Ian Richards looks ahead to the final round of the Scottish Championship, where the value may lie with a three-ball favourite at odds-against.
As this is the first Scottish Championship and the first European Tour event to be played at Fairmont St Andrews, we really don’t have a lot to go on when trying to fathom what will happen over the course of the final 18 holes. There were six events played here on the Seniors Tour and no player came from further back than three strokes on the final day to lift the trophy so maybe that’s some sort of starting point.
Even with that caveat in place it doesn’t leave us much option to bet on the outright as I have never been one to put up odds-on favourites and Matt Wallace is a very short priced one to convert his three-shot lead. That said the only two players within four strokes of Wallace are Adrian Otaegui and Garrick Porteous and you would hardly feel inspired to think they could reel in the leader. He really should win.
The Spaniard is still seeking his first genuine stroke play win, both his European Tour wins have been in matchplay-style events, although in all honesty it could very well come down to a matchplay situation. His experience in this kind of situation makes him the most likely danger, but there's a suspicion he'll probably wind up playing for second, which he did behind Andy Sullivan earlier this summer.
The problem with recommending Porteous meanwhile is that he has been badly out of form and his only professional win came in Prague three years ago on the Challenge Tour, when he was four shots clear going into final round. He's shown some better signs in recent starts and doesn't have the pressure of playing for his card which he usually would have, but it's still asking a lot for him to win. Porteous has amateur pedigree but at professional level he's so far proven short of this grade.
Otaegui's 62 in round one shows what can happen on links courses when conditions are perfect and all the putts drop, but that's an outlier. There have been just two rounds of 64 and two 65s since then, suggesting it's highly unlikely one of the classier names from further back will produce something extraordinarily low. It's Wallace's tournament to lose and trying to find one in a market paying just two places seems like a fool's errand.
With daylight becoming an issue now in the UK, the European Tour have decided to send them out in three-balls off both tees for the final round, and one player stands out as worth backing to win his group.
Sam Horsfield goes out early in the U-draw and holds a massive form and class edge over his playing partners right now. That fact is underlined by his Race To Dubai ranking of 18th, versus Alexander Levy (173rd) and Ewen Ferguson (153rd), and he surely should be odds-on to beat them both.
On day one Horsfield looked out of sorts and shot a 74 during which nothing went right, however he has bounced back with rounds of 69 and 68, both of which were lower scores than those of the two opponents he faces on Sunday.
Ferguson is still finding his feet and while he's played some nice golf lately, it's been nowhere near the standard of Horsfield. Levy meanwhile is yet to really demonstrate that he's comfortable with the swing changes he's been working on and continues to throw in the odd shocker off the tee. He's as likely to shoot 78 as he is 68, in fact more so.
Horsfield hasn't got the putter warmed up yet but it's usually a strength and if he does hole his share on Sunday, he should be more than good enough. In fact he might well be even if he continues to putt poorly and the odds-against prices quoted by Sky Bet and bet365 are generous.
Posted at 2035 BST on 17/10/20
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