For just the second time since 1908, golf is part of the Summer Olympics. It has been delayed a year, but the players are just about ready to tee off at Kasumigaseki Country Club about 90 minutes from the Olympic Village for their respective countries.
The list of 60 players has lost a couple of notable names due to positive COVID-19 tests with Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau, but Patrick Reed steps in for the Americans and is immediately thought to be one of the players in contention to win.
Rahm’s absence meant a change at the top of the odds board, one that we will talk about in this preview of the Men’s Golf Competition that begins on Wednesday night in the U.S. and Thursday morning in Japan. The odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Golf Betting Odds & The Field
The odds for the 2021 Men’s Olympic Golf Tournament have Collin Morikawa as the favorite at +700. With Rahm removed from the field, things have shrunk a little bit at the top, with Xander Schauffele at +900 and Justin Thomas at +1000. Americans take up the three top spots, but Hideki Matsuyama has far and away the most competition experience at this event with his wins in amateur events back in 2009 and 2010. He is +1100 and a whole lot of pressure.
Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy check in at +1200, while Paul Casey and replacement Patrick Reed are at +1400. Most of the notable PGA Tour/European Tour names are priced under 30/1, including Cameron Smith, Shane Lowry, Abraham Ancer, Joaquin Niemann, Corey Conners, Sungjae Im, and Tommy Fleetwood. Marc Leishman, a strong wind player from Australia, is +3100.
Kasumigaseki Country Club can hold a lot of water and it may very well have to do exactly that. The summers are hot and wet in Japan and a tropical storm is making its way towards the site of the tournament. Zoysia grass is used everywhere but the Bentgrass greens for its ability to soak up water, so that could make the course wet and long for this week’s action. The winds could pick up as well.
The course was re-designed by Tom Fazio and some have said it plays a lot like another Fazio re-design, Quail Hollow Club, the site of the Wells Fargo Championship. Rory McIlroy won that event earlier this year. Others have their own opinions, including Bridgestone Country Club, a place where guys like Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama have played well.
The reality is that not much was known about this course until the players started taking practice rounds. It is very exclusive and didn’t even allow women to join until 2017.
It will play just shy of 7,500 with bunkers and trees as the primary defensive mechanisms. We’ll see how penal the rough ends up being based on how much water the course takes. It has been dry for a while per reports, but the tropical storm and impending weather could make it much wetter and much thicker.
Stats That Matter
As always, SG: Approach is going to wind up being the most important metric. Players have huge green complexes to aim at, so those that can get close proximity to the hole should be in great shape.
The greens could be really tricky to read and putt on, as they are big and quite sloped. The par 5s are actually going to be three-shot holes for most players, especially without DeChambeau in the field. That will bring SG: Approach and maybe even some scrambling stats into play.
There are almost 70 bunkers on the course, so sand play will be important. We’ll see if rain clumps up the sand or if the bunkers will play bone dry. The weather could have such a big impact on this event that the important stats could change.
These aren’t necessarily stats that matter, but Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim need a medal to possibly get an exemption from military service. Safe to say that they’ll be trying just a little bit harder to get the win.
Recent Form Standouts
As good as the top part of this field is, we don’t have a ton of recent winners or high finishes. Obviously Morikawa won The Open Championship. Rory won back in May at Quail Hollow. Viktor Hovland had some strong European Tour showings, where he has spent most of this season. He tied for 12th at Royal St. George’s.
Mackenzie Hughes of Canada was sixth in The Open. Xander Schauffele was inside the top 30, but had four top-15 finishes in five events prior to that major. Mito Pereira had a top-10 last week and a couple of Korn Ferry Tour wins recently. He is +10000. Garrick Higgo won the Palmetto Championship and had some KFT wins as well. He’s +4100.
We just don’t have a ton of high finishes to fall back on with this field right now. Some guys are representing their countries because they want to and others seem to be doing it because they feel obligated. It is a hard handicap.
Tokyo Olympics Golf Picks
Tommy Fleetwood is a great player at +2900. Maybe he hasn’t had the recent results, but he really seems to be interested and excited for the entire experience. He’s a strong, solid player, one with a background in playing with wind as that should kick up going into the weekend.
Of the short prices, Viktor Hovland at 12/1 seems like a great price. He’s a terrific iron player and very good off the tee. He hasn’t gotten as much exposure this season by playing a lot on the European Tour, but he should be in that +900 range instead of Schauffele.
Coverage of the Men’s Olympic Golf Tournament will start at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, so it will be timed nicely for American viewers.