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BlogOlympic Men’s Preview and Picks

Olympic Men’s Golf Competition

July 29th – August 1st, 2021

Kasumigaseki C.C. (East Course)

Saitama, Japan

Par: 71 / Yardage:

Purse: Three medals, Gold, Silver & Bronze

with Gold Medal to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Rose (not playing)

 

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

So who is in the field?

This week it’s the men playing, next will be the woman.  Both contests comprise 60 players each off of the World Rankings and Rolex Woman’s ranking.

For the men there are 35 different countries represented, The United States has the most players with four players, who were in the top-15 of the World Rankings.  Beyond the top-15 each country gets a maximum of two eligible players.  21 different countries have two players in the field.

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 28 of the top-100 players and 18 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Those top-100 in the field are #3 Collin Morikawa, #4 Justin Thomas, #5 Xander Schauffele, #11 Viktor Hovland, #12 Patrick Reed, #13 Rory McIlroy, #20 Hideki Matsuyama, #22 Paul Casey, #23 Abraham Ancer, #26 Joaquin Niemann, #27 Sungjae Im, #28 Cameron Smith, #34 Tommy Fleetwood, #35 Corey Conners, #36 Marc Leishman, #40 Shane Lowry, #41 Garrick Higgo, #46 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #53 Mackenzie Hughes, #55 Siwoo Kim, #61 Carlos Ortiz, #72 Guido Migliozzi, #75 Thomas Detry, #82 Sebastian Munoz, #86 Rikuya Hoshino, #89 Antoine Rozner, #92 Alex Noren and #95 Jhonattan Vegas.

The average ranking of all 60 players is 137; there are six players that are ranked above 300 with Udayan Mane from India being the highest player in the field at 386.  There are about a dozen very obscure players that very few have ever heard of like Japanese Rikuya Hoshino who as a professional plays on the Japan Tour.  In nine starts he has won twice in Japan (Asian Pacific Diamond Cup & Kansai Open) and is 1st on the Japan Tour money list.  There are also about a dozen Asian Tour players like Indian Udayan Mane, who has yet to play on the PGA Tour but has been a member of the Asian Tour.

Link to the 2016 Olympics results

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition

Player 3M Open Cazoo Open British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open Travelers Champ. Irish Open Rocket Mortgage BMW Intern. U.S. Open Palmetto Champ. Memorial Tourn.
Collin Morikawa
(404 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(264)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(106.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
Mackenzie Hughes
(187.33 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(120)
DNP DNP DNP T76
(0)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Xander Schauffele
(174.33 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(48)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(73.33)
DNP T11
(13)
Jhonattan Vegas
(172.33 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
Viktor Hovland
(158.33 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
WD
(-6.67)
DNP T47
(1)
Paul Casey
(152.67 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(73.33)
DNP DNP
Mito Pereira
(139.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Guido Migliozzi
(126.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T35
(15)
T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(106.67)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(114 pts)
DNP DNP T40
(20)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP T42
(2.67)
Shane Lowry
(114 pts)
DNP DNP T12
(76)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP T6
(20)
Henrik Norlander
(105 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T28
(22)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Joaquin Niemann
(98 pts)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T31
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Patrick Reed
(89.33 pts)
T34
(16)
DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP 5
(23.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(86.33 pts)
DNP DNP T33
(34)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP T50
(1.33)
T35
(5)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(82 pts)
DNP DNP T46
(8)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP T7
(73.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
Anirban Lahiri
(81.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
Thomas Detry
(60 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(58 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(3)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T35
(20)
T35
(5)
CUT
(-3.33)
Thomas Pieters
(54.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(15)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(53.67 pts)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP T44
(6)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP DNP T31
(25.33)
DNP T37
(4.33)
Corey Conners
(46.67 pts)
DNP DNP T15
(70)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T53
(0)
Marc Leishman
(40 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP 64
(0)
DNP T57
(0)
Abraham Ancer
(40 pts)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Sebastian Munoz
(36.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Alex Noren
(32.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T13
(12.33)
Cameron Smith
(30.67 pts)
DNP DNP T33
(34)
DNP DNP DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Hideki Matsuyama
(28.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP T26
(32)
DNP T62
(0)
Jorge Campillo
(23.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Fox
(23.33 pts)
DNP DNP T67
(0)
DNP DNP T44
(6)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Antoine Rozner
(22 pts)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
Rasmus Hojgaard
(18 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T41
(6)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP
Si Woo Kim
(16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T40
(13.33)
DNP T9
(15)
Rikuya Hoshino
(12 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(32)
DNP DNP
Fabrizio Zanotti
(11.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adri Arnaus
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T75
(0)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition

