Insights into golf betting in the PGA Tour underdog scene

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 30, 2023 14:31

As a participant sport, golf is more popular than ever. In turn, this has naturally seen a major rise in both watching professional golf, and betting on the outcome.

The bookies aren’t new to this game though, and price the most likely winners accordingly. As such, bettors have started seeking better value elsewhere, in higher-priced underdogs. Read on to learn what an ‘underdog’ actually is on the PGA Tour, and how to identify profitable ones going forwards.

How do we define ‘underdog?’

Obviously, you know that an ‘underdog’ in betting is the opposite of a favourite. The latter golfers are judged most probable to win, and therefore have lower odds. Underdogs are less likely to triumph, and have more attractive odds.

There’s no literal, single price at which a golfer becomes an underdog. Rather, the term only works in comparison to other players. If the favourite is only 10/1, for example, then a 15/1 golfer isn’t really an ‘underdog’, even if those odds are quite high. If the favourite is 5/1, however, then 15/1 qualifies much more as an underdog.

Generally speaking, there will be three rough ‘levels’ of picks heading into a PGA Tour event. First you’ll have the favourites. Then there’ll be a middle-class, of golfers who certainly have a chance, but are unlikely to win, and have middling odds. Finally there are the long-shots, who are judged very unlikely to win, and this is the true ‘underdog’ class.

Notable recent examples

Golfing history is littered with great underdog stories. The ever-present chance of an outsider coming out of nowhere to lift the cup is one of the reasons we all love the pro game.

As recently as 2023, we had one of the best examples in a while. Kurt Kitayama had played 49 tour events, heading into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and never won. He came into the event ranked 46th on the tour… and of course went on to lift the trophy, just beating out heavy favourite Rory McIlroy at the end.

Kitayama’s pre-tournament odds? A staggering 200/1, meaning a £10 wager on any old or new betting sites you cared to use would’ve paid out a mighty £2,000 profit.

Remember that – in golf betting – you don’t necessarily need to back an actual winner. You can bet on an underdog to finish in the top 10, for example, or simply to make the cut. This will have lower odds, but can prove a more sensible pick, since there are highly-ranked golfers every year who were pencilled in for a top 10 finish, or to make the cut, only to fail on either or both counts, thus opening the way for an underdog.

Finding the new big underdog

There’s no foolproof, guaranteed way to find the next big underdog. You weren’t betting on Michael Block pre-tournament to make the cut at the 2023 PGA Championship, however big of a golf fan you are.

That being said, there are steps you can take to boost your chances.

Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with simply ignoring favourites in general. This is a common basic strategy across various sports, since many people view favourites as simply not offering value. You could just ignore any players at 10/1 or under, for example, and place lower stakes on picks with higher odds instead.

Secondly, and more importantly, comes research. The more research you do, the more informed you’ll be, and the better picks you’ll make. There are endless stats and other information out there for free nowadays.

You can see the prior results of an upcoming tournament, for example, and try identifying players who routinely finish well at that event, even if they perform more poorly elsewhere. Or you can look at other recent PGA Tour events, and try and pick a lesser-known name, with high odds, whose recent form actually suggests they could make a surprise top 10 finish.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 30, 2023 14:31
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