Skins Match Betting Picks & Predictions: Our Favorite Bets for Rory & DJ vs. Rickie and Wolff
Juan Luis Díaz/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
- The betting market has been moving towards the underdogs in Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff on Sunday; they're now down below +140 at some sportsbooks.
- There are a ton of markets to bet on today, including each tandem to be in the lead after six holes, whether each player will hit fairways and more.
- Below our experts break down their picks to win today's TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match + their favorite props of the day.
Live golf returns to national television on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m. ET, NBC).
It may not be the traditional full-field event we all can’t wait to watch and bet on, but Sunday’s TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins Match featuring Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson vs. Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will bring competitive golf back into living rooms around the world and it’s hard to overstate just how wonderful that is.
Unsurprisingly, Rory and DJ check in as decent favorites, currently sitting at -200 with Rickie and Wolff coming back at +150. In addition to betting on the winner for this charity event, sportsbooks around the country have posted a wide menu of prop bets.
Here are our favorite plays for Sunday’s show at Seminole Golf Club:
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The Bet: Leader after six holes: Fowler/Wolff (+120)
There are plenty of different ways to get plus-money wagers down on Fowler/Wolff; in fact, in every matchup prop against McIlroy/Johnson, they’re the underdogs. So, why is this one my favorite? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I’ve got two reasons.
The first is that their opponents have clearly been playing and practicing less than them. Rory said this week that he hasn’t yet started ramping up his game for tournament play, while DJ just played his first round in two months last Sunday. If there’s going to be some rust, you’d think it would manifest itself on the opening stretch of holes.
The second reason is that each of the first six holes are worth “only” $50,000 each, making the opening half-dozen worth only 15 percent of the overall purse.
I doubt Rory and DJ have a strategy which states they should keep their foot off the gas pedal to start, but internally they’ll know they can ease their way into this match, unlike a Ryder Cup match where every hole counts the same and they’d want to gain some momentum right from the outset.
The Bet: Fowler/Wolff Leader after 6 Holes (+120 )
Both McIlroy and Johnson have a clear advantage when it comes to overall World Golf Ranking and experience in team matches but chasing the duo from OSU early when nerves may be high, could be the play.
McIlroy and Johnson should prevail in the overall match as their experience outmatches their opponents, but it may be prudent to wait for a better number during the match, hoping they go down early, and we get closer to plus money.
Without knowing the exact layout of the ultra-exclusive Seminole Golf Club, the value may be on the underdogs early with team Fowler/Wolff who’ve probably played together more often than Rory and DJ.
The Bet: Any Player to Hole Out from off the Green in the Tournament: Yes +110
A recurring design characteristic at Donald Ross (Seminole Golf Club designer) courses is the severe pitches around the greens coupled with speedy putting surfaces. With tough approach shots, proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, wind, changes in elevation we’re not accustomed to seeing at coastal courses and extended time away from competitive golf, we might see fewer greens hit in regulation by both teams.
McIlroy, Johnson and Fowler have shown their short-game acumen on Ross designs like East Lake (Tour Championship) as well as Pinehurst no.2 and Wolff has gained strokes around the greens in three out his of last six rounds on Donald Ross courses over his short career. All four players should stay aggressive in a skins format allowing ample opportunity for this to hit at plus money.
The Bet: Rickie Fowler/Matthew Wolff to Win (+150)
In general, I like the underdogs here for a variety of reasons. This event is tough to handicap, and when that’s the case it’s usually best to take plus money.
For starters, it’s a skins match, which means there could be wild swings in scoring simply because of one poor shot (if multiple skins are on the line). Further, it’s a new course, and if anything Rickie might have the advantage since he’s played so often here. Also, who knows the motivation of these players in what’s essentially an exhibition.
And finally, the wind should apparently be a factor, and the Strokes Gained data suggests that these four players are somewhat even in those conditions.
The Bet: Rickie Fowler to hit the fairway on Hole No. 1 (-176)
I’m looking at Rickie Fowler to hit the fairway on the first hole at -176 odds. Honestly, I like anything lower than -200.
As quoted by former PGA pro Brad Faxon in a piece with Sobel this week:
“Like many typical Ross courses, the first hole is fairly benign … it’s a short par-4 with a wide open fairway … but the green is severely sloped back to front, so if you miss the green you’re in trouble.”
Wide-open fairway, huh? Given that Rickie knows this course well, has the best Driving Accuracy of the group over last year and the hole sets up nicely, I definitely think this should be priced higher.
The Bet: Johnson and McIlroy to win hole No. 1 (+250)
Seminole veteran Brad Faxon described the first hole as “a short par-4 with a wide open fairway.” That sounds like a green-light birdie opportunity, especially for two bombers like Rory and DJ.
These odds imply that the favored duo will win the first hole just 28.6% of the time. Given how much Wolff struggles on par 4s in general (194th in par 4 birdie-or-better percentage) and short par 4s in particular (210th in scoring average on par 4s of 350-400 yards), I think the market is undervaluing the chances of McIlroy and Johnson getting the better of Fowler out of the gate.
The Bet: Rickie Fowler/Matthew Wolff to Win (+150)
Even though the number has shortened a bit, I can’t resist betting underdogs in one-off sporting events like Driving Relief.
There’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical that Fowler and Wolff can hang with the more talented tandem over a longer, more traditional head-to-head, but the rules for this showdown begs for volatility and variance helps underdogs.
In addition to the scoring format, the wind, the unfamiliarity with the course and the rust factor, I think motivation could also play a role and you have to imagine that Fowler and Wolff will be the more motivated tandem compared to Rory and DJ. There are just too many playing-field-levelers for this match to lay the chalk with Rory and DJ.
I’m not saying this is a 50/50 match — skill wins out in the end more often than not — but it’s closer than these odds suggest.