Picking a winner before a golf tournament tees off is notoriously difficult, but betting in-play is a whole different prospect: and one easily indulged thanks to the sport's leisurely progress, penchant for replays and wealth of supporting stats.
The easiest strategy to adopt when betting on golf in-play is to make the most of dramatic shifts in the 'tournament winner' market that happen with each passing hole (or round, if you prefer to play a little safer) to back high and lay low.
At The 2014 Masters, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy entered the tournament with odds of 11/1 and 17/2 at Betfair Sports, but Scott plummeted as low as 9/4 during a solid first round. There's no value in that. Matt Kuchar on the other hand, who eventually placed 5th, struggled in the 1st round, but he stayed in touch with the pack and attracted odds of over 30/1 (5/1 to place).
Eventual winner Bubba Watson is another useful example. After a solid opening round, he had only shortened to 14/1. Other rivals in the pack, including Snedeker and McIlroy who sat further back on the leaderboard, shortened much more significantly: so punters had every chance of backing Watson at good odds.
Using Betfair Sports' exchange you can also lay (bet against) the favourites when odds significantly shorten. A good example here is K.J. Choi in just about every Masters. His habit of starting strong and quickly dropping off makes him a perennial contender to back to place after the first round, then lay at the end of the day when his odds have significantly shortened. The trend was proved again in 2014, where he finished the first round two off the pace at -2, bringing his odds tumbling below 20/1 with some bookies, allowing punters to lay the bet and watch him drop off in the second and third rounds.
The other area to examine is a player's performance on each hole, which allows you to tap into your knowledge of the course, and of a player's form and skills when faced with different challenges.
In terms of knowing a course, it's partly about understanding the mechanics of the game, but a betting strategy is equally applicable if you can simply spot a trend. At Augusta in 2014, the 14th was the most-frequently birdied of the back nine - so that's a player whenever an on-form golfer is about to tee off. At the other end of the spectrum, the 1st and 7th proved tough, with lots of players bogeying, so betting on struggling players dropping shots would be a good choice here.
Gamblers can do their research by looking out for hints as to which holes will prove toughest. You don't need to be able to analyse a course yourself either. World number seven Rory McIlory publicly identified the 1st and 7th as the toughest holes before play even began. Picking up tips like this is easy, and very handy.
Choosing players to back involves more prior knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. For example, backing big hitters like Keegan Bradley or Bubba Watson to over perform on holes with longer distances, and golfers with less force like Luke Donald to struggle on similar terrain.
To try a system for yourself, check the latest tournament odds at Betfair Sports.
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