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Prop Farm: Oddsmakers divided on action surrounding Rory McIlroy in Scotland

5 Min Read

Golfbet News


    Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer

    There’s an interesting convergence of storylines around Rory McIlroy heading into this year’s Genesis Scottish Open.

    It isn't the first time that has been the case - far from it. Just a couple of months ago, leading up to the PGA Championship, the Northern Irishman was coming off two straight wins and was returning to the scene of where his last major title had been captured.

    In this case, we have McIlroy returning to a tournament where he’s the defending champion. We have a major championship on deck and the fact remains that he hasn't won a major in 10 years – having let the U.S. Open slip through his hands at Pinehurst.

    As is often the case in these situations, there are mixed reactions as to how bettors are treating McIlroy this week at the window.

    "Not worth mentioning in terms of the handle. It's a lot less than we have seen in the past," said Tristan Davis from his post at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

    I immediately remembered how bettors jumped ship on Scottie Scheffler after his disappointing performance at the U.S. Open. As soon as they did, Scheffler went out and won again the very next week at the Travelers Championship.

    "Still a whole day of betting to go. It can change. The bigger bets often come in late on golf, so I would expect the bigger punters to bet up on him later (Wednesday)," added Davis.

    Drew O'Dell, senior data analyst at BetMGM, points out, "(McIlroy) has our highest ticket count percentage at 11.6% and our second largest handle at 13.4%."

    It’s a similar story for longtime oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich, who noted that McIlroy “is getting some good action” at prices above +800. But veteran golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman is seeing it go the other way.

    "Not much here in the outright market," said Sherman. "In fact, they're playing Xander Schauffele to beat (McIlroy) in a tournament matchup."

    At The Borgata in New Jersey, Thomas Gable is seeing activity on McIlroy but nothing too serious. "He has the most tickets written on him in the outright winner market but not the most handle," said Gable. "At such a short price, he isn't a real concern in terms of liability. There isn't any sharp money on Rory and it's all recreational on him in matchups."

    Speaking with Adam Kaufman during his sports betting show on WRKO Radio in Boston on Tuesday evening, I said personally that I didn't know what to do with McIlroy this week and that I completely stayed away. It's tough to try to figure out how he is going to react this week. He'll be under the microscope as the defending champion - winning in dramatic fashion last year, nonetheless - and also as someone who hadn't spoken publically since his frustration at Pinehurst until Wednesday’s press conference.

    At the same time, McIlroy has shown that he typically plays really well the week before a major championship. I went deeper down the board and tried to find plays with which I had more confidence, like Tommy Fleetwood.

    "We don't usually see the sharp plays in the outright market but we have one this week. It is Tommy Fleetwood," said Davis at Mandalay Bay. "He's come from +2200 down to +1800."

    Sherman is seeing some of it too. "We have sharp play on Fleetwood to finish Top 20."

    Both Sherman and Bogdanovich have seen respected money come in on the 2021 Open Championship winner, Collin Morikawa. "Betting YES on Morikawa to finish Top-10 has been popular," said Bogdanovich. Sherman added, "We took sharp play on Morikawa to win it outright this week at some of our locations outside of Nevada."

    "Ludvig Åberg is leading the way in ticket count and money wagered but we haven't moved the number. Tom Kim and Matt Fitzpatrick have been popular too. We've gotten sharp play though on Byeong Hun An," Sherman continued.

    Åberg has been popular everywhere, really. "Åberg, Thomas Detry and Nicolai Højgaard have been getting quite a bit of action," added Bogdanovich.

    O'Dell at BetMGM noted, "Åberg is No. 2 in ticket count percentage at 8.7% and No. 1 in handle at 15.6%. He is our biggest liability followed by Viktor Hovland and Aaron Rai."

    The young Swedish phenom, who has quickly ascended to No. 4 in the OWGR and will be competing in his first Open Championship next week, made Davis' list as well. "Fleetwood and Sahith Theegala have been our two best bet players this week. Next best bet are Åberg, Rai and Hovland."

    Rai made my list of outright plays as well as a Top-20 Finish this week. He's been in the final group on Sunday the last two weeks on TOUR and now he is going back to a course he's won at in the past. It was 2020 when he beat Fleetwood here in a playoff to win the Genesis Scottish Open.

    Bogdanovich made mention of Detry and I played him for a win and a top-20 finish as well. He has played in all five prior editions of this tournament at The Renaissance Club, never having finished worse than 43rd. He finished 10th in 2022 and lost in a playoff here in 2021. His current form has been very good with a runner-up at the Texas Children's Houston Open, a fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship, and a 14th last month at the U.S. Open.

    We've seen big hitters win here in the last three years: Min Woo Lee in 2021, Schauffele in 2022, and McIlroy last year. With over half of the field having played previously or being a current member of the DP World Tour, there is quite the mixed bag of contenders this week and I am embracing the variety.

    Speaking of big hitters, I took some big swings on a couple of Englishmen at triple-digit prices in Matt Wallace and Matthew Jordan. I believe there are a number of different directions this tournament can go this week with the variety in the field and the way the ball bounces sometimes in links golf.

    Yes, the weather is almost always a factor on this side of the world, bringing more possible randomness into play too, but the forecast looks pretty tame in the North Berwick, Scotland, area this week. Light rain, clouds, some afternoon sunshine and very little wind is what we are seeing currently.

    Sounds ideal for us farmers.

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