Justin Rose has won the WGC HSBC Champions event after a brilliant five-under-par 67 saw him close from off the pace as clear leader, Dustin Johnson, flopped with a birdie-free five-over-par 77. I'll have more on that result in tomorrow's De-brief but for now I'm going to concentrate on the Sanderson Farms Championship, where Dave Tindall's 100/1 pick, Ryan Armour, has gone clear. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 10:20.
Ryan Armour -151.67
Chesson Hadley -106.80
Vaughn Taylor -9 22.00 Seamus Power -9 22.00 Beau Hossler -9 25.00 Ben Silverman -9 26.00 Scott Strohmeyer -9 65.00
Brian Stuard -8 80.00
-7 and 100.00 bar
Given what we've witnessed already today it's hard to know what to make of the stats but for what it's worth, since 1996, 27 players have led by five with a round to go on the PGA Tour and only five failed to convert.
That's a strike rate of 80% so odds of around 1.70 about Armour look on the generous side but if the world number one can blow a six stroke lead around a course that suits him perfectly, what can we expect from the 41-year-old world number 321 looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour?
Armour's price looks big if we just look at the strike rate of five-stroke 54 hole leaders but a closer inspection of Armour's record makes him look less of a good thing. To put Armour's performance so far in to context, he has never before led a PGA Tour event and in fact, this is only the second time he's been within four of the lead after three rounds!
In his defence, Armour has spent most of his career plying his trade on the Web.com Tour, where he has won (the 2016 Panama Claro Championship) but he's led there three times through three rounds without winning and questions have to be asked about the likelihood of him converting what really is a huge lead.
His putting yesterday had to be seen to be believed. After a wobble on the front-nine, when he bogeyed three in-a-row, he found his range on the greens on the back-nine, holing form five feet, ten feet, 12 feet, 16 feet, 22 feet and on the par four 16th, 57 feet! Unsurprisingly, he has the best Putting Average so far this week and he ranks second for Strokes Gained Putting and if he continues to putt like that he won't get caught.
Pre-event favourite, Chesson Hadley, is Armour's closest pursuer but I'm not convinced he's a great price at around 6/1. Hadley hasn't putted brilliantly so far and putting has been the key to victory here over the last three years.
Armour looks hard to oppose at the prices but all three third round leaders at this venue have been beaten and so I'm keen to take him on in some way. He's too big to lay and Hadley looks too short to back so I've thrown a few pounds at three of those tied for third and six off the lead...
Beau Hossler's putting stats are good, Ben Silverman is looking to emulate fellow Canadian, Nick Taylor, who won here three years ago, and Justin Thomas' college pal, Scott Strohmeyer, all looked big given this is an event in which outsiders have prospered.
11:20 - October 28, 2017
Brooks Koepka was matched at 2.00 after he'd birdied the first three holes in round three of the WGC HSBC Champions to take a two-stroke lead but his round unravelled fast on the par five eighth, where he recorded a triple-bogey eight after a lengthy wait on the tee. Dustin Johnson has moved clear with a round to go and here are the latest standings with prices to back at 11:10.
Dustin Johnson -17 1.12
Brooks Koepka -1122.00
Henri Stenson -10 44.00
Justin Rose -9 75.00 Brian Harman -9 170.00
-8 and 270.00 bar
Since 1996, 23 men have led a PGA Tour event by six strokes with a round to go and only three failed to convert. Greg Norman famously collapsed in the 1996 US Masters, Sergio Garcia messed up at Quail Hollow in the in the 2005 Wachovia Championship and Spencer Levin wobbled away the Phoenix Open title in 2012. The other 20 all won and it's very hard to see D.J failing to convert tomorrow.
I've layed Johnson at 1.10 just to take out any potential stress. I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning and see something untoward happening, having not taken some profit, but I don't envisage him having any issues, even though the wind is forecast to blow slightly harder than it did today. Anyone wanting any further involvement might find better value in the Without Dustin Johnson market here.
The Sportsbook have also opened up a Without Dustin Johnson market and the one I like is Matt Kuchar at 28/1. He's fully four behind Koepka in a tie for ninth but he won't mind any wind and he's just the type to run on for a place when there's no chance of winning.
The second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship is yet to finish so I'm going to leave the event alone for now. I haven't seen any of the tournament and as they've not got to halfway yet, there are no in-running stats to peruse, so I'm going to let it roll for now.
