olympics golf picks
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour is off this week, a rare respite in an ordinarily seemingly endless weekly grind. The one-week hiatus in the Tour schedule is attributable to the Olympic Games generally and specifically the Men’s Golf Tournament at the Olympics.

Let’s take a look at how to bet Olympics golf and make some odds, picks, and predictions.

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Team USA is loaded at this event. Reigning “Champion Golfer of the Year” Collin Morikawa leads the way for the Americans. He is joined by Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed. All four save for Schauffele are major champions. Reed was a late substitute for 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who tested positive for COVID-19 in the run-up to the Olympics. DeChambeau wasn’t the only big name to be knocked out of the Olympic field for this reason. Spain’s Jon Rahm also tested positive for the virus and will not play in Tokyo. 

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It’s a strange coincidence that the past two United States Open Championship winners were both felled by COVID-19 in advance of this tournament. Someone should check on Gary Woodland.

VALUE PICK: HIDEKI MATSUYAMA TOP 10 (+100)

Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters in April and briefly lit Twitter on fire with images of him carrying his green jacket through airports the way business travelers carry their suit coats:

Since April, though, it’s been something of a slog for Matsuyama. His highest finish since the Masters was a tie for 23rd at the PGA Championship in May. Matsuyama followed that up with an even less competitive tie for 26th at the U.S. Open in June. Perhaps it was these mediocre results following his Masters win that took the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron from him. And maybe that was for the best anyway – Naomi Osaka failed to medal.

Matsuyama’s recent form is dodgy, but we are not asking him to win the tournament. We are asking the 20th best player in the world (based on the current Official World Golf Ranking) to finish in the top 10 against a small, depleted field in his home country. After winning the Masters, that’s probably the least he can reasonably be expected to do.

LONG SHOT PICK: MITO PEREIRA TOP 10 (+600)

Mito Pereira has been a PGA Tour member for about seven weeks. So why is he going to finish top 10 at the Olympic Games? Because the 26-year-old Chilean is on a heater, that’s why.

Pereira began the year on the Korn Ferry Tour, American golf’s version of AAA baseball or AHL hockey. That tour is tough. The money isn’t great, and everyone playing there is desperate to secure promotion to the PGA Tour. There is one fast pass to the PGA Tour from the Korn Ferry Tour, though. If you win three Korn Ferry events in the same season, you earn an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour.

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That’s what Pereira did. His promotion came after winning the Korn Ferry Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am in June. That was his third victory of the 2020 and 2021 Korn Ferry Tour seasons, which were combined due to COVID-19. Since joining the big show, Pereira has gone straight to work on earning enough money to retain his playing privileges. Pereira finished in a tie for fifth at the Barbasol Championship two weeks ago and in a tie for sixth at the 3M Open last week. In five starts, he has earned a little less than $750 less than Ted Potter, Jr., who is 175th on the money list. The difference is that Potter, Jr. has made 24 Tour starts. Pereira is hot right now, and a top 10 in this field would therefore be difficult but not impossible.

PICK TO WIN THE 2020 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL: COLLIN MORIKAWA (+650)

Morikawa is the tournament favorite and is two weeks removed from winning his second major championship. The young American also has been quoted speaking about his connection to the Olympics host nation insofar as Morikawa is half Japanese on his father’s side of his family.

“It’s one of my favorite places to come. It’s not just because I love the area, but you embrace the culture. You enjoy just being here. You feel like you’re a part of the society when you’re here, you feel respected and as athletes you want to be respected.”

Tickets on Morikawa at the Open cashed anywhere from +2500 in domestic books to +4000 offshore. You won’t be seeing odds on Morikawa that high again barring injury for a long time. As for this week, there is no reason to think Morikawa cannot keep it rolling and stand atop the podium on Sunday.

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