Well, the men's golf tournament at the Olympics is over, and it was… mostly anti-climactic. The golf itself was fine, but no one died, no horrible viruses seem to have been contracted, and nothing catastrophic happened. Despite the silly concerns of most of the best players in the world, it just looked a whole lot like a normal golf tournament, and everyone who played seems to have had a great time representing their country - no one more so than gold medalist Justin Rose.
So now we move on to the women's edition of the tournament. It's also very unlikely to be catastrophic, but to their credit the best female players in the world already knew that because they showed up en masse. It's almost as if the men skipped not because of health but rather money or something.
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This is a reasonably unique but not unprecedented situation - the women and men playing a tournament on the same course at the same basic time. A couple of years ago we saw the same thing when both tours played the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 one after the other. The result was about as you would expect - the course was set up shorter for the women, and it wasn't as much about power off the tee. What was interesting, though, was that on the large majority of holes the club the women were using into the green was the same that the men had used - the men were just using it from further back. So, given that the course played pretty fair last week, and that it was certainly possible to score low if you were on your game, we can expect pretty much the same for the women starting on Wednesday. In short, may the best golfer win - an ideal scenario for handicappers.
The odds suggest that there are five golfers ahead of the rest of the field here. Here's a look ( Odds are from Bovada)
Lydia Ko, New Zealand (+275): The 19-year-old superstar from New Zealand is the Tiger Woods - in his prime - of the LPGA. This is just her third year as a pro, yet she already has 14 career wins, including four this year. She already has two majors to her credit, including one this year, and has also recorded a second- and a third-place finish this year. She won in the middle of July, so she comes into this tournament in good form, and she has 11 Top-10 finishes in 16 starts this year. She's obviously going to be in the mix, and has the best chance of anyone of coming out on top. The odds are fair. The question you have to ask yourself, though, is if you are content with a low price or if you want to gamble, hope she gets beat, and take a shot at something a little more generous.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand (+650): Jutanugarn is only 20 and in just her second year on tour, yet she has been competitive for a long while - in 2007 she set the record for the youngest person to qualify for an LPGA event when she was just 11. She has won just four times on tour, but all four have come since May 8, including three in four weeks as well as a major win in the British Open at the end of July, so she is about as hot as a golfer can be coming here. She registered a third and a fourth in earlier majors this year as well, so she is clearly comfortable on big stages. She's very aggressive, and that can cause her troubles, but this course is relatively kind, so she is a real contender. Her price is much more attractive than that of the favorite.
Brooke Henderson, Canada (+1200): There is a very good chance that we will have a young gold medalist - Henderson is also in her second year on tour but is the youngest of this group at just 18. She won the PGA Championship in June to claim her first major title, beating Ko in a playoff. She won again in early July, which eases the concerns somewhat about weak performances in both the U.S. Women's Open and the British Open since her PGA title. I can't help but be concerned by her relative lack of big-tournament experience and success compared to the two favorites. As a Canadian, though, I'm hopelessly biased, so this is where I'll be throwing my few bucks.
Stacy Lewis, U.S. (+1200): Lewis, who has been on tour since 2009, is a seasoned veteran compared to the others above her. She hasn't won a major since 2013, though, and hasn't won at all since 2014. She was seventh and fourth in the last two majors, so she has some solid form coming in, but her results the last two years don't justify the price - at least not relatively. This is a case of American bettors overbetting their countrywoman.
Lexi Thompson, U.S. (+1200): Thompson is only 21, yet this is her fifth year on tour. In 2011 she became the youngest winner in LPGA history. Her only major win came in early 2014, but she has been Top 10 seven times in 13 major starts since then, including two this year. She has the capability of being right in the center of things here, but like Lewis she is an overbet American in this field.
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