Olympic picks to win: Who the experts and a gambler are betting on
At this week’s men’s Olympic golf tournament at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Japan, who does the journalists and betting analysts like? Or the caddie? Or the old-school gambler? Gimme the facts, storylines and trends. Gimme that inside-the-ropes look. Gimme your gut feeling.
You bet, bettor.
Welcome to GOLF.com’s gambling advice column, where we’ve assembled a panel of those aforementioned experts to make three “best bets.” A real-life professional bettor here will then heed that advice, add his acumen and wager his own cash. It’s not unlike what you do through texts and Google searches — except now it’s all in one place.
Now, on to information on where to bet, some facts, the expert picks and the bettor’s best bets.
Where to bet the men’s Olympic golf tournament
Looking to make a (legal!) wager yourself? We teamed with BetMGM, and the online sportsbook is offering a “Bet $20 Win $100” promotion regardless of your wager’s outcome, as well as a “Risk-Free Bet” up to $600.
This week’s tournament: Men’s Olympic golf tournament at Kasumigaseki Country Club, Saitama, Japan
TV (all times Eastern): Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.-3 a.m., Golf Channel; Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-3 a.m., Golf Channel; Friday, 6:30 p.m.-3 a.m., Golf Channel; Saturday, 6:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Weather (weather.com): Thursday, partly cloudy, 90 degrees, 11 mph SSW wind; Friday, scattered thunderstorms, 91 degrees, 8 mph S wind; Saturday, scattered thunderstorms, 91 degrees, 10 mph E wind; Sunday, showers, 91 degrees, 11 mph E wind
Defending champion: Justin Rose (2016 Games, Rio de Janeiro)
Top 10 in odds (via BetMGM): Collin Morikawa, +700; Xander Schauffele, +900; Justin Thomas, +1,000; Hideki Matsuyama, +1,200; Rory McIlroy, +1,200; Viktor Hovland, +1,200; Paul Casey, +1,600; Patrick Reed, +1,600; Abraham Ancer, +2,000; Cameron Smith, +2,200; Joaquin Niemann, +2,200.
Nick Piastowski, GOLF.com, @nickpia
Bet 1: Viktor Hovland, to-win, +1,200. In a most bizarre tournament, I want someone who keeps himself steady. That’s Hovland.
Bet 2: Si Woo Kim, lowest score over 72 holes, group D (Alex Noren, Jhonattan Vegas, Kim, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Mackenzie Hughes), +350. The motivation to avoid military service is too good to pass up.
Bet 3: Sungjae Im, lowest score over 72 holes, group C (Corey Conners, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Joaquin Niemann, Im), +400. See above.
Jessica Marksbury, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury
Bet 1: Hideki Matsuyama, to-win, +1,200. How often does one of the world’s top players get to play in the Olympics in his home country at a course where he’s triumphed before? (Pretty much never.) Matsuyama won the Asian Amateur in 2010 at Kasumigaseki CC, and I think he’ll triumph here again, 11 years later. This time, for a gold medal.
Bet 2: Justin Thomas, to win a medal, +350. Thomas has a game that travels well. In fact, four of his 14 PGA Tour victories have been in Asia (two in Malaysia and two in South Korea), so I feel like that alone gives him an edge in Japan.
Bet 3: Sungjae Im, to win a medal, +800. There’s a lot on the line for the Korean players in the field this week — most notably, an exemption from military duty if they can make it to the podium. Im was third when the PGA Tour visited Japan for the 2019 Zozo Championship, and after skipping the Open Championship to focus on the Olympics, I think he’ll be the most-prepared player in the field.
Wes Reynolds, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @WesReynolds1
Bet 1: Thomas Pieters, medalist, +1,800. I also personally bet 70-1 to win. Pieters rates as the eighth-best player on the European Tour SG: Tee-to-Green and fifth for SG: Off-the-Tee. He also has unfinished business at the Olympics, as a third-round of 77 ended up keeping him out of the medals, having finished fourth.
Bet 2: Paul Casey, to-win, +1,600. With a win in Dubai earlier this year and eight top 10s in 15 starts, Casey has continued good form. He seems excited to represent Team GB and has spoken about the Olympics and Ryder Cup being defining moments in his career.
Bet 3: Abraham Ancer, medalist, +600. Ancer is second in this week’s field for SG: Off-the-Tee. He has also shown a liking for Tom Fazio designs and re-designs, with a runner-up to Rory at Quail Hollow earlier this year.
Bet 1: Abe Ancer, to win a medal, +600. With his longtime caddie back on the bag at the Open, and a made cut out of the way, it feels like a great spot for Ancer. He was fourth two starts ago; he’s won in the Pacific, in Australia; and he finished second at Quail Hollow, a Fazio course, earlier this year. He’ll be motivated to nab a medal for Mexico and has the guts to do it.
Bet 2: Marc Leishman, to win a medal, +1,200. At 37, he fits the mold of the podium in Rio. Winner on a Fazio course, Conway Farms, and putts well on bent grass, especially his past few starts.
Bet 3: Si Woo Kim, to win a medal, +1,400. Great value on a guy who has won this year on the PGA Tour and is comfortable playing in Asia. Much will be made about his military exemption for a medal, but Si Woo has a knack for playing well in pressure situations.
The “old-school” gambler, an “old-school” gambler, @notthefakeW
Bet 1: Collin Morikawa, to-win, +700. Dude has won a quarter of his major starts and in nearly 10 percent of all his tournaments. No Rahm or Oosthuizen to contend with either
Bet 2: Hideki Matsuyama, to-win, +1,200. Home-course advantage, without the extra pressure of the crowds.
Bet 3: Corey Conners, to-win, +2,800. Has shown a big-time game in big-time events. A win for him would be a win for all of us, as the Canadien national anthem is better than most tunes in a terrible genre.
The professional bettor’s best bets
Erick Lindgren. Lindgren, the 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, has won more than $10.5 million in poker tournament earnings and is an avid sports bettor. @EdogPoker
Bet 1: Hideki Matsuyama, to-win, +1,200. Before he got sidetracked by Covid, Hideki was poised to make a run at world No. 1. I expect him to get back on that track.
Bet 2: Sungjae Im, to win a medal, +400. Motivation here, as a good showing helps him avoid military service.
Bet 3: Si Woo Kim, to win a medal, +1,400. See above.