Long-term readers of my weekend columns in majors can skip forward a couple of paragraphs. The same, longstanding rule applies. On the final day of a major, among groups way down the field with no chance of winning, backing short-odds favourites is an incredibly risky strategy.
Attitudes and incentives are not equal, compared to the start of the week. Some will just want to get the tournament finished. Others will see it as a golden opportunity to storm through the field, accumulate cash and ranking points, achieve finishing targets that could prove critical to their careers.
Henley has excellent final round pedigree
Let’s start with a pair whom I could see pulling each other along. Russell Henley ranks second for R4 Performance compared to sixth for Berger. Both started abysmally and did well to make the weekend. Berger closed last week with 64 so commands plenty of respect but my instinct is these odds are a little too one-sided.
Take on erratic Rory at very short odds
This one definitely looks too one-sided. A potentially very erratic favourite, who is entitled to be disappointed by a poor week on a course he’s dominated before. Versus an in-form, reliable experienced opponent. Cink – who closed out well at the Masters with an under-par round – ranks 46th for R4 Performance, compared to 106th for McIlroy.
Gooch underestimated against Rahm
Similar arguments apply here. Talor Gooch ranks 20th for R4 Performance, compared to 43rd for Rahm. He scored two strokes lower than his illustrious opponent yesterday.
The Spaniard has yet to hit anything like top gear since the birth of his child in April. Gooch has bags of incentive, playing only his third major, and hit a cracking 67 to finish fifth in the final round of the Players.
In addition to that trio of singles, I’m also trying a treble on three favourites. It pays around 4/1 on the Sportsbook.
MacIntyre on for another solid major
In four major attempts to date, Robert MacIntyre has twice prospered in the final round – to finish 12th at the Masters and sixth at the 2019 Open. He’s hung around after a disappointing start but sounded confident enough about the challenge in yesterday’s interview. Jason Scrivener could well prove a capable opponent, but he’s a long way inferior.
Casey has a final round edge
Next, Paul Casey to beat Gary Woodland, because this is what the Englishman does frequently in majors. See 69 at the latest Masters, 66 in last year’s PGA, 67 in the 2019 US Open, 65 at the 2018 Masters. He also ranks 101 places ahead of Woodland in R4 Performance.
No fairytale for Mickelson
Finally at risk of being labelled a killjoy, 4/6 about the best majors performer of recent years versus a 50 year-old is an obvious pick. Take nothing away from magnificent Mickelson, but this could well be a round too far. Fairytales like this don’t happen and, to be honest, I strongly expect Brooks Koepka to land his third PGA title in four years.
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