Favourites look vulnerable for Shootout finale
Lowry and McDowell could tread water
Story so far
Two teams are tied atop the QBE Shootout leaderboard at the Tiburon Club, Florida, and the event is wide open with a round to play.
Early pacesetters Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair, who were 25-1 ante-post, share the lead with Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell, pre-tournament 11-1 chances.
Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley, Shootout champions in 2011, are alone in third place, two shots behind, while Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA representative in the competition, has performed superbly alongside Tony Finau to claim fourth spot.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman are in fifth, four shots off the lead, lurking dangerously going into the Sunday fourballs. Low scoring is assured by the fourballs format – everyone plays their own ball with only the best score from each pairing counting – so most of the chasing pack will not have given up title aspirations.
-18 Shane Lowry & Graeme McDowell, Steve Stricker & Sean O'Hair
-16 Brendan Steele & Keegan Bradley
-15 Lexi Thompson & Tony Finau
-14 Brian Harman & Pat Perez, Billy Horschel & Jason Dufner
-13 Kevin Kisner & Kevin Chappell, Gary Woodland & Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson & Brandt Snedeker
13-8 Lowry & McDowell, 5-2 Stricker & O'Hair, 4 Steele & Bradley, 14 Harman & Perez, 18 Dufner & Horschel, 20 Thompson & Finau, 28 Chappell & Kisner, 40 Woodland & Berger, Watson & Snedeker, 80 bar
Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are being given too much respect going into the final round of the Shootout. Lowry has been infuriating with putter in hand over the last few months and his team could easily get swamped if he brings a cold flat stick to the Tiburon finale.
The modern McDowell is not as consistent with the putter as the old version who won the 2010 US Open and starred in the Ryder Cup, so the 13-8 favourites could be vulnerable.
The combination of Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair have just as much chance of success. Stricker is the best putter in the leading quartet by a country mile, while O'Hair is typically reliable from tee to green. O'Hair will be charged with delivering safe pars, freeing up Stricker to attack for birdies.
The 5-2 Stricker and O'Hair and the 14-1 Brian Harman and Pat Perez are the best value outright prices with 18 holes to play. Stricker and O'Hair are both previous Shootout champions with different partners. Harman and Perez, given the form they have showed in the last few months, seem almost certain to card a super-low fourballs round.
Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley lack the putting prowess to be fancied from two behind, while the Lexi Thompson Shootout fairytale will surely end without a trophy. Thompson can be proud of the way she has competed alongside Tony Finau, but the all-male duos should dominate the final round.
Punters betting on the final-round matches are pointed towards Harman and Perez, who should comfortably outgun Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner in the 3.20pm contest. Stricker and O'Hair are an attractive wager to beat Lowry and McDowell, but the 5-2 outright option is preferred. The action starts at 2.35pm UK and Ireland time, with the final match scheduled to tee off at 3.50pm.
Stricker & O'Hair
2pts 5-2 general
Harman & Perez
2pts 19-20 bet365, Sky Bet