Adrian Otaegui after his third round on the 18th green. Adrian Otaegui leads the Andaluca Masters by six strokes with one round remaining, but is it a done deal?

  • Otaegui leads the field with six points.
  • Leader who is impossible to oppose

22:10 – 15 October 2022

Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, a pre-event 65.064/1 chance, now leads the Andaluca Masters by six strokes with one round remaining after a magnificent seven-under-par 64 around Valderrama today. The 54-hole standings is below, with prices to back at 22:00.

  • 16 1.192/11 Adrian Otaegui
  • 10 26.025/1 Joakin Lagergren
  • 10 Angel Hidalgo 27.026/1
  • 9 18.5 Min Woo Lee
  • 7 65.064/16 and 100.099/1 bar Robert MacIntyre

Otaegui took leadership in round three with five birdies in his opening eight holes, and he went on to win with a run of seven straight pars and a great stroke of luck from the tee on the 16th.

After hitting a fantastic tee shot on the par three 15th, Otaegui missed a birdie putt from just within six feet, which may have been on his mind when he stood on the 16th tee and played a terrible drive right of the fairway.

The 29-year-old Spaniard appeared to be in trouble for a brief period, but the ball struck a tree and rolled back into the fairway.

Otaegui took advantage of his good fortune, knocking it to 12 feet, rolling in the birdie putt, and birdieing the last two holes for good measure.

Since 1996, 17 players have led a DP World Tour tournament by six strokes with one round remaining, and just two have been beaten. Darren Clarke at the 1999 European Open and Martin Kaymer at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Championship

Kaymer led that event by eleven strokes throughout the fourth round before finishing third. At 1.011/100, he was matched for plenty, and he never recovered from the slump.

At the Ras al Khaimah Classic in February, Ryan Fox was the last to convert a six-point advantage. He won by five strokes, but it wasn’t nearly as easy for the previous six-stroke 54-hole leader…

Nacho Elvira won the Cazoo Open in extra time last year after a massive wobble at Celtic Manor.

Last year’s winner, Matt Fitzpatrick, was three shots back with one round remaining, but seven of the eight previous course winners were all in ahead after 54 holes, and it’s difficult to see past the leader.

Long odds-on shots are not my cup of tea, but the statistics indicate that odds of roughly 1/5 are more than fair.

15:15 – 15 October 2022

Rickie Fowler, a pre-event 120.0119/1 chance, has taken the lead with one round remaining in the ZOZO Championship, but it is Keegan Bradley, in second, who leads the market. The 54-hole standings is below, with prices to back at 15:05.

-14 3.412/5 Rickie Fowler
Keegan Bradley -13 3.3512/5 Andrew Putnam -12 10.09/1 Viktor Hovland -11 7.413/2 Maverick McNealy -10 22.021/1 Cameron Champ -10 32.031/1 Hayden Buckley -10 48.047/1

Rickie Fowler appears to have worked the oracle with a return to his former coach, Butch Harmon, and a change of caddy, as he finds himself in front for the first time in nearly a year.

Fowler led the CJ Cup by two after 54 holes last year before finishing third, beaten by three.

Fowler has been so bad over the last year that his sixth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship last month was his first top-20 finish since his third-place performance in the CJ Cup, and that third place came out of nowhere.

Fowler has been in a rut for years, and the 33-year-old is aiming to win for the first time since winning the Phoenix Open in February 2019, so he’ll be feeling the pressure tomorrow.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position,” Fowler remarked after the third round. “Tomorrow will be challenging, but also enjoyable. I’m excited about the task. I’ll have to play well and keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last three days.”

I’d prefer to take on Fowler in his prime, so I’m glad to dodge him here given his in-contention rust, and I’m also happy to swerve the second and third.

Keegan Bradley was a well-fancied 36.035/1 chance before the start, having finished fifth in the Sanderson Farms Championship last time out and 13th and seventh in his two previous visits to Narashino, so it’s no surprise to see him in-the-mix, but he’s one to take on in-contention.

Bradley has sat first or second with a round to go 12 times in his career and has yet to convert. His four PGA Tour victories have all come from off the pace.

A case might be made for Andrew Putnam at 10.09/1, but I prefer Viktor Hovland, who has increased his score every day this week.

Hovland was tied for 21st after an opening 69 and tied for eighth after a 66 on Friday before signing for 64 on Saturday with this eagle at the 18th.

Because the first three appear vulnerable, odds of approximately 6/1 seem reasonable for perennial winner Hovland.

09:05 – 15 October 2022

Angel Hidalgo of Spain looked set to lead the Andaluca Masters on his own after a bogey-free eight-under-par 63 on Friday morning, but fellow countryman Adrian Otaegui posted a superb 66 to draw alongside him and the pre-event second favourite, Min Woo Lee, plotted his way around Valderrama with a brilliant 67, so we have a three-way tie at the top. Here are the most recent rankings, with prices as of 09:00.

