Ludvig Aberg looks like proving hard to catch in his bid for back-to-back wins in Europe, so Ben Coley is focusing on a pair of final-round three-ball bets.
Golf betting tips: BMW PGA Championship
2pts Johannes Veerman to win his three-ball at 17/10 (bet365)
1pt double Lowry and Rahm to win their three-balls at 19/5 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook
At some stage in what promises to be a phenomenal career, something will go badly wrong for Ludvig Aberg.
So far, nothing has. First he climbed to the top of the amateur game, then he made a seamless transition to the pro ranks and earned his PGA Tour card. When Luke Donald challenged him to prove his Ryder Cup worth in Europe, he powered home to win the European Masters. In a very short space of time, he’s gone from the essence of a wildcard to feeling like a key man for his captain.
Now comes another hurdle: his first 54-hole lead. Aberg is two ahead at Wentworth as he goes in search of back-to-back wins less than a hundred days since he turned professional. He looks every inch a superstar and there is no perceptible weakness in his game, Rory McIlroy already gushing not over his driving (Aberg is statistically just about the best at that already), but the control he has over his wedges.
Although he didn’t putt well in Switzerland, it didn’t stop him. And, come Sunday in what still feels like the biggest event on the DP World Tour calendar, he could feasibly do something similar. When you’re reducing par-fives to a wedge and firing darts into what’s meant to be a fearsome 15th hole, you really don’t need to do more than hold your own on the greens. Aberg has done more than that.
Talk of a rotten Sunday in Surrey, which has already seen tee-times moved forward, might suggest he could suffer ill fortune, but it looks like it’ll either be more than playable or the total opposite. When wind and rain comes so might thunder and lightning so it’s hard to argue he’ll be blown off course, more likely asked to leave it with everyone else and potentially even return on Monday should the worst of it arrive.
At 6/4 generally, Aberg is fairly priced to convert a two-shot lead, but it must be said the two who’ll play with him in the final round are both at the top of their games.
Granted, it remains a little hard to imagine Connor Syme winning his first title in an event like this but that in itself might help him, while Tommy Fleetwood is misclassified as a nearly-man and in fact has a very good strike-rate on the DP World Tour since his late-2016 return to form.
Syme actually finds himself fourth in the market, with pre-tournament selection Jon Rahm slightly shorter with most firms. Rahm’s mood changed with back-to-back birdies to end round three, but that run from the 12th to the 16th may have cost him. Despite perfect drives, he made a trio of fives, effectively throwing away three shots, and now finds himself four adrift of his soon-to-be teammate and potential playing partner.
Last year’s closing 62 from the Spaniard, for a never-nearer second, is something he’ll call upon and it’s something punters should keep in mind, however strong the top three in the betting look. Wentworth has always been that kind of course where players can charge through the back-nine and post a number which suddenly becomes hard to match.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat nearly did it two years ago and eight of the last 16 champions have been two or more shots behind starting the day. Simon Khan, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren came from a massive seven off the pace and Noren in the end won by two, never really looking like his score would be beaten. After Vincent Norrman’s effort at the K Club, a course with a similar finish, the idea of a repeat will appeal to some.
But I really do think we’re talking about the real deal with Aberg and am simply in no rush to take him on. Fleetwood looks short enough at less than 4/1 generally and there’s no reason to go doubling down on Rahm, who has at times look imperious and for a while on Saturday would’ve been considered a very strong fancy so in the zone did he appear to be. It would be a stunning achievement were Syme to win.
That brief lull from Rahm robbed us off an even bigger test of Aberg’s young game, eyeballing the Masters champion in the final group. It also probably cost Rahm a realistic chance and I suspect the Aberg hype is going to become something more like mania. If you’re all-in as so many now are, perhaps take those double-figure prices that he top-scores for Europe before they disappear along with any semblance of doubt.
Finding a bet in the BMW PGA markets isn’t easy but Sky Bet’s 13/2 about Aberg extending his advantage to win by three or more seems very reasonable, however the real value can be found off-camera with JOHANNES VEERMAN to win his three-ball (0830 BST).
Santiago Tarrio is a player you have to be happy to take on. He’s prone to horrendous days on the greens and his last seven final rounds have been 70-plus, including a 76 last week and a round of 79 at the Belfry. And that’s to say nothing of the fact he only just avoided shooting 90 last Saturday in Ireland.
The Spaniard is beginning to look limited at this level and that leaves us needing to beat Danny Willett, who is strongly considering surgery in the coming weeks. It’s been a massive effort for the former champion to keep going at times this week, no doubt feeling like he has to do that in the Tour’s flagship event, and in fairness his scores have remained competitive.
However, he missed four of his last six drives quite badly in round three, generally escaping unscathed until a bogey-bogey finish, and those taking him on will always feel like they’re in the game.
Veerman, whose ball-striking has turned a corner lately and who has a sneaky record at this course, is a very capable, powerful player who would appeal against a fully-fit Willett, let alone the version we’re opposing on Sunday.
Among the more high-profile groups, which most major firms should price up, my favourite bet is SHANE LOWRY (0940), who is taken to beat Adam Scott and Thomas Detry.
Ordinarily it pays to target groups with at least one weak link, which this one doesn’t have, but Lowry finished strongly in Ireland, just as he did last year to win this with a closing 65. He’s as comfortable as anyone around Wentworth and has every incentive go push on, it being the end of his reign plus the fact that he had some questions to answer heading to Rome.
How significant a role Lowry plays may depend partly on how he finishes this tournament and the impression he makes in practise once the team flies out. He sounded very pleased with the way his game has come around when speaking on Saturday night and with Detry having limped home disappointingly, Lowry can get the better of Scott and add another top-20 to what’s a fabulous record in an event he adores.
Finally, JON RAHM (1010) does look a very solid even-money chance against English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Nathan Kimsey.
The latter has enjoyed a fine season, almost winning on the PGA Tour, and will be one to watch next week in France. This however is a very big ask in with two of the DP World Tour’s best players, both of them extremely comfortable around the West Course.
Rahm should win this title at some stage if not this year and having played 26 holes in 14-under from the fourth hole on Friday to the 11th on Saturday, he’s confirmed that he is very close to his best again. I’ve been particularly taken with how he’s tightened up his driving and it was in fact a couple of attempted draws with irons that hurt him.
Such details aside he beat Hatton on Friday and Saturday and is fancied to extend that through Sunday.
Posted at 2020 BST on 16/09/23
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