We have elevated back to a full field event as the Tour goes to Arnold Palmer’s Place in Orlando at Bay Hill. And in honor of Arnold, Bay Hill makes birdies tough and bogies easy. As is customary in Florida, there’s a lot of water so an emphasis on ball striking is once again going to be a focus. With a full field, we see Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Rory Mcilroy at the top of the betting board but loads of value throughout. Last week was the Florida swing breakfast ball that got the bad picks out with winners coming up this week and getting hot rolling into the PLAYERS. So let’s pull that ball out of the pocket, and tee it up again.
Rahm +650, Scheffler +900, and Rory +900
Same guys in a different place. What’s fun with these guys is each comes with a fun story line. Rahm is the hottest player on the planet, Scheffler is the defending champ, and Rory has arguably the best course history of anyone at Bay Hill. Let’s start with Rahm.
Jon Rahm since the Tour Championship is having a run that we have not seen in golf since one of like 7 different Tiger runs. 5 wins between the Euro and PGA tour this year and he’s gained at least 10 strokes to the field in 9 of his last ten tournaments. Not only is it incredible overall strokes gain, but it’s not just him doing one thing great, he’s doing everything great. At the Genesis (which he won), he gained 12 of his 16 strokes in the ball striking category, whereas when he won the Sentry, he gained 8 of his ten strokes in the short game. It’s weird, +650 odds is basically a 3 team -110 favorite parlay. I hit one of those a week, you would never hear the end of it. My name would be the Jessster with one S for every leg I crush. Yet, give Rahm the same odds and I an squeamish because golf is a cruel sport and beating 150 pros is tough despite what Jon has been up to lately. If you are into favorites, he’s a good one to have but I like him as a parlay sweetener. Rahm is -140 to top 10 which was one of the closest things to a sure thing in golf… and that was before he became the hottest golfer in the world. Him to top 10 and anyone to top 20 is +157 at the worst. Rahm to top 10 Homa to top 20 is +242. Put Rahm on your betting card until he ruins a week for you.
When talking Scottie just go back to the last time I wrote about Scottie. Because it will be the same thing. When Scottie gains significant strokes putting he wins. Most notably, he gained 5 strokes putting at this course last year as he went on to win his second of four tournaments in the span of a little over month. Well here we are again, Scottie Scheffler coming into the API two weeks after winning the Phoenix open. Scottie gained 1.7 strokes putting at the Genesis so it is nice to see he still gained on the green even though he did not win the tournament and I expect the putter to be working again this week. Another guy I like this weekend is Xander Schauffele. He played poorly at the Genesis, where he needed a hole out eagle to make the cut and guys like him don’t play poorly in back to back tournaments. A top 5 parlay of the two guys is 17-1 and worth the shot. You get two guys with serious win equity to just finish top 5. Sign me up
Rory is playing arguably the worst of the big three at this time but worst of the three means he hasn’t won since January. Rory has lost some serious strokes putting in his last two tournaments, but he comes into a country club where he has the best course history of anyone very close to anywhere. Rory gains on average almost two strokes a round at Bay Hill. Rory gained 2 strokes a round when he won the Tour Championship so 2 strokes per round is a winnable pace. The putter is less likely to be a concern this week as Rory has only had two years at Bay Hill where he lost strokes putting and he has had as many as ten strokes gained putting here. If I have to pick one of these guys to win, I will take Rory at the biggest odds (+900). He will not be on my card as a winner but he will be there to be the leader after one at 22-1. Watch Rory get off to a hot start and watch a bet hit on Thursday.
A long Shot
Sam Burns +5500
Sam Burns at 55-1 makes no sense considering guys like Tom Kim and Kieth Mitchell are 45-1. Sam Burns has a proven record of winning, having won 3 tournaments over the last two years including two in Florida and Sam is arguably the best Bermuda grass putter in the world, gaining .66 strokes per round putting on Bermuda. I guess his inconsistency is why he is 55-1 but he beat Scheffler in a playoff before so the ability to compete with the best is there and the upside should have absolutely left him in a spot with worse odds than 55-1. This is not a mortgage bet but the odds are good enough to be on your card.
The Jesster’s laughably good pick of the week
One of my best friends, though mainly his wife, is having their first child probably Wednesday 3/1 2023. They are naming their son Henry and I am excited to meet him once he is no longer a grubby toddler (I am excited to meet the kid period but toddlers literally make me sick. Like every time I am around one for more than 5 minutes I spend the next three days sick). In honor of that the only Henry/Hank on the PGA tour is Hank Leboida who just so happens to be 50-1 to win the Puerto Rico Open this week. Shoutout to Jake and Kelsey and Hank and hopefully Hank (Leboida).
Cody “The Jesster” Jess