The PGA is all about the stars. That’s all that most fans and most bettors care about. Betting on those stars, whether you choose to bet the spread or place a parlay bet, is never easy as a result. They get the lion’s share of the attention and action, and their lines often lack much value as a result. It can be particularly tough to bet on star golfers early in the season. Then we are not only dealing with all the public attention, but they are coming off a long break so we can’t be sure how they will perform. Here are six important factors for golf bettors to consider when betting on star PGA players early in the season:
Is he healthy? – This is the single biggest factor handicappers of the PGA Tour need to consider because it can have the biggest impact on how his season starts – both in terms of how much and how well he plays. Was he dealing with injuries at the end of last season? What did he do about it? How well have other players bounced back from similar injuries? How well does he generally bounce back? Is it typically a quick return to form or a more gradual one? Have their been reports of offseason injuries? This can be a big one because the public isn’t always likely to pay attention to things that happen when the sport is on hiatus.
Is he acting like he usually does? – After a golfer has been around and been a star for a few years you probably have a good sense of how he typically acts and what you expect from him. Some guys are very warm and open with the media while others are usually aloof. Some guys practice relentlessly while others are far more casual. Some players look like they are having the time of their life every time they are on the course while others look intense and perhaps even angry. Generally golfers will perform and act about like they always have. When a guy has changed his approach in the offseason it could be a sign of bigger changes, then. That could be positive changes – he has renewed his focus, set intense goals, and is really determined to have a big year. Or it could be negative changes – distractions off the course mean that he’s not as ready to perform on the course as he might otherwise be. Either way, this is yet another situation where a sports bettor needs to be an amateur psychologist to try to figure out what changes mean.
Does he physically look the same? – Every offseason there are a couple of veteran golfers that really seem to get serious about their conditioning. They’ll lose weight they had been carrying around, gain muscle, and generally become more fit. Those changes don’t always translate to success on the course, but they often do. The changes physically are often paired with renewed focus and commitment in other ways as well. As a result, if a star caliber player has clearly been working overtime in the gym it is definitely worth taking note. On the flip side it is also worth noting if a guy doesn’t look nearly as good as he typically does. That could be the sign of a physical problem or a general lack of commitment, and that could really hurt his results.
What are his goals? – Sometimes star players will be open about their goals heading into a season. If those goals are grand and specific – to win a major, or shine at the Ryder Cup, for example – then they may not be as focused on performing well early in the season because there is no need for them to peak that early. If their goals are more focused on having a great year, winning as much as possible, and really making some noise, though, then their intensity may be at full throttle right form the start.
What was his most recent form? – A lot can change in an offseason, but it is still important to look back at how golfers were playing when we last saw them. Is he coming off a very strong season, or did he struggle? Did he finish strong or fade down the stretch? Did he stay healthy throughout, or did he have issues at points in the year? There is no guarantee that recent form will carry over to this year, but it’s an important starting point for analysing everything else we have looked at.
What offseason storylines will the public fixate on? – The big stars in golf are public figures well beyond just their time on the course. Sometimes those players will find themselves in the media outside of just for their playing. That can have a big effect on how the public sees them, and how they bet on them – especially early on before they have a chance to see what they are really playing like. The most obvious example here is Tiger Woods and his divorce saga. People were wildly negative about him upon his return as a result – and deservedly so. There have been many other cases of players facing illness, legal troubles, or personal tragedy that made it into the mainstream media, and which will have a big impact on how the public sees and bets on that player. Thinking about those situations could lead you to finding real value when handicapping and betting on the PGA.