2021 Olympics Men’s Golf Betting Preview: Rory McIlroy, Si Woo Kim Could Win Gold in Tokyo
GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
- The PGA TOUR takes a break as the Olympics welcome golf to the games for just the fourth time ever.
- The event features 60 golfers from around the world and is held at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
- Matt Vincenzi gives his favorite bets for the event and who he thinks can take gold.
The PGA TOUR will step aside this week to allow the Tokyo Olympics take center stage.
The Tokyo Olympics will play host to 60 golfers this week and will be a no-cut event. Some notable golfers making the trip to Japan include Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele, and Viktor Hovland.
A Tom Fazio redesign (2016), Kasumigaseki Country Club is a 7,466-yard, par-71. The course features elevated bentgrass greens. Kasumigaseki has a classical layout and it is evident that Tom Fazio had both Quail Hollow and Firestone in mind when re-designing the course.
5 Key Stats For Kasumigaseki Country Club
Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Kasumigaseki Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
1. Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Kasumigaseki Country Club definitely seems like a golf course that favors good drivers. It is a long track with reasonably wide fairways that should give an advantage to longer hitters.
SG: OTT Over Past 24 Rounds
- Jhonnatan Vegas (+22.5) (+8000)
- Abraham Ancer (+17.0) (+2000)
- Viktor Hovland (+16.4) (+1400)
- Corey Conners (15.5) (+2800)
- Justin Thomas (+15.1) (+1100)
2. Strokes Gained: Approach
There is no surprise that proximity to the hole on approach shots will play a major factor at the Japan Olympics. We have consistently seen golfers who come into an event with impressive approach numbers sit atop the leader board at week’s end.
Strokes Gained: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds
- Collin Morikawa (+41.6) (+750)
- Paul Casey (+25.9) (+1600)
- Rory McIlroy (+24.5) (+1600)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+24.1) (+1600)
- Shane Lowry (+19.0) (+2200)
3. Strokes Gained: Par 5
Although there are only three par 5’s on the course, they will play a major factor in the event. Each of the three measure between 590-640 yards, which will be a challenge for the shorter hitters.
SG: Par 5 Past 24 rounds:
- Paul Casey (+21.0) (+1600)
- Xander Schauffele (+18.9) (+1000)
- Collin Morikawa (+17.6) (+750)
- Viktor Hovland (+17.1) (+1400)
- Henrik Norlander (+13.0) (+13000)
4. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass)
The course will feature pure bentgrass greens which should create an advantage for the bentgrass specialists this week. Golfers will need to make crucial putts down the stretch if they want to capture a gold medal in Japan.
Strokes Gained Putting (Bentgrass) Over Past 24 Rounds
- Xander Schauffele (+18.2) (+1000)
- Alex Noren (+14.8) (+6500)
- Cameron Smith (+11.7) (+3500)
- Sebastian Munoz (+11.7) (+10000)
- Joaquin Niemann (+11.6) (+4000)
5. Strokes Gained Total: Tom Fazio Designs
Tom Fazio re-designed this course in 2016 and seemed to have quite an impact. Drawing comparisons to Quail Hollow and Firestone, I am targeting golfer’s who have previous success on other Fazio designs.
Strokes Gained: Total (Fazio Designs) Over Past 36 Rounds:
- Rory McIlroy (+63.8) (+1600)
- Justin Thomas (+59.1) (+1400)
- Tommy Fleetwood (+37.1) (+4000)
- Paul Casey (+39.3) (+1600)
- Jhonnatan Vegas (+32.5) (+8000)
The Japan Olympics Model Rankings
Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: OTT (27%), SG: Approach (22%), Strokes Gained: Par 5 (17%), Strokes Gained: Putting Bentgrass (17%), and Strokes Gained: Total Fazio Designs (17%).
- Justin Thomas (+1400)
- Viktor Hovland (+1400)
- Jhonnatan Vegas (+8000)
- Xander Schauffele (+1000)
- Paul Casey (+1600)
- Collin Morikawa (+750)
- Joaquin Niemann (+4000)
- Abraham Ancer (+2000)
- Rory McIlroy (+1200)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+1200)
Tokyo Olympics Best Bets
Rory McIlroy (+1200)
After the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy made some discouraging comments about his upcoming trip to Tokyo for the Olympics, expressing a lack of desire to represent Ireland at Kasumigaseki Country Club: “I don’t know if there is much to look forward to, it is obviously going to be a very different environment.”
While that may be a potential concern, there is a lot to like about Rory McIlroy this week. His iron game has really come around as he ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Kasumigaseki Country Club on paper is a perfect course for Northern Irishman.
A Tom Fazio design, the layout of the course is very similar to both Quail Hollow and Firestone Country Club; two courses where Rory has had incredible success. McIlroy’s best golf often comes on long and classical tree-lined layouts, and if further evidence is needed after his win at Quail Hollow back in May, he ranks first in the field in Strokes Gained: Total on Tom Fazio designs in his past 36 rounds.
The 32-year-old has also had success playing in no-cut events in Asia, as he won the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019 at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China.
With the favorite Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau out due to COVID-19, I see a lot of value backing Rory McIlroy to bring a Gold medal home to Ireland.
Shane Lowry (+2200)
Another Irish golfer has grabbed my attention this week.
Shane Lowry comes into the Japan Olympics in excellent form. In his past five starts, he is gaining 5.4 strokes tee to green on average along with 3.4 strokes on approach. Those numbers do not include his strong performance at The Open Championship where he was quite impressive; finishing in 12th-place despite the pressure of being defending champion.
There is also much to like in terms of course fit for Lowry at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Shane has already won a no-cut event on a course designed by Tom Fazio: The 2015 WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club. The Irishman is a major champion who often shows up on the biggest stages. A gold medal to go along with his claret jug would certainly fit the bill.
Si Woo Kim (+7000)
Who doesn’t love a good narrative?
A medal for Si Woo Kim would mean avoiding military service after the 2022-2023 season. The South Korean has had a very promising career thus far with three PGA TOUR wins including a PLAYERS Championship victory in 2017. We saw how devastating a mandatory two-year military service can be to a young golfer’s career with fellow South Korean Sang-moon Bae back in 2015, so it is crucial for Si Woo to avoid the same fate.
Although he has had an up and down season, Kim often has risen to the challenge in the big events. This season the 26-year-old has a 9th at Memorial, 12th at the Masters and a 9th at the PLAYERS in addition to his victory at The American Express. When in form, few golfers can get as hot with the irons as Si Woo. This week in Japan would be a perfect time for him to catch fire.