Sobel: Ranking Every Matchup Bet of the Tour Championship’s Third Round

Sobel: Ranking Every Matchup Bet of the Tour Championship’s Third Round article feature image
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Tiger Woods and Justin Rose approach the tenth green during the first round of The Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

  • A number of big names are atop the leaderboard heading into the third round of the Tour Championship.
  • That means there isn't much value in live betting the studs in contention.
  • But there are still plenty of good opportunities to place wagers, with matchup bets.

Tiger Woods and newly crowned world No. 1 Justin Rose are tied for the lead, Rory McIlroy is just two shots off the pace and a large group of world-class ball-strikers are all within striking distance.

What does it all mean? This weekend’s Tour Championship rounds are gonna be lit, as the uncool kids still like to say.

It also means that there isn’t much value in live betting any of the studs in contention to win this tournament.

But of course, you’re not going to sit in front of the TV without having any action on the festivities.

Don’t worry: This is why the Golf Gods created matchup bets.

Here’s my take on all 15 of ’em for Saturday’s third round, from the ones I’m most confident in to the least.

1. Brooks Koepka (-130) over Bryson DeChambeau (EVEN)

Terrible luck for The Scientist, who was simulating dew on his ball during an early-week range session, but still won’t be dew-sweeping in the first tee time of the day, which isn’t until 12:10 p.m.

After a second-round 78, Koepka will be in full DGAF mode. For most players, that would mean another similar score; for him, it might mean a whole bunch of birdies without ever cracking a smile.

2. Dustin Johnson (-200) over Aaron Wise (+165)

Sure, DJ might be a little distracted with off-course situations right now, but a distracted DJ is still DJ, who, like Koepka, can post birdies in bunches — even when it doesn’t matter.

3. Tommy Fleetwood (-125) over Xander Schauffele (-105)

Look, I’m a huge fan of Schauffele’s game and think the defending champion remains monumentally underrated. Fleetwood, though, has a propensity to go low on the weekend. At five off the lead, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him in serious contention come Sunday afternoon.

4. Hideki Matsuyama (-125) over Rickie Fowler (-105)

Fowler insists that he’s healthy after that oblique injury, but even subconsciously he might be taking things a bit easier to remain fresh for next week’s Ryder Cup. Matsuyama, meanwhile, has gotten hot in the later months of the year before, and might be on the verge of doing it again.

5. Rory McIlroy (-170) over Billy Horschel (+140)

For most of this season, Woods has held the third-round scoring average lead, but McIlroy passed him late, now holding a 68.15 average on Saturdays. It’s a tough matchup, as Horschel is playing some really solid golf right now, but expect another low one for McIlroy.

6. Tony Finau (-165) over Gary Woodland (+135)

On Friday, Finau posted his first over-par round in the entire FedEx Cup playoffs. Anyone want to bet on him doing it twice in a row? Didn’t think so. Expect Finau to get back on the birdie train in the third round.

7. Paul Casey (+105) over Webb Simpson (-135)

When picking in-tournament matchups, I often stick with the guys I liked pre-tourney who haven’t quite played up to expectations yet. Casey certainly qualifies, as this course should suit his game.

8. Marc Leishman (-185) over Patton Kizzire (+150)

It’s been a bit of an underachieving summer for Leishman, but here’s guessing he’s got a little bit of gas left in the tank after an under-par round on Friday. Don’t be surprised to see him put up a low one.

9. Jon Rahm (-135) over Patrick Cantlay (+105)

Despite two double-bogeys already this week, Rahm is just three shots back. That’s because he’s tied for the field lead with a dozen birdies. If he can eliminate those mistakes, Saturday could be an opportunity for a low round.

10. Tiger Woods (-105) over Justin Rose (-125)

He’s now “only” second in third-round scoring — just .05 behind McIlroy — but Woods has continuously thrown jabs on the weekdays and come out with some haymakers on the weekends. It won’t be an easy matchup against Rose, but Tiger holds the advantage here.

11. Kevin Na (+135) over Jason Day (-165)

Hey, you’ve gotta pick some ‘dogs and you’ve gotta go with some hunches. He’ll never admit it, but it feels like Day is sort of just playing out this late-season stretch without much energy.

12. Keegan Bradley (-105) over Patrick Reed (-125)

Is it time to start worrying about Captain America entering next week’s Ryder Cup? He hasn’t had his best stuff lately, while Bradley can play with more freedom after his BMW Championship win two weeks ago.

13. Kyle Stanley (+160) over Justin Thomas (-195)

Once again, they can’t all be favorites on your card. Obviously, my confidence level on this one isn’t too high, but Stanley enjoys playing with more heralded players and showing off his ball-striking a bit. If you like thin limbs, here’s a good one to climb on.

14. Bubba Watson (-130) over Cameron Smith (EVEN)

So far this week, Bubba has hit 7 of 28 fairways — I’m not great at math, but that smells like 25%, which isn’t great. Know what’s worse? Smith’s strokes gained putting number of -4.499, which ranks dead last this week.

15. Francesco Molinari (-135) over Phil Mickelson (+105)

Even though this is the playoff finale, there’s a good chance Lefty is now treating this like an NFL preseason game — get in some reps, avoid injury and don’t show the opponent too much that you’re going to use when it matters. Also, Molinari should bounce back after a 75 on Friday.