Mismatches and Underdog Bets for the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship: Shorting Bubba Watson (Again)
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bubba Watson
I’m not much of a longshot bettor when it comes to the PGA tour, so I tend to attack head-to-head matchups instead.
The goal of this piece is to provide you with quick, actionable and easily digestible information, to help both of us make informed decisions on the head-to-head bets we place.
So, each week I’ll be using the golf metrics in the FantasyLabs Player Models in search of potential mismatches I want to target for the upcoming tournament.
Let’s dive in!
All odds as of 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Patrick Cantlay over Bubba Watson (-125)
Shorting Watson last week almost came back to bite me, but he doubled 18 on Sunday and all was right with the world.
Cantlay and Watson’s recent form is almost identical in the FantasyLabs Player Models, but I’ll be betting on Cantlay’s long-term form in this one. His 68.4 Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score) is better than Watson’s by 0.8 strokes.
Additionally, Cantlay has the edge in most other metrics I am weighing this week:
- Greens in regulation: 70.1% vs. 68.2%
- Birdies per tournament: 14.9 vs. 13.8
- Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -1.1 vs. -0.5
- Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -4.8 vs. -4.6
In the long run, I’d expect this bet to pan more often than not considering Cantlay has finished inside the top 25 and top 10 in 66% and 36% of his PGA events over the past two years, compared to just 28% and 19% for Watson.
Paul Casey over Jordan Spieth (-145)
After backtesting every metric in the FantasyLabs Trends tool, recent greens in regulation (GIR) was atop the charts. And over their past four tournaments, Casey is dominating Spieth in this regard, hitting 73.3% of GIR compared to just 64.9% for Spieth.
I’ll likely continue to short Spieth this year as it’s worked out well thus far. Something is off with his game considering he LT Adj Rd Score is almost a full stroke worse compared to this time last year. Prior to the Genesis Open in 2018, his 68.0 LT Adj Rd Score was the second-best mark in the field, trailing only Dustin Johnson.
Fast forward to now and his 68.9 LT Adj Rd Score ranks 22nd in the field, respectively.
Tyrrell Hatton over Matt Wallace (-165)
I normally don’t like to lay this much juice, but Wallace has struggled in his four PGA events over the past year. He’s missed the cut twice and finished 19th and 50th in the other two.
While there isn’t a cut this week, Wallace normally doesn’t play in fields this strong as he’s sporting a Field Score of 77.3% over the past 75 weeks. For comparison: Hatton’s Field Score is 89.8% and the PGA regulars are mostly 91-96%.
Overall, Hatton’s recent form doesn’t look great, but a lot of that has to do with the difficult conditions at the Genesis Open last week.
Outside of par-5 scoring, Hatton’s long-term metrics are much better than Wallace’s:
- LT Adj Rd Score: 68.9 vs. 70.2
- GIR: 69.4% vs. 66.6%
- Birdies per tournament: 14.7 vs. 14.2
- Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -1.7 vs. -0.2
- Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -4.2 vs. -4.7
Most importantly, Hatton’s LT Adj Rd Score is 1.3 strokes better than Wallace and Hatton has experience at this golf course, putting together a third and 10th-place finish over the past two years.
Francesco Molinari over Rafa Cabrera-Bello (+105)
Molinari and RCB are almost in a dead heat over the past 75 weeks in regards to their long-term metrics:
- LT Adj Rd Score: 68.7 vs. 69.1
- GIR: 69.7% vs. 69.5%
- Birdies per tournament: 14.9 vs. 14.4
- Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -0.4 vs. -0.8
- Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -4.6 vs. -4.4
Molinari has the edge in those long-term metrics, albeit a slight one. That said, RCB has played four events this year and finished 25th or better in all but the Dubai Desert Classic where he missed the cut.
Meanwhile, Molinari may be coming in rusty as he’s only played the Tournament of Champions in early January. Despite the potential rust, I’ll back Molinari at plus-money odds since we still know what he’s capable of, finishing inside the top 25 and top 10 in 59% and 30% of his PGA events over the past 12 months.
Full Head-to-Head Betting Card:
- Dustin Johnson over Justin Thomas (+100)
- Hideki Matsuyama over Phil Mickelson (-120)
- Bryson DeChambeau over Brooks Koepka (-125)
- Xander Schauffele over Phil Mickelson (-110)
- Patrick Cantlay over Bubba Watson (-125)
- Paul Casey over Jordan Spieth (-145)
- Tyrrell Hatton over Matt Wallace (-165)
- Francesco Molinari over Rafa Cabrera-Bello (+105)