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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Six men to focus on as thrilling weekend shootout develops

Rickie Fowler tops the board and betting

Martin Laird lives in Scottsdale and knows the course well
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 7pm Saturday

Rickie Fowler succumbed once again to his nemesis hole at the TPC Scottsdale, but the world number seven has done enough to claim a share of the lead going into the weekend of the Phoenix Open in Arizona.

Fowler bogeyed the 332-yard, par-four 17th, scene of much agony for the colourful Californian through the years, but the two-time Phoenix Open runner-up shares top spot with compatriot Bryson DeChambeau after 36 holes.

Fowler, 14-1 ante-post, has become 12-5 favourite, while DeChambeau, available at 150-1 on tournament-eve, has shortened to 14-1.

Jon Rahm endured a frustrating Friday on the greens, including an agonising full horseshoe at the 11th, and the Spaniard will have been fuming about completing the relatively easy final four holes in one over par. The world number two is second in the outright betting, though, lurking just three shots behind.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama withdrew from the tournament with a left wrist injury prior to the second round, while Jordan Spieth missed the cut by a shot. Justin Thomas, the other in the quintet of market leaders who dominated the ante-post betting, is still well in the hunt from four shots off the pace.

A thrilling weekend seems in store, a congested leaderboard making for a wide-open event. Fowler has blown two golden victory chances in Phoenix before, and must deal with his mental issues on the 17th, so the short prices about the favourite are unattractive.

Fowler, DeChambeau, Daniel Berger, Chesson Hadley, Rahm and Thomas could set up a thrilling Sunday shootout, and are the players for outright punters to concentrate on. Racing Post Sport followers are already on Berger (40-1), Hadley (100-1) and Rahm (10-1), so the 14-1 DeChambeau and 16-1 Thomas are options for those wishing to bolster their position.

Third-round threeball punters are pointed towards Martin Laird, who is playing on his home track and has a huge length advantage over playing partners Steve Stricker and Brian Gay in the 6pm group. Laird has twice finished in the top five at TPC Scottsdale and is a regular contender there.

Thomas is delighted with the state of his game, seems content with the performance of stand-in caddie Matt Killen over the first two days, and can be expected to account for Cameron Smith and Bill Haas in the 5.40pm contest.

Threeballs recommendations
M Laird
2pts 6-4 general

J Thomas
2pts 11-10 general

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Fowler has blown two golden victory chances in Phoenix before
E.W. Terms
Sky bet