By Tony Johnson
Welcome back! It’s been a few weeks since the last article. We saw a fun Monday finish in San Diego that gave Jason Day his first victory following a disappointing and winless 2017 season. Last week there was an unlikely victor in Ted Potter holding off Dustin Johnson and company at Pebble Beach. The Tour stays out west this week and travels to the Los Angeles area for the Genesis Open. This is the final event of the West Coast swing before heading to Florida next week. As always I’ll provide a few matchup selections at the bottom of the article following the second part of the golf betting series. Last time, we discussed course fit and the art of properly evaluating the course to help determine what type of golf is needed to succeed. The next step is to determine what player fits the course evaluation that we have created.
Finding specific players for each course can appear to be an intimidating task with fields stretching to 156 players during the summer months. That’s a lot of players to look at. Luckily for us, the great thing about betting matchups is only about 30% of the players in the field are listed in a matchup wager. This encompasses roughly the best 40 players in the tournament. The simple reason for this is that there’s far less interest by the public in the lesser known players. The sportsbook also doesn’t have to worry about doing all the extra work handicapping each player in the field. In the majors and other large events there may be more matchups provided due to a higher interest in the tournament being played that week.
Going back to our example last time for Torrey Pines, we determined that the best fit for the course was a player who was a long driver of the ball but not necessarily accurate. Through past statistics, we also saw that scrambling was very important on this course due to all the greens that the players will miss. Our job now is to identify which players fit this mold. There are a few websites like pgatour.com, golfweek, rotowire, and others that provide player statistics. I like to look at long term stats over the last 1-2 years for a baseline and then mix in a recent period of the last month or so. We focused on compiling a list of players with great driving length and great scrambling statistics. This list must be tailored to the players in the field for current week. This is by no means a final decision on who we decide to bet on but helps us immensely in our continued process of evaluating the entire tournament.
This week at Riviera we are fortunate to have a course that’s virtually unchanged over many years. We have a clear understanding of the type of player needed to succeed based on the layout. Riviera is a shotmakers course that requires the player to work the ball both directions. It is long and difficult and a tough place to make a lot of birdies. Getting back to the first step in course fit we find value in players that have long driving distance, par 4 scoring, bogey avoidance (not making bogey or worse), and long iron accuracy. Things like driving accuracy, putting, and around the green stats are not very meaningful here. This aligns with our understanding of course fit. We know it’s a long course so distance is important. We know it’s hard to make a lot of birdies so avoiding bogeys is paramount. We know it’s a shotmakers course so par 4 scoring and long iron accuracy are going to be pivotal to going low. This lessens the meaning of around the green and putting prowess this week. Big names like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey fit the bill. Possibly more importantly, we found some smaller names that fit the mold like J.B. Holmes, Marc Leishman, Lucas Glover, and William McGirt. As always this gives us a nice player baseline of where we want to be but it’s still just one factor in making our betting decisions.
Next week we will dive into current form and touch on course history. These 2 factors can sometimes override a “fit” of a player on a certain course. Feeling confident and playing well can negate everything. On the flip side, going through a rough patch makes playing well anywhere difficult. It’s interesting and will be part 3 of our series.
As always good luck on the bets this week. We went 2-0 last time and here’s hoping we can keep that streak going!
PGA Genesis Open
M Leishman over C Reavie -110 (South Point)
J Thomas over P Mickelson -105 (South Point)
2018 Record: 3-1
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