Click arrow to expand 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic odds via WynnBet
2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic Odds
|Si Woo Kim||+5000|
|Bo Van Pelt||+50000|
|Dawie van der Walt||+75000|
|Davis Love III||+100000|
|Wyatt Worthington II||+100000|
If you only heard the small details, it might’ve seemed like Tony Finau turned a corner at the 3M Open on Sunday afternoon, parlaying a five-stroke 54-hole deficit into a four-shot win, thanks to a final-round 67. A player known more for his near-misses and close calls over the years, this would sound like the antithesis of a typical Finau finish without knowing the particulars.
Anyone who watched, though, understands it wasn’t so easy.
After charging hard with three straight birdies on holes 14 through 16 — and with some help from erstwhile leader Scott Piercy — Finau found himself in the lead, literally checking a leaderboard and seeing it for the first time on the 16th green. His tee shot on the par-3 17th flew the green and caromed off a tower behind it, remaining in-play by mere feet as a water hazard loomed nearby.
Finau made par from there, gave his ball a little kiss, then kissed it goodbye on the 18th tee, pushing his drive on the par-5 to the right and into the water. He salvaged bogey and it’s a credit to the work he did in the preceding holes that he owned such a cushion to cruise to a closing bogey and the victory.
As it turns out, with fewer than nine holes remaining in the final round, Finau was only about half the price in betting markets as his opening number, which had him as the betting favorite at right around +1100 in most books.
He becomes just the third pre-tourney favorite to win a PGA TOUR event this season, joining Sam Burns at the Sanderson Farms Championship (tough one to remember there) and Jon Rahm at the Mexico Open (much easier) as the chalk cashes.
A few years ago (prior to the 2019 U.S. Open), I wrote a piece examining what would’ve happened if you’d have wagered one unit on every favorite during the entire season. As it turns out, only two campaigns would have been profitable — 2012, when a half-dozen different favorites combined for nine titles; and 2013, when Tiger Woods was responsible for five of the seven wins from the oddsmaker pole position.
It’s more difficult to quantify whether more of these victories over the years occurred in “big” events or “smaller” ones, as such classification is purely subjective, though a quick perusal suggests that a larger number have taken place in the latter, very much like Finau’s victory at the 3M this past weekend.
That might not mean there’s always more value in playing favorites at events with somewhat inferior fields, but it inherently favors those in these types of events. To use the previous two weeks as a comparison, you’d probably want Finau at the 3M more often than Rory McIlroy at a similar pre-tourney price at The Open championship, where he’ll face much stiffer competition.
It would be nice and tidy if these last few paragraphs led seamlessly into me picking this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic favorite, Patrick Cantlay, but life and tournament previews don’t always work out that way. Instead, I’ll save Cantlay for another category, but I won’t go too far down the board for my favorite outright.
One player to win the tournament.
Will Zalatoris (+1200)
It’s about damn time. I mean, really.
Zalatoris is ranked 13th in the world ranking. He owns three runner-up finishes in majors. Three runner-up finishes this year. He’s been inside the top-six on leaderboards more often during the last four months than he’s finished outside that number.
As he said after the U.S. Open, “I’d pay a lot of money for about an inch and a half, and I’d probably be a three-time major champion at this point.”
He’s not wrong. Sometimes all it takes is some goodwill from the Golf Gods to claim such an elusive victory. We saw that from Finau this weekend, his good break not only coming in the form of that carom staying in play, but none of the other contenders being ready to pounce on the final few holes.
Whether it’s karma or the law of averages or just a week when he outplays everyone else, at some point Willy Z. is going to be afforded the same type of result.
On a track where bombing and gouging might not be the worst strategy, I like it to be this week. That’s not to say there aren’t some negatives at play. Zalatoris’ putting stroke is still a bit untrustworthy, especially in high-pressure situations. He’s played some of his better golf when scoring conditions are tougher than the 18-under which won here last year.
And then there’s the 15-1 number at BetMGM, which I kinda, sorta hate. But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s more value in paying up the board in tourneys with non-elite fields. If you really hate the price, maybe this is one we can wait on, hoping some lackluster early play — or low scores by other competitors — quickly moves it to a more palatable number.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Cameron Young (+1800)
It’s difficult to project OAD chalk, especially from a player who hasn’t owned repeated success at a specific venue, but I’ve got to imagine that Young will be a very popular play in pools this week as one of the better players in the field who many might not have used already.
There are plenty of impressive parts to Young’s rookie campaign, but the fact that he owns six top-three finishes on six completely different types of courses means he’s valuable on any given week. If this was another sport — say, we’re talking about an elite wide receiver or a power-hitting outfielder — we’d call him matchup proof.
