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With the 2021 football season winding down, it’s time to turn to other betting markets like ATP tennis and the PGA. The Sentry Tournament of Champions kicks off a new year of golf betting at Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii. In a no-cut event, the course clocks in as a par 73, nearly 7,600 yards with Bermuda grass greens and wide-open fairways. Betting the outright market gets all the attention but I personally like to wager on tournament head-to-head matchups, focusing on one opponent as opposed to an entire field. It’s less of a payout but more profitable in the long run. Here are three matchups I like.
Abraham Ancer +1.5 (-135) vs. Brooks Koepka
Is this business or pleasure for BK? This tournament is in Hawaii, a non-major event, and it was his lady’s birthday, Jana Sims, just a week ago. Sticking to golf chat, Ancer finished out the year strong in the states with three top-20 finishes in his last four events — including back-to-back T9s at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship before closing out the year on the Euro tour with two additional top-15 placings. It’s been some time since the last rounds were placed in 2021, but Koepka was headed in the opposite direction, losing strokes with his iron shots, around the green and putting in five of his last six events played.
Koepka does really well on Bermuda greens but Ancer was building something there with the flat stick, gaining strokes in five of his last six events on this putting surface, resulting in four straight top-10 finishes, including a win in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in September.
Sam Burns +1.5 (-125) vs. Xander Schauffele
Burns is one of the players I love to win this event outright, so of course I’ll look to him as an underdog in any matchup. These two are neck-and-neck when it comes to strokes gained stats, but Burns comes with more upside. Since August, Burns played nine events and finished top 20 in eight of them, with the exception being a T21. Both are top 10 in the field for ball striking but the difference lies in putting. If your nickname is "Bermuda Burns," you should probably not be an underdog to anyone. Bermuda greens are by far the best surface for Burns with the most strokes gained. Since October, Burns has two titles on Bermuda greens, a win in the Valspar Championship and Sanderson Farms Championship. With the potential for this to be a birdie fest, I’ll take the better putter.
KH Lee (-110) vs. Cameron Davis
This could be an ugly one. Both players bleed red with their stats. Neither player has a particular strength but Lee was the more consistent ball striker in 2021, gaining strokes in nine of 14 events with just three missed cuts. Davis, on the other hand, had back-to-back missed cuts to close out the year, losing strokes off the tee and with his irons. Neither player is great at putting, as both are deep in the red every event, but Lee is better of the two on these types of greens. I’ll back the player who has been more consistent over the long term and even showed improvements rather than a decline to close out the year. Lee hasn’t played since October, but at least he had three straight top-25 finishes.