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11D AGO

Prop Farm: Collin Morikawa drawing plenty of attention from sharps, oddsmakers at the Memorial

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    Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer

    We've spoken about it recently and we're really smack-dab in the middle of a tremendous stretch right now. This week it’s off to Muirfield Village in Ohio for the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday for another Signature Event once again leading up to a major championship, which will be followed by yet another Signature Event, the Travelers Championship.

    Personally, I am very much enjoying this run of high-profile golf. But how about the oddsmakers?

    "Very good handle this week," said Thomas Gable, Director of Race and Sports at The Borgata in New Jersey. Timing is everything and the PGA TOUR's move to place Signature Events adjacent to majors provides a great boost in interest - and that carries over to the betting window.

    "Golf handle continues to pick up," said long-time sportsbook operations manager in Las Vegas, Jeffrey Benson. "The Signature Events and major championships are tremendous for business."

    Hall of Fame bookmaker Chris Andrews has noticed it long-term. "Golf handle is good. We're up 22% versus last year."

    Interest for Scottie Scheffler continues this week as he returns to action at the Memorial where he has finished third two years in a row. "Scheffler, despite the short price at +350, is taking a lot of action in the outright market," noted Gable.

    BetMGM Senior Data Analyst Drew O'Dell adds, "Scheffler is No. 1 at BetMGM in ticket count percentage and is our largest liability. He is responsible for 30.4% of the handle."

    From speaking to multiple oddsmakers, it’s clear that there is action piling up on Scheffler and Xander Schauffele, as the latter makes his first start as a major champion. But there’s also plenty of attention on Collin Morikawa, who continues to round into form.

    “A lot of love for Collin Morikawa outright,” said Jeff Sherman, whose shop lists Scheffler, Schauffele and Morikawa among its most-bet players. “The sharps are on Andrew Putnam at a triple-digit price."

    "Keegan Bradley has some support in the outright market, including one large wager in particular,” added Sherman’s boss, Jay Kornegay. “We've also seen some fliers on Will Zalatoris. Other long shots getting attention are Eric Cole, Cam Davis and Jake Knapp."

    Last week here in the Prop Farm, we spoke about trying to find "diamonds in the rough." It did not work out for me personally, as Robert MacIntyre was unfortunately not a part of my harvest. It appears this week however, I am in the minority once again. Morikawa is absolutely intriguing this week, with the way he has been playing lately and his affinity for Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses - but I ended up staying away from him - as well as Scheffler, McIlroy, Schauffele, and Hovland.

    The shortest-priced player I landed on for an outright win was Russell Henley (+4000 at BetMGM Sportsbook). From here I went with even longer shots, playing Sam Burns (+4500), Bradley (+5000), Alex Noren (+5500), Shane Lowry (+5500), Tom Hoge (+8000) and Kurt Kitayama (+10000). While I looked at a number of different metrics this week in my handicap this week, I honed in on three particular skill sets: Strokes Gained: Approach, Scoring on par 4s ranging from 450-500 yards, and Scrambling. Each of my selections, for the most part, excels in these areas.

    I rarely play the First Round Leader market, although my last trip down that road was with Schauffele at the PGA Championship for a winner, when the San Diego State Aztec opened with a 62 at Valhalla. Again, with golf riding an elevated wave, I too contributed to the overall increased handle and tried my hand in the First Round Leader market again this week. I took four of my outright selections to get off to a hot start: Burns, Henley, Hoge and Noren. In handicapping this market, I like to look at SG: Approach, Birdie Percentage, Bogey Avoidance, First Round Scoring Average and SG: Putting. Each of these players fares well in these areas.

    "Hideki Matsuyama (+3300) has taken some action for First Round Leader," said Gable. Matsuyama is a former champion here, winning in 2014.

    O'Dell reported that a familiar name is at the top of the heap of tickets once again.

    "Scheffler leads the ticket count percentage for First Round Leader at 10.3%,” said O’Dell. "He is followed by Schaufflee (6.5%), Hovland (5.0%), Byeong Hun An (4.6%) and McIlroy (4.3%)," O'Dell continued.

    Here in Las Vegas, I played Tommy Fleetwood (+100) over Justin Thomas in a head-to-head matchup – and it's reassuring to know that the man behind the counter supports that position. "I don't have that matchup posted but I can't argue with the number you got. I would have taken it too!," exclaimed Gable.

    Finally, I had to consult a professional on our side of the window, Rufus Peabody. Peabody has been a successful sports bettor for years, and when I asked if the fan in him gets caught up in this run of marquee events and if his betting patterns change at all - or if his volume increases, Peabody offered a yes and a no.

    "The markets get bigger with the bigger events and the offerings increase - the menu, so yes, so too does our volume oftentimes,” Peabody said. “But the process does not change. We aren't stretching more bets just because it is a Signature Event."

    Peabody’s positions this week include Scheffler, Schauffele and McIlroy – but a casual bettor must understand that Peabody is all about the number.

    "I make Schauffele +900 to win this week and I was able to find something higher than that, so we took a little of it,” he said. “Same with McIlroy, who I make around +1100 and Scheffler, who my number is +380 to win it this week. If I'm able to find a better price, we'll grab some."

    What about some of the longer shots this week?

    "I like Bradley. I think Sam Burns is a good bet at the right price and we played some Kitayama too,” Peabody said after hearing some of my selections. “He has a great ball flight for this course. This is a good high ball flight course - and Bradley hits one of the highest balls in this week's field.”

    When I asked if there were any prop bets or head-to-head matchups that he was especially keen on this week, Peabody gave very much the professional bettor answer.

    "Sure we have some matchup bets, but the prices have moved now and they no longer provide an edge according to my numbers,” said Peabody. “It is not necessarily liking Player A to beat Player B - but rather, Player A at a certain price over Player B makes good betting sense.”

    As always, farm what you can out of our research and insights above – and may your crop be a fruitful one as the good golf continues to grow on us week after week

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call, or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

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