US Open Betting Tips and Golf Handicapping Advice
by Dave Schwab - 6/14/2011
Thursday marks the start of one of the toughest tests in professional golf: the US Open. The USGA prides itself in setting up a US Open course in such a fashion that even par is often considered a successful score, especially if weather conditions favor hard and fast greens. The sport of golf and, more specifically, this event not only offers you the opportunity to sit back and watch how the world’s best players hold up to such demanding conditions, but the opportunity to handicap the tournament in an effort to draw value out of the odds that are posted for all the major participants.
There are basically two different types of wagers you can place on a golf tournament; betting on an outright winner and betting on a particular golfer in a head-to-head matchup. There are often various ‘prop’ bets that may go along with a major tournament such as the US Open, but for the most part the easiest way to handicap this event is to focus your efforts on the golfers themselves.
The key factors you want to focus on besides overall skill and ability are recent form, past results at that particular course if available, recent performances in this event, and public perception. All of these are taken into consideration when the odds are set.
With Tiger Woods out of this week’s tournament with a leg injury, recent form is having the biggest impact on this year’s odds as the two best golfers in the world right now, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, are the top two favorites to win this week. Westwood is currently ranked second in the world and Donald is ranked first.
Taking the time to develop a thorough understanding of how the top contenders are playing at this point in time is the most important aspect of properly handicapping the US Open. Two key statistics that can help in this analysis are putting average and driving accuracy. Keeping the ball in play in a US Open is paramount to having a successful week as the rough is usually twice as deep as a normal PGA Tour event. Putting is also at a premium given the speed of the greens at a US Open course.
Past results at this course would not be a major factor in handicapping this week’s event as the last time the US Open was held at the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. was in 1997. Ernie Els won the tournament that year, but that was when he was in his prime. The odds on him to repeat this feat this week according to Bodog are 66/1.
Recent performances in a US Open are somewhat relevant in mining value from the odds, given that the winners of this event have already proven they can turn in four solid rounds under the strain of these difficult conditions. Graeme McDowell comes into this year’s event as the defending champion and is listed at 45/1 while 2009’s winner Lucas Glover is listed at 66/1.
More value can probably be derived from studying a player’s past performance in Majors in general as the ability to compete on the largest of stages in the sport is often what sets the truly great golfers apart from the rest of the field.
Public perception does not usually go hand-in-hand with value in a player’s odds. Phil Mickelson, probably the most popular figure in the sport besides Woods, is currently the third favorite this week at 14/1, but by no means is he playing at the top of his game. He did win the Shell Houston Open in March of this year, but only has one top 10 finish since that event and ended up 27th in the Masters in April and 33rd in The Players Championship in May. This is not to say that Phil cannot win this week, but his odds have been driven down for many of the wrong reasons.
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