I’ve never bet on golf. That’s not an admission or even a confession. It’s a fact.
Even before I assumed this seat in 2010, it’s not something I pursued. Sure, I’ve participated in fantasy golf formats for over 25 years, but either real money wasn’t at stake or, when it was, it was a pittance compared to the bragging rights for claiming a season-long championship.
Today, and since it was introduced a few years ago, I adhere to the PGA TOUR’s Integrity Program, so I have no plans to start betting on golf.
I share because of my new connection to GolfBet. I’m advising in that space weekly but I’m not placing actual wagers. If I had real money at stake, it could be implied that my preview material could be skewed to benefit me in some way. Since my work and expertise influence wagering, which in turn can influence odds, it’s imperative that I detach myself from that process. The Integrity Program is an appropriate and convenient cover, but I already was following my own North Star.
At the very least, this serves as an obligatory disclaimer. I hadn’t addressed it before, so I wanted to get it on the record. If the day ever arrives when I’m cleared to place a real bet, I’ll alert you immediately.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me share my picks in advance of every tournament since debuting for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Here’s how my “card” from last week’s Masters appeared:
Avoiding outrights at @ActionNetworkHQ for #TheMasters to focus on props and one matchup.— Rob Bolton (@RobBoltonGolf) April 7, 2021
Although I'm not going cold turkey on picking winners, this is a reflection of what I'm learning, in part due to your valuable feedback. It paid off last week, so expectations remain high. pic.twitter.com/ITR3A9206C
You’ll note that I’m using The Action Network’s application. It’s for mobile and tablet users only. A desktop version is not available. I’m learning how to use the value of units to express my confidence for each selection.
What I’m still determining is my objective.
First and foremost, I’m sharing those selections as an aid for you, if necessary, but I also have a responsibility not to engage in a willy-nilly fashion just because I can. I know that some wagerers will want to review my history in the app, so I’m taking that seriously.
I have no plans on multiplying the value of any unit so much so as to distort my track record, but you could invest in my elevated confidence in advance, anyway, and that does benefit you. And that’s the most important component of my role.
As I evolve in that space, please be aware that what I’m doing is free from the tug of making a buck on the side via the omission of angles from which I think I could profit. My promise always to be transparent preceded this new role, but it has introduced the requirement to reinforce that message.
Gotta say that I’m having a blast with it, so there’s no shortage of enthusiasm. Connecting with a new audience has been rewarding and fun, learning from the other contributors at GolfBet has been invaluable, and my competitive streak has made room for a different kind of sweat.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the RBC Heritage (in alphabetical order):
Daniel Berger (+2000)
Patrick Cantlay (+1600)
Corey Conners (+3000)
Tyrrell Hatton (+2500)
Matt Kuchar (+4000)
Webb Simpson (+1400)
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Abraham Ancer; Harris English; Matt Fitzpatrick; Doug Ghim; Brian Harman; Charley Hoffman; Dustin Johnson; J.T. Poston; Cameron Smith
Driving: Abraham Ancer; Paul Casey; Harris English; Tommy Fleetwood; Sergio Garcia; Doug Ghim; Emiliano Grillo; Dustin Johnson
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Kevin Kisner (+5000) … Sigh. He’s 53rd in the FedExCup but with only one top 10 – a P2 at The RSM Classic that accounts for 60 percent of his season total. As usual, he looked good at the Match Play (T18), but he’s scuffled in individual competition since the birth of his third child. He’s worth the risk at Harbour Town where he was a playoff victim in 2015 and has another pair of top-11 finishes, but he’s looked good elsewhere of late, too. Give him a twirl fractionally just to apply an emotional reaction, but temper your expectations.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, April 13 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Collin Morikawa (+1800) … Every once in a while, it’s good to pump the brakes to take stock of where we are with a guy. For me, his inconsistency deserves enough attention to omit him from this week’s Power Rankings. In his last six starts worldwide, he has only two top-40 finishes. Granted, he won at The Concession and he’s fresh off a T18 at the Masters, but his fantasy value is greater in the long-term than it is in a given week. That said, and to put it mildly, both values are above average. His T64 in his debut at Harbour Town last summer followed the disappointing playoff loss at Colonial the week before. The two courses often are comps for each other, so it’s reasonable to chalk up the latter result as part of the emotional learning curve. Statistically, he checks every box emphatically except for his putting. So, I’m approaching him this week as a litmus test for the notion that bad putters can hide on small greens, but I don’t know if I’ll ever attempt to talk you out of him on any track.
Paul Casey (+2800) … Despite missing the cut in his last two trips (2016, 2018), his form throughout 2021 has been terrific. Plain and simple, he’s offered no reason for it not to continue no matter the test.
Tommy Fleetwood (+3500) … Expectations remain high, but he’s of complementary value in weekly formats. Makes most cuts, so he’s insurance, but he’s had only one top 10 on the PGA TOUR in 13 months (T10, 2021 API). Finished T25 in his debut here last summer.
Branden Grace (+6600) … The 2016 breakthrough champion is 5-for-5 at Harbour Town with a trio of top-11 finishes and a scoring average of 69.40 in 20 rounds. His victory in Puerto Rico a month and a half ago is one of four top 25s in his last eight starts worldwide.
Michael Thompson (+12500) … The regular at Harbour Town is making his ninth appearance. He recorded top 10s in the last two editions and he’s been reliable for secondary-value purposes all season.
J.T. Poston (+12500) … The Western Carolina product doesn’t scream horse for any course, but he has a T6 (2018) and a T8 (2020) in his only appearances at Harbour Town. His scoring average in those eight rounds is a tidy 67.75. As a result, he probably will be over-owned in DFS. Because of that, the smarter play would be to abstain.
