Betting Farmers Insurance Open – Tiger’s 2018 PGA Tour Debut

by Wayne Carter
on January 23, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, buckle up! We are in for an exciting few days in San Diego.

Golf fans are in for an absolute treat this week. I know it’s a “regular” FedEx Cup event, but the tournament just seems to be surrounded by the buzz and anticipation of a Major Championship. The reason we are feeling like this is because Tiger Woods is making his 2018 PGA Tour tournament debut, and it’s at a place where he has dominated.

It was fitting that Tiger chose Torrey Pines, site of his 7 Farmers Insurance Open titles and his last Major (2008 U.S. Open) as the site to begin “his comeback”. I realized I am not the only person who is eagerly awaiting Thursday morning to arrive. The sportsbooks in Vegas and the online sports betting sites have created a list of “Tiger Woods prop bets” to keeps fans enthused and glued to their televisions and mobile devices from Thursday thru Sunday.

Being that I actually used to work inside the player’s locker room during this event and have played Torrey Pines several times as a former collegiate golfer, I figured I was qualified to write this blog. I wanted to jump into these prop bets regarding Tiger’s return and see if we have any sort of opportunity to turn a profit.

I will also take a look at some of the other players I expect to perform well this week. I’ll mention the golfers I think have legitimate shots to win, as well as the ones that should exceed expectations. Who are the value picks for player matchups and daily fantasy sites that casual bettors won’t be locked in on?

I want to preview the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open and tell you exactly how to make some money betting. I didn’t write this blog to talk about Tiger’s trials and tribulations or talk about who will win the Masters.

It is all about the Farmers Insurance Open this week. What is your best avenue to winning money betting the tournament is what I am here to talk about. Let’s dive right in.

Tiger Woods Makes His Return to the PGA Tour

I can’t wait to see what happens this week with Tiger. In the last couple years, Tiger has clearly been hampered by significant injuries as well as issues in his personal life. The good news is his performance at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December gave him and us fans the exact hope we were looking for.

Not only did Tiger play well (T-9th), he looked healthy and unaffected by previous surgeries. His back and knees obviously weren’t bothering him as evidenced by his ball speed consistently around 180mph off the tee with his driver. For those of you unfamiliar- the tour average is under 170 mph. Tiger’s impressive marks were similar to the ball speeds of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy.

I am talking about the longest guys out there- not bad for a guy who just turned 42 years old. Tiger wasn’t grimacing after tee shots, he wasn’t flinching when hitting iron shots out of the rough. Woods actually looked kind of like his old self- and that got more than a few people amped up.

Betting sites panicked at how good he looked and swiftly adjusted his Masters future’s odds from 100:1 to as low as 15:1. Now that the Farmers Insurance Open has finally arrived, let’s take a look at our options this week regarding the 14-time Major Champion. His price of 22:1 to win the tournament doesn’t really offer any real value, considering the likes of what Tiger is up against.

I much prefer some of the props associated with Woods this week, let’s take a peek because I have a good feeling there is some serious money waiting to be won.

Will Tiger Withdraw During the Event?

  • Yes         +450
  • No          -700

Will Tiger Woods Make the Cut?

  • Yes         +110
  • No          -140

How Many Bogies or Worse Will Tiger Woods Make?

  • Over 7.5               -130
  • Under 7.5            +100

How Many Birdies Will Tiger Woods Make?

  • Over 6.5               -120
  • Under 6.5            -110

What Will Tiger Woods Shoot on the North Course?

  • Over 70.5             -140
  • Under 70.5          +110

What Will Tiger Woods’ Lowest Round on the South Course Be?

  • Over 73.5             -115
  • Under 73.5          -115

Will Tiger Woods Finish in the Top 5 This Week?

  • Yes         +750
  • No          -1000

Will Tiger Woods Finish in the Top 10 This Week?

  • Yes         +450
  • No          -550

As you can see by these prices, the oddsmakers aren’t very bullish on Tiger performing well this week. It is crystal clear that they don’t anticipate him making the cut and being around for the weekend’s festivities. I happen to disagree, and I am more than willing to put my money where my mouth is.

I am not suggesting he wins the tournament or even finishes in the top-10. However, from everything I have gathered, I feel like a couple of these props are seriously mispriced.

The “number of overall birdies made for the week” bet is sticking out to me like a sore thumb. If you think Tiger is going to make the cut and complete 72 holes like I do, then making more than 6.5 birdies is a near certainty. On the flip side of that, if he plays 72 holes here- he will make more than 7.5 bogies or worse, that is not even up in the air.

I did some digging and found that even when Tiger last won the Farmers Insurance Open in 2013- he made 9 bogies or worse that week. And he finished -14 and won the event by 4 strokes! When he won this tournament in 2008, he shot -19 and won by a whopping 8 shots! Guess what- he still made 8 bogies or worse that week!

Only having to lay -130 that Tiger makes 7.5 or more bogeys this week is a fantastic bet. Whether he plays great or plays poorly, his number of bogies is extremely likely to exceed 7.5.

I am going to be rooting for Tiger this week- no doubt about it. Should tiger fail to make the cut, the two props I am locked in on still have a chance to hit. If Tiger is wearing red on Sunday at Torrey this week- whether he is in contention or not I will be happily cashing in on a couple tickets.

Serious Contenders

When you are trying to predict who will win a golf tournament, there is no perfect recipe to guarantee you get it right. Regardless of how much data and analysis you go through, there is no definite formula to know who will win a golf tournament. In the end, it comes down to using your best judgment given the information you have in front of you.

Here is what I came up with when looking at the favorites- in other words, the serious contenders. I won’t go through everyone, as it’s pretty simple to look at the list of favorites and say all the top guys have a chance to win. I will point out two golfers I have my eye on to win this week, as well as someone you may be surprised to see me fade.

Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm Celebrating After a Putt
The defending champion and the number 2-ranked player in the world enters the week clicking on all cylinders. Fresh off his victory at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs, Jon Rahm deserves to be the tournament favorite and has as good of a chance as anyone to hoist the trophy on Sunday.

For the simple fact that he won last week and the public will be all over Rahm, he is an easy fade for me this week. I am not suggesting Rahm isn’t determined and focused but coming off a big win in a 4-hole playoff- it’s easy to let your foot off the pedal for a moment to catch your breath.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be shocked if he wins, but I just don’t see much value with this strong of a field and only getting 8:1 on my money.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler at 12:1 is a real consideration when taking into account how well this guy has played lately. Despite not playing well the past three years at Torrey, Rickie is in a much different place this time around. Instead of being jet-lagged from Abu Dhabi (20+ hour flight) like he has been in the past, Rickie enters his “hometown” event well-rested and ready to pounce.

Rickie, who grew up in nearby Murrieta, California, finished fourth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month. This followed a second-place finish at Mayakoba in November and a win at the Hero World Challenge in December. If you are looking for a player who is rested and playing brilliantly- look no further than Fowler.

Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay Swinging a Club
If you are surprised to see Patrick Cantlay at 30:1 (ahead of guys like Brandt Snedeker, Charlie Hoffman, Phil Mickelson, and Patrick Reed) to win the golf tournament, you probably haven’t been paying close enough attention to the UCLA product in his second full-season out on tour.

Coming off an uberly-impressive rookie campaign where Patrick made all 13/13 cuts on his way to the Tour Championship, all Cantlay has done so far in the 2018 season is gotten better. His two 15th place finishes were “sandwiched around” his win at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas, proving that he is due for an even better sophomore season.

Born and raised in southern California, Patrick is essentially playing on home turf and is more than equipped to handle the difficult test of golf that Torrey Pines presents. Believe it or not as the year progresses, don’t be surprised to hear Cantlay’s name be mentioned as a favorite each and every time he tees it up. He’s that good.

Value Plays

Now for the fun part. It certainly doesn’t take a genius to “like the guys” that are already considered heavy contenders to win the tournament. This is the section of the blog where I mention two names that have the potential for the huge payoffs.

I have no qualms in saying that this pair of golfers (each listed at 90:1 to win the tournament) has a chance to win despite being thought of as an utter “longshot”. They also provide tremendous value as players that are poised to make the cut and have solid weeks. They are great targets for the player matchups and the daily fantasy sites.

These “darkhorse” names are on the brink of winning a golf tournament- and it could very well come this week.

James Hahn

James Hahn with Driver
There is a whole lot to like when you watch James Hahn swing a golf club. The reason I like him this week at Torrey Pines is simple. Hahn has been known to be a streaky player- when he is “on” he can be as good as anybody. He has won twice on the PGA Tour so I know he is more than capable of playing well down the stretch of a golf tournament.

He lost in a playoff at the Sony Open two weeks ago and despite missing out on a golden opportunity to win a golf tournament- I believe it just got James’ juices flowing even more.

He played ok last week, finishing 36th in Palm Springs and now makes the short drive down to San Diego where he unfortunately is yet to find success. The good news for the 36-year old who was raised in “SoCal” and attended The Universtiy of California is he is in the midst of one of those hot streaks he has been known to get on. At 90:1, I think he is worth a shot.

JJ Spaun

If you want a person who knows Torrey Pines and has proven he can play well at this setup, JJ Spaun might just be the guy you are looking for. Born and raised in southern California, JJ attended nearby San Diego State and knows the area and grass as well as anyone in the field.

Better yet, in his debut as a rookie last season, Spaun finished 9th at this tournament and enters this week 14th on the FedEx Cup list. JJ played in the same group last year with eventual winner Jon Rahm and knows exactly what it takes to win the Farmers Insurance Open. With a runner-up finish already on his resume in the young 2018 season, Spaun is on the verge of breaking through and capturing his first title.

It wouldn’t catch anybody in the golf industry off-guard if that happened this Sunday at Torrey Pines.

The Takeaway

The 2018 Farmers Insurance Open is about to get underway and boy am I pumped! I was already stoked to watch the event, but after seeing the betting sheet I am even more excited. Tiger Woods makes his much-anticipated season debut and all eyes will be on him. I am a little hesitant to say he will bust out this week and win the golf tournament. It’s hard to predict what we will see from Woods, but I am dumbfounded that the online sites have set his number of total birdies and bogies (or worse) where they did.

I LOVE the overs on both bets as they are locks to hit if he is able to make the cut and finish the tournament.

Even if he only plays 36 holes, he has a chance to exceed these totals. I really like these two bets folks.

In terms of the rest of the field and the other storylines- everyone and their grandmother will be on Jon Rahm this week. I understand how deep the field is and how hard it is to win back-to-back weeks so Rahm is an easy fade for me.

In terms of two of the favorites I really like and two dark horses coming from much further down the list- you will notice something common amongst the group. All four players grew up and were raised playing golf in southern California. That bodes well considering the tournament this week is in San Diego!

Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay are two gentlemen that are as composed and rock-solid as any golfers on the PGA Tour. I expect both men to contend this week and think each has a great chance to win.

James Hahn and JJ Spaun, also natives of southern California may not be household names, but don’t let that fool you into thinking these guys don’t have serious game. I think at 90:1 they provide amazing value as two guys that legitimately could hoist the trophy this week.

Take your shots on these guys and pound the overs on Tiger’s birdie and bogey totals.

You may be celebrating more than you thought come Sunday evening!

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