How often favorites win tournaments (and when to bet on them)

Viktor Hovland and caddie Shay Knight at the Puerto Rico Open in February.

Viktor Hovland, celebrating with caddie Shay Knight, won the Puerto Rico Open as the favorite entering the event.

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As the PGA Tour returns Thursday after a nearly three-month shutdown due to the spread of the coronavirus, so does betting on the PGA Tour. How can you cash in? Let this series help. Part I is here.

The Super Bowl has just ended. You have collected your betting winnings from the Kansas City Chiefs victory. Starting that Thursday, you are now wagering on PGA Tour golf. 

If you had bet just the favorite from that tournament until the Tour’s hiatus in mid-March, you’d turn a profit. 

There it is. Shh. The secret to gambling. Just bet the favorites in golf tournaments, and you can buy your own golf course. Let’s just keep that as our little secret, and we’ll meet up on your first tee.

Haha. Sure.

Yes, favorites to win golf tournaments do win. But not enough to make you money consistently.

The sportsbook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

8 things you MUST know to make money on golf betting

By: Nick Piastowski

Over the past year, they barely missed turning a profit. From the RBC Canadian Open (played June 6-9, 2019) through the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 5-8, 2020), betting just the favorites would have put you at a $100 loss, had you bet $100 for each of the 38 tournaments and had the odds listed by golfodds.com. Collin Morikawa won the Barracuda Championship at 10-1 odds; Justin Thomas won the CJ Cup at 7:1; Rory McIlory won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at 6-1; and Viktor Hovland won the Puerto Rico Open at 10-1. 

The favorites won at about a 10.5 percent clip — 38 tournaments, four winners, 34 losers.

The Puerto Rico Open made winners out of both Hovland and the bettor who wagered $100 on only favorites after the Super Bowl. Six tournaments were played. The favorites lost five times. But Hovland, the favorite at 10-1, came through, and the post-Super Bowl bettor earned $500.   

Over the past decade, the Action Network reported last year, favorites delivered a net loss. The Action Network found that the last time a favorite did turn a profit over a year was in 2013, thanks to five Tiger Woods wins. A year before that, the favorites really came through, winning nine times and also delivering a profit.    

It’s understandable why wagers are made on favorites. You want to bet on a winner. You don’t want to bet on a loser. And the favorite, theoretically, is the safest pick. Of course, odds are built to create action — and money — for the casino. They’re trying to win. 

So when should you bet the favorite? It lies in research and value. 

Track players over their past 10, 20, 50 events and track their individual stats. Look at how a player has fared at a course in the past. Read GOLF.com. Through your analysis, you’ll be able to develop your own number of a player’s chances of winning, and should your number provide a better value than what it is being offered, that’s a good time to bet the listed favorite.

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor