six strokes in a tie for 30th but I wouldn’t rule him, or anyone that far behind, out just yet.

The last two winners of this event, Brandon Stone and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, trailed by seven at this stage and they’re far from the only winners to come from off the pace of late. Rickie Fowler, the 2015 winner, was five adrift at this stage and both the 2012 and 2013 winners, Jeev Milkha Singh and Phil Mickelson, were four adrift through 36 holes. None of those five winners were placed inside the top-12 places at this stage.

Given how low the scoring is already and that the European Tour often set courses up to be gettable on a Saturday, we can expect more low scores tomorrow and I anticipate much change on the leaderboard. The wind isn’t forecasted to be too troublesome over the weekend either and I’ll be very surprised if Brandon Stone’s record winning total of 20-under-par, set just last year, isn’t broken.

I’m kicking myself for not backing Henrik Stenson yet, having highlighted him in my first post last night, but he doesn’t look especially generously priced now at [7.6] so I’m going to sit and suffer with him for now. It looks too tight to call really and I should probably continue to sit on my hands but I couldn’t resist a small wager on Matthew Fitzpatrick at [29.0].

Fitzpatrick did me a favour last month after I’d backed him at halfway at [32.0] in Germany. He trailed by six strokes at the time but closed to within one with a round to go before trading at a low of [1.2] in the playoff. He eventually lost that to Andrea Pavan but profits were made easily enough and history could repeat here given he only trails by four on -10. He plays with Ian Poulter tomorrow and I like the look of that pairing. I can see Matty making a move again.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the John Deere Classic at the halfway stage.

21:20 – July 11, 2019

After the outrageous splendour of Lahinch last week, a venue I fell for immediately, there was always a danger that wherever we played this week would be a disappointment but I really haven’t taken to the Renaissance Club, this week’s host course for the Scottish Open.

It’s an exclusive venue and very well-regarded but with little wind to speak of today (especially this morning) the Renaissance produced some ridiculously low scoring and I found it all a bit dull. As many as four players shot eight-under-par 63s and at the conclusion of the first round, 118 players broke par and three-under-par is tied for 54th.

Matt Kuchar, who was the last man standing for the Open Championship next week after Dave Tindall had crunched the numbers in his Ten Year Trends piece here, is now the favourite to win this week. He’s one of the four tied for the lead and he’s one ahead one of my pre-event picks, Andy Sullivan, and Paul Krishnamurty’s each-way selection, Erik Van Rooyen, who both sit alongside five others in a tie for fifth.

It was a strange day because the wind definitely got up fractionally as the day wore on, and it appeared slightly trickier when watching on TV, but the four players tied at the top all played in the afternoon.

Pre-event favourite, Rory McIlroy, had an odd day. He missed a tiny putt for birdie at the first but he was still matched at just [4.1] after he raced to four-under-par through seven. He bogeyed two of his next four but rebounded with birdies on the two par fives on the back-nine. He’s out early tomorrow and Sky have live coverage from 8:30 so it will be interesting to see whether he can go low enough to catch up. With eight-under-par leading and with 28 players already in front of him, I suspect he’ll need to get his skates on fairly quickly.

Henrik Stenson is an interesting contender. Like Kuchar, and one or two others, he’s shortened up in the Open Championship market and he looks a fair price to win here at around [15.0] after an opening six-under-par 65 but I’m going to hang fire for now and see what the morning brings. Stenson doesn’t tee off until 13:40 and he could be some way off the pace by then.

The first round of the John Deere Classic (previewed here) is well underway and live on Sky Sports and at the time of writing, they’re all chasing down the shock Desert Classic winner, Adam Long.

I’ve already got involved here in-play, backing Austin Cook, who sits two off the lead after an opening five-under-par 66. I really liked his chances 12 months ago and I backed him at [55.0] before the off. It would be daft not to back him here at [80.0] after that start.

I’m not around tomorrow so my next update probably won’t be until Saturday morning but I’ll tweet if I place any more trades before then.

Scottish Open Pre-Event Selections:
Rory McIlroy @ [8.2]
Bernd Wiesberger @ [40.0]
Andy Sullivan @ [60.0]
Lucas Bjerregaard @ [160.0]

In-Play Picks:
Matthew Fitzpatrick @ [29.0]
Guido Migliozzi @ [60.0]

John Deere Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Zach Johnson @ [46.0]
Sam Burns @ [50.0]
Wyndham Clark @ [55.0]
Doc Redman @ [140.0]
Joey Garber @ [180.0]
Andres Romero @ [250.0]

In-Play Picks:
Austin Cook @ [80.0]
Russell Henley @ [21.0]

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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