2019 Masters Final Round Betting Picks: Is Now the Time to Bet Tiger Woods?
Michael Madrid, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tiger Woods
The 2019 Masters has lived up to its billing as the premiere golf event of the year.
The leaderboard after Round 2 suggested that this weekend would be a treat but little did we know how big of a spectacle this tournament was about to become.
Several players shot the lights out on Saturday, leaving us with a wide-open sprint to the finish on Sunday. The weather is certainly iffy, but that hasn’t stopped our golf team from plucking their favorite bets from the board for the curtain-closer at Augusta.
Bet: Brooks Koepka Over 69.5 (-110)
Koepka would’ve beaten this prop twice this tournament so far after shooting a 66, 71 and 69 through the first three days. Although, his 69 on Saturday narrowly beat it during pristine conditions on Saturday.
With the wind expected to pick up Sunday, I’ll take a chance on the over. He’ll be in the second-to-last group going off on Sunday, and the winds are expected to get progressively worse as the day goes on, which should play in favor of the over.
Additionally, since 2017 Koepka ranks 68th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 56th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green under moderate-to-windy conditions, per Fantasy National.
Bet: Tiger Woods to Win +300
It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but I have a guideline that I like to keep when live betting tournaments: If I didn’t love the player before Thursday’s opening round, there was probably a good reason for it – and I shouldn’t suddenly jump on the bandwagon when he starts playing well.
Prior to the opening round, I didn’t like Francesco Molinari’s course history, having never finished better than T-19 at Augusta. I also didn’t like the current form of Tony Finau, who didn’t have a top-10 all year, or Brooks Koepka, who had three straight results outside of the top-50 before this week.
Now, don’t get me wrong: They’ve all played tremendous golf at times this week and they’re all capable of winning this Masters on Sunday afternoon.
But I’m sticking with my gut here.
Tiger is ready to win, as I wrote in this column, having gotten one out of the way at East Lake last year. He knows this course as well as anybody. And he knows how to compete under final-round pressure.
At 3-1, I’ll put down some money on seeing history Sunday, while simultaneously holding my breath anticipating a Molinari shot that doesn’t somehow find the fairway or green.
Bet: Thorbjorn Olesen over Patrick Cantlay (+116)
Olesen leads the field in Greens in Regulation (GIR) this week, and with the wind expecting to pick up on Sunday, I want to back the player with the better ball-striking numbers.
Cantlay is coming off a hot round on Saturday, but he still hit less greens than Olesen. It’s always hard to back up a career-low round in a Major, so I’d expect Cantlay to regress quite a bit while Olesen keeps finding the green.
Dr. Lou Riccio*
Winner: Tony Finau (+750)
To me, the oddsmakers have Tony Finau’s line wrong. My model after Day 3 gives the big-hitting Utah native the second best odds of winning at 5.4-to-1. But you can get Finau at 7.5-to-1 odds.
What accounts for that difference?
Tiger Woods will be the most publicly bet golfer before the final round (heck, he already was, according to DraftKings data) and oddsmakers figure the public will have way less confidence in Finau compared to Tiger, as Finau isn’t a major champ yet. But he does have six top-20 finishes, including four top-10s, to his credit.
Finau had a lot of eyes on him on Saturday and played well under the pressure. Being paired with Tiger Woods on a Sunday in the final group at Augusta National will be the biggest test Finau faces in his career, but Finau has the fourth-highest odds to win, and there’s definite value there.
Round 4 Match-up: Xander Schauffele (+110) over Matt Kuchar
If it wasn’t for Xander Schauffele’s water ball at the 15th and the ensuing bogey, he would be just a few strokes behind the leaders — and Xander would’ve been a huge favorite in this match-up.
The loss of momentum was the likely cause for another bogey on the home hole, as well, and now Xander sits five back of the lead, next to Kuchar. My model projects Xander’s final round to be about 0.3 strokes better than Kuchar’s, so the lines should be flipped here.
Xander probably isn’t getting the credit he deserves for playing so well this week. And he’s still flying under the radar a bit for oddsmakers, too.
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.