The vagaries of golf trading have been demonstrated perfectly over the last two weeks. Our 300.0299/1 fancy, Matt Jones, broke both the 36-hole and 72-hole scoring records at the Sentry Tournament of Champions to record a 23-under-par total the two weeks ago. But his 72-hole scoring record was broken very quickly by Jon Rahm (second) and the winner, Cameron Smith, and Jones failed to trade any lower than 15.014/1, despite finishing third – six clear of Patrick Cantlay in fourth.
That was a tough break, but it goes both ways and looking back, it’s almost incredible that last week’s fancy in the Sony Open, Stewart Cink, met the first lay back target of 10.09/1 given he ended the week in a tie for 36th! He lost his way badly after a pair of birdies at holes two and three in the third round but that fast start on Saturday was enough to see him trade low enough to secure a profit.
His 23-under-par weekend score stands as the lowest ever recorded on the PGA Tour but his 32-under-par 72-hole record didn’t last an hour with the runner-up, Jon Rahm, beating his tally by a stroke and the winner, Cameron Smith, shooting two strokes better.
On to this week and both tournaments have produced their fair share of outsiders, so I’ve got picks in both, starting with the Abu Dhabi Championship, which I’ve previewed in detail here.
The first bets I struck this week were on Danny Willett and Garrick Higgo and either or both would have been picks for the column in they hadn’t shortened up to a single-figure price so instead I’m going for a Danish drifter.
Inspired Rasmus can rise to the challenge
Ryder Cup captain and Danish golfing legend, Thomas Bjorn, was talking about the Hojgaard twins long before we all got to see just how good they were and the jury is still out as to which one’s the better player.
Nicolai was the first to catch the eye when he finished second to Sergio Garcia back in September 2019 at the KLM Open but it was Rasmus that won first and he’d claimed three European Tour titles before Nicolai even looked like winning after his near miss in the Netherlands more than two years ago.
Nicolai’s first title came along three months ago at the Italian Open and he finished 2021 strongly – finishing second in the Portugal Masters and fourth in the DP World Tour Championship. As a result, Rasmus is trading at double Nicolai’s price this week and that’s just wrong.
I’d be very surprised if Nicolai’s upturn in fortunes doesn’t motivate his twin and I’m happy to take a chance that he’s inspired to start the year in style.
Links specialist and recent Thailand Masters winner, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and classy Italian, Guido Migliozzi, are two others that look over-priced but I’m going to stick with just Rasmus in Abu Dhabi and go with two picks in California…
Svensson set shine at the second time of asking
I may be pushing it going with two in The American Express given we haven’t seen a triple-figure priced winner on the PGA Tour since Cameron Champ won the 3M Open back in July but it’s been a great event for long shots.
As highlighted in the preview, plenty of outsiders have taken the title but most of them have had a start earlier in the year, with as many as 13 of the last 14 renewals being won by someone that played in either or both of the year’s two Hawaiian events.
The one I really liked is Michael Thompson but like Willett and Higgo in Abu Dhabi, he’s no longer trading at a triple-figure price so I’m going for a promising Canadian and a veteran former winner – Adam Svensson and Phil Mickelson.
Svensson is back on the PGA Tour after winning twice on the Korn Ferry Tour last year and at 28, and with a bit more experience under his belt, he’s arguably better equipped than he was a couple of years ago when he first graduated to the PGA Tour.
There were highlights in 2019. He led after round one of the Sony Open before tailing off to finish 43rd and he finished 18th in this event the following week but that was almost as good as it got.
That finish was bettered only by a 15th placed finish in the 3M Open and there were plenty of missed cuts two years ago but last week’s seventh place in Hawaii, coupled with last year’s two victories, suggest the future could be brighter.
Look to Lefty to contend again
Prior to Champ’s win in July, the previous triple-figure priced winner on the PGA Tour Phil Mickelson at the US PGA Championship in May and he’s shown on the Champions Tour, with two victories from just three starts, that he’s still very much a force to be reckoned with.
Lefty could finish only 30th at the Sentry two weeks ago but that pipe opener will have got the competitive juices flowing again and given he’s won this event twice previously, that he won a major less than a year ago and that he traded at odds-on here three years ago, and that he absolutely thrives in his home state, should he really be trading at 200.0199/1 plus?
Others that came close to inclusion were the 2020 winner, Andrew Landry, who also traded at odds-on when beaten in a playoff by Rahm in 2018, and JT Poston, who finished seventh here in 2019.
I’ll be back on Thursday with the In-Play Blog.
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