Player 3M Open Cazoo Open British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open Travelers Champ. Irish Open Rocket Mortgage BMW Intern. U.S. Open Palmetto Champ. Memorial Tourn.
C.T. Pan
(-30.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
T57
(0)
Rory Sabbatini
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Gavin Green
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Joachim B. Hansen
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Romain Langasque
(-20.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP T44
(6)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adrian Meronk
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP
Carlos Ortiz
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
Sami Valimaki
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kalle Samooja
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthias Schwab
(-16 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

What is the format?

It’s a 72 hole stroke play format, just like the rest of the tournaments around the world. Everybody has an opinion on how this could be better, from a team event to a match play to Stableford format, but this is what the powers to be wanted and it doesn’t look like change will happen. So for Thursday, Friday, Saturday there isn’t anything different in watching this competition than watching any other tournament week after week.

Still, there is one important element that will spark people’s interest in watching on Sunday. That is the format with only three prizes, a Gold medal, Silver medal, and Bronze medal. It’s the closest event in which it’s all about winning and for three players they will achieve glory while the other 57 will go home with nothing to show for their week. That will make it worthwhile to watch.

It’s a mindset we don’t see much of in which only three players will get the prizes. For those players leading on Sunday, will they play conservatively or will they be aggressive? And for those going into the back nine two, three, or four shots back they will have nothing to lose in shooting for the pins and trying to make as many birdies to get them back in contention. This will spell a lot of excitement, so Sunday will be some great theater especially if you have a bunch up leaderboard.  Five years ago on the first try at golf in the Olympics in Rio, the course was made for aggressive play.  Justin Rose was the third-round leader and he shot 67 in the final round to win by two, while runner-up Henrik Stenson shot 68.  Going into the final round, Marcus Fraser was in third place but a final round 72 dropped him down to T-5th, so poor Marcus made the trip to Brazil just for the hell of it.  Matt Kuchar was T-7th going into the final round and shot 63 to claim the bronze medal.

Another thing of interest, in the age in which someone plays in the Masters and misses the cut getting $10,000, or the U.S. Open and get $3,000, they will be playing for nothing but a medal. So in a regular tournament a player like Jim Furyk that is at the bottom of the leaderboard, a normal round would have meant winning around $14,000.  But with him shooting 58 he ended up finishing T-5th and winning $231,825.  But if this was the Olympics, Furyk would have had nothing to show, other than the great round if this happened on Olympic Sunday.

So if you shoot yourself out of the tournament on Thursday, it could be a hard next three days. Another aspect of this week, just like the Ryder Cup there is no prize money. Now for most of the athletes playing in the Olympics, their expenses are covered to go down to Brazil by their host country. That is up to a limit. For guys like Rory McIlory who are used to flying on private planes and staying in the best hotels, and eating at Ruth Chris every night I doubt very much that the organizing party is footing the bill for some of the expenses, so this could be an expensive week for players. They also have to pay their caddies, so at the end of the day, some players could be out thousands of dollars just to play for their country.  This year with COVID-19, this whole Olympic experience is turning into a nightmare.  Just the fact of having to test three times in three days just to see if you are virus-free is a hassle, look at what happened with Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm, who had negative tests and won’t be going to the Olympics.

But frankly, I have to wonder how much playing for your country is worth the bother.  Once you pass the test you have to get on a 13 hour plus plane trip to Japan.  Then once you land you have to endure the 13 hour time change, Patrick Reed who is replacing DeChambeau he won’t get into Japan until Wednesday afternoon which means no practice round and just having to play the course blind.  But that is just the starting of the problems, they are putting players up in a hotel 90 minutes away from the golf course so that is also a hassle.  On top of that, one of the perks of going to the Olympics is to enjoy other sports as a spectator, that isn’t allowed, a matter of fact you are not allowed to leave your hotel as you must maintain that bubble.  To make matters even worst there is a typhoon heading towards Japan so the four days of play could be in awful conditions.  So despite playing for the honor of your country, maybe this has gone a bit too far.

