As any weekend duffer knows, golf betting is difficult to master. It’s the same even for the best in the world, given that nobody — not even Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus in their respective primes — can win every week.
Heck, they don’t even play every week; competitors need to play a minimum number of events to keep their tour cards, sometimes leading to weeks off as they rest or recover from injuries.
Such layoffs can lead to questions about a player’s form, adding another layer of unpredictability to a sport that presents bettors with a multitude of variables every week.
But there’s another way to wager — instead of taking one player to win, a bettor can take the field.
Even betting consistently on the best doesn’t guarantee a return, given how low their odds typically are.
Take one of Woods’ best seasons, for example: in 2007 he won seven times in 16 starts, a tremendous ratio for any player. But he also didn’t win nine times, and wagering losses in those instances would likely drive a bettor into the negative column despite the gains from Woods’ triumphs.
The bottom line: it’s hard to make a profit by just backing the best. A better option may be “the field” — all those other players who aren’t expected to challenge the consistent favorites.
We’re not talking Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson, but a large group of lesser-known, long-odds players that just might include someone who can jump up and win the tournament that week.
And remember, Rory, D.J. and Phil don’t play every week. There are going to be run-of-the-mill tournaments featuring few if any real stars, where the field is more likely to produce a potential victor. And then there's betting on more profound events like the Masters.
Sometimes, a Ted Potter Jr., Brice Garnett or Patton Kizzire wins — as they all did in official PGA Tour betting events in 2018.
As with any golf bet, research is key. As you look down the list of players grouped into a field bet, it’s not hard to find some who have been playing well in recent weeks, or have enjoyed some past success on the course a particular tournament is being played on.
Golf is a sport dominated by the big names, so it’s easy for a run of promising top-10s to go under the radar.
Some smaller names might be showing signs that they’re close to a breakthrough; confidence is key, and it’s not unusual for a victory to follow a series of good finishes.
Then there are those players who we barely notice most of the year, but have a knack for elevating their games at the majors or other premier events.
Are any of the bigger names going through an off-course issues — like a management change or a divorce — that can divide their attention or impact their play?
Is the event forecast to receive heavy winds or inclement weather that has the possibility of equalizing the field?
And during the Open Championship or the Ryder Cup, remember there are often concurrent PGA events loaded with lesser names and ready-made for someone to break through.
There’s value to be had out there, given that field bets can carry odds in the neighborhood of 6/1.
With the best of Woods seemingly behind him and competition more open than ever, betting the field can offer a fun and potentially rewarding way of wagering on golf.
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