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Opinion & Analysis

Talking U.S. Open bets and the future of wagering on golf with a pro gambler

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We’ve been trying to catch up with Top Market Sports again since last year’s Masters, and I’m I pleased we were able to do so ahead of this year’s U.S. Open.

Dave, the owner of Top Market Sports, was kind enough to talk bankroll, futures betting, in-tournament plays, and what he sees on the horizon for legalized wagering on the game we all love.

Top Market, if you’re unaware, is the only sports advisory site in the world that’s owned and operated by real Wall Street traders and analysts, so they’re a cut above ye olde punter or so-called betting “expert.”

Anyway, check out our conversation, below.

GolfWRX: Let’s talk about bankroll management during major championships. Do you bet more? Less? About the same?

Dave: Well it’s never the same. And the amounts myself and my clients put in play have nothing to do with the prestige level of the tournament. We bet more when we think we have a big edge. We bet less when the odds are tighter and our perceived edge is smaller. Having said that, bookmakers offer a bigger prop menu during major championship weeks. I’m really starting to dig into these props this AM. There are a few that I’m advising clients to really step out on.

GolfWRX: What are you hearing about weather and course conditions? Any off-the-path angles bettors ought to consider at Pebble?

Dave: Pebble is one of the most weather-dependent courses in the world. So this is one of those weeks where I’ll be monitoring the doppler almost as hard as I’m monitoring play. As far as predicting the weather goes? Good luck. I’d pay a lot of money to know how these winds are going to blow. This truly is a second-shot golf course, so exceptional iron play and an ability to work the ball will be required. The combination of the small greens and the diabolical rough surrounding them means that if your approach shot isn’t perfect, you’re just asking to make a big number. And that’s a big theme for us this week…the week of the blow-up hole. All or nothing situations. You could play yourself out of this tournament with one bad miss. The key becomes figuring out which guys are more susceptible to blow-up.

GolfWRX: Taking a look at the betting favorites, who’s the most attractive to you in the futures market this week? 

Dave: He’s not a true favorite, but I like Molinari at 35/1. Considering he’s already got a major, I don’t think he’ll have any scar tissue from what happened at the Masters. He’s the type of guy that’s not going to get rattled by a tough rub-of-the-green bad break on some bumpy Poa Annua. I also like Fowler at 22/1. It’s hard to envision a scenario where he’s not at least in the mix. Rickie’s missed one cut in the past 12 calendar months. His soft hands around these tricky greens will be an asset. Admittedly, I’ve been betting Fowler almost every time he’s teed it up recently, and don’t have much to show for it other than a 20/1 winner in Phoenix in February. But he’s sneaky experienced. He’s definitely not a kid anymore. This could finally be his week.

GolfWRX: What about a player with longer odds? Who stands out to you and why? Any players you’re looking to fade this week?

Dave: I just hammered Bubba Watson at 125/1 this morning. People seem to forget that Bubba is still ranked 20th in the OWGR. He’s obviously not afraid of the big spot, having two green jackets in his closet. And his shot making ability makes him the type of wild card that could just play out of his mind on any given week. He’s also quietly matured over the past few seasons. We haven’t seen him go completely off the rails lately. Knock on wood. One of my biggest calls of the week is to fade Jon Rahm. I have him missing the cut at +220 and I’m also pounding against him in a basket of matchups. I’d tell you why, but then I’d have to kill you.

GolfWRX: Fair enough! As a final question, I wanted to get your take on the PGA Tour’s embrace of sports betting. It was a bit surprising to me. Does it surprise you? What do you think the future of betting on golf looks like?

Dave: I love the Tour’s honesty. It’s just so refreshing, compared to some of the halfhearted comments we’ve heard from other leagues regarding gambling legislation. Commissioner Monahan deserves credit for not beating around the bush. He knows that there’s no better way to increase engagement. He also knows that gambling and the game of golf go hand-in-hand. Even hackers like you and me enjoy playing for some pocket change when we’re out there, right Ben? I’m gonna get a couple of bucks back from you the next time you’re in Vegas, by the way.

Seriously though, the future of golf betting is extremely bright, and to me, it has nothing to do with legislation. It has everything to do with technology and the advent of in-play wagering. (In-play wagers are bets that are made while a game or event is already in progress.) Golf lends itself beautifully to in-play wagering. Think about it…the time between shots gives the house enough time to hang odds and time for punters to bet into those odds.

Imagine sitting on your couch this weekend watching Pebble coverage with your phone in your hand. Here’s Tommy Fleetwood with his approach on the 8th. Will he be inside or outside 10 feet? Or here’s Dustin Johnson on the 14th. Will his drive be over or under 303 yards? Bookmakers know that people are going to be wagering directly from their phones. That’s why they got developers working 24/7 to build out these betting apps. From insider contacts I have both in Vegas and at major offshore operations, it’s my understanding that we’re less than 24 months out from having access to expanded golf betting markets like those two examples I just gave. It’s going to be wild. I can’t wait to go head to head with these bookmakers.

You can check out Top Market Sports for free betting picks (not just golf…MLB, NHL, NFL, MLB and more, too), free articles, and a free real-time odds portal. They can also be found on Instagram @topmarketsports

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  1. JP

    Jun 11, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Spieth to return in proper form!

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Opinion & Analysis

Everyone sucks at golf sometimes

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“Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with tools singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

This quote dates back over 100 years, and has been credited to a number of people through history including Winston Churchill and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Although the game and the tools have changed a lot in 100 years, this quote remains timeless because golf is inherently difficult, and is impossible to master, which is exactly what also makes it so endearing to those that play it.

No matter how hard we practice, or how much time we spend trying to improve there will inevitably be times when we will suck at golf. Just like with other aspects of the game the idea of “sucking” will vary based on your skillset, but a PGA Tour player can hit a hosel rocket shank just as well as a 25 handicap. As Tom Brady proved this past weekend, any golfer can have a bad day, but even during a poor round of golf there are glimmers of hope—like a holed-out wedge, even if it is followed by having your pants rip out on live TV.

I distinctly remember one time during a broadcast when Chris DiMarco hit a poor iron shot on a par 3 and the microphone caught hit exclaim “Come on Chris, you’re hitting it like a 4 handicap out here today” – the shot just barely caught the right side of the green and I imagine a lot of higher handicap golfers said to themselves ” I’d love to hit it like a 4 handicap!”. This is just one example of the expectations we put on ourselves even when most golfers will admit to playing their best when expectations are thrown out the window.

– Gary Larson

Dr. Bob Rotella says golf is not a game of perfect, and that’s totally ok. The game is about the constant pursuit of improvement, not perfection and with that in mind there are going to be days when no matter what we just suck.

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Opinion & Analysis

By definition, there will be no 2020 U.S. Open. Here’s why the USGA should reconsider

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In 1942, the USGA decided to cancel the U.S. Open because it was scheduled so soon after U.S. entry into WWII.  They did this out of respect for the nation and those called to war. There was a Championship however called The Hale America National Open Golf Tournament, which was contested at Chicago’s  Ridgemoor Country Club. It was a great distraction from the horror of war and raised money for the great cause.

All the top players of the era (except Sam Snead) played, and the organizers (USGA, Chicago Golf Association, and the PGA of America) did hold qualifying at some 70 sites around the country. So effectively, it was the 1942 U.S. Open—but the USGA never recognized it as such. They labeled it a “wartime effort to raise money” for the cause.  Their objection to it being the official U.S. Open was never clear, although the sub-standard Ridgemoor course (a veritable birdie fest) was certainly part of it.

The USGA co-sponsored the event but did not host it at one of their premier venues, where they typically set the golf course up unusually difficult to test the best players. Anyway, Ben Hogan won the event and many thought this should have counted as his fifth U.S. Open win. The USGA disagreed. That debate may never be settled in golfer’s minds.

Ahead to the 1964 U.S. Open…Ken Venturi, the eventual winner, qualified to play in the tournament. His game at the time was a shell of what it was just a few years earlier, but Kenny caught lighting in a bottle, got through both stages of qualifying, and realized his lifelong dream of winning the U.S. Open at Congressional.

Ahead to the 1969 U.S. Open…Orville Moody, a former army sergeant had been playing the PGA Tour for two years with moderate success-at best. But the golfing gods shone brightly upon “sarge” through both stages of qualifying, and the tournament, as he too realized the dream of a lifetime in Houston.

Ahead to 2009 U.S. Open…Lucas Glover was the 71st ranked player in the world and had never made the cut in his three previous U.S. Opens. But he did get through the final stage of qualifying and went on to win the title at Bethpage in New York.

Ahead to 2020…The USGA has decided to postpone the event this year to September because of the Covid-19 virus. This was for the fear of the global pandemic. But this year there is a fundamental difference—the USGA has announced there will be no qualifying for the event. It will be an exempt-only event. By doing so, the event loses it status as an “open event,” by definition.

This is more than a slight difference in semantics.

The U.S. Open, our national championship, is the crown jewel of all USGA events for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is just that: open. Granted, the likelihood of a club professional or a highly-ranked amateur winning the event—or even making the cut—is slim, but that misses the point: they have been stripped of their chance to do so, and have thereby lost a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to realize something they have worked for their whole lives. Although I respect the decision from a  health perspective, golf is being played now across the country, (The Match and Driving Relief—apparently safely)

So, what to do? I believe it would be possible to have one-day 36-hole qualifiers (complete with social distancing regulations) all over the country to open the field. Perhaps, the current health crisis limits the opportunity to hold the qualifiers at the normally premier qualifying sites around the country but, as always, everyone is playing the same course and is at least given the chance to play in tournament.

In light of the recent “opening” of the country, I am asking that the USGA reconsider the decision.

 

featured image modified from USGA image

 

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Podcasts

TG2: Reviewing Tour Edge Exotics Pro woods, forged irons, and LA Golf shafts

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Reviewing the new Tour Edge Exotics Pro wood lineup, forged irons, and wedge. Maybe more than one makes it into the bag? Fujikura’s MCI iron shafts are some of the smoothest I have ever hit and LA Golf wood shafts get some time on the course.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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