Mark Hubbard (+30000) … Last year’s first-round co-leader backpedaled into a T33, so he’s out for some revenge. Harbour Town plays into his propensity to find fairways and dial in his putter, not to mention that it lifts his relative value as a short hitter off the tee. He’s also cashed in nine of his last 13 starts, so toss him into DFS considerations.
Si Woo Kim
Billy Horschel (+5000) … It seemed that fatigue played a factor in his victory at the Match Play, but he was hardly alone. As impressive as any title is, it’s still his only noisemaker of four starts upon arrival. With hot and (mostly) cold results at Harbour Town in eight consecutive trips, he’s a calculated pass. On an aside, how he’s built this season is a departure from his previous reputation as a streaky player, but most (all?) golfers would trade a string of close calls for victories and podium finishes scattered among off-weeks.
Lee Westwood (+5000) … While each result can be explained in real time, his consecutive runner-up finishes in early March are appearing to reflect a surge more than a sustainment. He also hasn’t seen Harbour Town in 16 years.
Sungjae Im (+3500) … This is relative. After sharing runner-up honors at the November Masters, he acknowledged how differently (read: more challenging) Augusta National presented in advance of last week’s traditional slot, so it’s worth dismissing his poor experience for our purposes this week. That said, he is 0-for-2 at Harbour Town, so save a start in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf.
Danny Willett (+20000) … He’s missed two cuts upon arrival and he’s 0-for-3 at Harbour Town.
Dylan Frittelli (+10000) … Failed to fulfill promise as a Sleeper for the Masters (see below), so there’s that. He finished T8 at Harbour Town last year, but he closed with a 62 to climb 39 places. Good or bad, it’s usually not effective to base decisions on one round no matter its timing.
Chez Reavie (+20000) … Only three top-45 finishes in the last eight months. He’s also just 5-for-10 at Harbour Town and without a top 25.
Byeong Hun An
Charles Howell III
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Scott Piercy … Hasn’t played in a month. Intended to tee it up at The Honda Classic but a positive COVID-19 test result thwarted that plan. A T50 at Pebble Beach is his best finish in five starts in 2021, but Harbour Town could serve as an overdue springboard. He finished T16 here in 2018 and T3 in 2019, the last time it was contested in April, so consider him fractionally.
Danny Lee … Walked off TPC San Antonio during his second round with a sore shoulder. It extended his drought without a top-45 finish to 10 consecutive starts. Not that he’s worth the reach, even as a penny stock in DFS, he’s 5-for-7 at Harbour Town but with only two top 50s and never a top 35.
Kevin Tway … Hasn’t pegged it anywhere since the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February. It was his sixth consecutive missed cut. Nothing has surfaced to explain the time away, but he can afford to be patient since he’s fully exempt through 2021-22. That said, it’s been 20 months since his last top 25, so he’s past the midpoint of that (T11, 2019 BMW Championship) and the expected conclusion of next season.
Bryson DeChambeau … The FedExCup points leader finished T46 at the 2021 Masters. Reaction to his position at No. 17 in last week’s Power Rankings tilted heavily toward an opinion that he should’ve been placed close to the top. Fact is, and as he stated following the tournament, there’s more art than science at Augusta National, so it’s going to take him time to solve the equation. He’d have been a nice piece at Harbour Town where he’s recorded a T3, a T4 and a T8 in five tries, but the break during what has been a heavy and stressful period of golf is warranted.
Joel Dahmen … The irony is that when a guy breaks through for the first time, as he did at Corales three weeks ago, his schedule changes to include previously unscheduled starts in the invitationals, and the RBC Heritage is an invitational. However, he’s been gaining entry into them, anyway, by virtue of his FedExCup points and elevated Official World Golf Ranking.
Steve Stricker … It would’ve marked his first appearance at Harbour Town since 1998. The 54-year-old is 123rd in the FedExCup standings on the strength of a T4 at TPC Scottsdale and a pair of top 20s, the more recent of which in his last event at PGA National (T13). While at best a spot-starter in weekly formats, that he’s hanging on with gusto is enticing in the deepest of full-season formats. However, the closer he gets to focusing solely on the Ryder Cup, the more competing for himself in individual competition, whether on the PGA TOUR or the PGA TOUR Champions, will settle into the back seat.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – 2021 Masters
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Dustin Johnson MC
2 Justin Thomas T21
3 Jon Rahm T5
4 Jordan Spieth T3
5 Patrick Reed T8
6 Patrick Cantlay MC
7 Webb Simpson T12
8 Matt Fitzpatrick T34
9 Sungjae Im MC
10 Rory McIlroy MC
11 Xander Schauffele T3
12 Cameron Smith T10
13 Tony Finau T10
14 Brooks Koepka MC
15 Corey Conners T8
16 Paul Casey T26
17 Bryson DeChambeau T46
18 Collin Morikawa T18
19 Adam Scott 54th
20 Sergio Garcia MC
Wild Card Daniel Berger MC
SLEEPERS RECAP – 2021 Masters
Dylan Frittelli MC
Lanto Griffin MC
Mackenzie Hughes T40
Sebastián Muñoz T40
Ian Poulter T26
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
April 13 … Davis Love III (57)
April 14 … Sebastian Cappelen (31); Kramer Hickok (29); Matthew Wolff (22)
April 15 … Rafael Campos (33); Martin Trainer (30)
April 16 … Michael Thompson (36); Doug Ghim (25)
April 17 … Nick Taylor (33)
April 18 … none
April 19 … Matt Jones (41)
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