Funai Classic Round One: Justin's too cheap, but don't get carried away by the "choker" tag
Justin Rose must know the hard part is still to come. Thursday’s 12-under was an immense start, but its a bit like one of those Tour de France races where one rider hurtles away from the pack, only to be slowly reeled in by the peleton.
Even so I thought the reaction of commentators was a bit miserly, the conclusion being he should have done better, with a PGA record-smashing 14 under suggested. Cut the guy some slack, it was really hot out there Thursday.
Sure we shouldn’t get too carried away: the layers are surely having a laugh by bringing his price down to 3-1, although the suggestion of one forumite that Rose is now “the best lay ever seen on Betfair so far in its history” is way over the top. I would be tempted to lay him now though, and certainly if you were fortunate enough to back him at the start this is a perfect opportunity to lock in a hefty profit. He has the harder Magnolia course to come Friday, which suggests that, coupled with the customary golfing habit of a poor round following a sizzler, the gap will almost certainly be pared back.
According to my records, the last time someone took a four shot lead in round one was Corey Pavin at the Buick Championship in August 2004 and he eventually lost out to Woody Austin, who beat Tim Herron in a playoff. And the Magnolia is playing to an average of nearly a stroke and a half more difficult than the Palm (70.3 to 68.9).
But a word of caution to all those eager punters crying “choker” at Rose right now. Let the record show that he definitely has an eye for the Magnolia course - all six rounds he played in 2004 and 2005 were in the 60s. And when they lengthened the course by more than 300 yards before last year’s event his average went down from 67.7 to 66.3. If you need any more convincing, his worst round each year was on the Palm course.
Apart from Rose, I thought the most impressive round Thursday came from Charles Howell III - another of those frustrating situations where you give up on a guy the one week he decides to flourish. Where was Howell last week when I needed him? To shoot a seven under on the Magnolia marks him out as pretty hot and his stats suggest he will like the Palm course Friday. So there’s one guy with a strong chance of edging closer to Rose.
There’s quite a few others queing up to take over if Rose does falter. A little lower down lurks my lay Vijay Singh, now at a little less than double his opening odds. Since he’s switching to the easier Palm, which he seems to like, I may even out my position on him. Apart from that, its sit back and enjoy the Tour de Disney.
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