Olympic Golf Preview

Top 10/5/Win

Xander Schauffele (-115 to Top 10)

X Man is a favorite of the blog, especially in tournaments that matter.  This will be Xander’s first Olympic appearance representing Team USA, and it could not come at a better location, as his mother grew up in Japan.  I think this gives him even more motivation to perform this week.  With Jon Rahm now out due to COVID, I believe Xander is the best player in the field this week.  He is just incredible in elite events (see below for records), and totes an even more impressive when playing abroad, going 30/30 in made cuts (21 Top 25 finishes), including a win and a runner-up in Asia at the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.  With only 60 players in the field this week, look for the cream to rise to top. 

Xander Major record: 15/17; 12 Top 20s; 9 Top 10s

Xander WGC record: 9/14 Top 20s; 3 Top 10s; 1 Runner-Up, 1 Win (both in Asia)

Viktor Hovland (+115 to Top 10)

I am going back to the well with Viktor Hovland this week who just continues to play incredible golf this year.  I could almost copy and paste exactly what I wrote about him in my preview for the British Open, where he delivered for me and finished tied for 12th.      For fun, I’ll list his finishes in 2021: T31-T2-T6-T5-T2-T49-MC-T42-T21-T3-T3-T30-T47-Win-T12.  That is 14/15 with 8 Top 20s and 7 Top 10s, mind you in full fields of the best tour professionals.  He has plenty of experience playing in bad weather growing up in Norway, and in this weak field, it is difficult to find anyone I like more than Viktor Hovland this week, other than maybe Xander Schauffele. 

Shane Lowry (Top 10 +195)

I believe the 2019 Open Champion is just flat out misplaced this week.  The big fella is having an incredible 2021 so far going 14/16 with 7 Top 25 finishes.  In fact, his best finishes are at elite events with an 8th at The Players, T21 at Augusta, T4at PGA, T6 at Memorial, and a T12 at the Open.  He has plenty of experience abroad as an Irishman and Euro Tour player, and the wind this week shouldn’t phase him.  He plays well when it matters, and should thrive this week, especially when factoring in the quality of the field. I am also playing him over Patrick Reed at +105 in the first round.  

Marc Leishman (+240 to Top 10)

Leishman is a boom/bust play that could very well pay off this week.  Heavy winds are expected and there is no better wind player than Marc Leishman.  He has flirted with contention in majors before with five Top 5 finishes in his career, most recently a T5 at the 2021 Masters.  As an Australian, he has plenty of experience playing in the Eastern hemisphere, and I believe he is worth a sprinkle this week to Top 10. There are only 13 players ranked higher than Leishman in the field this week, according to OWGR. 


I agree with my co-handicapper, CactusKub, on both his matchups this week and will let him explain:

Matchup: Sungjae Im over Si Woo Kim -135

By now I am sure you have all heard of the immense pressure on the South Koreans Sungjae and Si Woo that must earn an Olympic medal to get out of a mandatory two-year military service for their country. However, this is slightly misunderstood by most because Sungjae is young enough that there will be another Olympics before his service and Si Woo has a green card extension that will allow him another chance as well. Nonetheless these players are preparing hard for a chance to medal. Si Woo Kim is known on tour to be out of control with his mental game, as we saw in the John Deere Classic when he completely blew up and was 12 shots off the lead on Thursday after 8 and a half holes and WD. Sungjae is better off the tee, approach to green, and putting, arguably the three most important statistics to look at this week with large greens. Sungjae has finished better in five out of the last six tournaments they have both played together, is in better form, and is flat out the better player. Seems like this is slightly mispriced and should be able to exploit it and make some money on the South Korean big brother.

Matchup: Viktor Hovland over Patrick Reed -150

This pick feels like Avengers: Infinity War to me. Captain America is coming over to Tokyo on short notice and arriving Wednesday and it is doubtful he will get to get a practice round in before the tournament starts Thursday and also has to adjust to the massive time difference. Also worth noting Pat Reed has gone from Scotland to the US and now to Japan in the last 3 weeks. Vik Hovland has been in great form and has been able to play several practice rounds and get adjusted to the time difference. So yes, all circumstantial factors give advantage to Vik. Hovland is also in better form than Captain, with his last tournaments ending in a win and t-12 at The Open championship. For all of the reasons above, I believe Vik Hovland is the right side over Captain America. 

My Card:

Xander Top 10: 1.72U to win 1.5u

Hovland Top 10: 1.3U to win 1.5U

Lowry Top 20: 0.7 to win 0.5U

Lowry Top 10: 0.5U to win 0.95U

Lowry over Reed (1R): 0.5U to win 0.52U

Leishman Top 10: 0.62 to win 1.5U

Hovland over Reed: 1.25U to win 0.75U

Im over Kim: 0.97U to win 0.75U

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