But of course. OADs are also about game theory, as I so often write. If Young is going to be a popular play, then he makes sense for those in the lead who want to stay there. If you’re playing catch-up and the teams in front still have him left, it might make sense to look elsewhere.
Davis Riley (+4000)
This one might be the very definition of, “When everyone zigs, you zag.”
There was plenty of love for Riley last week, especially in OADs, as he entered the 3M well-rested and one of the better players in the field. That move busted, as he missed the cut, which will in turn keep the masses away this week. But a look at his stats shows he wasn’t that far off, as his rounds of 73-71 included a solid tee-to-green performance.
I don’t mind jumping in this week and much less ownership than that one — and yes, this goes for DFS, too.
Taylor Pendrith (+7000)
The books love Pendrith, and I’m not totally sure why.
I mean, I really like his game (hey, I’m the one listing him here), but I don’t like him any more than the next three players I’m about to list, each of whom owns a longer price. That said, I wanted to mention him somewhere. Maybe he’s a better fit for a DFS investment or top-20 prop.
I like Pendrith, who missed about four months due to a broken rib and has returned with finishes of 11th and 13th so far. I’d just like him more at a better number.
Patrick Rodgers (+8000)
Don’t look now, but the one-time phenom is starting to look a bit like the player we all thought he could be.
Rodgers has finished 35th or better in six of his last eight starts. His results here (41st-45th) aren’t anything too special, but he has broken par in seven of eight rounds. I like him for an outright sprinkle at a big number and DFS, but if you really want to get weird with a contrarian OAD play, he could be the guy.
Luke List (+10000)
If we only count non-major, U.S.-based events, then List owns results of T19 and T26 in his last two starts. Of course, that span also includes MCs at The Open, Scottish Open and U.S. Open, so it’s not like he’s trending the right way, but a T21 finish at this event last year has me believing that it could be another nice spot for him.
Callum Tarren (+13000)
One of my favorite plays on the board last week, Tarren came through with a T7 finish which, to be honest, could’ve been even better.
As I said throughout last week, he just has the look of a guy who can find success at the highest level. I’m a big fan of his game and he’s running hot right now.
At 126th on the FedEx Cup points list, he could use another strong week, though he’s got a buffer on the bubble as a handful of those above him are currently suspended for competing in LIV events.
One player to finish top-five.
Cameron Davis (+650)
Betting defending champions is like playing a repeat number on the roulette wheel: Sometimes you throw a few bucks on it simply in hopes that it doesn’t hit.
There are only a few times each season when I’ll back a guy who won the previous year. From the extra media requests to the fan interactions to the inevitable featured group tee time, there’s just more involved for a player who’s defending — especially for one, like Davis, who isn’t accustomed to all of it.
That said, he’s playing really well right now, with three straight results of 16th or better and five in his last nine starts. The course obviously suits him, so I’ll play him in hopes of the number hitting again.
One player to finish top-10.
Kirt Kitayama (+800)
Here’s what we’ve learned about Kitayama this year: When he’s good, he’s really good. And when he’s not, well, he’s really not. In 17 starts, he owns three top-three finishes, but also has 10 missed cuts. Look, it’s better to be an all-or-nothing type at the professional level than one who consistently finishes in 25th place every week, and it’s better to bet on these types, as well. At least there’s some equity in backing Kitayama for another big result.
One player to finish top-20.
Alex Smalley (+300)
Like Kitayama, Smalley has a little all-or-nothing to him, as well. In his last dozen starts, six have been 27th or better and the other six have been missed cuts.
Same theory here, though. I’d rather bet on a guy with a higher ceiling and take the lower floor that comes with it than a guy whose range is narrower. Some of Smalley’s best results have occurred in non-elite fields, so this one should fit the profile.
One player to finish top-30.
I watched Hodges play in-person a decent amount over the first few rounds at last month’s Travelers Championship and came away impressed with his overall game. Currently in his first full PGA TOUR season, he’s following the trajectory of many before him: Keep your card the first year (he’s currently 103rd on the FedEx list), then get a bit more acclimated/comfortable and continue improving over the following seasons.
Without the weight of trying to keep those privileges on him now, it’s probably a good time to bet a guy who’s playing with nothing to lose.
One player to finish top-40.
Brandon Matthews (+330)
I offered up Matthews as a top-20 play last week and that didn’t exactly work out, as a pair of 78s left him way below the cutline. I’ll be a little more conservative here, while going back to one of the game’s longest hitters on a track which might fit him better. With his card already locked up for next year through the Korn Ferry circuit, he’s another guy playing with the proverbial house money this week.
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
Those who paid up for Finau last week were rewarded in the end and the same premise could be in play at this one. The game’s fourth-ranked player has finished 4th-13th-3rd-2nd in his last four non-major starts — and we can throw a victory in there if we want to include a team event (he won the Zurich Classic with Xander Schauffele), as well.
