Martin Mathews thinks Tony Finau might have things wrapped up ahead of the final round of the Houston Open, where Gary Woodland is taken to chase him home.
2pts Tony Finau/Gary Woodland to finish first and second in any order at 14/1 (Sky Bet)
For the second week running we head into Sunday on the PGA Tour with one player in full control of the event and looking like it will take something exceptional for them to be beaten.
Last week in Mexico it was Russell Henley who lead the field a merry dance and the Georgia man duly converted, while this week it is the turn of Tony Finau to take the event in Houston by the scruff of its neck.
On a course, which had proven to be no pushover in its two previous years on tour, Finau put on the afterburners on Friday with a 62 to open up a gap at the top and after nursing his lead with a really solid bogey free 68 in much tougher cool windy conditions on Saturday, he heads in to Sunday on 15- under and with a four shot lead over his nearest chaser Ben Taylor.
Finau as we all know used to have a reputation as a ‘nearly man’ with numerous winning chances going by as he sat on his lone PGA Tour title in Puerto Rico for over six years. Since converting his second title at the BMW Championship last year, though, this has all changed, and the 33-year-old showed when going ‘back to back’ at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic in the summer that he is more than capable of sealing the deal on a Sunday.
A look at the Utah native’s stats this week will tell us all we need to know about how in control of his game he is. He leads the field off the tee, he sits second from tee to green, sixth in approach play and third in putting, basically a complete performance to date.
As I always say, strange things can and do happen in this game on Sundays. However, last week I found it hard to see Henley surrendering his lead and I feel the same about Finau this week. Granted, off course Henley headed into ‘pay day’ with a six-shot advantage where as Finau’s cushion is only four. However, with a further three shot gap back to third place and with this position being completely unchartered waters for the man in second, Taylor, the buffer in all essence is just as great.
For the second week running then, loathed to take the leader on, I will shy away from the outright market and, for the second week running, will look to find our profits in the FIRST AND SECOND PLACE FINISH FORECAST market.
Looking at the shape of the leaderboard, if we assume Finau will get the job done then Taylor, who will start on 11- under and with a three shot cushion over a trio of players on 8- under, is in the box seat for second place and by far the biggest pay day of his PGA Tour career to date.
With a best of 20th place in his PGA Tour ‘life’ so far though, playing in the final group on Sunday at this level will be a completely new experience for the Englishman and with so much on the line you would have to think nerves will play their part.
With Taylor vulnerable in my eyes, the trio on 8- under of Justin Rose, Wyndham Clark and Tyson Alexander will fancy their chances of chasing Finau home. Looking at these three, though, Rose has relied heavily on his putter this week while 34-year-old old PGA Tour rookie Alexander, similarly to Taylor, is in a completely new position.
That leaves us with Clark and it has to be said the big hitting 28-year-old does make some appeal. However while I was also tempted by the inform Joel Dahmen who starts a further shot back on 7- under, at bigger odds and at five times the odds than the Finau/Clark combination, I will risk another who will start on 7- under, GARY WOODLAND TO CHASE FINAU HOME AT A JUICY 14/1 with Sky Bet.
Since being derailed with injuries, it has to be said Woodland has struggled to find any great level of consistency and it is now over three years since his last win and career defining moment to date at Pebble Beach in the US Open.
Over the last nine months or so though Woodland has shown some signs that he is returning to previous heights, notably when posting back to back top fives at the Honda and Bay Hill.
What those finishes, and a tenth place finish at the US Open, showed us is that Woodland is at his best on tough tracks where par is your friend, particularly a par 70. In addition, as we know the Kansas native is more than comfortable in the wind. This week then the 38-year-old has been right at home on a track where he can make his big hitting count and stats of fourth from tee to green, seventh off the tee and ninth in approach show us the long game is firing.
With the players teeing off early again today and more cool conditions and breeze expected, I anticipate another grind out there today and Woodland looks primed to me to take the momentum from a Saturday, which saw him hit 11 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens and produce a strong Sunday.
At the time of writing there are no ‘winner without Finau’ markets available that I can see, so if one of these does pop up over the day then I can recommend Woodland in this if you are looking for an each way buffer. Otherwise, the 14/1 on the one-two forecast with Finau is the bet of the day for me here.
Preview posted at 0955 GMT on 13/11/2022
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