The Olympic Men’s Golf Competition will finally take place this week after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has still taken a toll on the Olympics, with Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau having to miss the competition as two of the biggest names in golf due to testing positive before teeing off at Kasumigaseki Country Club. And it surely had something to do with numerous other huge names skipping out on the event to stay home and prepare for the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Still, we’ll see plenty of big names in Tokyo battling it out to win a medal for their home country. In such an individual sport week in and week out, it’s always very interesting to see the emotion and passion in an event that means a bit more to a lot of players than your regular Tour event. Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland are some of the big names looking to make a mark in only the second Men’s Golf Competition in the Olympics since making its return.
Justin Rose took the gold medal for England in 2016, while Henrik Stenson captured a silver for Sweden and Matt Kuchar brought home a bronze medal for the United States. None of the three will be defending those medals this year.
Kasumigaseki Country Club is a complete unknown coming into this Olympics competition. As one of the most private courses in Japan that keeps its members list quite small, it was hard to even find pictures or videos on the course coming into this week. There have been a few more interviews and pictures leaked now, but it’s still hard to come to much of a conclusion on how the course will play. We do know that its a Par 71 playing at close to 7,500 yards for this week. It was designed back in 1929 before being renovated a decade later by renowned architect Charles Allison. Tom Fazio got the call to do a big redesign in 2016 that captured the Olympics for the club. He focused on removing trees, adding bunkers and depth and removing the Japan-styled double greens to create larger, single green complexes. Kasumigaseki should be a straightforward course for the pros. It’s a flat course without much rough and very little water in play. The key should be avoiding the deep bunkers and finding the right spots on the huge Fazio greens to get birdie opportunities. I think length will be quite a benefit this week along with the best iron players having a chance to light the leaderboard up if they can figure out the greens.
2021 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition sleepers and value bets
Garrick Higgo +5000
There’s something to be said about players who travel well and can handle the many differences in courses, time and everything else as you go from country to country for a golf schedule. Higgo is a player who can already claim to have mastered that at just 22 years old. The South African has already won in South Africa, Portugal, Spain and the United States in the last couple of years, and his game has traveled well throughout Europe. It’s a part of the game that can be undervalued a bit in situations like this, and we saw even in 2016 with Rose and Stenson finishing at the top that it could be something to look at. Even Kuchar, who plays almost exclusively on the PGA Tour, had a history of going over and playing in Australia and Asia before finishing third in the 2016 Olympics.
Along with that, Higgo has already shown off that he has no issues battling with the game’s best as he quickly won on the PGA Tour. He has an all-around game and can really light it up on and around the greens. If his ball striking shows up at all, he should have a great chance to contend. It also appears that Kasumigaseki features a majority of holes that move right-to-left … that should be a bit more comfortable for a lefty to hit soft fades into greens than a righty needing to draw the ball. Take a decent number here on a guy who wins quite a bit already.
Matthias Schwab +13000
While Schwab has failed to build on the success he captured late in 2019 and in 2020, he still has been absolutely striping the ball on the European Tour this year. He really has all of the talent in the world to compete with the world’s best … he’s long off the tee and can really attack flags with the best of them when he’s on, but unfortunately the putter has let him down at times this year.
But we’ve seen a couple of Schwab’s best moments come in Asia, so maybe the area and the green types fit him a bit better … or at least neutralize his usual struggles with the putter. This is a course that should let him be aggressive off the tee without worrying about some of the penalizing misses you can often receive on European Tour courses. If he can get the irons and wedges going like he has so often in 2021, this could be a sneaky play from a huge talent to jump onto the scene at the right time with a medal for Austria on the line.
2021 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition betting picks: Our winner
Viktor Hovland +1100
It seemed silly to not go to the top of the board when picking a winner this week. With so few top names in the field in a no-cut event, you just rarely see the winner not come from the world’s elite in situations like this. While Morikawa and Thomas were strongly considered due to their ability to stripe the irons — and Thomas’ crazy record in no cut-events and in Asia — it’s Hovland that really catches my eye this week. Morikawa had a mini-slump after his first major, and it could be a huge ask to go capture a gold for the U.S. after winning The Open. Thomas seems like the obvious play, but his ball striking and overall game in general have been in quite a long slump by his standards now. Asking him to figure it out at 10/1 odds while at the Olympics in Japan seems tough.