13:00 - October 27, 2017
First round leader, Brooks Koepka, backed up his opening 64 with a perfectly respectable bogey-free, four-under-par 68 on day two of the WGC HSBC Champions, a round bettered by only three players all day, but he still finds himself trailing at the halfway stage, thanks to a quite superb nine-under-par 63 by the 2013 winner, Dustin Johnson. Here are the latest standings with prices to back at 12:50.
Dustin Johnson -132.02
Brooks Koepka -124.20
Justin Rose -9 12.50 Kiradech Aphibarnrat -9 32.00
Patrick Reed -8 30.00
-7 and 30.00 bar
The stats suggest we can't look very far down the leaderboard. In 11 previous renewals here, every winner has been within four strokes of the lead at halfway and within the top eight places. I'm obviously happy with the two bets placed yesterday, covering both D.J and Koepka, and I'm going to leave the event alone for now and see what tomorrow brings.
Johnson has already been matched at a low of 1.82 but I'm not sure I'd be rushing in now at even money. Hideki Matsuyama led by three at this stage last year before winning and D.J was five clear through 36 holes in 2013 but he didn't win easily and Francesco Molinari is the only other halfway leader to take the title. Although being right up with the pace is crucial, winning from the front from some way out isn't easy.
Johnson's record when leading through two rounds is pretty good. He's led or co-led 11 times in 72 hole stroke play events and he's gone on to win on six occasions. His price of 2.00looks fair but no more. Backing up a low round is notoriously difficult and given he trails by just a stroke, Koepka looks the value at over 3/1.
Over at the Sanderson Farm Championship, five men are tied for the lead after the opening round. One of Dave Tindall's three, Ryan Armour, is one of those tied at the top but as highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, a slow start can be overcome in this event and it's still wide open.
I'll take a better look at the halfway stage tomorrow but I've thrown a few pounds at the 2011 winner, Chris Kirk, who also finished runner-up 12 months ago. He started slowly yesterday but a decent back-nine saw him finish on two-under-par and just four adrift and I thought odds of over 50.00 were fair.
11:00 - October 26, 2017
Francesco Molinari, who won wire-to-wire in 2010, is the only first round leader to win the WGC HSBC Champions since its inception in 2005 but being up with the pace has been pretty crucial here at Sheshan International.
Of the 11 previous winners at this venue (Ian Poulter won the event at Mission Hills in 2012) only one winner has trailed by more than four strokes after round one and nine of the 11 have been inside the top-10 after round one. Phil Mickelson sat five adrift and tied for 13th in 2009 and Bubba Watson won here three years ago having trailed by four in a tie for 19th.
Brooks Koepka leads after an opening eight-under-par 64, nine players are within three of the lead and a further ten are tied for 11th on four-under-par. And if the past results are anything to go by, we can't look past that top-20.
Molly is the only first round leader to go on to win here and Koepka has previously led three times after round one without winning, so they're two negatives to bear in mind, but I still thought he looked a very fair price at 6.00 towards the close of play.
Xander Schauffele disappointed after a bright start (bogeyed three of his last six holes to finish on -1) but my each-way fancy, Tony Finau, has started nicely (sits three off the lead) and my other pre-event fancy, Daniel Berger, is one of those tied for 11th and four adrift so it's not been an awful start.
Given how the stats suggest a fast start is essential, in addition to backing Koepka, I've also added the 2013 winner, Dustin Johnson. The par five eighth hole (which cruelly denied him any chance of victory two years ago when his approach shot ricocheted in to the water off the flag) tripped him up again today but he saved himself from finishing the day with back-to-back bogeys when he made par from 12 feet on the ninth.
This course clearly suits D.J and he's close enough to build on that par save and put in a charge tomorrow. I was happy enough to back him at around the same price he went off at - especially considering the poor start made by market rivals, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm.
WGC HSBC Champions Pre-Event Selections: Daniel Berger @48.00 Xander Schauffele @ 50.00
In-Play Picks Brooks Koepka @6.00 Dustin Johnson @ 9.00 Dustin Johnson layed @ 1.10
Sanderson Farms Championship Pre-Event Selection: Scott Stallings @65.00
In-Play Picks: Chris Kirk @ an average of 55.00 Beau Hossler @ 26.00 Ben Silverman @ 26.00 Scott Strohmeyer @ 65.00