So how did all of this come about?

Back in the early 2000s, the organizations that run golf have always wanted to be a part of the Olympics,  What people don’t realize is the reach the Olympics have, they corner every part of the globe.  Between the USGA and the R&A, they cover a good portion of the world in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia but have very little reach into places like South America and Africa.  So the thought was if they could get a berth into the Olympics that would help grow golf.  So starting in 2008 they did a full-court press to get a spot in the Olympics.

But you have to think about what golf was like.  All of the main tours like the PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tour, and Australian Tour had time slots to accommodate the Olympics in July and August.  The same with Woman’s tours, they could accommodate the Olympics.  In 2009 the PGA Tour was drastically different.  First, the schedule went from January to November, and the FedExCup playoffs were just beginning.  But the most critical element back then was that the playoffs ran in September, so there was plenty of time for the Olympics to be scheduled in July/August. So it was happy times when in 2009 the Olympics were awarded golf.  It was a piece of cake scheduling the 2016 games but since then things have seriously changed.  In 2018 the PGA Tour deemed it essential to finish up the season before football started.  So instead of finishing the season at the Tour Championship at the end of September, the schedule now has the Tour Championship finishing in the first week of September.  So with the schedule being truncated, this has made it hard to schedule the Olympics, especially this year with the Olympics being played halfway around the world in Japan.  So for players, it meant getting from the British Open to Japan in two weeks, and then the week after the Olympics, world golf has the important WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis.  So the problem is too many good events right now plus the travel to Japan makes this Olympics challenge.

Interesting storylines

The field comprises the top players in the Official World Golf Rankings, with each country getting two players.  One stipulation is that if a country has three or four players inside the top-15 of the rankings, they can play, the reason America has four players qualified.  Those four are Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Reed.  Now Bryson DeChambeau was supposed to play and was planning on going over until he tested positive from COVID-19; thus Patrick Reed got his spot.  DeChambeau wasn’t the only player to withdraw due to testing positive, so did Jon Rahm, who Jorge Campillo has replaced.

So the field is pretty diverse of some of the best golf has to offer.  In looking at some regulars on the PGA Tour, players like Harris English, Jordan Spieth, and Webb Simpson won’t play. Still, tour regulars like Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann, and Corey Conners will play because they are from the countries of Mexico, Chile, and Canada don’t have as many players.  All three of these players have a great shot of winning a medal, along with others like Jhonattan Vegas, who finished T-2nd at the 3M Open.  Garrick Higgo, who won twice on the European Tour in the last three months, will be one of the representatives from South Africa along with countryman Christiaan Bezuidenhout who won in back-to-back weeks on the European Tour at the end of 2020.  Other European Tour winners from 2021 include Frenchman Antoine Rozner, who in March won the Qatar Masters.  Also, a winner this year in Europe is Paul Casey, the winner of the Dubai Desert Classic back in January.  One of the sagas of this year is the plight of South Koreans Sungaje I’m and Si Woo Kim.  Both are at the age of having to serve an 18-month stint in the Korean army.  But there is a stipulation that if you can medal in the Olympics, the Korean government waves the commitment.  So for the last couple of years, both I’m and Kim is trying to get their games to peak this week in Japan, even to the point that both withdrew from the British Open to give them extra time to prepare for the games.  You also have the story of Canadian and former Kent State teammates Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes, who have come close to winning on the PGA Tour being able to play this week.  Talking about winners, many will not give Chilean Mito Pereira much of a chance, but he won the Rex Hospital Open back in May.  Or Filipina star Juvic Pagunsan who won the Mizuno Open in Japan a few months ago.  Or Italian Guido Migliozzi, who was runner-up in back-to-back weeks on the European Tour in May at the British Masters and Made in Himmerland.  How about one of my favorites, Jazz Janewattananond from Thailand, he was in the running at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage because Brooks Koepka ran away with the title. I usually would not give Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama or Rikuya Hoshino much of a chance. Still, with no gallery and limited press, both these players won’t have to endure the everyday pressures, with those in the gallery expecting nothing short of a win.  In the case of Matsuyama, he also has great memories of playing at Kasumigaseki winning both the 2009 Japan Junior Championship and then the 2010 Asian Pacific Championship on the West Course at Kasumigaseki.  So lots of things to watch, and frankly, since the field is so good, don’t be surprised to see someone medal that will be an underdog.