Hovland isn’t quite the iron player like those two, but he’s still one of the best ball strikers in the world. Unlike Thomas and Morikawa, he also combined distance and accuracy off the tee as well as anyone, and it’s why he grades out as one of the best drivers of the ball on the PGA Tour. That combination should give him great opportunities to pile up birdies this week at Kasumigaseki. If his putter obeys at all, he could shoot some numbers this week and get his first true breakout win. Hovland has been in decent form and hitting the irons great … I expect that to continue here.
It’s also worth noting that his game has already traveled quite well in his first couple years. He won the BMW International Open last month in Germany and added wins in Puerto Rico and Mexico on the PGA Tour. He also finished 3rd and 6th in Dubai and Saudi Arabia on the European Tour earlier this year. The number isn’t overly appetizing, but this seems like the way to go if you want to bank on someone being in the picture on Sunday.
Odds last updated Tuesday, July 27, but subject to change.
Best golf betting sites
The PGA Tour is one of the major focuses of online and mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. All three online books, and their respective mobile apps, offer outright, placing, matchup and prop odds on weekly tournaments, as well as futures on majors and the Ryder and Presidents Cups. It’s also possible to live-bet a tournament mid-round or at the end of the first, second, or third rounds as odds adjust.
Once you have an account on your book of choice, select PGA Tour or Golf from the top menu alongside NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and the other sporting options. From there, choose the tournament for a given week, or look to the Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, or Open Championship among the available futures bets. Place your wagers for the outright winner, top 5 or top 10 finishers, or head-to-head round or tournament matchups.
How to bet on golf and win
Odds to win a tournament can range from as low as +500 for a favorite like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in an event with a weaker field to upward of +250000 for a little-known, low-ranked golfer. Outrights are also available to lead after each round, with odds rising slightly for the top of the field and dropping for the longshots. It’s best to spread out your wagers across several golfers with odds of +2000 or higher while steering clear of the heavy favorites.
All books will offer bets for a top 5, top 10, top 20 or even top 30 finish; these are available for the whole tournament or for each round. The odds drop significantly, especially for a top 30 showing, but it’s a good way to still get action on the longshot you like when backing a win is too much of a risk. Odds are released a little later than the outright odds.
Head-to-head or 3-ball
These bets pair golfers from the same tournament groupings or from similar Official World Golf Ranking positions for the best score in either a single round or the tournament. Compare world rankings of golfers from the same group, while adjusting for current form and course history. Odds will generally range from -150 to +150 for a much smaller return on your investment.
Like the above, books will also compose larger groups of comparable golfers based on their OWGR position, or nationality. Back a golfer to finish as the top American or top South African. Groups generally consist of between six and eight golfers with odds ranging from -110 to +1000.
These bets carry an incredible amount of risk but can be best way to find value in fields fronted by two of the world’s top golfers. You’ll need to predict the exact finishing position of the winner and runner-up, i.e. McIlroy to win and Jon Rahm to finish second. While they’d individually be carrying outright odds lower than +1000, the straight forecast can fetch a much greater return.
Each way bets combine an outright bet with a placing wager. Bettors make both bets and are paid out for both if their golfer wins, or just for the placing of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.
The PGA Tour website (and other sites) track golfer scoring by round and by tee time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon. Look at these stats and recent form and back a longshot to get off to a hot start before falling off. Additionally, someone like McIlroy will often have higher odds to lead after just 18 holes than he would to win the tournament.
Weekly props ask for a hole-in-one to be scored, for the winner to birdie the 72nd hole, or for the event to go to a playoff. These are generally far less profitable than an outright ticket or other props. Like Super Bowl novelty props, there isn’t a whole lot of research required for most of these odds, and odds will be heavily skewed toward the most likely result.
Golf betting strategy
Having gone over where to bet on the PGA Tour and some of the available betting options, we’ll now look at some strategies for long-term golf betting success to keep you turning a consistent profit week-to-week.
