The match play format in golf is increasingly popular for bettors. There are a few reasons for that – the head to head competition is relatively unique and exciting, the format plays well on TV, it’s something different, and so on. The biggest reason for the success of the format, though, is because of the bracket. Match play tournaments use a bracket just like the NCAA tournament does, and there is something about a bracket that gets sports fans really excited. When looking at the bracket in match play it is important to be able to quickly find the opportunities and the areas to avoid. Here are six factors that golf bettors can consider when taking a look at the bracket for a match play golf tournament:
Where will the public be? – This is the single most important aspect for handicappers to consider when looking at the brackets – especially early on. There are some golfers that the public is going to flock to in heavy numbers. These are the big name, popular guys who are matched up against guys with much lower profiles, for example. The public will bet on these guys very hard. They will tend to bet on most favorites quite hard as well, unless the odds are close are the two golfers are well matched. If you know where the public is likely to bet and how enthusiastically they are likely to bet on a given pairing then you can get a good sense of how the oddsmakers likely set the odds to respond to that public attention, how they are moving in response to the betting, and where the value is as a result. It can be very tough to find value on a popular, high profile golfer early on, but might be much easier to find value on a talented underdog that the public isn’t paying attention to.
Where are the mismatches? – More specifically, the task here should be for bettors to look at where the perceived mismatches are. There will be several pairings at first glance that seem almost unfair because one golfer is so much better than the other. Your job as a handicapper is to look at that so-called mismatch to determine if one guy really does have a massive edge, or if the less initially impressive golfer is a viable winner of the pairing. Once you have looked at that you can compare what you have found to the odds on the pairing to see if there is value in betting on one side or the other. If there really is a mismatch then you might be happy betting on the favorite even at heft y price. If the underdog is far better than he is being given credit for, though, then he might offer very attractive value at his price.
Which underdogs are in solid form? – It is typically easier to make money finding live underdogs than it is to bet on the favorites. The reason for that, of course, is simple – the underdogs pay more than even money while the favorites pay less – and sometimes far less – so you have to be right far more often with favorites to come out on top. The fact is that underdogs are going to win a lot in match play – especially in early rounds of match play. By looking to identify the underdogs that are playing well you have taken the first step towards finding attractive underdog value.
Which favorites have struggled recently? – This is the logical flip-side of the last point. A favorite is going to be favored because of their reputation and because of their long term play more than because of how they have been playing recently in many cases. The more popular the golfer is, the more likely this is to be the case. By looking at how the player has performed in the weeks and months before this tournament, then, it can be possible to find situations in which the odds reflect the idea of the golfer more than what the golfer is really capable of at this point. That means value is a distinct possibility.
Where do course issues appear? – When bettors look closely at the bracket they’ll start to see pairings in which the course gives one golfer a clear edge over his opponent. Perhaps it’s a narrow course with small greens. That would really help out the guy with the strong short game, and could punish the golfer who hits long but isn’t always accurate. One the other hand, a long, open course, will rob the short game player of his edge and give the bomber a big advantage. Situations where the course favors or works against a golfer are far more significant in match play than in a regular tournament because golfers have much less time to overcome mistakes, and each single mistake can prove costly given the format.
Which golfers could be looking ahead? – If you’re a bettor who watches the NCAA tournament at all then you know all about how a top team can look past a under-appreciated opponent because of what they could be facing in later rounds. That’s how the odd #15 seed wins a game, and how it has become far from shocking these days to see a #12 or a #13 come out on top in their opening matchup. The same can be true in match play. If a highly seeded golfer has a potential matchup against a close friend or a serious rival in a later round then it could be easy for that golfer to take his current match too lightly – to take it as a stepping stone to the real match instead of a contest that requires focus and commitment in and of itself.