As the PGA Tour pros tee it up througout 2021, I'll get on the Tee at selected events and chip-in some golf betting tips and information you can bet on to navigate the course and manage your game when wagering on golf.
We'll start in Hawaii and head to Honolulu where BetMGM VP of trading Jason Scott says, “The 2021 Sony Open is the first full-field PGA TOUR event of the season. With over 140 golfers to bet on, bettors have a host of options but action is on some early tournament favorites, including Sungjae Im, Daniel Berger and Webb Simpson.”
I enjoy covering, betting and handicapping golf, and have made a number of connetions and references to top golf analysts, golf sites and leading online sportsbooks and directors. Through my coverage and connections, we'll shoot to provide added insight, bettting coverage and tips on the growing sport of golf and the many betting opportunties offered during each weekly event.
Whether betting at legal U.S. sportsbooks or offshore online sportsbooks where the odds on players to win are often better for the bettors, you'll be wise to focus on tournament match-ups and some occasional round-by-round match-ups and other prop bets to build your bankroll. A focus on outright win bets or applying too much of your money and bankroll to which players will win the event will send you into the hazards and rough quickly. You'll find yourself broke and miss the cut more often while reloading and hitting a mulligan.
Odds to win 2021 Sony Open
Let's add the top 18 players per a round of golf and Odds from BookMaker.
I like the golf puns, and reference those as part of my moniker and following I built a number of years ago as 'FairwayJay'. I appeared on very popular daily sports betting and handicapping radio show in Las Vegas and heard in more than 50 top arbitron markets in the U.S. and then to SiriusXM radio. I covered many major sports and was the PGA Tour and golf specialist.
That was well before the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) and the big companies, bookmakers and incredicble growth of sports betting and golf due to the legalization of sports betting in 2018. It was also before sports betting mobile apps. Yet more than two years later, many offshore operators are doing well following the repeal of PASPA, as OSGA insider Hartley Henderson noted.
"Our customer base is better than ever," is a common theme from top offshore operators. That includes for bettors who enjoy getting on the tee and firing for birdies and green when wagering on golf.
So I'll reference odds and contacts from U.S. and offshore sportsbooks with some of the biggest golf betting menu's offered at leading online sportsbooks like BookMaker,
Course: Waialae Country Club
Location: Honolulu, HI
Date: Jan. 14-17, 2021
Par: 70 / Yardage 7,044
TV: Golf Channel
The course is short, narrow and flat with typically softer conditions. Players go low at Waialae with the average winning score at the Sony Open 20-under par the past eight years. Last year's winning score of 11-under par by Cameron Smith in a playoff was unusual as very strong winds impacted the players ability to hit approach shots closer and score.
But the course is short with positional play far more important than swinging Big Bertha from the tee. Hitting greens has been a formula for success with seven of the last 10 winners top 10 in greens in regulation and none outside the top 25. Average green sizes are approx. 6,500 square feet and ball striking and approach play are key strokes gained stats with premier putting on pure Bermuda greens determining the ultimate winner. The last five PGA Tour winners at Waialae have finished 1, 3, 3, 2 and 5th in Strokes Gained: Putting. That includes Aussie Cameron Smith last year, who led the field with 2.06 SG: Putting per round. Smith won at odds of 45/1 or greater at many leading online sportsbook, and four of the last 10 winners at Waialae have come from outside of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
While course form is always a consideration, much more weigtht should be put on a players current form.
Webb Simpson is the favorite at the 2021 Sony Open, but betting on players at such low odds is not usually a prudent play. Talent just too strong across the PGA Tour and plenty of players to consider at longer odds. Still, Justin Ray of the 15th Club added some strong stats on Webb Simpson, and especially on his success on shorter courses 7,100 yards or less.
Webb Simpson's scoring average on those shorter courses is 67.9, which ranks No. 2 on TOUR over the past five seasons. Simpson has gained more than +1.5 strokes per round on the field each of the previous two PGA TOUR seasons, but it increases to +2.0 per round on shorter courses. Simpson has racked up 24 rounds of 66 or lower on courses under 7,100 yards the last five seasons, most of any player. Simpson’s Strokes Gained: Approach performance improves by about 18% on shorter layouts.
Simpson has averaged 5.31 par-breakers (birdies and eagles) per round at Waialae CC over the last five years, most of any player with at least eight rounds played in that span.