So what about the course?

Kasumigaseki Country Club is one of the oldest and most respected golf courses in Japan.  Today it’s 36 holes, with the east course opening first in 1929.  The west course was built in 1932, making it the country’s first 36-hole club.  Both courses were taken over by the Japanese government during the war and turned to farmland.  Both courses were redone and reopened in the early 1950s.  The east course was used in 1957 for the Canada Cup, which would become the World Cup.  Since then, the club has hosted many professional and amateur events.  When Tokyo was given the Olympics, it was decided to play the Olympics on the east course after Tom Fazio oversaw course alterations.  He worked with his son to modernize the course and giving each hole just one green (tradition on some courses in Japan to have two greens per hole) and lengthened the layout.  Kasumigaseki now has bentgrass greens and Zoysia on the rest of the course instead of two types of grass for different seasons. The Olympics will be held during Japan’s hot and rainy summer, meaning course conditions will be soft.

Who will the course favor?

The course will play to a par of 71 and 7,447 yards.  Unfortunately, on Wednesday, Tropical Storm Nepartak is expected to hit the area Wednesday, bringing a lot of rain and winds up to 45 mph.  Even after the story moves through, they expect some of it lingering with high winds on Thursday and Friday, going down to 30 mph on Saturday and 25 mph on Sunday.  The Kasumigaseki east course is generally flat with some slight undulation and some raised tee boxes. The fairways are flanked mainly by beautiful Japanese cypress and pine trees, while the greens are fast and with lots of undulation, and pin placements can be made extremely difficult.  However, the course’s main arsenal is the Korai rough, which will be evident this week.  Korai is a strain that is hard, so moving a clubhead through the ball in the rough will be difficult.  The fairways are lined with 23 fairway bunkers that are manageable to get out of.  The greens have 34 bunkers around them, so look for pin positions to be close behind a bunker.  There are two lakes on the course, the one at 10 won’t come into play while the one at 18 may catch stray balls hitten towards the green.  I expect long-hitters to have a significant advantage for this week as this will be a bombers delight this week.  Yes, the rough is tough, but no more complex than rough on a regular PGA Tour event.  The bite to the course will be the par 5s as if the fairways are wet, maybe impossible to hit in two.  So just the fact that these holes are more challenging will make the course seem harder than it really is.  But I expect the long-hitters to love this course.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Collin Morikawa – $11,200
  • Justin Thomas – $10,900
  • Xander Schauffele – $10,700
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $10,500
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,300
  • Patrick Reed – $10,100
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,900
  • Shane Lowry – $9,600
  • Paul Casey – $9,500
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,300
  • Joaquin Niemann – $9,200
  • Sungjae Im – $9,000

Very important to know there is a 13 hour time change between Tokyo and the east coast, so Thursday’s opening round starts at 6:30 Wednesday night.  So be sure to place you bets early.

So DraftKings will have a game this week but have to say in looking at the projections, it’s going to be very hard to pick players.  A couple of things to realize, this week’s field is very diverse and it’s going to take a bit of work and luck to maneuver.  You have 60 players from 35 different countries if you look at the field this is the way the British Open should pick their field.  28 of the players are in the top-100 of the world rankings, but the next 12 players inside the top-200 have a good chance.  After that the next 16, only a few have a chance at that dream 72 holes to get them to the medal podium.  Those players are #226 Juvic Pagunsan, #271 Anirban Lahiri,#316 Fabrizio Zanotti, and #339 Ashun Wu.

Now there is no money involved, this is all for the glory of country to bring home a medal.  So over the course of 72 holes, you will have a lot of players that shoot themselves out of the running early.  The big question I have is, when you pick a player that has no chance of winning, will he play hard over the last days or holes?  If Rory McIlroy is out of the running after 36 holes, will he play hard over the weekend?  That is the question you have to ask yourself in making your team, will that player still play hard for you?  A perfect example of this was in 2016, Patrick Reed was clearly out of the running going into the final round but still played hard and shot 64 to bring him from a T-36th to a T-11th finish.  On the other end of the spectrum, have to wonder how hard Gregory Bourdy played in his final round.  He was in the running for a medal after 36 holes but shot a final-round 72 to take him out of the running.  In the final round, Bourdy shot a 73 and finished T-21st.  So you have to gauge all of that, plus you have to pick players like Mito Pereira who very little is know of.  So good luck and have some fun.

So who is the best of the high price players

The highest price player is Collin Morikawa at $11,200.  The good news, he is fresh off his British Open win but the question will be how much the last two weeks will take their toll.  When Morikawa won the PGA Championship last year, his game was sketchy in his next couple of events.  Will that happen this week?  I worry over this, after Morikawa won the WGC-Workdays Championship it took another four events before he finished T-7th at the RBC Heritage.  Now the course is perfect for his game, I think he will do good this week and he is a yes for me despite the high cost.  Next up is Justin Thomas at $10,900.  His year is one of inconsistency and the reason I say no.  Since winning the Players, he only has one top-ten finish in ten starts, I don’t think he will do well this week.  Now I do like Xander Schauffele at $10,700, mostly because I think with his father being German & French and his mother being born in Taiwan he was brought up to honor this country and this week is important to not only him but his family.  So I feel he will be in the running on Sunday.  But talking about honor, I feel that Hideki Matsuyama at $10,500 will do great.  He has won at Kasumigaseki and would love to win the Gold in his home country.  With Covid regulations banning people from watching, Matsuyama won’t have people bothering him and he can concentrate on golf.  Now I have picked three players over $10,500 and of course, you can’t pick two so if I only had one choice it would be Matsuyama.  Rory McIlroy at $10,300 is a yes only because he is the best driver in the field, but we all know how he has done over the last 18 months.  I worry if McIlroy will play hard in the final day if he has no chance of getting a medal, so I guess the answer on Rory is no.  The same with Patrick Reed at $10,100.  It was a gallant challenge for him to take over from Bryson DeChambeau who had to withdraw on Saturday.  But he won’t arrive in Japan until Wednesday afternoon and won’t have a practice round.  On top of that, jet lag will set in on Friday making it a very hard week for him.  I do like Viktor Hovland at $9,900, if he putts well he will be in the running.  I don’t like Shane Lowry at $9,600, just think he hasn’t shown us much since the British Open victory in 2019 so save your money.  The same with Paul Casey at $9,500, just don’t think he can play well enough over four rounds to finish in the top three.  Abraham Ancer at $9,300 is a big gamble, I think he can do well, but the price is too high for him.  The same with Joaquin Niemann at $9,200, just think the price is too high.  Sungjae Im at $9,000 is interesting due to what he is playing for, I think he really wants to avoid Army duty for the next 18 months and will do anything he can to make the top-3.  On the other end on being careful in picking him, how bad will he play if he isn’t in the running.

*Players in that $7,600 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

I like Cameron Smith at $8,900, with bad weather he can do well in poor conditions.  But his year has been good and he could easily be on the medal podium.  The same with Corey Conners at $8,800, he is playing well and could be a factor this week.  Marc Leishman at $8,500 is someone to think about, he is good in the wind and has been looking forward to playing this week.  In 2016 he was looking forward to playing in Rio, but his wife had a terrible time and almost died, forcing Leishman not to play because he was worried about the Zika virus.  Today Leishman’s wife is doing well and I expect good things from Leishman.  Now your first important pick is to take him to pick is Garrick Higgo at $8,300.  He has played great in the last four months winning three times including one on the PGA Tour.  He will be a player that isn’t known, so pick him and see how he will reward you.  Mackenzie Hughes at $8,000 is another person I like and will pick.  We remember how well he was playing at the U.S. Open before hitting a shot into a tree at the 11th hole, he finished T-15th.  He also was T-14th at Rocket Mortgage and T-6th at the British Open so he is in form this week.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Olympics?:

Lots of undervalued players under $7,500 the first has to be Jhonattan Vegas at $7,400.  In the last six weeks, he has had two runner-up finishes at Palmetto and 3M Open, so he is playing well.  Can’t pass on Mito Pereira at $7,200, he has won twice in the last three months on the Korn Ferry Tour and his game is great finishing T-5th at Barbasol and T-6th at 3M Open.  Anirban Lahiri at $6,700 is also someone to watch, his last start he finished T-3rd at the Barbasol.

