There are two rounds left in the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour, with the first of them taking place around the West Course at Wentworth in Surrey on a huge Saturday for so many reasons.
This is a huge tournament with some massive prize money on the line which is still very much up for grabs but for some in the event there is just 36 holes to force their way into the Ryder Cup team at the end of the month. This is a huge day for so many players.
Round 2 Recap
Kiradech Aphibarnrat held a share of the lead after the opening round and he now holds it on his own after adding a 68 to his 64 to sit on top of the leaderboard on 12 under par. He leads by one from Laurie Canter and Francesco Laporta with Adam Scott another shot back on 10 under. Billy Horschel and Justin Rose are both in a position to pounce from three behind on nine under while the strongly fancied pair of Shane Lowry and Christiaan Beziudenhout are in a huge group on eight under. In the race for the Ryder Cup, Bernd Wiesberger, Lee Westwood, Victor Perez and Alex Noren have all made the cut and are ready to fight for their places.
It wasn’t such a good day for us betting wise though. Henrik Stenson carded a one under par round which would have been more than enough to win his three ball on the opening day but unfortunately for us, from seemingly nowhere Luke Donald went round in four under to condemn us to defeat. That leaves us with a bit of work to do over the remaining couple of rounds to exit the event in front for the matches.
A few firms have priced up a third round leader market and I have to admit I’m mighty tempted to get involved in it because the leading trio aren’t of the level of player you would expect to lead a Rolex Series event into the final round. That might be a little harsh on Kiradech Aphibarnrat but right now you’ve got to think the class of the likes of Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Billy Horschel will come to the fore. The question is whether that happens on Saturday or Sunday.
If that trio were well clear of the dangers in behind then I might be more tempted to pick one and have a value play on the day but I could do without a Wentworth specialist like Shane Lowry or a big hitter with plenty to play for in Thomas Pieters coming through and spoiling the party. As it is I think the best thing to do is monitor the top end of the leaderboard with the aim of getting involved in it on Sunday if one of my players who have made the cut don’t play themselves into contention.
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Saturday 2 Balls
We are now at that part of the tournament where the field move out from three balls into two balls. With this being such a notorious event every pair goes off the first tee once again. The last pair out onto the golf course are Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Laurie Canter. They set off at 13.20 BST with Francesco Laporta and Adam Scott out 10 minutes earlier. There are some appealing groups out much earlier than that with Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood alongside each other at 11.05 BST while Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood set off in a 10.00 BST pairing. I like one bet on Saturday.
Nicolai Hojgaard vs Marcus Armitage
Match tees off at 12.20 BST
Two of the brighter stars of the European Tour head off an hour before the leaders when the Italian Open winner from last week, Nicolai Hojgaard, pairs up with the winner of the European Open from earlier in the season in Marcus Armitage.
Hojgaard will tee off a shot behind Armitage after the latter put together a round on Friday which saw him finish on eight under while the Dane is back on seven under. When you look at the way they have compiled their scores statistically though they are chalk and cheese. Hojgaard has absolutely smashed it all week until he has gotten on the greens where he is one of the worst in the field statistically. He’s basically holed nothing. I suspect that is because this is his debut here but his putting statistics involved from Thursday to Friday and if they improve again he’ll be a tough nut to crack. Armitage hasn’t gone anything wrong statistically but he isn’t smashing it on any of them either so I suspect he might just have enjoyed the soft conditions on Friday. Hojgaard is in the top 20 in the field on all the long game stats and second for scrambling. Armitage ranks 18 for GIR but isn’t inside the top 30 in anything else so if Hojgaard can keep improving with the putter now he is getting familiar on the greens I think he wins this two ball.
Back N.Hojgaard to beat M.Armitage for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Betway