Farmers Insurance Open betting: Can anyone beat Jon Rahm?
We're three weeks away from an explosion in golf's popularity. At least, that's what'll happen if Netflix's "Full Swing" does for golf what "Drive to Survive" did for Formula 1. Golf betting is slowly becoming more popular, and it can be really fun with the results we had last season - finding winners at The Players Championship and U.S. Open, among others. We ended up in the black with a conservative approach in betting top 20s and, occasionally, missed cuts.
2023 started tepidly, with a pair of semi-interesting events in Hawaii and a dull tournament in Palm Springs. But now the season gets into full swing with a high-level, full-field event at Torrey Pines and a pressing question: Can anyone beat Jon Rahm?
The odds aren't quite like Tiger Woods' were in his prime, but at +400, Rahm's 20% implied win probability is really high for a field that includes many of the PGA's best. On the other hand, Rahm won last week despite minus-1.09 strokes gained: putting and has a much-publicized outstanding track record at Torrey Pines. So how do we use his odds to create good bets for this week?
Three draws (odds to win/top 20)
Three golfers more valuable than their odds suggest this week.
Justin Thomas (+1600 / -110)
With Rahm gobbling up so much implied win probability at short odds, we can find value elsewhere at the top. Thomas' consistency is always a good bet, but after getting married in the fall, he had to shake off some rust at the Tournament of Champions in early January.
Thomas finished in the top 20 in the 2021 U.S. Open that Rahm won. He didn't play the Farmers early on as a pro but claimed a top-20 finish at last year's tournament. If we're trying to find someone to beat Rahm on talent, Thomas is one of few who can do it, as he was third in strokes gained: tee to green last season.
Taylor Montgomery (+3000 / +130)
While you were watching football, the rookie on tour produced the following strong results since starting the PGA's wraparound season in mid-September: 3, T9, T15, T13, T10, T57, T15, T12, 5.
Fifth in scoring and 12th in total strokes gained, Montgomery made the cut in the 2021 U.S. Open. He then finished T11 as a sponsor's exemption at the Farmers in his lone PGA TOUR start last season, so you can add course familiarity to the reasons to like Montgomery this week.
Matti Schmid (+20000 / +550)
A new member on the PGA TOUR, Schmid shot 72 in his debut round at the Sony Open. The German followed that with a 67 but missed the cut at an event where you have to go consistently low. Schmid was T6 at Palm Springs and fifth in total strokes gained. His lack of course history is less of a concern on a pretty straightforward - albeit long - coastal course.
The scary fade
When you least expect it, you mega-slice a tee shot into the trees. We pick a golfer with high expectations who's worth betting to miss the cut at a big price.
Si Woo Kim (+225 to miss cut)
Kim won at Palm Springs last week, backing up his win there in 2021. That year, he went to Torrey Pines and missed the cut. In 2017, Kim recorded his breakthrough win at The Players Championship only to miss the cut in the next event. Every time Kim finishes in the top three at a tournament, he misses the next cut - with just one exception. Following up a phenomenal week with a good week hasn't been Kim's strength. Without a great track record in San Diego, he's a good underdog bet to miss the weekend.
The favorite club in the bag
Going into this betting season, we're picking two golfers to bet to win each week - Max Homa and Tom Kim. The thinking is that our second-tier duo on the oddsboard will win more than once and be profitable on the assumption they play 20-25 events.
Max Homa (+2000)
Kim's off this week, so it's just Homa for our obligatory bet, as we rely on the Southern California-born star who finished in the top 20 in both 2020 and 2021. Homa missed the cut last year following an unlucky second-round 74 when he only lost 0.9 strokes to the field after an opening-round 68.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.