The US Open Golf Championship begins June 17 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, but bookmakers are still trying to determine if their betting favorite actually will tee off.
Covid-19 has affected all facets of life in 2020 and 2021, and golf betting is no exception. Last week, Jon Rahm appeared to be cruising to a dominating win at the Memorial Tournament with a six-stroke lead over his two closest competitors at the end of the third round, when he was forced to withdraw after a positive Covid test.
Any bettor with a ticket on Rahm suddenly went from holding a near lock to a worthless piece of paper. Backers of Patrick Cantlay, who was one of two golfers tied at -12 when Rahm withdrew, enjoyed an unexpected windfall when the former UCLA star defeated Collin Morikawa in a playoff.
Because Rahm is not guaranteed to be ready to play seven days from now, oddsmakers have been put in a difficult position in setting their opening lines. Golf bettors are notorious for their recency bias, meaning players who did well recently tend to attract the most money. It’s difficult to ignore how good Rahm looked from Thursday to Saturday last week, but the question remains whether bettors will plunk down wagers if they are worried he might not play, or may struggle on a notoriously difficult course after a bout with Covid.
According to TheLines, a review of the largest legal online sportsbooks serving markets in the United States including DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, it found Rahm was the consensus favorite to win at +1200, meaning bettors would win $1,200 for every $100 wagered. At individual sportsbooks, Rahm, who has never won a major championship, is being offered with a range from +1000 at DraftKings to +1400 at BetMGM.
Past US Open winners Dustin Johnson (+1250), Jordan Spieth (+1250) and Rory McIlroy (+1300) are close behind Rahm on the odds board.
In the next tier are Justin Thomas (+1400), Bryson DeChambeau (+1400), Brooks Koepka (+1400) and Xander Schauffele (+1800), followed by Cantlay and Morikawa, both at +2700.
PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, who needs to win the US Open to complete a career grand slam, is being offered at +5000. Mickelson is still a dark horse, but his odds are starkly different from the +12500 odds he was being offered before teeing off at the PGA Championship.
“With the favorite’s status still uncertain, the odds have the potential to shift more than what would be expected ahead of a major championship,” Brett Collson, betting analyst at TheLines.com, said in a statement. “This is a dynamic situation that bears watching even if Rahm does play, because his preparation will no doubt be affected. That said, Mickelson’s longshot win at the PGA Championship, and to a lesser extent Hideki Matsuyama’s win at the Masters, shows that looking only at the top of the board can be a mistake for golf bettors.”
Matsuyama was +4600 going into the Masters.
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