Who does the journalist, betting analyst or data guru 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 new 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.
Our hope is to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook or through free-to-play Chirp Golf, an app from our parent company that is available in the App Store and at Google Play.
Now, on to some facts, the expert picks, the bettor’s best bets and info on how to bet for free.
This week’s tournament: Wells Fargo Championship, at Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: Thursday, 2-6 p.m., Golf Channel; Friday, 2-6 p.m., Golf Channel; Saturday, 1-3 p.m., Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., CBS; Sunday, 1-3 p.m., Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., CBS
Weather (weather.com): Thursday, partly cloudy, 73 degrees, 8 mph NNE wind; Friday, mostly sunny, 72 degrees, 12 mph NW wind; Saturday, partly cloudy, 77 degrees, 9 mph W wind; Sunday, partly cloudy, 84 degrees, 16 mph SW wind
Defending champion: Max Homa, 2019 (2020 event was canceled)
Top 10 in odds (via DraftKings): Justin Thomas, +900; Jon Rahm, +1,000; Bryson DeChambeau, +1,500; Xander Schauffele, +1,800; Rory McIlroy, +1,900; Viktor Hovland, +2,000; Webb Simpson, +2,000; Tony Finau, +2,800; Patrick Cantlay, +3,000; Patrick Reed, +3,000; Will Zalatoris, +3,000.
Nick Piastowski, GOLF.com, @nickpia
Bet 1: Jon Rahm, top 5, +200. His worst start all season is a tie for 32nd. He’ll get close to the top five, if not higher.
Bet 2: Xander Schauffele, to-win, +1,800. A good course fit, and outside of the Players Championship, he’s been knocking on the door all season.
Bet 3: Max Homa, top 10, +350. It’s been two years, but the defending champ knows how to get it done here.
Jessica Marksbury, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury:
Bet 1: Rickie Fowler, top 20, +275. I like these odds for a former champion. Plus, he was T4 here in 2019. This should be the week Rickie gets some positive momentum going.
Bet 2: Rory McIlroy, top 10, +200. Yeah, Rory’s been off his game a bit of late, but he loves this golf course! And he’s generally a top-10 king. These odds feel like a steal.
Bet 3: Winning margin, two strokes, +335. The past couple of winners have separated themselves from the field. Two strokes feels about right.
Brady Kannon, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @lasvegasgolfer:
Bet 1: Bryson DeChambeau, to-win, +1,500. I think this course has some characteristics similar to Winged Foot, and we know who won there last summer. Driving the golf ball is very important at Quail Hollow, so I like having one of the very best in that category here this week. I think Bryson is built for certain courses. Augusta National is apparently not one of them — I think this is.
Bet 2: Webb Simpson, to-win, +2,000. I used to avoid Webb at this event because he is a member at this course and a “home game” can typically be a negative for golfers — but with limited capacity for fans in this day and age, I like Webb in this setting. He should have just enough support without it being a distraction. He, too, played very well last summer at Winged Foot.
Bet 3: Emiliano Grillo, top 20, +225. Grillo really pops on the stats this week — as he did last week at the Valspar, where he got out to a great start and then fizzled. I think he builds on that good round — and really good recent play all around — and turns into a complete four-round success this week. I would not be surprised by a top 10 or even a win, let alone a top-20 finish.
Wes Reynolds, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @WesReynolds1:
Bet 1: Bryson DeChambeau, to-win, +1,500. DeChambeau has had three weeks off and been in the lab after another underwhelming effort at Augusta National. He finished fourth here in his last appearance. Ranks No. 1 in the field for SG: Off the Tee, SG: Ball Striking, SG: Tee to Green and proximity gained from 200+ yards.
Bet 2: Viktor Hovland, to-win, +2,000. Shot a 65, the day’s low round, last Sunday at the Valspar to rally for a T-3 finish. He should continue that momentum into this week. The Norwegian is only one spot outside of the OWGR top 10.
Bet 3: Will Zalatoris, to-win, +3,000. Willy Z returns to North Carolina, where he played at Wake Forest. As expected, he did not really go on that well at the RBC Heritage after his Masters runner-up. Now he has had two weeks off to re-focus. The Wells Fargo has a history of high-profile, young winners breaking their maidens, including Anthony Kim (2008), Rory McIlroy (2010) and Rickie Fowler (2012).
Martin de Knijff, Metric Gaming, @mdkentrepreneur:
Bet 1: Matt Wallace, to-win, +8000. The 31-year-old Englishman has made great progress with his game the past 24-30 months. He’s always been very talented and can play tough courses really well — but temper was always an issue (still is, but it’s better). Finished third at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in 2019 and followed up with stellar performances at the Memorial last year and the Arnold Palmer this year and last. He’s got three top 20s this season, highlighted with a third at the Valero Open, where he was in contention to win.
Bet 2: Erik van Rooyen, top 5, +3,000. It’s all about driving for the South African. When he’s on and hitting enough fairways, he’s very, very dangerous. Three top 20s this season is not great form by any stretch, but his A-game is too great to offer these kinds of prices for a top 5.
Bet 3: Patrick Reed, top 20, +120. As good as this field is at the top, it’s, IMHO, very poor starting from the bottom 60 percent. If Patrick weren’t in the process of making swing changes with Leadbetter (first and foremost trying to drive the ball more consistently from left to right) I’d say he’d be > 55% to finish in the Top 20 — but it’s probably closer to 50 percent under current circumstances. His chipping and putting are superb, and if you’re missing greens here, you’ll be put to the test. Reed missed his first cut last week (made 17 of 20 last year) — and that’s, of course, not a good sign, but probably why you’re getting this price.
Bet 1: Joaquin Niemann, top 10, +335. Excellent course fit and good form evidenced by his T10 last week. Long with his driver, one of the best wielding irons, and a great putter. Looking to improve on a top 40 his first time around, he’s a much more mature player, but still with the youthful aggressiveness and fearlessness necessary to compete at Quail Hollow. Has linked up well with veteran caddie Gary Matthews since changing things up last year.
Bet 2: Seamus Power, top 10, +2,500. “Mondayed” in with a 62. The Irishman is a longtime Charlotte resident with success around Quail Hollow his first two attempts (T27, T13). When he’s on, he’s on, and guarantee he’ll be focused to give it a run, especially after missing out on the Zurich with Covid-19.
Bet 3: Harold Varner III over Kevin Streelman, -120. Another Charlotte resident with deep North Carolina roots. It can be difficult to play a home game, but the crowd will be on Varner’s side and the showman feeds off it. One of the top players on Tour in the all-around category who doesn’t have a win (90-1 odds — yes, please!). Coming off a T2 in Hilton Head, compared to a recent string of missed cuts for Streelman, who hasn’t experienced success at Quail Hollow in over five years, with three straight trunk slams.
The “old-school” gambler:
Bet 1: Will Zalatoris, to-win, +3,000. My father drove a Ford Zalatoris back in the day. Great car.
Bet 2: Vicktor Hovland, top 5, +400. This guy is in it pretty much every time he pegs it.
Bet 3: Webb Simpson, top 10, +164. Horses for courses and such.
The pro 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: Viktor Hovland, to-win, +2,000. He’s ready to win. This is the week.
Bet 2: Max Homa, top 5, +750. Guy is defending and peaking. There should be a name for that.
Bet 3: Cam Davis, top 10, +750. Ride the young guys who can smash it.