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Tokyo Olympics men’s golf betting tips and selections

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59 golfers will be making the trek to Tokyo this week for the men’s Olympic golf competition. This will be the fourth golf event in the history of the Olympics. It was played in Paris in 1900, St. Louis in 1904, and then after a 112-year hiatus, Olympic golf returned in 2016, as Justin Rose took home the gold medal in Rio. The Olympics will be a four-day stroke play event with no cut, similar to many World Golf Championships and shorter field events that make up the Asian swing of the PGA Tour.

While there is no hard data from professional competition on the host course, Kasumigaseki Country Club, we can responsibly draw comparisons to other courses that host professional tournaments. Kasumigaseki is a Charles Allison design with bent-grass greens and zoysia fairways. Famed architect Tom Fazio gave the course a total facelift in 2016, and from all of the course flyovers and information we have at our disposal, it features similar elements to other Fazio designs/re-designs such as Firestone Country Club, Quail Hollow, and Shadow Creek.

Playing as a par 71 and tipping out to 7,447 yards on the scorecard, length off the tee will certainly help here. Along with distance, I am primarily looking for players with experience navigating large and undulating greens, as well as elite long iron snipers and those who are capable of going low in benign scoring conditions.

Let’s dig into my outright selections!

Olympics men’s golf betting picks

Viktor Hovland (12-1, FanDuel Sportsbook)

The Norwegian sensation rated out as the number one player in my model this week due to his elite long iron play, length off the tee, expertise with his wedges, and ability to make birdies in bunches. Over his last 36 rounds, Hovland ranks inside the top-10 in strokes gained approach, strokes gained off the tee, proximity from 200 yards plus, proximity from 125-150 yards, and birdies or better gained.

With a 12th-place finish at Shadow Creek in the fall, and a third-place finish at Quail Hollow this spring, the two-time PGA Tour winner should be right at home on another tree-lined Tom Fazio course featuring large and undulating bent-grass greens.

Patrick Reed (16-1, DraftKings Sportsbook)

While concerns about Patrick Reed’s recent travel schedule are certainly valid, I’ve found reason to believe that the Olympics has his upmost attention. Reed is only in the field this week as a result of Bryson DeChambeau’s withdrawal due to a positive COVID-19 test, and despite learning this while in the midst of competing in the 3M Open, Reed jumped at the opportunity to represent his country.

The man deemed “Captain America” for his Ryder Cup heroics, has also experienced some incredible success on bent-grass greens, and tops this entire field in three-putt avoidance. While Augusta National is far from a perfect comp to Kasumigaseki, Reed always plays well at the Masters, and he is coming off a 14th-place finish at Sherwood in October and a sixth-place finish at Quail Hollow in April. I expect the nine-time PGA Tour winner to certainly be a factor come Sunday afternoon in Tokyo.

Shane Lowry (22-1, DraftKings Sportsbook)

After an understandable hangover from his life-changing 2019 Open Championship win at Royal Portrush, Shane Lowry is back to playing some incredible golf this season. The Irishman has made the cut in every major this year, and recorded top-15 finishes at The Players, PGA Championship, Memorial, and most recently, The Open Championship in his title defense. One through-line we can draw from Lowry’s historical results is that he always plays his best golf on the biggest stage.

Lowry is a bankable selection in stronger-field events because of his elite approach play. The five-time worldwide winner has gained over 1.3 strokes on approach in every measured start since March. With a win already under his belt at the Fazio re-designed Firestone, I expect Lowry to add a gold medal to his already impressive resume.

Abraham Ancer (25-1, DraftKings SportsBook)

Ancer is a player who I rarely bet as he has still yet to record his first PGA Tour victory. With that being said, this feels like a logical breakthrough spot for the University of Oklahoma product.

Ancer has already finished runner-up at Quail Hollow this year, and I love the idea of a soft Augusta as a comp course for Kasumigaseki, where Ancer contended as well. More recently, Ancer has also recorded top-10 finishes at the Valspar, Travelers, and PGA Championship. His ball striking remains elite, and he is one of the better putters in the field as well, ranking sixth in strokes gained putting and third in three-putt avoidance over his last 36 rounds. Bent-grass has also historically been his best surface. I firmly believe that Ancer will be in the mix this weekend in Tokyo.

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Morning 9: Tiger’s Monday practice round | Brooks, Sergio switch putters | Masters eclipse glasses

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans, as we gear up for the 2024 Masters!

1. Tiger’s Monday practice round

Will Cheney for the Augusta Chronicle…”The early reports from Tiger Woods’ Monday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club were good.”

  • “The five-time Masters Tournament champion landed in Augusta on Sunday afternoon and played a Monday morning practice round with Will Zalatoris. Woods withdrew from the 2023 Masters after making the cut, due to a plantar fasciitis flare up.”
  • “He played great today,” Zalatoris said. “He outdrove me a couple times so there was some chirping going on. So, you know, he looks great. He’s moving as well as he can be. Again, with everything he’s gone through, it’s pretty amazing to see how good he’s swinging it.”
Full piece.

2. Langer delays Masters farewell

ESPN report…”Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, whose hopes to play the major for a final time were cruelly dashed after suffering a torn Achilles in February, on Monday said that he’ll instead try to bid farewell as a participant at Augusta National in 2025.”

  • “Most likely,” Langer, 66, told Reuters when asked if the 2025 edition would be his final Masters start. “I hope so, but it all depends how the recovery is going.”
  • “The German player tore his Achilles while playing pickleball and is forced to miss significant time. He said his recovery is trending in the right direction and that he has not had any setbacks.”
Full piece.

3. Rahm: LIV events should be 72 holes

Golf Digest’s Ryan Herrington…”It was to be a sticking point for Jon Rahm as he mulled whether to make the jump from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf League late last year. In the end, the fact that LIV events were just 54 holes, and included shotgun starts, didn’t keep the Masters champion from making the move and signing a reported $350 million deal with the upstart circuit, but it’s something he hopes might still change in the future.”

  • “I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I definitely wouldn’t mind going back to 72 holes,” Rahm said in an interview with the BBC ahead of his title defense at Augusta National.
Full piece.

4. Sergio, Brooks make putter switches

Our Matt Vincenzi…“Brooks Koepka, who’s used a Scotty Cameron Teryllium Tour Newport 2 for the past handful of years, had what looked to be a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 in the bag this week at LIV Doral.”

  • “Koepka has been struggling on the greens this season, but it’s still a bit of a surprise to see him switch to a mallet-style putter so close to the season’s first major.”
  • “Koepka finished with -4.4 strokes gained with his new Phantom following a tough week in Miami.”
  • “With the poor performance on the greens at Doral, it’s worth monitoring whether or not he switches back to his traditional Scottie Cameron at Augusta.”
  • “Sergio Garcia, who lost out in a playoff at LIV Doral, also made a notable putter switch last week.”
  • “The Spaniard asked Scotty Cameron to refurbish the 1999 Scotty Cameron Del Mar Prototype he used as a rookie on the PGA Tour. Garcia used the putter when he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah as a 19-year-old. He also used the putter in his first Ryder Cup.”
Full piece.

5. Zalatoris returns to Masters a year after back surgery

Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”Will Zalatoris’ mom sent him a text Monday morning to remind him how far he’s come over the past 12 months.”

  • “It was the one-year anniversary of when he underwent back surgery.”
  • “Another reminder came just a few hours later, when Zalatoris linked up with Tiger Woods to play the second nine at Augusta National.”
  • “Over the past several months they’ve been swapping war stories about the microdiscectomy procedures and their different recoveries. It’s been comforting to Zalatoris not just to know that he’s not alone, but to understand the value of patience and his own process.”
  • “It’s always special to be here,” he said, “but obviously given the last year that I’ve had this was a very special day.”
Full piece.

6. GolfWRX’s resident statistician on who can win the Masters

Our Rich Hunt…”Since 2013, I have created a filtering process to help determine the players who are most likely to win the green jacket based on criteria that have strongly predictive outcomes to success at Augusta. The list of players that can win at Augusta is usually filtered down to 20-24 players and in that time I have correctly shortlisted every Masters champion.”

  • “This includes last year’s winner, Jon Rahm. Even though Rahm essentially walked away with the green jack and did not make it very close, there were some close calls on top of the leaderboard as I had filtered out Phil Mickelson (t-2nd) and Patrick Reed (t-4th) as the LIV Tour is still behind on providing advanced analytics for their tour. Russell Henley was also filtered out and finished t-4th, five strokes from Rahm’s winning score of 276.”
  • “If you’re watching at home, the “critical holes” that will likely determine the top finishers will be holes No. 7, 8, 11 and 13. The 11th hole is projected to be the most critical of holes as over the past five Masters the top players have gained nearly a 1.5 strokes for the tournament on that hole alone.”
  • “Just like last year’s column I will get the LIV Tour players I’ve filtered out of the way. Since LIV Tour does not provide ShotLink or Trackman data, it’s more of a guessing game as to how certain LIV Tour golfers are playing. I did utilize recent performance as well as performance at Mayakoba and Doral as they were two former PGA Tour courses that have some semblance of crossover to playing Augusta.”
Full piece.

7. Fields: Listen to the course whisperers

Bill Fields for Masters.com…”Many years after making his debut in the Masters Tournament in 1959, Jack Nicklaus had a sharp recollection of the tutorial he received that spring at Augusta National….Difficult lessons, after all, often are the most memorable.”

  • “Nicklaus was a 19-year-old amateur on the ascent, on his way to becoming one of the best golfers – the best, if measured by his ultimate major-championship tally, highlighted by a record six victories in the Masters. Yet, 65 years ago, the learning curve was steep for him. Despite his credentials, he shot 76-74–150 to miss the cut by one stroke as defending champion Arnold Palmer led at the halfway point.”
  • “I played pretty well from tee to green,” Nicklaus once recalled of that first competitive experience at Augusta National. “I hit 31 of 36 greens. But I had eight three-putt greens in 36 holes and got done and found Arnold was leading the Tournament at 140. He had hit 19 greens in regulation. I said, ‘You’d better learn how to chip and putt and understand what happens on this golf course.’ That’s what I learned.”
  • “Nicklaus, of course, isn’t alone in receiving such an education. More than two decades after the Golden Bear first turned up in northeast Georgia, another promising young golfer experienced the school of hard putts. Bernhard Langer of Germany, 24, was a three-time winner on the European Tour when he played his first Masters in 1982.”
Full Piece.

8. LIV Golf officials invited to Masters

John Turnbull for Bunkered…”It appears that defending champion Jon Rahm and his colleagues will not be the only LIV Golf representatives at The Masters this week.

  • “Despite golf’s civil war rolling on, officials of the Saudi-backed circuit have been invited to The Masters, according to reports.”
  • “The Telegraph has reported that at least one high-ranking LIV official will attend the first major championship of the year.”
  • “LIV’s chief executive Greg Norman, who was a three-times runner-up at the tournament, is not expected to show face at The Masters.”
Full Piece.

9. Masters eclipse glasses

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7 PGA TOUR courses you need to play

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Golf is a unique sport in that you can play where the pros play and make golf history of your own. Nothing in golf can compare to playing a world-renowned course and following in the footsteps of the game’s best golfers. The feeling is incomparable, and it’s one we think more golfers should experience!

To get you started, here are our picks of the best PGA TOUR courses you can (and should!) play:

PGA Tour courses you can (and should) play

Pebble Beach Golf Links (AT&T Pro-Am, U.S. Open, PGA Championship)

Early morning light on the par-4 8th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula.

One of the most recognizable golf courses in the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links is the definition of a bucket golf course. Golfers will play iconic holes like the par-3 7th to the stunning par-5 18th. Enjoy great views of the Pacific Ocean as you play amongst the clifftop fairways and make memories that will last a lifetime when you play this PGA TOUR and major championship course.  

TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course (THE PLAYERS Championship)

The 17th hole of THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Photo by: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA)

Home to arguably the most famous par 3 in golf, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a top bucket-list course designed by Pete and Alice Dye. A challenging layout awaits that will test all facets of your game, especially shot shaping and course management. Subtle elevation changes, undulating greens, and unique bunkering add a degree of difficulty that stump even the best players in the world. Not to mention one of the best finishing stretches in golf with the long par-5 16th, the iconic 17th hole island green, and the testy par-4 18th. 

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill  (Arnold Palmer Invitational)

A course fit for “The King” is what you will experience when you visit Orlando and play Bay Hill’s Championship Course. This classic Florida layout offers generous landing areas off the tee with few trees, but bunkers guard the greens and large ponds will make you rethink your shot choices. The course is only available for members and guests staying at The Lodge, so a stay is required to play this stunning course. But with year-round sunshine and pristine course conditions, it is never a bad time to visit Bay Hill! 

Torrey Pines – South  (Farmers Insurance Open, U.S. Open)

Another California clifftop course that should be on your bucket list is the South Course at Torrey Pines. Located just north of San Diego, this annual PGA TOUR stop has also hosted two U.S. Opens, which adds to the allure of the property. Narrow fairways and tall rough combined with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the California coastline make for an unforgettable round of golf. Large bunkers and elevation changes add to the challenge of the course, but the moderately sized greens offer golfers some respite. Who would’ve thought that a municipal course could be so exciting?

Harbour Town (RBC Heritage)

Hole 18 Harbour Town

Most recognized by the famous red and white striped lighthouse behind the 18th green, Harbour Town is the brainchild of Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. While the course is relatively short for a PGA TOUR event, the challenging design offsets length for accuracy with the narrow fairways framed by overhanging trees making it a shot makers course. A majority of the course winds through the wooded and sandy terrain before looping back towards the coastline with the final two finishing holes playing along the water. 

PGA National – Champion Course (Honda Classic, Ryder Cup, PGA Championship)

With the prominent golf tournaments this course has held, it is hard to leave it off the list. A fantastic Jack Nicklaus design, the Champions Course at PGA National is also home to a famous stretch of golf holes called “The Bear Trap.” The fairways and greens are player-friendly while the bunkers and water hazards are the course’s biggest defense. You will enjoy a 5-star experience and feel like a professional when you visit PGA National’s Champion Course.

Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course (Valspar Championship)

At more than 7,200 yards the Copperhead Course is the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four Tampa, Florida courses and plays host to the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship.

One of the more under-the-radar courses on Tour, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort still offers a challenge even to the pros. Designed by Lawrence Packard, the course, while not heavily wooded, requires accuracy with tight fairways, strategically placed bunkers, especially around the greens, and a decent amount of water hazards that come into play. As you head towards the clubhouse, you will encounter “The Snake Pit;” a collection of the most difficult finishing holes on the PGA TOUR.

There you have it, GolfWRXers. Have you played any of these PGA TOUR tracks? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s note: This article is presented in partnership with Golfbreaks. When you make a purchase through links in this article, GolfWRX may earn an affiliate commission. 

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Tour Rundown: 4 straight for Nelly | Bhatia outlasts McCarthy

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A week of southern USA golf with a gambler’s flair, concluded on Sunday. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the national Drive, Chip, and Putt finals were celebrated in Augusta, Georgia. The LPGA offered its version of the OK Corral with the annual match-play event in Las Vegas. The Korn Ferry Tour gathered in Savannah, Georgia, for the Club Car Championship. Finally, the PGA Tour offered a final opportunity to qualify for this week’s Masters tournament, at the Texas Open.

In order to run something down, you have to be faster. Luckily for me, I took typing in school. Let’s run down a bunch of events this week, beginning in Augusta.

Augusta National Women’s Amateur: Woad wins

The ANWA begins play each year with 36 holes at Champions Retreat golf club, north of Augusta and adjacent to the Savannah river. A cut is made, and the finalists move to the storied Augusta National golf club two days later, for the third round. On Friday, every golfer in the field has the opportunity to play a practice round at ANGC, cut made or not. It’s a nice touch that sweetens the week for golfers like Carolina Lopez-Chacarra, who has missed the cut by one shot, each of the last two years.

Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad is currently the most successful contestant in ANWA history. The LSU all-america golfer has thrice finished inside the top three at Augusta National. This year, she posted minus-four to claim solo third position. Ahead of her was Bailey Shoemaker, a former New Yorker who now lives in Florida, and is bound for the University of Southern California. Shoemaker posted six birdies against zero bogies on day three, for a dream score of 66. She moved from one-under par to the top of the leader board, at seven deep.

As the golfers with leads began to lose their way, Shoemaker’s position looked better by the minute. Even the overnight leader, Lottie Woad of England and Florida State University, began to stumble. Her bogey at the par-five 13th dropped her two shots behind Shoemaker. It was then that magic returned to the National. Woad secured a birdie with a 15-feet putt at the long 15th, to move within one of the leader. After a par at the 16th, Woad faced the uphill climb of the final two holes.

At 17, Woad ripped a long drive up fairway center, then finessed a wedge to 15 feet, and holed the putt for a three. At the home hole, she was long with her approach, and faced a downhill putt from … you guessed it, just about 15 feet for the victory. As the putt turned left, into the center of the hole, the magnitude of what Woad had done began to sink in. Three-under par over the closing four holes takes a special something, and all Bailey Shoemaker could do, was smile and acknowledge Woad’s work.

PGA Tour @ Texas Open: AB takes down DMC for second Tour title

It’s a good thing that Akshay Bhatia was paired with Denny McCarthy on day four, else he might not have believed what transpired. There was AB, with a four-shot advantage after 54 holes, targeting a second triumph and a Masters invitation. There was McCarthy, attempting to break through for his own, maiden Tour title. After nine holes on Sunday, the lead had swelled to six shots. At that point, the Silver Streak rolled into town.

Bhatia played a decent back nine, overcoming a bogey at ten with three other birdies. And he got annihilated by McCarthy. The 2015 Porter Cup champion made but one par on the inward half, at the 11th. He wrote “birdie” on the other eight holes, closed in 28 (eight under for the nine) and tied Bhatia at 20-under par. Rory McIlroy probably felt good about his 66, which moved him to third position, but he could only claim the “A” Flight on this day. He was nine shots back of the playoff.

As for the playoff, it was an anticlimax. Moments after making birdie at the par-five closer, McCarthy could not repeat his sucess. Despite a celebratory shoulder injury, Bhatia did make four, and the tournament and Masters invitation were his.

LPGA @ T-Mobile Match Play: No JK; NK has four straight

If it looks like stroke play, and smells like stroke play, it just might be match play. The LPGA took a page from the Western Amateur script this year. Three rounds of stroke play took place from Wednesday to Friday, as the field was trimmed to 65, and then to 8. The great eight then went head to head to decide who moved on and who went home. Four golfers tied for the eighth position, and three holes later, Moriya Jutanugarn had defeated Yuka Saso, Brooke Henderson, and Hae Ran Ryu for the right to move into match play.

Leona Maguire had been the queen of Shadow Creek, site of the event, and she preserved that royal title with a 4 & 3 win over Jutanugarn in round one of knockout play. Joining her in the semifinals were Sei Young Kim (6 & 5 over Rose Zhang), Narin An (1 up over Minami Katsu) and Nelly Korda (3 & 2 over Angel Yin.) The penultimate round saw Maguire (3 &2) and Korda (4 & 3) emerge triumphant, creating a dream conclusion pitting two of the top young talents.

Proponents of match play point to the elimination of all other competitors save the one. Medal-play aficionados reply by saying shoot a number and let the chips and putts fall where they may. On this day, Leona Maguire posted plus-two through the fifteen holes of the match, while Nelly Korda played the sequence in three below par, It doesn’t matter which style of competition you prefer. A five-shot difference tells you all that you need to know, about who played better that day.

On the occasion of her fourth consecutive victory on the LPGA circuit, Nelly Korda is the best player of this day, this week, this month. What a run.

Korn Ferry Tour @ Club Car Championship: Fisk takes risk and wins in Savannah

Philip Knowles and Kevin Roy each had thoughts on a first-time win on the KFT this week, but their hopes and dreams were postponed. Knowles dropped back from 1st to 3rd with a final-round 71. He tied John Pak and Max McGreevey at 12-deep, two shots behind the first-place tie. Roy posted 72 and finished one shot farther back, in a tie for sixth at minus-eleven. The spotlit stage for overtime was occupied by Rob Oppenheim and Steven Fisk. Fisk closed with 68, moving up two shots in the process. Oppenheim went one better, finishing off a day-four 67 with a jittery 36 on the inward half.

Oppenheim turned in 31 shots on Sunday, and looked for all the world to be on his way to a convincing victory. Nerves and jitters got in the way, and he matched bogeys and birdies on the way home for minus-14. In the playoff, Steven Fisk was able to negotiate par from the final hole at The Landings, and it was enough to earn the title. Oppenheim’s bogey-six relegated him to a coveted, but frustrating, second-place finish. And for those not in the know, it was Fisk who earned the breakthrough, initial victory on the KFT.

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