Unlike in the NFL where bettors have up to 16 games on which to bet per week, or the NBA, MLB or NHL with 10-15 games per day, golf bettors have around 155 golfers they could back every week. It’s important to diversify and back several different golfers each week, all while focusing on longshots. Like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Brooks Koepka? They likely won’t be worth your while at odds ranging from +500 to +1500. Focus the majority of your weekly bets on those priced at +2000 or higher, with a win going a lot further.
Separate your weekly allowance – approximately 10 percent of your bankroll – between outright, placing and matchup bets. While the large profits come from hitting an outright winner, hedge those bets on more conservative lines to give yourself a better chance of making at least a moderate return on your overall investment.
One of the most frustrating parts of sports betting, in general, is having a golfer withdraw from a tournament due to injury. Bets are likely to be refunded if the golfer withdrew before hitting their first tee shot. If it comes after the first shot or at any point thereafter, you’re likely to be out of luck. This is another reason to diversify your wagers.
There’s also little news circulating before events regarding which golfers may be dealing with injuries. There aren’t beat reporters tied to each golfer, like in team sports. It’s largely on bettors to monitor schedules, results, and news pertaining to surgeries or injury treatments. Always be wary of golfers coming off a withdrawal, missed cut or a particularly poor round which may have been the result of a minor injury.
Course history vs. recent form vs. stats
The three main areas of PGA Tour betting research focus on past success at a course and/or tournament, recent results and scores, and statistical rankings against the rest of the field. The latter has been a major area of growth in recent years, both on the PGA Tour website and third-party sites, with a focus on Strokes Gained. This measures a golfer’s performance in a statistical area against the rest of the field in events they’ve played.
Course history vs. recent form can be a point of contention in the golf betting community. All too often in golf we see someone come off a string of missed cuts only to put together the perfect four rounds for their first career win. We also see golfers win an event after never having cracked the top 10 of a field there or miss a cut after five-plus years of top finishes. It all goes into making golf one of the most exciting and sweat-inducing sports on which to bet.
The PGA Tour schedule is made up of 49 events over the course of the year, though some of these tournaments run in the same weeks. Sponsorships, prize money or appearance fees can sway top golfers to play a European Tour event over a lesser PGA Tour tournament. Most top-ranked golfers will pick and choose their events throughout a season, focusing on majors and the most profitable tournaments. Others will play nearly every week while attempting to work their way up the OWGR or gain entry to other more exclusive events.
When looking to place a wager, it’s important to track a golfer’s travel, whether it be back-and-forth from the US and Europe, or bouncing between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. Other golfers may take prolonged breaks either to rest an injury, prepare for a particular event, or work on their game outside of a tournament format. It’s also common for more experienced and successful golfers to tailor their annual schedules around events and courses where they’ve previously won, or the majors.
Sportsbook line movement
Betting on golf is all about knowing how to spot value. Top-ranked golfers are nearly always worth a wager on the rare occasions when they carry odds higher than 20-1. Proven winners can put it together at any time on any course, regardless of their course history, recent form, or statistical rankings.
Lines can also adjust throughout a tournament week based on the public’s betting action. Someone regarded as a value when the odds are posted Monday afternoon may lose some of their profit margin by Thursday morning.
All of this is especially important when looking to place futures bets on majors. Know a golfer’s worth and true abilities, and be prepared to place your futures bet amid a poor stretch of results in regular tournaments or following a minor injury. While their odds may rise several months out from a major, they’re likely to correct by the time of the tournament week.
While not as commonly discussed as weather pertaining to baseball or football games, forecasts are extremely important in golf betting. Whether a golfer is teeing off in the morning or afternoon waves can make a world of difference. Windier conditions on the west coast or in rainy locations are especially impactful. Always be sure to check daily and hourly forecasts, especially when looking to place a First-Round Leader bet or for any single-round bet.
Many golf fans and professionals alike often joke about the importance of the FedExCup. It has become more of an incentive for others, largely due to the significant financial bonus attached. Additionally, mid-tier golfers will load up their schedules around majors. This can help them gain a late entry to a field with a preceding win or a move up the world rankings. Be wary of a top-ranked golfer appearing in a weaker field at a lesser-known event. Just because sponsors want them there doesn’t mean the tournament will get their full effort.