Poulter push on the cards
Our David John looks at the final round of the Masters and feels Ian Poulter can finish the event well.
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Bubba Watson's inability to drive home his advantage on day three at Augusta National leaves the Masters brilliantly poised heading into the final round.
A whole host of players remain in with a chance of claiming the Green Jacket which means an interesting dynamic in terms of the two-ball betting for those a little way off the pace - which is currently five under par.
- 2pts Ian Poulter to finish in the top 10 at 15/8 (Stan James, Coral, Sky Bet) - playing superbly and can make a positive move in the final round
- 1pt Adam Scott and Jason Day to tie over 18 holes at 8/1 (Coral, Betfred) - similar mindset going into day four and might just be worth a play on them going like-for-like
How will they approach the challenge? Will we see some aggression as they try to force their way into the frame or will it be a more circumspect approach, picking what will hopefully be the right moments to attack and hoping those in front falter and give a shot or two back?
The mindset is likely to differ for the 13 players currently under par as well, who will tee it up in the belief they have a legitimate shot at glory but must first conquer the pressures that come with being in contention on a Sunday at a major championship.
So making selections from the closing match-ups is as much to do with predicting those with the right mental capacity as it is following a player who has been swinging the club well.
The course itself will play a part but I get the feeling that tournament organisers might just give the players six or seven shots back the option to be aggressive and create a thrilling denouement.
A fascinating pairing going out ahead of the leaders is the Aussie duo of Jason Day and Adam Scott.
Scott holds the advantage at this stage by one shot but they have experienced radically differing weeks so far.
The defending champion has got progressively further from the lead following his opening 69 while Day has improved by the round and dipped under par on Saturday with a 70.
It seems logical to me that the WGC-Accenture Match Play winner has progressed as the week has advanced with the sharpness to his game returning following a period of time on the sidelines with various minor ailments.
The short game has tightened up as well and reading some of his post-round quotes on Saturday suggests he is fully ready for the test ahead and however far that may take him.
Scott got off to a poor start on Saturday and his grimace after finding the bunker off the opening tee-shot just about said it all. A couple of three putts on the firm greens compounded the problem and it all added up to a 76.
Both he and Day are top-tier players who could still have an influence on the destination of the prize but it will require good rounds and then a wait in the clubhouse to see if those ahead come back to them.
I am not surprised that the bookmakers are finding it hard to split the World Cup winners and good pals in the betting over 18 holes so I just wonder whether it may be worth a dart at 8/1 for them to actually sign for the same score today.
A jacked-up Ian Poulter also looks worth a punt on Sunday and should be backed at 15/8 to make the top 10.
There is rarely any ambiguity from the Englishman concerning the state of his game and he was fuming on Saturday after a second successive 70 which should have been any number of shots better to put him right in the thick of things.
Some of the language he used in his press conference would have made a navvy blush but he also revealed he is playing some "phenomenal" golf and his chance of victory has not completely gone.
He will have turn that anger and frustration into something more positive come his tee-time but a move up the leaderboard from the charismatic Englishman looks highly likely if he reaches the potential he is capable of this week.
In terms of the outright market, we come into the final round in a position of strength so there's no need to add to the staking plan there.
Jonas Blixt, one shot off the lead, is on the Betting Zone coupon at 35/1, while Rickie Fowler, two back, is also bang in contention having been picked out at 66/1 ante-post.