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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Jason Day takes over as favourite after scrambling masterclass

Aaron Wise threatening maiden victory

Aaron Wise is a rising star of the US Tour
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 6pm Saturday

Peter Malnati was available at 1,000-1 ante-post for the Wells Fargo Championship, but the outsider leads by a shot going into the weekend and is no bigger than 16-1 to successfully finish the job.

Malnati won the 2015 Sanderson Farms Championship, his first and only US Tour title, after winning twice on the Tour. His 2018 form figures of MC-MC-MC-MC-35-MC-49-MC-MC-67-64 did not indicate he would be a factor at Quail Hollow this week.

Chasing Malnati in Charlotte, North Carolina, is former world number one, Jason Day, who has become clear tournament favourite. Day, 20-1 at the outset, is a best-price 13-5 from only one shot off the lead.

The reason for the short Day odds is the fact that the pre-tournament market principals have given themselves much work to do over the final 36 holes. Rory McIlroy, ante-post 8-1 favourite, carded a miserable second-round 76 to drop into 48th position. Justin Thomas is in a share of 28th, seven shots behind Malnati, while Rickie Fowler is a shot better off.

Day is obviously a class act in second place, but it has been magical short-game work which has put him there. The Australian has had a 100 percent sand-save record (eight from eight), making up for errant approaches. There is no urge to take the skinny prices on a demanding tee-to-green layout where inconsistent ball-striking is typically punished severely.

Paul Casey has overcome a recent hip niggle to move into fourth place, but the Englishman is difficult to trust in contention. Aaron Wise (14-1), a top-class youngster who seems likely to shed his maiden tag this year or next, and Charl Schwartzel (12-1), the former Masters champion who found some form in the Zurich Classic last week, are arguably the best value options on the leaderboard.

Kyle Stanley (four shots behind and 33-1), Emiliano Grillo (four behind and 28-1), Bryson DeChambeau (five behind and 40-1) and Thomas (25-1) seem the most likely candidates to make a charge from slightly off the pace. All four are quality ball-strikers on a course with firm greens which is playing tough.

Third-round twoball punters are pointed towards Wise (6.40pm), who is likely to prove himself in a completely different league to playing partner Malnati over the next decade, and DeChambeau (5.40pm), who has got his tail up after a brilliant second-round 65 and can be fancied to see off Shawn Stefani with a degree of comfort.

A Wise
3pts 5-6 Betfred

B DeChambeau
3pts 4-6 BoyleSports

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All four are quality ball-strikers on a course with firm greens which is playing tough
E.W. Terms
Sky bet