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Sony Open Betting Preview 

Sentry TOC Recap

If the NFL playoffs weren’t enough for you this past weekend, the Sentry Tournament of Champions provided some post-football Hawaii golf with just enough scenery and Joaquin Niemann hooded drivers to make those of us stuck in cold weather just a bit (a LOT) jealous. Justin Thomas was able to hold off Xander Shauffele and Patrick Reed to secure his second Sentry victory and 12th overall on the PGA Tour.  

Personally, I played four tournament matchups, and went 1-3 for -1.57 units. Thursday started off terribly, but after Saturday things looked better as I was 2-1-1 at that point. However, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner had less than stellar Sunday finishes, and Reed and Niemann ended up on top.

As I try to improve my golf handicapping, I’ll look back and see how my picks performed prior to the start of the event and obviously how the week played out. My selections of Schauffele and Kisner were respected by the market and both lines moved in my favor pre tourney. My Reed fades with Woodland and Paul Casey did not have the same respect, with one line moving against me and the other remaining in place.  I believe that bettors smarter than myself backed Reed, and perhaps I missed something in making a possible adjustment to Reed in my rankings. Could there have been some motivational factor for Reed to shut everyone up who bashed him for cheating? Perhaps, but I tend to believe it was something else more quantifiable.  

Sony Open Outright Market Analysis

Each week, the outright/futures market provides an opportunity for the bettor to hit the elusive home run.  With typical futures, weeks and months can pass before an outcome is decided. Most golf futures obviously have a much shorter shelf life, which can be appealing for the simple reason of not having to tie up capital for an extended period of time.

However, bookmakers have and will continue to enjoy outrights and futures markets themselves. On a typical bet of -110 on each side, the house/bookmaker holds about 4.5%. It’s easy to see and calculate, and a bettor knows when a book decides to go to -112 or -115 or worse.  In the futures market, the hold is much easier to disguise from the casual bettor. I would guess that most bettors are not going to take the time to add up the necessary break- even percentage of each option in a futures market to calculate the books implied hold percentage.  

Diving into this week’s market, I looked at BetOnline, Bovada, DraftKings and FanDuel odds as of noon on January 6th . BetOnline lists 64 players in their outright market; so I pulled those odds from each book listed for the purposes of this analysis. As of Monday evening, Bovada had the best overall hold at 24.06%, while FanDuel had the highest at 28.43%.  If you estimate another 10% hold on the remaining longshots in the field, it’s easy to see that the outright market is tough to beat. Combining all four and getting the best price for each player, the synthetic hold came out to 15.28%, compared to 4.5% on standard -110 two sided market.

Please use the link to the google sheet to make updates as odds change or load in odds from a different option that I have not included.  

This week, Rory Sabbatini could be had at 80/1 at BetOnline but 50/1 at each of the other books. Collin Morikawa had odds varying from 16/1 to 20/1, which may not seem like much, but it is a full 1.12% difference in the break even percentage, which is fairly substantial. Wouldn’t we all like to hold an extra 1%?

Sony Open Full Tournament Matchup picks

Each week, I have a method of collecting data for each available player and coming up with a projected score for each player. I like to think that golf scores tend to follow a “normal distribution,” and I use a normal distribution calculator to give me a probability of each golfer beating the other in a matchup.  I then compare the percentages of each player winning with the implied break even percentage provided by the odds on each player. Most of the time, my numbers are right in line with the market. The perceived edges and selections I have made this week are as follows:

Thomas (-164) over Reed (good until -185) @ FD

Simpson (-126) over Matsuyama (good until -140) @ FD

Leishman (-118) over Cam Smith (with tie at +1800 to win 1.18 units) @ DK

Munoz (-110) over Ancer (with tie at +1800 to win 1.1 units) @ DK

Putnam (-106) over Palmer (with tie at +1800 to win 1.06 units) @ DK

Poston (-120) over Todd @ Bovada

Z. Johnson (-120) over Bradley @ BOL

I have staked “non-tie” each wager to “win 1 unit.”  For example, if the odds are +110, I risk .91 units to win 1.  If the odds are -110, I risk 1.1 units to 1 unit.  

2019-2020 season record: Risked 43.04 units , Down -3.87 units.  Tracker can be found at my Twitter page @steviesharp_61

Full Google Sheet

Sony Open Course Preview

The PGA Tour features a full field event this week, played at Waialae Country Club in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii. Last year’s event saw Matt Kuchar win while fielding questions about his back up caddie’s payroll and negotiating strategy.  While the course features narrow fairways, the rough is usually kept short. It should be noted that getting the ball close to the hole out of the rough here has proven more difficult than average. The course features TiffEagle Bermuda, and seems to be relatively flat with little grain.  With the winds forecasted north of 20 mph each day this week, I suspect the winning score will be something in the range of -15 to -18.   

Please, let me know what you think or what questions you have about this event, golf betting, or betting in general. You can reach me on Twitter at Stevie Square, @steviesharp_61. 

Best of luck, and as always, please play responsibly!