"I get it Fairway, now get to the picks."
- Russell Henley (-115) over Adam Scott
- Talor Gooch (-104) over Carlos Ortiz
Players to consider for Win bets and Top 5, 10, 20 or even Top 30 finishes as available at selected online sportsbooks.
Top of the market favorites to include:
- Sungjae Im
- Daniel Berger
Berger and Im are taking most the bets and money at many leading online sportsbooks. BetMGM sent me data with each of those players taking nearly 14% of the handle. So more than 27% of the money (handle) and 21% of the bets to win the tournament is on Berger and Im. Webb Simpson is next. Ryan Palmer actually took some bigger bets which has his win handle now at 14%.
Sungjae Im is of interest, as he finished T-5 last week in Maui in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Data Golf reports that Im led the field with 2.38 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green per round, and he also gained 1.28 strokes per round on approach. Putting was his downfall, but good form and two top-21 finishes in the Sony Open the last two years suggests he can go better with his current form and improved play. Im is +175 to finish top 10 at BetOnline - where you can bet more players top finishing position and props. Im (+180), Hideki Matsuyama (+250) and Si Woo Kim (+700) are available to bet as the favorites to be the top Asian finisher.
Through my stats research at Fantasy National, Daniel Berger's Strokes Gained: Approach stats rank top 5 in this field over his last 36 rounds, and Berger is No. 4 in Total Strokes Gained. Berger is accurate off the tee and among the very best in this field in SG: Tee-to-Green.and Approach since the start of 2020, according to Data Golf. Webb Simpson is No. 1 in SG: Approach and also No. 2 over that stretch in SG: Ball Striking and No. 3 in Total strokes gained. Sungjae Im is No. 3 in total strokes gained, No. 3 in SG: Tee to Green, No. 5 in SG: Off the Tee and No. 6 in SG: Ball Striking. Kevin Kisner's short game strength and top 6 ranking early in the 2020-21 season in accuracy off the tee make him a contender knowing Kisner has finished top 5 in this event three times since 2016.
On easier courses on Tour like Waialae CC, there are more players that can contend to win and finish top 10 or top 20. So more longshots have a better chance and you should alwasy consider them and other golfers that get overlooked at longer odds but are plenty capable of outperforming their odds.
Fairway's mid-range and longshots.
- Russell Henley (+4050)
- Marc Leishman (+6750)
- Talor Gooch (+10000) Bovada
- Matthew NeSMith (+13500)
Russell Henley's current form is solid and he was best on Tour after the restart last year in SG: Ball Striking. Putting has usually held him back, also he's better on bermuda greens and won this event in 2013. Golf Stats performance charts show he's missed the cut here two of the last three years, but also had a pair of top 20 finishes previously and the win in 2013. He's too good not to consider at longer odds than the favorites with a viable top 10 finish.
Marc Leishman was on target last week with a top-10 ranking in SG: Approach. But poor putting results set him back and continue to hurt his chances. But his proven play and finishes in the Sony Open at Waialae CC suggests he can find his groove. Leishman has three top 10s in eight Sony Open starts since 2014 including T3 in 2019.
Taylor Gooch has stat profiles across the board that fit pretty well with his best being SG: Approach. A top 20 finish (+300) gets you 3/1 on your money and even a top 30 finish returns a plus price of better than 3/2.
Matthew NeSmith has win odds ranging from 95/1 to 135/1 at a number of leading online sportsbooks. So when you wager to win on players, it's even more important to shop and bet the better prices as able. Big lonshots are usually priced as such due to more flaws in their game. Yet so many PGA Pros are immenstly talented and there is just too many players that can break through or contend at longer odds that makes betting on the favorites less desireable (along with the house hold). You will also see less big lonshots in tournament match-ups, but can catch some in daily match-ups if they are in contention over the weekend. SG: Approach numbers put him in the top 15% of this field. He also ranks top 5 in SG: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 rounds. Looking for a better finish than his 32nd spot on debut last year. Top 20 finish show odds of +350 on NeSmith and +400 for top 20 position after Round 1 at select leading online sportsbooks.
No ifs, ands or putts as you shoot for more faiways, birdies and green and try to avoid the hazards and rough in your pursuit of profit. Best wishes as you fire for the flag and we'll chip in more golf coverage along the way.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay