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WGC Match Play betting: Embrace golf's madness

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The PGA's version of March Madness goes off Wednesday in Austin, Texas. Since there are so many matches, the tournament is starting a day earlier. The combination of pool play and single-elimination matches allows for upsets while making it more difficult than ever for a fluke outright winner. Instead of beating 100-plus golfers over four days, the champion only has to be better than one other player per round.

Because of the change in format for this week's match-play event, we'll tweak our format for our best bets. Starting with who's the best play to win their four-player pod, and then looking at Wednesday's opening round matches - where underdogs should be the order of the day - there should be more action than you can keep track of before we even see a bracket for the weekend.

Group best bets

Golfers more valuable than their odds suggest this week:

Group 1: Tom Kim (+330)

Tom Kim was a bright spot in the President's Cup last fall, and his world ranking of 19 is better than his seed (32). Kim would need to at least draw with fellow Texas resident Scottie Scheffler, but if both are safe by the time they go head-to-head, getting a +330 price on Kim would be valuable.

Group 2: Billy Horschel (+450)

Speaking of tough players to go head-to-head with, Billy Horschel won this event two years ago. While he's struggled recently to make the weekend, he's prone to snap out of mini-skids with big performances. Horschel is the longest shot in the group, but he might be the best player outside of Jon Rahm, who's an unplayable +110.

Group 3: Keegan Bradley (+300)

As long as we're betting against the game's top three golfers, we might as well go away from Rory McIlroy. Not only does Bradley also have Ryder/President's Cup match-play experience, but he's capable of edging McIlroy in an event that Rory hasn't had great results at historically. Bradley has had some highs and lows this season, but short-term variance works in this event.

Group 7: Andrew Putnam (+350)'s No. 1 player for course fit at Austin Golf and Country Club? Andrew Putnam. He's outside the top 64 in OWGR, but this tournament has a history of surprise success stories. Why not play someone projected to gain a quarter of a stroke per round due to course fit? Will Zalatoris is the group's top seed, and he's vulnerable.

Group 10: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+300)

Right behind Putnam in AGCC course fit? Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Tony Finau and Kurt Kitayama, a more recent winner, are ahead of him on the oddsboard, but Bezuidenhout is in good form as well.

Group 11: Min Woo Lee (+275)

Min Woo Lee has the swagger. Now, we get to see if he has the game to be a problem for opponents in match play. He's a pick'em against Sahith Theegala in the opener, but let's take him to win the group since we don't have head-to-head odds against the group leader yet.

Group 15: Corey Conners (+225)

No one in this group is in amazing form, so we'll rely on Conners, who made a run to last year's semifinals. Favored in his other two matchups, this is essentially a play on the Canadian to out-ball-strike Cameron Young at a place Conners has excelled at.


Harris English (-115) over Ryan Fox

One of the few favorites to play will be a slight one in Harris English, whose good is better than Ryan Fox's good. Fox has come over from the DP World Tour and had good results in Florida, but English fits well on this course and is more likely to go low in Austin.

Kevin Kisner (+140) over Hideki Matsuyama

Matsuyama snapped out of his slump at The Players Championship. However, if he was hoping to ease into match play, that won't happen with the presence of Kevin Kisner, who's made the final three different times at this event. Matsuyama has yet to make this tournament's Sweet 16.

Adam Svensson (+125) over Jason Day

One bad round has tripped up Adam Svensson in recent tournaments, but this format allows for mistakes. We'll bet that this isn't his bad round, and while Jason Day is the bigger name, Svensson is more than capable of an upset than +150 suggests.


The path to victory is uncertain under this format, and like tournaments in team sports, you're probably best advised to wait until a bracket is available and a path can be handicapped. One of our other favorites, Max Homa, is +2200. However, he has to survive pool play and then win five matches against competition where he's not going to be that heavy of a favorite in even the first knockout round.

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.

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