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Draws and Fades: Tony Finau sets up shot at title defense as Scottie Scheffler stumbles in Houston

6 Min Read

Draws and Fades


    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    Who can it be now… its Tony Finau!

    You have to sing the above to the tune of Men At Work’s “Who Can It Be Now” to get the full appreciation (google it, youngsters) but suffice to say – the point is – Finau has come from the clouds to create excitement in the Lone Star State.

    The defending Texas Children’s Houston Open champion made a bold statement on a breezy Friday at Memorial Park Golf Course, tying the course record 8-under 62 to declare he won’t give up this trophy without a fight.

    While Finau escaped my “draw” options after an opening round 69, best of luck to anyone who jumped on at his +3500 outright price before his sensational second round.

    He now sits 9-under through 36 holes and +200 to win with BetMGM Sportsbook at the top of the leaderboard and betting boards. As the afternoon winds whipped up, Finau’s lead ended at two shots.

    “The golf course is long, right now it's playing really long, and with my added distance over the fall just getting stronger and swinging the club a lot faster, I just think it sets up a lot better for me honestly this time of year than it did in the fall,” Finau said ominously.

    Incredibly, despite the heroics, he only nabbed favoritism when world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler made a brutal mistake on his final hole Friday. Chasing a third straight PGA TOUR win, Scheffler missed a short par putt on the last and then tried a quick tap in only to lip it out and make a costly double bogey.

    Scottie Scheffler's double bogey ends under-par streak at Texas Children’s

    It added to his rollercoaster golf as his five birdies were offset by three bogeys and the double, leaving him with an even-par 70 and 5-under total. The miss from inside 2 feet halted his record run of 28 consecutive rounds under par. Despite being four off the lead, he is still at short odds of +225.

    “Frustrating lapse in judgment there," Scheffler lamented. "You never really know what's going to be up there around the cup on 18. Yeah, just hit something and knocked the second one offline.

    “Felt like I hit a good putt on the first one, maybe went just barely through the break, so obviously it was a bit frustrating hitting a good putt and it not going in. Second one I guess just hit a little fast and didn't see a spike mark there.”

    A 30-foot birdie on his final hole helped Alejandro Tosti (67) to second place alone at 7-under. Thomas Detry rode a hot putter to a 64 on Friday, jumping into third place at 6-under.

    Joe Highsmith (70), Akshay Bhatia (68), Taylor Moore (71), Stephan Jaeger (66) and Chad Ramey (66) join Scheffler at 5-under in a tie for fourth.

    As we look to the weekend and potential re-investment, I once again have to caution jumping on the favorites. While Finau especially is in great shape, he himself proved someone can come racing through the pack, making his short odds hard to swallow with 36 holes to go.

    The same can be said of Scheffler. The home-state hero should certainly rebound from Friday’s mistakes, but are the paltry odds worth the risk at this point? Essentially both players' odds are fades, but the players themselves are draws.

    While you’d think the winner is one or the other, I don’t know if the juice is worth the squeeze yet. Perhaps wait for the two to separate themselves for a Sunday showdown and then pick a side? I can already feel the splinters in my backside as I sit on the fence… so in the meantime, we can look at where someone might be value further down the odds boards but be cautious of unit size when the big guns are up top.

    Here are the latest odds from BetMGM Sportsbook for the outright market.

    • +200: Tony Finau (-9, first)
    • +225: Scottie Scheffler (-5, T4)
    • +1600: Thomas Detry (-6, third)
    • +1600: Stephan Jaeger (-5, T4)
    • +1800: Taylor Moore (-5, T4)
    • +1800: Alejandro Tosti (-7, second)
    • +2000: Akshay Bhatia (-5, T4)
    • +3300: Aaron Rai (-4, T10)
    • +3300: Wyndham Clark (-2, T20)

    Outright draw

    Akshay Bhatia +2000

    This is a classic risk/reward play. The youngster is not the type to try to grind out a top-10 from here… he’s going all in. Expect him to take aim at pins, take on water carries, hunt eagles and birdies. The youthful exuberance was on display in Round 2 when late in his round, feeling like he was treading water, he took on the par-16th water hazard. He barely cleared the water but ended up with a close-range eagle putt, which he buried. It was a microcosm of what to expect this weekend. He will chase the win without fear. So, we could see a 62… but be warned, a 75 is possible!

    “Love the wind, it's fun," Bhatia said of the breezy conditions that may lie ahead. "It just adds an extra level of focus, especially in the intent of the shot. You've got to hit it solid. It's a lot of fun, I love playing in the wind. I feel like my ball-striking's generally really good, but once I play more in the wind, I don't know, it just brings a different kind of focus for me.”

    Outright fade

    Taylor Moore +1800

    Back to the well from yesterday… The first-round leader regressed as I expected on Friday but is still close enough if good enough. I’m not sure he can rebound though. While he was a winner last season, he hasn’t had a top 10 since August last year and is losing strokes to the field this week on approach. Only some very nice chipping and putting has kept him in the mix through 36 holes.

    Special draw

    Scottie Scheffler (+130 to make five or more birdies/eagles)

    Looking for a Scheffler run? Perhaps the place to jump on is the BetMGM specials for the third round. Having managed five birdies in each of the opening two rounds, Scheffler is a good chance to do it again. With a drivable par-4 likely in play on 17 and three par 5s, Scheffler could certainly make this happen. He is +125 to shoot 3-under 67 or better, and +600 to birdie all three par 5s. He’s birdied two of three both days with the 16th eluding him so far.

    Place fade

    Thomas Detry (+210 Top Five via FanDuel or DraftKings)

    While Detry sits in solo third at the halfway mark, these odds don’t sing out to me given he’s done it via a red-hot putter while losing almost two strokes to the field on approach (-1.968). The Belgian bomber is a player I admire, but can he maintain his +4.844 strokes gained putting over the weekend to stay in the top five? He’s missed just two putts inside 10 feet but ranks 158th on TOUR in putting inside 10 feet, so you expect he might miss one or two more a day than his current efforts. I’m not saying he can’t stay up high on the boards, I’m just not jumping on now at these odds.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

    Senior Writer, Golfbet Follow Ben Everill on Twitter.

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