It’s a great feeling to cash in with a longshot golfer on a Sunday evening, multiplying your initial investment by 50 to 150 or more. Having confirmation of your belief in a lesser-known golfer and having someone of whom to be a fan for life are extra benefits to the monetary prize.
Bettors need to lay the groundwork to their mystical foresight well in advance of that eventual payday and be willing to pounce on the right number as soon as it pops up.
What is a betting longshot?
Longshots typically include anyone priced at +5000 (50-1) or higher at any point preceding the targeted event. There are very few players any given week with little to no chance of winning, but a strong field, lack of notoriety or experience, poor recent form, or many other factors can temper betting odds.
A longshot is also defined by the odds you have, not the closing number. Odds fluctuate all the time and can be greatly affected by a player winning in the weeks building up to the event you bet. It’s important to always be looking ahead and trying to be the early bird. Alternatively, there’s nothing worse than backing a marginal golfer at the peak of his run only to watch him fall off well before it truly matters.
What should we look for when identifying a longshot?
It takes a considerable amount of luck and research to hit a golf longshot. Bettors always need to be aware of who’s becoming a regular name near the top of the leaderboard each week.
The official PGA Tour site has become a great resource for statistics, but sites such as Fantasy National and Golf Stats go that extra mile that bettors need. Always be aware of whether those statistical ranks are being propped up by an early-season hot streak or if it’s a true judgment of their current form.
Are a player’s excellent putting stats applicable to Bentgrass or Bermuda greens? Does someone have an edge in windy conditions or longer rough?
Shot shapes are extremely important to how a golfer fits a course. Augusta National favors a right-to-left trajectory — a draw for righties or a fade for lefties. What’s the predominant trouble area on a course; is it wooded areas, water, or bunkers? A golfer with an excellent sand game could be spared if their approach shots aren’t firing and longer hitters are typically able to take some risks and hit over water when others have to lay up and cost themselves an extra stroke.
How has a golfer been playing coming into the event you’re betting? A lesser player will have their odds drop with a hot streak in the weeks coming in, but the odds will rise for one with a higher pedigree who hits a rough spell from which he’s sure to eventually bounce back. Look into the factors contributing to those poor performances; is it related to injury, a change in clubs, or personal matters?
How familiar is a player with a course? Matt Every, who’s never ranked higher than No. 40 in the Official World Golf Rankings, went back-to-back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2014 and 2015 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
Loved by some and despised by many, “intangibles” can always come into play at unexpected moments. Did a player just get married or have a baby to add some extra motivation? Growing up or now living near a tournament course can provide a player with some extra undocumented experience. It can also bring out a few more fans to cheer him on for the back nine on Sunday.
Longshots who have won outright in recent years
Kevin Kisner — 2019 WGC-Match Play
OWGR Ranking Before: 50
Kisner was dealt a crushing loss by Bubba Watson in the championship round of the 2018 match play event. He went on to finish second at the 2018 Open Championship and 12th at the PGA Championship. He was mispriced in a star-studded marquee event without any recent top results.
Ted Potter Jr. — 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pr-Am
OWGR Ranking Before: 243
Potter was coming off four consecutively missed cuts before his second PGA Tour win in 2018. He succeeded with thanks to a miraculous final round in which he came from behind to stun Dustin Johnson in one of the truly unpredictable wins in recent memory.
Xander Schauffele — 2018 Tour Championship
OWGR Ranking Before: 66
Now a household name (though often mispronounced), Schauffele’s breakout win as a rookie on the grand stage vaulted him up the world ranking. Schauffele combined his excellent putting with a great rank in final-round scoring average.
Si Woo Kim — 2017 Players Championship
OWGR Ranking Before: 73
A 21-year-old Kim was the youngest winner in the history of The Players. He relied on his skill in scrambling, one of the tournament’s key statistics.
Where to bet longshots and why you should get value early
Most sportsbooks release odds for the majors well in advance and update as the tournament draws nearer. Shortly after the final putt of the 2019 Masters, odds will be released for the 2020 tournament, much like the Super Bowl. Operators such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook already have odds out for the other three Majors this year, and bettors need to be keeping a close eye on who’s playing well in Augusta and looking at how that will translate to Pebble Beach, Dunluce, and Bethpage Black.
The key to betting early for events such as the Majors is to look for a golfer’s “max number.” Those at the top of the world ranking rarely see much of a change in their price regardless of how they’ve been playing of late, as the public loves them and will bet them simply in hopes of being able to celebrate with their guy, but others can fluctuate on a weekly basis as they fade in and out of the national or global spotlight.