Sobel’s Tour Championship Matchup Betting Preview: Keep an Eye on Sungjae Im
Mark Konezny, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Sungjae Im
ATLANTA – You know something is a little different when every four-round matchup for this week comes attached with a caveat: “Result based on tournament finishing position.”
At any other event, this would be a given. After all, how else would head-to-head bets get paid out? The guy who finishes higher on the leaderboard wins it. This isn’t difficult.
But this week, it kind of is.
What the books are saying is that they’ll follow the PGA Tour’s pre-tournament staggered scoring as opposed to starting each player at even-par.
This might not make for any lopsided wagers, but we can find some edges. Here are my three favorite matchups:
Brooks Koepka (+167) and Rory McIlroy (+165) over Justin Thomas
Let’s be honest: I think the public – and in turn, the books – are overreacting to the lead given to Thomas as No. 1 on the FedEx Cup points list entering this week.
He owns a three-stroke advantage over Koepka and five over McIlroy, which certainly should move the odds in his favor, but as many players have suggested this week, those numbers can be wiped away by the time he makes the turn on Thursday afternoon.
As I’ve written, there’s a recent trend for the latest champion to start strong four days after winning, only to suffer a severe drop-off in subsequent rounds. If that trend remains true for Thomas, then getting two of the world’s best at plus-money could wind up being a very shrewd move by Sunday afternoon.
Sungjae Im (-105) over Louis Oosthuizen
So, let’s get this straight: Im has enjoyed a much better season than Oosthuizen, he’ll start one stroke better on the leaderboard and he’s … the underdog?
I really like this matchup for the iron-man rookie, who’s drawn rave reviews from his peers this year. With two finishes of 11th or better in his last three starts, this should be another nice opportunity for Im to show the world he’s a star on the rise, while I struggle to understand the motivating factor for Louis this week.
Kevin Kisner (+145) over Tommy Fleetwood
In his last four starts, Kisner has progressed from 30th to 27th to 12th to ninth, an ascendancy that shows he’s trending in the right direction.
While he didn’t play this event last year, two years ago he finished T-3 here. And while Fleetwood still has a bunch of European Tour starts coming soon, Kisner can theoretically leave it all on the course this week before retreating to the cozy confines of being a full-time college football fan for a few months. He’s my favorite play for a “stroke winner” – if they all started at level-par – and he’s certainly my favorite play in this matchup.