Who to watch for at the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition

Now, these picks below are for the tournament, they have nothing to do with DraftKings picks which are based on buying a player at a certain level.  These picks are good for head-to-head betting.

Our favorites this week

Hideki Matsuyama

What better way to culminate your year than winning the Olympic Gold at home in Japan.  He can do it, has great memories of winning at Kasumigaseki on both courses. His biggest advantage is no gallery and limited press, which will allow him to properly play the course and not have the pressure of fellow countrymen rooting him on and disturbing his concentration.

Collin Morikawa

With the memories of the British Open win on his mind, the question will be if he can channel that to playing well this week. He has a way of winning at big events, this one is very big and important for him in representing the United States.

Rory McIlroy

Even with his substandard play over the last 18 months, still considered one of the best drivers in golf.  Despite his poor play over the year he still ranks 11th in strokes gained Tee-to-Green. A good player in poor conditions thinks if it’s raining and windy, he excels in this.  Being 2nd in driving distance will help the cause.

Xander Schauffele

Has played great in the events on tough courses, has been runner-up three times this year, and finished T-3rd at the Masters and T-7th at the U.S. Open. His father is German & French and his mother was born in Taiwan and raised in Japan.  With these roots would love to win a medal for the United States.

Those coming into this week playing well

Viktor Hovland

Was T-12th at the British Open, won the BMW International. Coming from Norway think he will be good in terrible weather, has been one of the most consistent players in 2021.

Joaquin Niemann

Was T-2nd at Rocket Mortgage, has had a rather quiet season, and would love to change that.  Would love to join Niclas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez who won gold in Tennis in 2004, so Niemann would be the third from Chile to get a gold medal.

Jhonattan Vegas

Was T-2nd at 3M last week, T-11th at John Deere, and T-2nd at Palmetto Championship. Has Olympic experience, was T-50th in Rio five years ago.

Mackenzie Hughes

Was T-6th at the British Open, T-14th at Rocket Mortgage, and T-15th at the U.S. Open.

Mito Pereira

He will be one of those you least expect to do well.  But he was T-6th last week at the 3M Open and T-5th at the Barbasol.  On top of his good play on the PGA Tour, won twice on the Korn Ferry in June at the Rex Hospital and BMW Pro-am.

Those that you least expect that could find their way to a medal

Garrick Higgo

This year he has gone from missing the cut in his first three starts to winning three times and now earning his PGA Tour card. Surprised the golfing world with his win at the Palmetto Championship, if he can achieve that, getting on the medal podium on Sunday could be easy for him. Won twice in April and May in Europe at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and the Canary Islands Championship.

Sungjae Im

Has a lot riding on him this week, if he doesn’t finish in the top three will have to spend 18 months in the Army instead of on the PGA Tour. Hasn’t had the kind of year he had last year, still, he was T-8th at the Rocket Mortgage and played ok the last couple of months.

Si Woo Kim

Has the same issue as Im, play well this week or spend the next 18 months in the Army. Is not playing as well as Im, has struggled with his game since winning the American Express in January. Bad weather could help him since he can play well in windy and wet conditions.

Guido Migliozzi

Has had an impressive year with three runner-ups, the last two were in the British Masters and Made in Himmerland in May. Was impressive in finishing T-4th at the U.S. Open and then T-13th at the Travelers, but needs to regain the magic after missing the cut at the U.S. Open

Corey Conners

Almost won at Arnold Palmer finishing 3rd. Like that in tough events has done well, 7th at the Players, T-8th at the Masters, and T-15th at the British Open.

 

 

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