Ben Coley looks ahead to the final round of a dramatic US Open and he hones in on a Spaniard who is over-priced to win his two-ball.
The US Open descended into something close to farce on Saturday, triggered by Phil Mickelson’s decision to first play a moving ball and then attempt to explain it away by claiming that he’d considered doing so many times before.
Once the buzz of the bizarre incident on 13 had died down somewhat, we were left with a leaderboard packed with world-class players trying desperately to cling on. Shinnecock had turned nasty and pars were like gold dust.
All of which was perfect for Daniel Berger and Tony Finau, whose best-of-the-day 66s were enough to climb from 45th to first, where they sit alongside Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.
Finau and Berger are right in the thick of it now and play in the final two-ball. The idea that this is a free shot for a duo whose play over the first 36 holes was average is fanciful: this is a major championship Sunday and the pressure on both will be immense.
Koepka and Johnson look ideally poised, especially as these two close friends get to play together in the penultimate group, and at the prices it’s the reigning champion who is preferred for those seeking an outright play.
Koepka's record in majors is exceptional and it’s easy to believe him when he says that nobody here is more confident. He's fresh, healthy and has battled his way into a fantastic position - 4/1 appears fair.
Of course, the threat to him, Johnson and their compatriots is serious, led by Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. The former is in a position similar to that from which he won this title five years ago and is preferred of the two.
Just how far back we can look for a champion depends much on the USGA. Berger and Finau covered an 11-shot deficit yesterday which brings almost the entire field into play, but I suspect we can draw a line at six-over.
The fearless Kiradech Aphibarnrat is considered, but this tournament produced an unpredictable Saturday and it’s difficult to know what to expect. It’s likely the USGA make things easier by watering and electing more sensible pins, but how that changes the dynamics of the event is hard to say.
Instead, then, a small bet on Rafa Cabrera Bello to outscore Charles Howell is advised.
One firm offer a shade of odds-against for the Spaniard and the general 10/11 still represents value, as the balance of his form for quite some time now puts him ahead of Howell.
Cabrera Bello closed with a round of 66 in Italy last time, his third straight sub-70 on Sunday, whereas Howell has been largely in mediocre form and has struggled to see things through.
Easier conditions will suit the selection, who is playing for precious Ryder Cup points, and the market doesn’t reflect his superiority.
Posted at 1135 BST on 17/06/18.