There's just one round to go at the Open de France and the Quicken Loans National and our man's back from his hols to take on the leaders. Read Steve's thoughts on this week's two tournaments before the final rounds here...
Before I begin, a word of warning. I've been holidaying in Crete for a week and I only flew home late last night so I haven't actually seen any of this week's golf live. And thanks to yet another French air traffic controller's strike, our flight was again delayed for a couple of hours (as it was going out) so I only really have stats to guide me this week and that's never ideal. I prefer to observe as well.
I'll start with the European Tour action in Paris. Here's the Open de France 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 09:35.
Marcus Kinhult -10 3.50
Chris Wood -8 5.70
Sergio Garcia -7 4.50
Jon Rahm -6 5.20
Justin Thomas -4 18.00
Julian Suri -4 48.00
Alex Noren -3 38.00
Alexander Bjork -3 85.00
Adrian Otaegui -3 90.00
-2 and 240.00 bar
Third round leader, Marcus Kinhult, who was matched at 1000.00 before the off, is up against it. The 21-year-old Swede has never won before, he's being chased by some of the best players in the world and only two of the last nine Open de France winners have been in front with a round to go. He's very easy to look beyond.
The presence of both Chris Wood and Sergio Garcia is something of a surprise. Wood finished second in Oman and 13th in Qatar back in February but he's been in the wilderness since and hasn't finished inside the top-25 anywhere, and Sergio has been largely dire since March and the birth of his daughter. Having missed five of six cuts, Garcia was in real danger of missing another in Germany last week, and had he been drawn on the wrong side of the draw he probably would have done, but a late rally on Friday saw him make the weekend and he finished up climbing to 12th.
All of a sudden, Sergio's on fire and yesterday's seven-under-par 64, which included a bogey at the 18th, has put him in with a great chance to win his 15th European Tour title, but he has to back up yesterday's low round (which is never easy) and, at the prices available, I prefer the chances of fellow Spaniard, Jon Rahm, who's been deadly on the European Tour. He's already won three times and this is only his 21st appearance.
In addition to backing Rahm, I've also had small wagers on Justin Thomas and Alex Noren. Both have the class to win from off the pace should the leaders tread water and both are very nicely priced on the exchange compared to the High Street.
I probably should have just layed the front three on the leaderboard at the Open de France and should someone like Julian Suri come through to take the title I'll wish I had but I have layed the leaders at the Quicken Loans National. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back there at 9:40.
Francesco Molinari -13 2.30
Abraham Ancer -13 4.80
Ryan Armour -11 14.50
Zac Blair -11 15.00
Andrew Landry -10 17.00
Kevin Streelman -9 22.00
-8 and 42.00 bar
As detailed in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, there were five players within three strokes of David Lingmerth's 54-hole lead here last year but none of them (or Lingmerth who traded at odds-on before round four) finished inside the top-four places or within three off the lead after 72 holes so if last year's renewal is anything to go by, taking on the front two might be a worthwhile exercise.
Francesco Molinari has won a WGC event in China but he's never won in the States in an ordinary PGA Tour event and 27-year-old Mexican, Abraham Ancer, is also looking to win his first PGA Tour title.
I was tempted to just take on Molinari, who I've seen wobble in-the-mix numerous times, but Ancer will be hard-pushed to back up yesterday's sensational eight-under-par 62 and the last time he led on the Web.Com after moving in-to-contention after a low third round he was beaten by four strokes. I'll take my chances and see what today brings and I'll be back tomorrow with my de-brief.
Open de France In-Play Selections:
Jon Rahm @ 5.30
Justin Thomas @ 18.50
Alex Noren @ 40.00
Quicken Loans National In-Play lays:
Francesco Molinari @ 2.30
Abraham Ancer @ 4.80

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