20:20 – March 19, 2021
I’ve spent far too long looking at the halfway leaderboard at the Kenya Open and I’m still not convinced I’ve done the right thing.
Kalle Samooja and Scott Hend are tied at the top on 11-under-par with the Scottish duo, Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme, tied for third alongside South African, Dean Burmester, on -10.
As highlighted earlier, ten of the last 12 course winners have sat first or second at halfway but I’m in no rush to side with Samooja at less than 5/1 and I’d want a bit bigger than the odds of around 13.012/1 available on Hend.
Smaooja lost his place last week when in the mix at halfway and he’s yet to win on the European Tour wheras Hend may have his work cut out to back up today’s low round of 64.
It’s very close to a no bet heat at this stage but I thought the pre-event favourite, Kurt Kitayama, was just worth chancing modestly at 8.27/1 given he only trails by two.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at state of play at the halfway stage of the Honda Classic where Aaron Wise has just hit the front.
11:20 – March 19, 2021
We’re more than halfway through the second round of the Kenya Open on the European Tour but there hasn’t been any live coverage yet due to logistical issues.
That’s a shame because Karen Golf Course is a gem and the tournament is heating up nicely with lots of players fancied before the off getting in to contention. Finland’s Kalle Samooja, who began the tournament trading as the third best in the market, has birdied the last three holes of his second round to lead on -11 but the pre-event favourite, Kurt Kitayama, is just two back and the defending champion, Guido Migliozzi, who went off second favourite, has given himself a squeak with a six-under-par 65 in round two, after a lacklustre level-par yesterday.
As highlighted in the preview, ten of the last 12 course winners have sat first or second at halfway and the two that didn’t weren’t exactly miles away. Migliozzi sat fourth, five strokes behind the clear leader, Louis De Jager, who led by three, and back in 2018, Michael Palmer won the Karen Masters here having sat fifth, trailing by three.
It was always my intention to get stuck in at halfway here, given how strong the trends are, so it’s a pity two of the leaders were well-fancied before the off. Had there been a couple of big outsiders showing the way, we may have been looking at some juicy prices about the frontrunners.
The afternoon wave have only just started so there’s a chance it can all change by the time we actually reach the halfway stage so I’m going to see how the land lies later and I’ll post an update this evening.
Over at the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour, yesterday’s morning starters dominate the first round leaderboard with Aussie, Matt Jones, showing the way after an incredible course record equalling 61.
Matt Jones finished the day gaining 10.49 strokes on the field with his opening 61. It’s the most strokes gained by a player in a single round on the @PGATOUR in 2020-2021.
Previous high: Viktor Hovland, +9.76 at Torrey Pines South in round 2 of the Farmers Insurance Open.
? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) March 18, 2021
The early starters averaged 0.95 of a stroke less than the PM starters yesterday and the draw doesn’t look like evening out. The wind is light and more consistent throughout the day according to the forecast and it may even drop slightly this afternoon.
With a three-stroke lead, Jones looks a very fair price at 5.04/1 given he’s generally a 3/1 shot on the High Street and that this is also a course at which frontrunners do well but I’m happy to swerve him for now.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, of the 14 Honda Classic winners at PGA National, Ernie Els, in 2008, who was tied for sixth and five off the lead after two rounds, is the only winner here to be trailing by more than three strokes after 36 holes but no first round leader has ever gone on to win and Sungjae Im showed last year that a lacklustre opening round can be overcome.
Im sat tied for 63rd after round one last year, following a two-over-par 72, trailing by six, but a four-under-par 66 in round two saw him shoot up into a tie for ninth at halfway and he sat tied for fifth with a round to go.
Jones may well take some stopping though, the inaugural course winner, Mark Wilson, trailed by seven strokes after round one and Scott trailed by five in 2016 but they’re the only other two course winners to be more than four adrift after the opening round.
I’m going to sit and wait on this one for now too and I’ll take a more in-depth look at the halfway stage tomorrow morning.
Honda Classic Pre-Event Selections:
Chris Kirk @ 60.059/1
Wyndham Clark @ 80.079/1
Kenya Open Pre-Event Selections:
Sam Horsfield @ 80.079/1
Gaganjeet Bhullar @ 95.094/1
Kurt Kitayama @ 8.27/1
Find Me a 100 Winner picks:
Back James Hahn 1 ½ u @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back John Catlin 1 ½ u @ 140.0139/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Richard McEvoy 1 ½ u @ 300.0299/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 12.011/1 & 10u @ 2.26/5
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter