Pistol Pete can fight back to ruffle Rory and Storm
Story so far
Rory McIlroy was no bigger than 5-2 ante-post to win the BMW SA Open at Glendower Golf Club this week – the world number two was the highest-ranked player in the field by 43 places – and favourite-backers still have high hopes of collecting with 18 holes to play.
McIlroy, as short as 7-4 in places to triumph going into the low-grade gathering in South Africa, has shortened to 11-8 after reaching 14 under par through three rounds. That effort has left the Northern Irishman alone in second place.
McIlroy complained of a sore back after his second round, a tweak which he worked through on Friday and was still suffering with on Saturday, but he has managed to make two eagles and 19 birdies in soft conditions.
Graeme Storm is the only player to have bettered McIlroy over the first 54 holes. Storm, who narrowly lost his European Tour card last season before getting a reprieve when Patrick Reed failed to enter enough ET events to keep his playing rights, was a 150-1 rag at the start of the week. The Englishman can be backed at 9-5 for Glendower glory.
-17 Graeme Storm
-14 Rory McIlroy
-13 Jbe Kruger, Jordan Smith
-12 Peter Uihlein, Jaco van Zyl, Dean Burmester, Romain Langasque, Edoardo Molinari, Joel Stalter
11-8 R McIlroy, 9-5 G Storm, 16 J Kruger, 18 J Smith, 25 J Van Zyl, 28 P Uihlein, R Langasque, 40 D Burmester, 50 E Molinari
Rory McIlroy supporters will be hoping his back holds together for another 18 holes and that he can reel in the pacesetting Graeme Storm. McIlroy looks the most likely champion, but far from a certainty given the injury niggle and dangermen in close attendance.
If it was a straight shootout between McIlroy and Storm, then the world-class four-times Major champion could be fancied more strongly. Storm is a 38-year-old journeyman whose only European Tour title came in 2007, so it is unlikely that even a three-shot advantage is enough to repel such a quality pursuer.
Just behind McIlroy on the leaderboard, though, is Jordan Smith, Peter Uihlein and Romain Langasque, a talented trio capable of overtaking both of the leading duo.
Smith has got used to winning titles as the dominant force on the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2015 and the Challenge Tour last season, and the 24-year-old Bath boy has looked entirely comfortable in the mix this week. He started the tournament under the weather and has done well to shrug off the illness to play so well.
Uihlein is getting his career back on track after a spell on the sidelines with a wrist problem, and the American can take great comfort from his performance over the last two days. Aside from an ugly double-bogey at the 17th hole of round three, Uihlein has spent 48 hours looking like the potential superstar his early career suggested he could be.
Langasque is a 21-year-old Frenchman with bundles of promise. He was runner-up in the Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour last season to indicate a liking for African conditions, and so it has proved at Glendower. Smith, Uihlein and Langasque are all close enough to the lead to have winning aspirations, even with the intimidating figure of McIlroy sandwiched in between.
Sky Bet are offering stand-out each-way terms of a quarter the odds the first three places and their 28-1 Uihlein is a competitive price, so an each-way investment on Pistol Pete is the most attractive option.
Storm seems likely to tread water, inviting master McIlroy to lift the trophy, but Uihlein should be lurking if the star attraction fluffs his lines.
Play resumes at 5.50am UK and Ireland time in threeballs due to a thunderstorm threat, with the leaders out at 7.40am. Storm, McIlroy and Smith comprise the final group.
P Uihlein to win the tournament
1pt each-way 28-1 Sky Bet