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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Steele should handle the wind better than threeball rivals

Fascinating leaderboard in Lone Star State

Brendan Steele won the Texas Open in 2011
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Tony Finau and Bud Cauley, 40-1 and 100-1 ante-post, lead the Texas Open at the halfway stage after both reached eight under par through 36 holes.

Finau fired a second-round 65 on a breezy day at the TPC San Antonio, while Cauley took route 66. The pair lead by a shot from a fascinating quartet of players who share third place.

Robby Shelton, a sponsors invite, is a youngster bursting with potential. Shelton is alongside Cameron Smith, another rising star, at seven under par. Kevin Chappell, arguably the best maiden on the US Tour, is on the same score. And Bob Estes, a veteran who won the 1994 Texas Open and 500-1 to win this one, is only one shot off the pace too.

Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman were the pre-tournament market leaders, but both men have a lot of catching up to do. Kuchar is eight shots behind in a share of 64th place, while Hoffman is one short better off.

Bookmakers are unanimous in making Finau favourite going into the weekend. The giant Utah man, who won the Puerto Rico Open last year for his US Tour breakthrough, is a best-price 11-2 for Lone Star State glory.

Chappell, who has found form at the right time for one of his favourite events, is the most attractive outright option at 7-1. The forecast for a breezy Saturday will not worry this crisp ball-striker.

Second-round threeball punters are pointed towards Brendan Steele, the 2011 Texas Open champion and a consistent performer at the TPC San Antonio. Steele won this title in windy conditions and rock-solid recent form means he should hang tough in round three.

Steele has weak opposition to overcome – Nick Taylor and Tom Hoge are carrying far less self-belief and job security – and 10-11 is a more than fair price about the favourite in the 4.20pm match.

Steele finished fourth as defending champion in 2012, and his last two trips to the TPC have resulted in eighth spot and 13th. Victory in the Safeway Open in October has been part of a 16 tournament stretch without missing a cut.

The final threeball, comprising Finau, Cauley and Smith, is scheduled to tee off at 5.40pm UK and Ireland time.

B Steele
3pts 10-11 general

Chappell, who has found form at just the right time for one of his favourite events, is the most attractive in-running outright option
E.W. Terms
Sky bet