When it comes to putting money down on sporting events, we are conditioned to think that we have to choose a winner. After all, that is the outcome that we are most interested in, so it only makes sense that it should be the focus of our betting habits.

We don’t care who came in 12th at the Open Championship; we just care that Francesco Molinari won it.

Anyone that did bet on Molinari to win went home pretty happy; his odds to win last year were +2500. But if you bet on one of the favorites, like Dustin Johnson (+1200) or Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, or Rickie Fowler (+1600), you went home disappointed.

Does that mean they were bad picks? Not at all. It is harder to win at golf than probably any other sport, and it is not uncommon for the best players in the world not to win. The current No. 1, Brooks Koepka, has only won twice this year and placed inside the top ten six times (out of 16 tournaments).

Rory McIlroy is the current No. 3 in the world, also has just two wins to his name but has finished inside the top ten at 11 of his 14 tournaments.

Many things that no one has any control over can factor into who wins a tournament making it very hard to predict a winner. Why bother even trying? Yes, the odds are good, and if you get it right, the payday is nice. But isn’t winning something better than losing?

So, instead of betting on a winner, why not bet on whether they finish inside the top five, ten, or 20? You don’t have to be right; you just need to be close. Sure, the odds are going to be a lot shorter. But it comes back to winning something rather than losing.

The following are the odds (according to BetOnline.ag) on some of the favorites to finish in the top five at the Open Championship this week:

  • Rory McIlroy +200
  • Brooks Koepka +240
  • Dustin Johnson +350
  • Jon Rahm +325
  • Tiger Woods +375
  • Justin Rose +450
  • Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele +550
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay +600
  • Jordan Spieth +750

Betting $100 on McIlroy to win will get you $800—which is a lot better than $200. But if he comes in fourth, winning $200 is a lot better than losing your $100.

If a more significant payday is what you want, how about a parlay on who finishes inside the top 20? Odds on finishing inside the top 20 are as follows:

  • Rory McIlroy -250
  • Brooks Koepka -185
  • Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm -150
  • Justin Rose -120
  • Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele +120
  • Henrik Stenson +125
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay +140
  • Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day +175

A five-leg parlay including the five favorites will win you $998 if they all finish inside the top 20—which, while not a lock to happen, is quite likely for that group. If you are a little more adventurous, a five-leg parlay of the guys with +140 odds to finish inside the top 20 will win you $7800.

Picking the winner is great, but winning more money is even better.

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