Golf betting is a tricky business, and top odds are available for shrewd punters who think they can pick a tournament winner. Less well-recognised, however, is the value in picking a winner in-play; likewise the importance of 'head-to-head' markets, which enable fans of the fairway to notch up regular wins while they wait for that big payout.
In pre-match betting, the best value is to be found in outsiders, newcomers and dark horses. Since Tiger Woods' dominance has waned, tournaments have rarely been won by the favourite, and so regular golf backers require big wins to offset regular losses on 'tournament winner' bets: and an odds-on favourite won't deliver that. The primary factors to consider when seeking a likely underdog are:
Those who prefer to hold out for the best odds are advised to bet with caution - good play can shorten odds in a heartbeat. For example, in the fourth round of the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Matt Kuchar's birdie on the seventh saw him tumble from 33/1 to 10/1 on Bet365 Sports. The worst thing to do is follow the pack and jump in at the lower odds, because Kuchar jumped back to 50/1 after a subsequent bogie, and gradually fell away as players with later tee times caught up. The key with golf in-play betting is to judge a performance over several holes, and try and get in before the leaderboard (and the prices) change. These rapid fluctuations in the 'tournament winner' market also show us the importance of finding low-risk alternatives.
If the weather is likely to be favourable for a particular pairing, consider a bet on the round leader. Take the third round of the 2013 Open Championship, when Lee Westwood sat in a strong position for most of the day, beginning to end. Even with favourable conditions for the on-form Englishman, most bookies still gave out odds of around 10/1 (shortening to 2/1) for Westwood to hold his lead. His tournament winner odds were not much higher, despite a changeable weather forecast, so the round leader bet represented a sensible chance to minimise risk while cashing in on his play.
Alternatively, risk-averse punters may wish to consider the hole winner markets. Seek out mismatches, or players who size up differently - perhaps a big hitter like Dustin Johnson paired against a player with less range on a Par five; or an accurate player on a par three. In tight match-ups, a tie becomes even more common, and regular bets on these can yield consistent, small income to wager ratios on the less predictable 'tournament and round winner' markets. Betting sites like Bet365 Sports also offer 'player matchup' markets over several holes, so predictions can be stretched further for slightly longer odds.
Play these fluctuation and hedging strategies wisely and golf betting suddenly looks a lot less difficult and a lot more lucrative. To see how far you've come with golf betting, check out the available golf betting markets at Bet365 Sports