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Scottie Scheffler is the current world number one in golf. And as the form player (narrowly ahead of the likes of Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay), it seems fitting that he is the current holder of the most prestigious item in golf – The Masters’ Green Jacket. Scheffler played wonderfully at Augusta, as you might expect the best player in the world to do. However, the success of the highest-ranked players at Majors down the years has been fleeting to say the least.
Back in 2018, a study was published that astounded most casual golf fans, and plenty of golf bettors too. It showed that only four players had won a Major while ranked as world number one since OWGR started the ranking system in 1986. Those players were Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy. If you take Woods out of the equation, that’s three wins from 77 Majors between 1986 and 2018 from the world’s top-ranked player.
Majors unkind to world number ones
Of course, we can add Scheffler’s win in 2022 and Dustin Johnson’s Masters win in 2020, both of which were achieved as number one with OWGR, to that list. But the point still stands that Majors have not been kind to the players in top spot. You’d be hard-pressed to find any other sport that has top prizes as unyielding to the number-one ranked athletes or teams.
As hinted at earlier, this can be a bit of a problem for golf bettors. After all, the OWGR ranking is effectively something akin to a horse racing form guide, even if there are criticisms over how it is calculated over a period of two years. Nonetheless, it’s one of the reasons why many golf bettors use each-way betting strategies for the Majors and other big tournaments.
If you weren’t aware, each-way betting refers to a kind of double bet, where you place one half of the wager on your selection to win, and the second half on your selection to be placed. It’s common in horse racing, where you might be offered 3, 4, or even 5 places depending on the size of the field. In golf, sportsbook’s promotions might offer up to 10 places for a blue-chip event like the Masters.
Shop around for the best terms
Betting sites will vary with their offers, so you should read the best sportsbooks reviews to see who offers the most generous promotions like this. But in short, you can usually find a bookie willing to pay each-way up to 10 places in the Majors. If your selection gets placed, you will get paid one quarter (sometimes one fifth, so check the sportsbook’s terms) of the odds. If your selection wins, you will win the full bet + the each-way bet.
At the most recent event, the 2022 Masters, the players finishing in the top 10 had the following odds:
1st Scottie Scheffler +1200
2nd Rory McIlroy +1100
T-3rd Shane Lowry +4000
& Cameron Smith +1200
5th Colinn Morikawa +1800
T-6th Corey Conners +5000
& Will Zalatoris +3000
T-8th Im-Jung Sae +5000
& Justin Thomas +1100
T-10th Cameron Champ +12500
& Charl Schwartzel +17500
Now, there is clearly a mix of betting favorites and longshots there. But the eye is inevitably drawn to those big prices. Champ and Schwartzel, in particular, were both priced at over 100/1. For perspective, a $20 each-way bet, i.e., one that consists of two $10 bets, on Schwartzel would have paid a profit of $427.50. A $20 straight bet on the winner, Scheffler, would have paid a profit of $220. So, you can understand why many golf bettors aim to back longshots each-way rather than plump for the hot favorites.
Is there a flaw in the strategy? Sure. These players are priced at high odds for a reason: Cameron Champ is currently world number 103, Schwartzel is 138. So, they don’t have the kind of form that would suggest they would do well. But all of that is part of ‘the art’ of golf betting, finding the value in those players who might just surprise the field at big events like The Masters. Go back through all the recent history of the Majors, and you are guaranteed to see at least 100/1+ shot player being placed. Sometimes, as was seen with Phil Mickelson taking the PGA Championship at 150/1 last year, they can even further than that.
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