Beating Vegas Week 1 — RBC Heritage

We here at GOTM believe that there’s nothing more American than golf and betting. And up until this point, we haven’t combined these pastimes into a weekly article that they deserve. So this week at the RBC Heritage marks the first on a ten week endeavor to decide who is the best at picking tournament winners. Here are the rules. For the next 10 weeks, myself (Jack), Mike, and Grant (another golf enthusiast who needs to stay in posture better if he wants to hit the ball straighter) all get $100 to bet on the winners of the tournaments according to the odds at this website that happened to be ranked highly according to the google. We’ll update with results after each week, and if anyone manages to have more than $1000 at the end of the 10 weeks, they must agree to quit their jobs, move to vegas and bet full time. So without further ado, our picks for the week…

Mike’s Picks:

Jim Furyk (19/1): $15

Pat Perez (60/1): $10

Michael Putnam (200/1): $10

Jerry Kelly (100/1): $10

Matt Kuchar (15/1): $15

Luke Donald (17/1): $20

Carl Pettersson (60/1): $10

Will Mackenzie (40/1): $10

I tried to get a good mix of guys here, putting a lot of money on one or two players vs the field just seems crazy. Past performance here played a big role in my picks of Donald, Furyk, and Pettersson. Kuchar hasn’t done great at the Heritage recently, but I can’t help but think he’s got to win soon playing the way that he is. Mackenzie is playing great as well, so I can’t overlook those odds. The other three guys are kind of shots in the dark, and I thought were ok picks for the odds.

Jack’s Picks:

Graeme McDowell (22/1): $10

Carl Pettersson (60/1): $10

Brandt Snedeker (30/1): $10

Jim Furyk (19/1): $10

Brian Gay (90/1): $10

Boo Weekley (100/1): $10

Aaron Baddeley (110/1): $10

Stewart Cink (150/1): $10

Davis Love III (250/1): $10

Justin Leonard (170/1): $10

When picking winners selections, there are two main points that you would want to stick to. One is how well players are doing right now. Jordan Spieth, everyone’s darling after his runner up performance at the masters would be someone who’s playing well as of now. Russell Henley, recently named the Avis player of the month (I wonder how many rental cars Henley had to rent to buy that award…) would also be such an example. The other point is how well the player’s game fits the course, which is usually judged by past results at the tournament (while making sure the course hasn’t switched). Since courses different in style so much, players who have proven themselves on a course are generally good picks. When making selections, one might want to use some combination of the two to get an equal weighting from each of the important facts.

Well to that I say screw it. I’m going with all past winners! If I had to actually make a case for this, I’d say that this course has had a tendency of producing multi-winners. Stewart Cink, Boo Weekley (even though he’s probably fishing in the ocean rather than practicing for the tournament), Payne Stewart, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller and Hubert Green were all repeat champs. And like I mentioned, DLIII has 5 jackets. Instead of finding the repeaters, might have been better off listing the guys who have only won the tournament once! I would have loved to divvy out some of the cash to two more past winners playing this week, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo, but the idiots in vegas didn’t feel like they could win one of these things in 250 attempts, so they left them off the odds sheet. Otherwise, they would’ve gotten a piece of my C-note.

Grant’s Picks

(Picks are in, finally)

I admittedly lack the intense golf knowledge that would drive most people to participate in a 10 week betting challenge. However, what I lack in knowledge, I make up for with grit, determination, the ability to google past performances, and pristine insight (aka utilizing gut instinct and making decisions off of judgments that are not only probably untrue, but are also improperly assumed to correlate to the conclusion off which they are based). With that said, here are my picks and ‘justifications’:

Favorites:

Player A: Luke Donald (17/1): $14

Player B: Jordan Spieth (14/1): $13

Player C: Matt Kuchar (15/1): $12

Player D: Jim Furyk (19/1): $11

Player E: Graeme McDowell (22/1): $10

Player F: Zach Johnson (20/1): $9

I am going with a diversification of risk strategy with my picks. Knowing that all $100 of my dollars had to be spent I decided to go heavy on the above clear favorites after whom a large drop in odds is seen. I considered the same amount on all guys but then I saw a few things that I weighted accordingly which led to the waterfall bets:

a) Luke Donald has finished top 3 thrice since 2010 and is nice and rested after missing the cut at the Masters.

b) Jordan Spieth has been crushing and can quickly get over Masters Sunday by remembering he has a pretty hot girlfriend.

c) Matt Kuchar has been playing great of late and, per his swearing alternatives, I trust in his ability to get through his struggles on Masters Sunday.

d) The oddsmakers like Furyk more than I can see any reason for him to be liked here so I assume they know something I don’t.

e) McDowell won here last year. Plus, he gets some extra rest after missing the cut at the Masters.

f) Zach is a short hitter. This is a short course. Seems like a match made in heaven. However, I really can’t stand that he always has sunglasses on when he golfs so he is last of the favorites.

Second Tier:

Player G: Charley Hoffman: (40/1): $7 – Charley has finished top 10 last two years. Seems like a clear pick.

Player H: Chesson Hadley: (70/1): $7 – I don’t know a ton about Chesson. All I know is that he seems to have been playing very well this year because I feel like I have watched a lot of weekend shots by Chesson. However, that might also be because I find every shot of his incredibly memorable as I still cannot get over how unbelievably skinny he is. Also he has been documented riding his driver in midair.

Player I: Jerry Kelly: (100/1) $7: These seem like pretty good odds for someone who finished 5th in 2013. Plus, Wisconsin.

Flyers:

Player J: Rory Sabbatini: (110/1): $2: He has had past success at the course and appears to be the unanimous choice as most disliked guy on tour and wears badass hats so a few dollars on him seems appropriate.

Player K: Patrick Reed: (45/1): $2: Struggled at Augusta. However, given his form all year I could see him pulling out the win and would curse myself if I didn’t at least have a few bucks on him.

Player L: Ricky Barnes: (250/1): $2: Could very well miss the cut. However, a few times a year he seems to throw it all together and contend in tournaments and I don’t want to be left not invested in Barnes if he and those beautiful hats are in contention come Sunday.

Player M: David Toms: (250/1): $2

Player N: Davis Love III: (250/1):$2

The course is relatively short. Old people cannot hit the ball as far. Toms and Love are pretty darn old and, as such, cannot hit the ball as far. Plus, Love has won this thing 5 times and recently had the same surgery as Peyton Manning to repair his neck. This surgery propelled Manning to an MVP Award. It seems reasonable to believe that it will lead Love to the RBC Heritage MVP.

Given my diversification of funds hopefully one of these guys ends up hoisting whatever trophy the tourney winner gets. If not, at least I can honor 4/15 by considering the lost $100 a charitable contribution and make it a tax write-off.

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