Every week in this space, we’ll run through some of the most relevant gambling-related news, notes and nuggets from the just-concluded week in professional golf.
In golf, pre-tournament odds for any player can vary wildly from one event to the next, based not only on how that player is trending, but the strength of a specific field. We get this.
Even so, it’s a bit jarring that in 14 individual stroke-play events during this PGA TOUR season, Billy Horschel’s price has ranged from +2000 (Honda Classic) to +10000 (Masters and PGA Championship), according to golfodds.com.
Horschel was right around +6000 in most books prior to this past week’s Memorial Tournament. Against an admittedly better field than many others, this number represented a value, as he was listed at a shorter price in eight of those previous 13 events, the same price in two others and a longer price in just three.
Horschel now owns a half-dozen individual PGA TOUR victories in his career and his odds for this one ranked, well, right about in the middle of all of ’em.
The books saw his initial win coming, as he was a mere +3000 entering the 2013 Zurich Classic. The next year, he was +6000 for the BMW Championship, but his price was reduced dramatically one week later, at just +2000 before the 30-man Tour Championship.
Horschel’s win with the biggest odds came at the 2017 Byron Nelson, when he was +10000, then he was +8000 prior to last year’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play before his +6000 number this past week. Incidentally, he was +3000 in advance of winning last year’s BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour.
A short-yet-impressive streak –- and one which was very exciting to bettors –– concluded on Sunday.
Prior to the Memorial Tournament, there’d been two consecutive winners who were seven strokes off the lead entering the final round: Justin Thomas at the PGA Championship and Sam Burns at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Based on this fact alone, it wouldn’t be surprising if the books received an extraordinary number of live bets Saturday night/Sunday morning on those who trailed by that exact differential.
Making it even more exciting is that this group included defending champion Patrick Cantlay, up-and-coming star Joaquin Niemann, the quickly-trending Davis Riley, Farmers Insurance winner Luke List and a player who can get white-hot with his putter in Denny McCarty.
Undoubtedly, there were bettors hoping for lightning to strike a third time, but ultimately none were closer than Cantlay and Niemann, each of whom finished T3, six shots off the pace.
This week’s top-five darling was Sahith Theegala. Granted, he chopped a share of that place with four others, but it underscores the idea that the former Pepperdine star remains critically undervalued in the marketplace.
Cameron Young, Mito Pereira and the aforementioned Riley are the rookies receiving more of the acclaim this year -– and rightly so -– but Theegala’s talents shouldn’t be overlooked.
Jin Young Ko was the pre-tournament favorite at the US Women’s Open, just as she deserved. With Nelly Korda dealing with a blood clot for much of this year, Ko has been the clear No. 1 with five wins in the past eight months.
Perhaps, though, Minjee Lee should have been offered just a bit more consideration in the books, as she entered the week ranked first in scoring average on the LPGA this season and was fresh off a victory just a few weeks ago. It’s not as if Lee was too far down the board. She was tied for the second-lowest odds at +1200 and rewarded backers with a sweat-free weekend coronation that ended with a four-stroke victory.
Don’t be surprised to see her show up in the single-digits going into her next few starts.
This was Lee’s second major championship title in the past two years, as she also claimed the Evian Championship last summer.
When we look back at her odds entering that one, it should help explain how much she’s grown as a player since then. Minjee was +4000 prior to that event, tied for 15th on the board.
It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that a bettor might’ve played a hunch and taken Horschel and Lee in a two-player parlay this week. (If it happened, my guess is that some bettors might’ve really liked Lee and scattered some parlays on her de ella with a handful of Memorial competitors at different prices.)
Well, a $10 bet at the odds listed above would’ve yielded a $7,920 payout.