Odds and Ends: Back Viktor Hovland this week at Pebble Beach Pro-Am
As the PGA Tour heads to Pebble Beach, California, for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I start to reminisce on cashing the beautiful +6000 ticket on Tom Hoge last season. Hoge won the event by two strokes after his 4-under-68 in the final round. What a wild ride we were on for cashing such a large outright. Hoge started the round with a birdie, then a double on Nos. four and five. Nonetheless, he did the job and won us a large hunk of cash.
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a fun tournament for most players and fans. While the field is never as strong as it once was, it’s a chance to see Tour pros paired up with some of the most popular celebrities. The field will play three rounds rotating between Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, and Pebble Beach, with a 54-hole cut following. The three courses are short, measuring just 7,041, 6,957, and 6,972 yards, respectively. The greens here are small, the smallest on Tour. This tournament is generally won by players who hit fairways but play precise, target golf. Hit your targets and hit GIR; there’s a good chance you’ll be in contention.
Here are the key metrics I am using this week:
- SG: Ball Striking
- SG: Approach
- SG: Around the Green
- SG: Putting (Poa)
- Driving Accuracy
- Proximity: 125-150
There’s a new pricing standard in the golf betting industry. In the weaker field events, favorites are now going off at +600 to +1000. It feels hard to extract value when guys like Andrew Putnam go off at +2000 when, just a few seasons ago, similar golfers would be priced much closer to +5000. That’s no knock on Putnam by any means. I actually think he has a great chance to win this week. It’s still hard for me to bet a guy at +2000 with one career win over five years ago.
While I was listening to Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg, they made a very valid point. With the favorites prices being so short, gone are the days where longshots are considered guys +10000 and up. Now, a long shot is +5000. That makes taking advantage of odds boost that much more important. DraftKings offers an additional +300 on any outright odds for this week’s tournament.
DraftKings +300 Boost: Viktor Hovland was +1200, now +1500
Let’s start with the seemingly obvious. Viktor Hovland returns to the scene where he won the 2018 US Amateur. He hadn’t played in this event since 2020, when he finished T38. Backing Hovland anywhere near +1000 wasn’t on my agenda. With this boost, we gain a little more value on his price. At times when looking at a field of this caliber, it’s more comforting to find golfers with multiple wins. It’s an added benefit that Hovland’s game should fit this course fairly well.
This tournament will be won by someone who is excellent off the tee and is a great ball striker. Hovland does both of those well. He is first in my primary model. He’s the best ball striker in the field, and his putting numbers get a boost while playing on Poa greens. The difference between them isn’t remotely close. He will have to play well around the greens, an area where he’s struggled. However, winning this tournament will be won by who hits more GIR, not who gets up and down the most. Hovland’s history here alone should be enough to have faith in him to contend here on Sunday.
Joel Dahmen +4500, 0.15 units – Caesars
I always find myself fading guys who are recently married or have a new child. It’s not because I don’t like love or the thought of starting a family; it’s because the lifestyle change often impacts golfers. I’m throwing that notion aside and backing Joel Dahmen this week. Dahmen is among those who had a long layoff at the beginning of 2023. His family welcomed a child to the fold. The price and upside for Dahmen are enough for me to want to jump in.
Dahmen has a rich course history here. Over the last four trips here, he’s finished top 20 twice, with a T6 last season. He was playing some of his best golf in the first few rounds but was unable to finish the final round strong. Before Dahmen’s layoff, he was in great form with three straight top-10 finishes. He finished T5 at the RSM, T9 at the Houston Open, and T3 at Mayakoba.
There’s a good reason why Dahmen has played well here. His lack of distance off the tee doesn’t negatively impact him; he’s a great target golfer and hits a ton of GIR. Maybe Dahmen uses new father, Max Homa, as his inspiration after Homa picked up his first win since becoming a father. At this price, it’s certainly worth the risk.
Will Gordon +7000, 0.15 units – FanDuel
Will Gordon is the first golfer in my secondary model. This model doesn’t factor in putting success based on the green surface. In search of his first PGA Tour win, this rookie should be high on everyone’s radar. He’s coming off back-to-back missed cuts, but I expect a major bounce-back from him. Before those two missed cuts, he had made the cut in his first seven Tour events. The new wave of future PGA Tour superstars never fails to amaze me. They are getting longer and longer off the tee, and Gordon is no exception.
Gordon pounds the ball off the tee with an average driving distance of 320 yards. He’s also hitting fairways at a 60% clip. Unlike many bombers, when Gordon misses fairways, it’s not by much. “Good Drivers” measures fairways hit and drives that narrowly miss the fairway. Over the last 36 rounds, Gordon is third in the field in Good Drives. Gordon can also get birdies in bunches, which should be useful this week. Should Gordon win, he would be the second in the last 16 winners to earn their first PGA Tour win at Pebble Beach.
Seamus Power +2500, 0.5 units – PointsBet
There are golfers who seem like guys who are ready to make that big break to stardom, and at times Seamus Power feels like one of those guys. He saw some success in the middle of the season, but it wasn’t until October that he picked up his second PGA Tour win. During that stretch of success, he picked up a win with three top-five finishes in a span of four tournaments. He’s also coming off a T20 finish at the Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Power is an excellent fit for this tournament. He’s accurate off the tee and hits a ton of GIR in regulation. He plays the coastal courses very well. Of the available course comps, Waialae, Port Royal, Sea Island, and Harbor Town, Seamus Power ranks among the top 10 in SG: Total at those courses. Not to mention, Power held the 36-hole lead last season and set the course record after 36 holes last season. Power was my first click this week, and the more I began to click, the more excited I became about backing the Irishman.
Thomas Detry +5000, 0.5 units – DraftKings
There are a few golfers who split time between the DP World Tour and either the PGA Tour or DP World Tour that get me excited when they are in a field. Thomas Detry is that for me. Detry hasn’t won a PGA Tour event and hasn’t played in Pebble Beach yet, hence his +5000 price tag. Detry is a beast off the tee, hitting the ball 320 yards per drive. He’s a great ball striker hitting GIR at a 71% clip. He’s a great putter and should see himself content come Sunday. I’ll probably bet Detry every week until I go broke or he wins his first PGA tournament.
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