The 14 Best Betting Comparisons for Golf & NASCAR
Photos by Getty Images. Pictured: Professional golfer Brooks Koepka (left) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (right).
Pretty soon, you’ll have two choices if you want to bet an event from a major American sports league: NASCAR and the PGA TOUR.
Other than an ability to social distance during competition, racing and golf might seem like strange bedfellows. The Venn Diagram of those who possess gambling knowledge on each sport would only offer a slight overlap.
To put it more succinctly, racing bettors often don’t know much about golf and golf bettors often don’t know much about racing.
All of which got us to thinking: It would be a lot easier to get a handle on the competitors if we had a comparison from another sport.
And so, that’s what we did.
Our NASCAR guy, PJ Walsh, and our PGA TOUR guy, Jason Sobel, got together to write up betting-centric comps to help you with all of your upcoming action.
The Guy I Often Bet, Because, I Mean, He’s Gotta Win at Some Point
NASCAR: William Byron
Byron was very profitable for me in both the Truck and XFINITY Series, but has yet to score a win in the Cup Series. As recently as last Wednesday at Charlotte, Byron (who I bet), made a pit stop while leading then got slammed while exiting his pit by Corey LaJoie, essentially ending Byron’s chances at winning the race.
A fellow betting buddy of mine messaged me, “We are not the Byron whisperer, that’s for sure.”
Hendrick Motorsports is very fast this year, so that first win has to be right around the corner … right?
PGA TOUR: Tony Finau
He’s contended in major championships, he’s played in the Ryder Cup, he’s been a top-10 player in the world — and still, Finau’s lone PGA Tour victory remains at an alternate-field event in Puerto Rico four years ago. That second win isn’t just coming, it’s long overdue.
The Guy I Only Bet at One of the Big Ones
NASCAR: Denny Hamlin
For whatever reason, I don’t find myself betting on Hamlin often, except at Daytona, where he has three career wins in the Great American Race, including the past two. This isn’t to say that he’s not worthy of betting outside of Daytona, I just don’t do it often — though I probably should.
PGA TOUR: Brooks Koepka
This category was made for Koepka. As we’ve witnessed, nobody has played better in major championships over the last few years, as he’s already won four of ‘em. But that stellar play only overvalues him at regular PGA Tour events, where he’s too often in full DGAF mode.
The Guy I Never Bet at One of the Big Ones
This is obviously different every year, but one of my favorite Daytona 500 betting strategies to fade rookies making their first start in that event.
Daytona is such a unique track that it takes some time to learn how to effectively work the draft. Experience is key, and rookies don’t have it.
PGA TOUR: Dustin Johnson
Sure, he owns one more major title (the 2016 U.S. Open) than Rickie Fowler or Jon Rahm, but DJ always feels like a guy whose pre-tournament odds don’t match up to his win probability. I’m not saying he can’t win another one; I just don’t want to bet him at +1500/+2000 every time, just to finally hit one.
The Guy I Only Bet at One (OK, Maybe Two or Three) Venue(s) Each Year
NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
When the Cup Series visits its two superspeedways, Daytona and Talladega, I immediately look for Stenhouse when odds open.
Ricky has two career wins, one each at Daytona and Talladega, and seven of his 17 career top-five finishes have come at these tracks.
PGA TOUR: Bubba Watson
To the casual golf fan, Bubba is a fun-loving guy who bombs the ball and wins big tournaments. To the shrewd golf bettor, though, he’s not even part of the thought process most of the time. Of Watson’s 12 career victories, eight have come at Augusta National, Riviera or TPC River Highlands.
The Guy I Bet as a Rookie and Haven’t Stopped Since
NASCAR: Chase Elliott
I’ve been betting on Elliott frequently since his rookie year and did not cash an outright on him until last week’s Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte. This is Chase’s fifth season in the Cup Series, so it’s been a long road for me to score that first winner.
PGA TOUR: Sungjae Im
I could have gone in a few directions here, since I’m also very bullish on super sophs Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, but Im gets the call here based on his strategy of playing every single week. I often bet on this guy, with the one notable exception being this year’s Honda Classic, when he actually won.
The Guy I Always Bet on one Specific Type of Track
NASCAR: Ryan Blaney
I bet on Blaney a lot these days, but I’ve always backed him at superspeedways throughout his Cup Series career.
And after whiffing for many years at this track type, Blaney finally cashed for me when he won at Talladega last fall.
PGA TOUR: Kevin Kisner
There are a lot of ways to go with this one. Some guys play better on wide-open ballparks, some favor tree-lined tracks. I love Kisner on tight courses with small greens, where his lack of length doesn’t hurt and his ball-striking is accentuated. And it just so happens that Colonial and Harbour Town, hosts of the first two PGA TOUR events after the restart, fit this description perfectly.
The Guy I Bet Who Comes Sooo Close, Sooo Often
NASCAR: Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto doesn’t necessarily come close to winning often, but that’s not very common in NASCAR anyway. Eventually, drivers that consistently show top-five speed break through.
However, it’s how close he came to one particular win that gives him my vote in this category. At Bristol last summer, DiBenedetto led the most laps and was leading as the race was winding down.
Unfortunately, Ryan Newman, who was trying to stay on the lead lap, gave DiBenedetto a hell of a time getting by, which allowed the second-place driver, Denny Hamlin, to catch him, pass him and win the race.
My bet on DiBendetto that race? 300-1.
