Just a couple times a year we get to bet on the best format there is for pro golf in my eyes – match play. I love watching golfers stare each others in the eye until one guy blinks. It’s like every hole is a playoff. For bettors it takes a major adjustment in mindset to bet on match lay. That can be hard to do since there are so few opportunities to bet on it and find your confidence and develop your style. In order to succeed when betting on match play here are five things to keep in mind:
Switch to moneyline thinking – When you bet on match play you need to think like a baseball bettor. In most golf betting we are concerned about who is going to win the tournament. Here we want to think about who will win the pairing, but more significantly we need to consider whether the odds accurately reflect the chances of that golfer winning. In a lot of pairings – especially early in the tournament – the favorites will stand a good chance of winning their pairing. The prices will be low for those solid favorites, though, so it may not be as simple as betting on them and still making a profit. In moneyline betting the value can often be on the underdog – even if you think that the favorite will win a significant majority of the time. If you can’t get your head around that then you are going to struggle to effectively bet on match play.
Is there history? – Because match play is one of the rare times when golfers can focus on just one opponent it is also the time when rivalries or history between players can play a significant factor in the outcome. The history can be a positive rivalry – like if they were teammates in college or in international play, for example – or negative relationship – clashes of wills in the past or a feud that has lingered. An history like this can intensify the matches and affect the outcome. As significantly, any history – especially if it is high profile and well covered in the press – is going to get the attention of the betting public, and could have an impact on the betting volume and potentially on which golfer is bet on by the majority of bettors.
Do they suit the format? – Match play is not like regular golf. In a tournament you have 72 holes to play, so you can patiently pick your spots, you have time to recover from mistakes, and you only have to worry about your own game. In match play any single mistake could be the difference between winning and losing, and you have to adjust your strategy based on the shots your opponent has made and what the score is. The head-to-head format also increases the intensity and pressure golfers feel. Some golfers thrive under the pressure and play their best under the format. Other guys just can’t adjust, and they are a shadow of their full self when playing in match play. It is important that you bet on the player you are likely to see in match play, not the player you see in typical stroke play.
Are they typically slow starters? – A slow start in a stroke play tournament is no big deal. There are 72 holes and four days to play, so a slow start can at least theoretically be overcome. There are some slow starters who have had exceptional stroke play careers. In stroke play, though, a slow start can prove fatal. If you fall into an early hole and your opponent is a good match play golfer then he can adjust his style, play conservatively, minimize risk, and make it really hard for you to beat him. A slow starter is someone to be afraid of when betting on match play.
Is stamina a concern? – As a bettor be aware that in a full match play tournament the golfer who wins it has played a lot of matches. There is a big physical toll to be paid for that. There is even more of an emotional toll to pay. Every hole matters and every mistake counts. It’s like every day is Sunday. Some golfers are physically and mentally tough enough to survive or even thrive under that pressure. Other guys just don’t seem to be tough enough to shine in these circumstances. If a guy has given you reasons to question his toughness in the past then it might be harder to back him in match play than it would be in a normal tournament.