The 2023 golf season will kick off on January 4th-8th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course in Kapalua on Maui Island in Hawaii. With legalized sports betting set to go live in Ohio at 12:01AM on January 1st, Buckeye State residents will be able to place wagers on the event. BetMGM Ohio and the other legal sports books should start posting odds very soon.
To qualify to play, golfers needed to either win a 2022 PGA Tour event or finish in the top 30 in 2022 in FedEx Cup Playoff points. The 2022 officially began in September 2021, so thus many golfers that left the PGA Tour to play in LIV Tour events still qualified here. Top LIV Tour players such as defending Sentry champ Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Branden Grace, Abraham Ancer and Taylor Gooch are set to tee it up, Plus a guy named Phil Michelson is in the field as well.
They are joined by PGA stalwarts such Patrick Cantlay, John Rahm, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Colin Morikawa, Justin Spieth, Sam Burns and Tony Finau. Top ranked golfers Rory McElroy and Scottie Scheffler are among the few big qualified names not making the trip to Hawaii, though that could change.
Once tournament week rolls around, look for BetMGM Ohio and the other sportsbooks to offer all of the following ways to bet on the Sentry TOC.
Like it sounds, bettors just wager on the winner. It is like a money line bet, just with a lot more choices. Here is how the top of the board looks at BetMGM for The Players Championship, set for March 12th.
- McElroy +900
- Rahm +1100
- Thomas +1500
- Scheffler +1500
- Cantlay +2000
- Matt Fitzpatrick +2200
- Will Zalatoris +2200
- Tom Kim +2500
- Finau +2500
- Viktor Hovland +2500
- Schauffele +2500
- Morikawa +2800
The TOC field is smaller than The Players, and most other tour events, so betters will not see prices this high on the favorites. Rahm, Thomas and Cantlay do figure to post as pre-tournament favorites, as do Reed, Spieth and perhaps defending champ Smith as well. Anyone hunting for relative bargains might want to look at Schauffele and Finau. According to Datagolf, they both ranked very well in Expected Wins and True Strokes Gained in 2022 yet will likely get priced below the favorites here.
Top Ten Finish
The sportsbooks always offer this wager, and also often post Top Five odds as well. Sometimes there are even more specific bets on final placements. For the small field TOC, wagers on Top five, and Top three if offered, look more interesting.
Assuming the favorites go off in the +500 to +700 range, top 10 prices might start in minus money. Thus players like Rahm and Thomas might cost -125 or -150 for this. Moving up to Top 5 maybe prices favorites more in the +125 to +175 range.
Be very careful with this sort of bet, as there are ties at many spots. If more than one player ties for tenth for example, many books will use “dead heat pricing”. That translates to the bet winnings divided by the number of golfers tied for the spot. If three golfers tie for fifth, Top 5 bets only payout ⅓ on any of the golfers. If the three golfers tied for fourth instead, the bettor gets ⅔ of the payout on each of them.
BetMGM Ohio does not use dead heat pricing, so bets there will get paid in full in case of ties.
These bets resemble simple wagering on an NFL game or any other team or straight matchup sport. Just take two golfers and wager on who finishes higher on the leaderboard. Books generally just post these on the top players. Even there, they mostly post betting odds on guys ranked similarly. Want to bet Rahm vs Thomas for example? It will probably just price like a near pick ‘em NFL game.
At TOC the field is dominated by top ranked golfers so expect lots of interesting matchup bets. Further, it comes on the heels of the closest thing pro golf has to an offseason, so there is not much in the way of recent form to handicap.
Just like other sports, golf props will post relatively, and with smaller limits than regular bets. At TOC, the books might have general props on the final score range of the winner, whether there will be a hole-in-one, whether someone goes bogey-free in a round, et al. They will also offer props on things like the home country of the tournament winner, the top American finisher, and so on.
The relatively slow pace of a golf tournament lends itself perfectly to live betting. Expect the sportsbooks to have robust live offerings. Bettors can always find markets on the tournament winner. Additionally books post odds on round winners, specific hole winners in a pairing or group, and even prop-like live bets on certain events. Will Mickelson birdie the next hole? How about a bogey on 17? Look around as those sorts of wagers are always available somewhere.
Back to Maui
The TOC is not a major, but it has the field quality of a near-major. Plus the tournament is in Hawaii which means much of it takes place in prime time in the mainland. Ohio residents will get legalized sports betting just in time to place some wagers ahead of the real start of the 2023 golf season.