Olympic Women’s Golf Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nasa Hataoka, Yuka Saso Provide Best Value (August 2)
Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Japanese golfer Nasa Hataoka.
After the men gave us our first look at Kasumigaseki Country Club, the women will take their shot at reaching the Olympic podium this week. It will be a quick turnaround, with the event starting Tuesday afternoon here in the United States.
Unlike the men’s event, where none of the medal winners from Rio qualified again, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Shanshan Feng are back in the field looking to make a return trip to the podium.
Kasumigaseki is expected to play about 800 yards shorter for the women, coming in at around 6,600 yards on the scorecard. We can probably expect another low scoring week with the course in perfect shape unless the wind picks up.
If it plays anything like it did with the men, we can anticipate the stars to rise to the top, but if we drift outside of the well-known players, it was the shorter hitters who can catch hot putters that popped up.
With Rory Sabbatini and CT Pan coming out with medals and Sebastian Munoz making the Bronze playoff, it showed distance is nice, but not a prerequisite for success. The only real problems here were getting tough lies in the rough or finding tree trouble off the tee.
World No. 1 Nelly Korda opens up atop the odds board at +700 in the favorite position. She’s won three times this year, including the PGA Championship, so her form is great. Prior to this year, Korda’s only LPGA wins had come in Taiwan and Australia, so she’s seen a lot of success on this side of the globe.
Behind Korda is a quartet of South Koreans. Jin Young Ko (+800), Inbee Park (+1000), Sei Young Kim (+1200) and Hyo Joo Kim (+1200) are all capable of taking this thing down, but none are entering in really good form. Kim is probably playing the best in the bunch, with three top-20 finishes in a row that includes a third-place effort behind Korda at the PGA Championship.
Park also picked up a win on the LPGA circuit back in May, but after what we saw last week, it’s hard not think she doesn’t have the best chance of this group. Park is likely just to keep the ball in play all week, plus she putts as well as anyone on tour.
Danielle Kang and Ariya Jutanugarn are next at +1400, followed by Lydia Ko (+1600) and Patty Tavatanakit at +1800 odds. Kang is in solid form lately with top-15 finishes in five of her last six starts. She’s also an excellent putter, so if she keeps the ball out of trouble this week, expect her to be a factor.
Ko and Jutanugarn were in much better form a few months back, but have cooled off a bit recently and I worry about how Tavatanakit will fit the course. She hits the ball as far as anyone, but isn’t particularly accurate with any club.
I’ll start my card just below this range with Nasa Hataoka at +2200 on DraftKings. Hataoka won three weeks ago on the LPGA Tour in her last start. She was second at the U.S. Open, losing in a playoff to Yuka Saso, who will be making an appearance in this column momentarily.
We saw the comforts of playing at home help Hideki Matsuyama overcome some mediocre form last week and I think it will give Hataoka a similar boost.
We’ll take a trio of players here, starting with the aforementioned Saso at +3500 on DraftKings. The 20-year-old standout got her start in Japan, winning twice last year on the JLPGA before heading to the states and taking down the U.S. Open.
So again, there’s a good chance she’ll be comfortable playing here. She also hasn’t really had a letdown since winning the major, finishing 21st and fifth in her next two starts.
Next up, I’ll back Matilda Castren. She was as high as +7000 when the odds opened, but has drifted down to +5000 on DraftKings. I don’t think I’d dip much below that number.
However, if you’re looking at form, Castren is playing as well as anyone in the world right now. The Florida State product from Finland has two wins and a runner-up finish in her last six starts worldwide, along with two other top 20s in that time frame. Castren’s strength is her iron game, where she ranks fourth in Greens In Regulation on the LPGA Tour.
My last play in this range will be the other Japanese player — Mone Inami — at +5000 pretty much everywhere. The 22-year-old plays exclusively in Japan outside of the occasional major start and she’s dominated the JLPGA, winning five times during her 2021 campaign.
Her form dipped a bit recently, but she finished fourth her last time out, so the game appears to be bouncing back. She’s another strong iron player, ranking second this year in GIR on the Japanese tour.
I won’t have an outright play in here, but Pia Babnik of Slovenia is worth a look in the top 10/20 markets. The 17-year old is currently 250/1 on BetMGM and recently picked up her first Ladies European Tour win in June. She’s a boom or bust type player early in her career. In her last seven starts, she has three top 6 finishes and three missed cuts. But the talent is there and for her to have a good finish this week.
The Women’s Olympics Card
- Nasa Hataoka +2200 (1.5 units)
- Yuka Saso +3500 (.94 units)
- Matilda Castren +5000 (.66 units)
- Mone Inami +5000 (.66 units)
Total Stake: 3.76 units