PGA TOUR: Hideki Matsuyama
How on earth has this guy not won a title, anywhere in the world, since 2017? (I’ll answer my own question, thanks: It’s the putter). Since the beginning of last year, Hideki has made 34 starts and owns 11 top-10s, a ratio of 32% that any player would love, but any bettor of outrights would certainly hate.
The Guy I Safely Bet Anyplace, Anytime, Because He’s Always Undervalued
NASCAR: Ryan Newman
Now, this isn’t to say that I bet on Newman to win, but I do like betting on him in props. He’s not flashy and he doesn’t run up front and lead laps much anymore, but he always seems to finish better than where he’s running on the track, whether it’s through traditional racing or pit strategy, and that’s exactly what I want when playing props, like group bets and top-10 finishes.
PGA TOUR: Patrick Cantlay
This isn’t just my idea. When I asked this question of Jeff Sherman, the VP of Risk Management for SuperBookUSA and one of the best golf handicappers in the biz, he also answered Cantlay. An understated guy with only two wins so far, the market still hasn’t realized how talented the world’s seventh-ranked player really is.
The Guy I Never Bet, Because He’s Always Overvalued
NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson
The seven-time Cup Series champion has not won a race since June 4, 2017 at Dover. While Johnson was racking up championships, he was always among the favorites and overvalued from a betting market perspective.
Then, from 2018-19, Johnson could be backed at odds once thought unfathomable just a couple of years prior.
However, Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports are firing on all cylinders once again in 2020, with the No. 48 Chevy once again showing the speed we’re accustomed to. And yes, Jimmie is once again creeping back to overvalued territory.
For example, Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman is fifth in points, has already won a race this season and has led 369 laps. Johnson is 15th in points, has not won and has 28 laps led.
Bowman’s odds to win the championship? 16-1. Johnson’s? 14-1.
PGA TOUR: Tiger Woods
Look, if you’d simply bet on Tiger at every PGA TOUR event he’s played, you would’ve cashed 82 tickets already. But much like the Yankees in baseball and the Cowboys in football, you’re often paying a built-in homer tax for the popular Woods, who’s almost always one of the most heavily-bet players whenever he tees it up.
The Guy I Usually Only Bet Early in the Year
NASCAR: Kevin Harvick
I love Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers. He’s one of the smartest guys in the garage and does a great job of figuring out what the car needs to be fast early in the season when teams are dealing with offseason rule changes.
While the rest of the teams are still figuring how to find speed with new race packages, Childers has the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford flying out front.
PGA TOUR: Rickie Fowler
Fowler is a West Coast guy and while he hasn’t exactly lit up the West Coast Swing over the years, his first-half-of-the-year results far outweigh his second-half-of-the-year finishes. Four of his five PGA TOUR wins have come in the first six months of the year, as have more than half of his 14 career runners-up.
The Guy I Usually Only Bet Late in the Year
NASCAR: Kyle Busch
Maybe because his odds are always so short, but I don’t back Busch as much as the other weekly favorites, especially early in the season.
However, once the playoffs roll around, Busch is usually in championship contention, so I’m more willing to pay those prices once we have almost a season’s worth of recent data.
PGA TOUR: Justin Thomas
As with Fowler, this is hardly a hard-and-fast rule, as JT owns the talent to win anyplace, anytime. But he does own a tendency to turn it on late, when others are tired and fading. Of his 12 career wins, eight have come in August or later, when he’s actually playing fewer events.
The Guy I’m Going to Keep Betting, Because He’s About to Start Winning
NASCAR: Tyler Reddick
Reddick is my new Chase Elliott. I’ve been betting him almost weekly this season and think he can cash a longshot ticket very soon. In fact, Reddick has a handful of great tracks for him coming up, so I’m not going to stop betting him now.
PGA TOUR: Bryson DeChambeau
There are plenty of jokes out there about Bryson’s scientific strategy and his slow play and his recent decision to bulk up for more distance, but I’m a firm believer that he’s going to have the last laugh here. In fact, it was coming before the schedule suspension, as he’d finished top-five in each of his last three starts.
The Guy I Love Betting in Matchups
NASCAR: Joey Logano
It’s not that I go out of my way to target Logano in matchups, it just seems like he’s often underpriced. In betting, the name of the game is value, and for that reason I’ve backed Logano quite frequently through the years.
PGA TOUR: Charles Howell III
Consistency is overrated in golf. You’d rather win once and miss every other cut, a scenario which still gets a Masters invitation, two-year exemption and seven-figure paycheck, than finish T-23 every week. The latter, though, is great for head-to-head betting and few are more consistent than CH3, the king of posting solid finishes wherever he goes.
The Guy I Hate Betting in Matchups
NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr.
This isn’t because he doesn’t necessarily win them, but because I’m always wrong about him. For example, in the 2019 Coca-Cola 600, I was sure he was going to have a poor race.
Therefore, I faded him in five separate driver matchups. Truex ended up leading the most laps and winning the race. If you ever see me getting trolled (deservedly) with #FadeTruex on Twitter, this is where that hashtag was born.
PGA TOUR: Phil Mickelson
You don’t need to be a diehard golf bettor to understand that Mickelson is the ultimate inconsistent wildcard. Sure, he can still win, but he can just as easily shoot 76-75. He’s like the anti-Howell. Because of his big name, though, Lefty is still matched up against some heavy hitters on a weekly basis, making it tough to back him in these bets.