What I really like about Cantlay at events such as these is that he doesn’t have the governor which keeps him from holding back at a smaller event. Other elite-level players might go through the motions a bit or maybe dial back their practice regimens at a tournament which doesn’t mean as much, but Cantlay’s personality has him stepping on the gas pedal at all times. He might not offer a Finau-like payoff in DFS, but it won’t be for any lack of effort.
If you are paying up for Cantlay — or Zalatoris — then you’ll need to find some value further down the board. Barjon is a solid-if-not-spectacular player who is usually strong off the tee. That part of his game was only about field neutral during last week’s 31st-place finish at the 3M, but his putting ranked fifth for the week. If he can keep rolling it well and hits it to his usual abilities off the tee, he’s a sneaky cheap play. And really, at his price, all we need is something mirroring last week’s result to pay it off.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Speaking of last week, I liked Clark in all formats, but listed him in the preview for FRL, which was drawing dead a bit once he got saddled with an opening-round tee time in the tougher afternoon draw. He coulda/shoulda/woulda finished better than 38th place, as bookend scores of 72-74 kept the interior rounds of 68-67 from really shining, but his performance was solid across the board and especially tee to green.
There could be some fatigue at play after following two straight weeks in Scotland with a second week here in the U.S., but if he’s got some gas in the tank, this should be a good spot since he was T17 here three years ago.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Trey Mullinax (+13000)
I’ve mentioned a few times in this preview the value of targeting a guy with “nothing to lose” or who’s “playing with house money.” Mullinax fits here, as well, as he won the Barbasol Championship just a few weeks ago but likely sees an opportunity to back it up now.
I’ve had multiple players tell me, when asked for an under-the-radar player who’s better than most people realize, that he ranks among those who doesn’t get enough respect — and seeing him at 130-1 clearly shows the books haven’t learned. I don’t know that he can — or will — win again so quickly after the first one, but I love the number here.
Others at the same number include Vincent Whaley, Michael Gligic and Sepp Straka, but I’d easily play Mullinax in matchups against them, not to mention as a plus-money play against some of those even higher on the board.
Others Receiving Votes
Max Homa (+1400), Scott Stallings (+5500), Troy Merritt (+6000), Ryan Palmer (+8000), Jhonattan Vegas (+8000), Chris Gotterup (+10000), Rickie Fowler (+10000), Beau Hossler (+18000)
Patrick Reed to win LIV Golf Bedminster
It recently occurred to me that early player interest in LIV isn’t dissimilar to early investor interest in cryptocurrency or NFTs. Essentially, the quick adapters can earn life-changing revenue for their foresight, while the ones who sit on their hands for a little while are left questioning their hesitancy for years afterward.
Maybe that isn’t the case for an upper-echelon talent, as there will always be money and an open spot for a top-10 player, but at some point — just as there’s a finite amount of crypto — the powers-that-be can’t offer an infinite amount of memberships with 48-player tournament fields.
The recent hire of David Feherty — and public wooing of Charles Barkley — should tell us that they aren’t satisfied with a simple online stream receiving moderate traffic numbers. All of which suggests a growing trend of legitimacy, one that just needs OWGR points and affirmation from the major championships and maybe some successful legal recourse over the PGA TOUR until that trend peaks.
That said, the most problematic issue to date, using the two-event sample size that we have, is that I’ve yet to hear anyone speak about the actual golf being played. The impact of LIV on the professional game, the rumors of which players will flee next, the longview of what it all means — those are the polarizing topics which have the golf world buzzing.
But I’ve yet to hear anyone asking questions such as, “How about that Branden Grace birdie on 15?” or “Do you think Henrik Stenson can help the Majesticks to a title?” Even the notion of that latter thought might bring a chuckle, but that’s the whole point I’m making here: If few observers are actually intrigued by the on-course developments, at some point the off-course developments are going to cool off, as well.
Another question not being pondered is, “Who do you like this week?” To me, this simple query serves as a litmus test for whether the masses actually care or not.
Prior to the last event in Portland, I asked a handful of golf betting-expert buddies on my SiriusXM radio show if they had a pick for the LIV event. Each of them explained that they hadn’t even considered a play and hadn’t been asked by listeners/readers for one. At its most innate level, this is why we watch sports — it’s why events remain compelling even when the competition isn’t. “Who ya got?” is a universal language that works on everything from the Super Bowl to a couple of flipping a coin at the 19th hole.
If that question isn’t being asked of LIV, even in the early going, then that’s a bad sign.
Nobody asked (obviously), but my own coin flip landed on Reed this week, who’s had some success in Northeast events. I’ll readily admit that I didn’t spend too long breaking down the field or how the host course might suit certain players, but then again, very few others are doing it, either.
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