Joakim Lagergren -6 36.035/1 Robert MacIntyre -5 11.010/1 Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez -5 75.074/1 -4 and 25.024/1 bar Min Woo Lee -9 2.942/1 Adrian Otaegui -9 3.953/1 Angel Hidalgo -9 9.89/1

At Valderrama, we’ve seen the occasional winner come from behind. US Masters champions Mike Weir and Bernard Langer trailed by eight and seven shots at halfway at the start of the century, respectively, and Paul McGinley trailed by nine through 36 holes in 2005.

It’s a difficult track, and once you board the bogey bus, it’s difficult to stop the descent.

Romain Langasque, last year’s 36-hole leader, finished 11th after shooting 73-72 over the weekend, and Pablo Larrazabal ended 29th in the Open de Espaa here in 2016 after leading by two at halfway!

Pablo shot 78-79, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, as the last nine course winners were all in the top three and within three of the lead at halfway.

Given how difficult it is to make up ground here, it’s quite likely that one of the top three will go on to win the trophy, and at odds of nearly 2/1, Min Woo Lee appears to be a very good bet.

The 24-year-old Australian finished third to Jon Rahm at the Open de Espaa last week, and he finished runner-up to Matt Fitzpatrick here 12 months ago (beaten by three), having sitting tied for sixth and six off the lead at midway.

The two Spaniards next to him compel respect, but Lee looks a wonderful price and I’d have priced him much lower, so I’m pleased to play him at 2.942/1.

10:55 a.m. on October 14, 2022

The second round of the Andaluca Masters has begun, and Robert MacIntyre has already been paired at 3.412/5.

At the time of writing, he was tied for first place with Spain’s Pep Angles on seven under par, with another Spaniard, Angel Hidalgo, alone in third place on -6.

I’ll be back this evening or tomorrow morning with a look at the halfway point of the event, but we’ve already reached that point on the PGA Tour at the ZOZO Championship in Japan. The 36-hole leaderboard is below, with prices to back at 10:45.

Rickie Fowler -10 5.79/2 Andrew Putnam -10 6.411/2 Keegan Bradley -9 5.39/2 John Huh -8 28.027/1 Keita Nakajima -7 50.049/1 Matthew NeSmith -6 28.027/1 Sam Ryder -6 48.047/1 Collin Morikawa -5 16.015/1 Viktor Hovland -5

As previously stated, the two tournament winners at this location to date, Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama, were both in the van throughout.

Woods won from start to finish, and Matsuyama led from start to finish after starting second in round one, but that’s too small a sample size to base a strategy on, and there was a lot of movement on the leaderboard between rounds one and two.

Brendan Steele, the first-round leader, has dropped out of the top-20 after shooting a three-over-par 73 today, Adam Schenk, who was second after his opening 65, now trails by five in a tie for eighth after a level par 70, the pre-tournament favourite, Xander Schauffele, is now up against it after shooting a disappointing one-under-par 69 in round two (trails by six), and John Huh now sits alone in fourth That’s 10 less shots than he took on Thursday!

Keegan Bradley is the market leader, yet he makes no appeal. Bradley has four PGA Tour victories, but all four were won with a huge element of luck (the last of which was four years ago), and he’s not someone I’d want to go to war with.

Rickie Fowler has been in a slump, so it’s fantastic to see him back in contention, but he hasn’t won since 2019 and appears vulnerable.

At the pricing, if I had to select one of the leads, it would be Andrew Putnam, but this is a difficult event to call, and a very different looking leaderboard may well welcome us tomorrow.

Collin Morikawa, who is second in Driving Accuracy and tied fifth in Greens In Regulation at the halfway mark, has the class to close if the putter warms up fractionally, as does Joel Dahmen, who is tied eighth.

I bet a modest amount on Morikawa at 16.015/1 and much less on Dahmen at 90.089/1. The pair has work to do considering their five-point deficit, but the leading group appears to be worth pursuing.

14:00 – 13 October 2022

The first round of the ZOZO Championship has concluded in Japan, and the pre-event favorite, Xander Schauffele, has solidified his position at the top of the market.

The reigning Olympic champion sits three shots behind last year’s runner-up, Brendan Steele, after an opening three-under-par 67, but with his key market competitors all started slowly, Xander is now trading at 6.411/2.

Steele, who has won two Safeway Opens and traded at odds-on in two consecutive Sony Opens, should be a contender again following an encouraging course debut last year.

After a steady round, the 39-year-old finished strong with four birdies in a row, including this slam dunk from the 17th fairway.

This is only the fourth edition of the ZOZO Championship, but due to the pandemic, the second renewal was moved to the United States, and this is only the third edition at the Narashino Country Club, so we don’t have much to go on.

Tiger Woods won the first edition wire-to-wire, and Hideki Matsuyama led all the way after starting second in round one, so the evidence shows that we should be focusing on the leaders, but two editions is too tiny a sample size to get carried away.

I’m going to leave that one alone for the time being, but I did increase my bets at the Andaluca Masters yesterday when a handful of players I’d been watching closely strayed.

Niklas Norgaard Moller has only just teed off, but Ewen Ferguson – another each-way bet for Matt Cooper in Spain – played this morning and shot five-over par, so he already appears to be a lost cause!

Matt Fitzpatrick, the pre-event favorite and defending champion, is also in trouble after a three-over-par opening round of 74.

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