We’ve looked at the outright market ahead of this week’s action in Tokyo, but the betting opportunities don’t end there. There can only be one winner of that sought-after gold medal, but there can be plenty of players who play well and finish in a respectable place, and bettors can profit by backing them to do just that.
If outright betting isn’t the path you want to take this week or if you’re looking to bolster your armory with a few other plays, then below are a variety of options, all of which make plenty of sense at the odds.
To Win a Medal
1 unit @ +1000
Here we’re looking at the first three places. Outright covers the winner only, but this category gives us a little more leeway, as it pays out on first, second, and third. Unsurprisingly, Colin Morikawa heads this market at odds of +230, while Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas complete the American trio at the top, following Morikawa closely in the betting at odds of +260 and +300.
To my mind, at the prices, there’s one real standout candidate here and that’s Corey Connors, who has done little wrong this season. The Canadian has ticked along at an admirable pace in some prestigious events over the last six or seven months, finishing third at the Arnold Palmer, T4 at the RBC Heritage, as well as recording two other top-ten finishes, plus another four top 20’s.
He arrives at this junction off the back of a good showing at Royal St. George’s, finishing T15, and in a lesser field, or rather a field with fewer of the world’s absolute best players, the 29-year-old ought to be eyeing up an even stronger finish. What’s particularly eye-catching is his accuracy off the tee, which is something that is likely to be key at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Only Abraham Ancer in this field hits more fairways (on average) than Conners, who right now, is also the ninth-best player on the PGA Tour when it comes to strokes gained: off-the-tee, not to mention the ninth-best in terms of strokes gained: approach too. 11th for greens in regulation and 19th for scoring average, Corey Conners is a player with lots to offer, he appears to have the game for this sort of test, and at the current odds, is well worth a bet to pick up a medal.
Top 10 Finish
1.5 units @ +250
Now we’re looking at someone to fill one of the top ten places, including ties. Obviously, the biggest names are low odds in this category, with Thomas, Morikawa, Schauffele, Hovland, Matsuyama, Casey, McIlroy, Reed, Smith, and Ancer all coming in at odds lower than +200. They’re all clearly strong candidates for a top ten finish. However, there’s one outlier at the current odds, one player outside the main group in the betting that appears to have ultra-solid top ten credentials.
The player that stands out is one of the Asian contingent, namely Sungjae Im. Im hasn’t been as hot recently as he was earlier in the season, though he did finish T8 on his second to the last start, while there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s had a fantastic 12 months or so.
The South Korean, who is currently ranked 26th in the world, which makes him the eighth highest-ranked player in this field, has what is almost certainly going to be required this week and that’s accuracy off the tee. Only three players in this field rank better than Im in terms of driving accuracy, which means he’s generally strong in terms of strokes gained: off-the-tee, ranking fifth in that area among the PGA Tour players in this event.
What also stands out about Sungjae IM is his international experience. A winner on the Korean Tour, the 23-year-old knows how to go about his business in this part of the world, which is not something that many in this field can say. Im spent both 2016 and 2017 playing on the Japan Golf Tour, where he ranked fifth for scoring average at the end of his second campaign. Such experience means that there are likely to be few surprises for the South Korean, who has plenty in favor. If you’re looking for a solid top ten candidate at a decent price, one who ticks plenty of boxes, then Sungjae Im’s the man.