Tokyo Olympics Hot Golf Picks

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Cameron Champ captured the 3M Open for his third career PGA Tour win last weekend as frequent bridesmaid Louis Oosthuizen scored yet another runner-up finish. Oosthuizen may be losing a bit of sleep this week as Champ now owns three times the PGA Tour victories in 125 less starts than he possesses.

Now the golfing world’s attention turns to Tokyo for the Olympics, which kicks off on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The event will conclude on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The field has lost two top-10 golfers in the world over the past week with Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm contracting COVID-19. The United States will be sending Patrick Reed over to take DeChambeau’s place, while Spain is sending Jorge Campillo to replace Rahm. Even without Rahm and DeChambeau, the field is still far superior to one that teed it up in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.

One thing is for certain:
there will be three new players gracing the podium when it is over. Reigning gold medal winner Justin Rose of Great Britain was unable to qualify for these Games, while silver medalist Henrik Stenson of Sweden and bronze medalist Matt Kuchar of the United States suffered the same fate.

Course Breakdown and Weather

Kasumigaseki Country Club will host the event and it is relatively unknown by most. It is not a regular stop on the Japanese Tour and it has not been used for a big event since 2010 when it hosted the Asian Amateur Championship, which was won by…. none other than Hideki Matsuyama. The Japan Tour has a history of making its courses with thick rough and trees in play right off the fairway. Putting the ball in the fairway off the tee is key, as well as strong iron play if you want to score well.

On Twitter last week PGA Tour pro Jazz Janewattananond compared this course to TPC Southwind, which plays host to The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic. Weather is expected to play a major factor in this event with the threat of rain lurking on all four days of the event.

The Favorites

The favorite this week following the news of Rahm’s withdrawal is Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa (+700). Following behind him are fellow Americans Xander Schauffele (+900) and Justin Thomas (+1000).

Out of the top Americans, the best bet is Justin Thomas (+1000). Thomas has cited on social media how important competing for his country is to him and he has shown in his past he plays well when representing the red, white and blue. Not to mention, the course has been compared to TPC Southwind, where Justin Thomas won in 2020.

He struggled with the putter at The Open, but he is as dangerous as any golfer in the world when he gets hot with the flat stick.

Rory Mcllroy (+1100) is the first non-American on the odds board even after he told the media “I’m not a very patriotic guy” and added that he is only going because “it is the right thing to do for the sport” after walking off his final hole at The Open. Viktor Hovland (+1200) and Japanese native Matsuyama (+1200) are the next two on the odds board.

Matsuyama would likely be the favorite this week if he had shown any recent form that suggests he could win. But he has yet to collect a top-20 finish since his historic win at the Masters back in April. Reed (+1800) and Paul Casey (+1800) are next on the board and while it is likely that one of these two golfers will be in the mix, at 18-1, neither golfer has shown anything as of late that suggests they are worth a bet.

Bovada Pick
Justin Thomas

Best Value Plays

None of the three medalists in 2016 were lower than +2000 on the odds board, which makes this an interesting portion of the board to target for the gold. Abraham Ancer (+2200) and Joaquin Niemann (+2200) sit atop the odds board in the middle tier, but Ancer still has yet to win his first PGA Tour event so he is one to avoid. Niemann is an intriguing play considering he has some of the best irons on Tour.

And while he has not competed in a major championship yet, his performances are getting better each event he suits up. He has three runner-up finishes already this season and is worth a bet to take home the gold this week in Tokyo. The next golfer in the middle tier worth a bet is Canadian Mackenzie Hughes (+5000). Hughes finished tied for sixth at The Open Championship earlier in the month to go along with a T-15 that he collected at the U.S. Open. He has the irons and putter that can easily place him in contention again this week and in recent events his driver has been better, which is a great sign as that is usually his weakest club.

Weather could also play a factor and lead to many golfers struggling off of the tee, which would bring everyone’s ability off the tee down to where Hughes typically lives. He can scramble with the best of them and on an unknown course it is worth a bet for Hughes to win the gold.

Bovada Pick
Joaquinn Niemann
Mackenzie Hughes

The Longshots

While Rahm will not be teeing it up for Spain, Adri Arnaus (+15000) will be suiting up for Spain and he is the best longshot worth a bet this week. Arnaus can go as low as anyone in the field, but he has had trouble playing consistent golf on the European Tour this season.

Arnaus has the ability to put on a clinic off of the tee and if he can get hot with his putter there is no reason to believe he could not come out of nowhere to contend this week.

Marcus Frasier of Australia came out of nowhere to be the leader after rounds one and two of the last Olympics, providing evidence that this international setting is perfect for a longshot to emerge and find himself near the top of the leaderboard.

Bovada Pick
Adri Arnaus

Best Bet to Medal

The best bet to win a medal this week is Paul Casey (+450). Casey has finished inside the top 10 six times already in 2021 and has shown elite ball striking for most of the season.

Please Note:
He is streaky with his putter and has not been consistent enough to be worth a bet to win the gold this week, but he is more than capable of securing the bronze or silver in Tokyo.

He also is an interesting play at +220 over Rory, Lowry and Fleetwood to finish as the top player from Great Britain and Ireland.

Bovada Pick
Paul Casey to Medal

Top-10 Play of the Week

The best top-10 play of the week is for Thomas Pieters (+310) to finish inside the top 10 of the field at the Olympics. Pieters has four European Tour wins and will not be fazed by the great golfers in the field this week.

The former NCAA Champion from Illinois has shot under par in 10 of his last 12 rounds and is hitting his irons as well as he ever has in his career.

He tends to be streaky with his putter, but he will put himself in a good enough spot to be a couple of made putts away from a top 10 this week. And at +310 to do that, he is worth a bet.

Bovada Pick
Thomas Pieters

Look Out for South Korea

This tournament means more to Sungjae Im (+2800) and Si Woo Kim (+4000) than perhaps anyone else in the entire field.

Please Note:
Males from 18 to 28 years old are required to serve two years on mandatory military service for their country.

Sangmoon Bae was on the 2015 Presidents Cup roster before his two years of military service, in which he was barely making a few starts per season. The only way to get an exemption for that mandatory military service?

Win an Olympic medal.

Both Kim and Im elected to skip The Open Championship in July to train for the Olympics, so this event is more important than any they have ever played in. The biggest question is, will the pressure bring out the best or worst in them?


Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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