We’re still very early in the Tokyo Olympics. But it’s safe to say Team USA hasn’t had the strong start that was expected, at least not in several marquee Summer Olympics sports.
The United States Men’s Basketball Team debuted by losing to France 83-76. Women’s Soccer got off to an even worse, even more unexpected start, with the USWNT getting demolished 3-0 by its old nemesis Team Sweden. Gymnastics world champion Simone Biles is knocked out of the women’s team competition with an injury, while the United States men finished a wan 5th in team gymnastics. Team USA has had no success to speak of in Men’s and Women’s singles tennis, and the unconscionably unfair THC suspension of U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has already hurt the Stars & Stripes track team from a competitive and a morale POV.
The women’s 3-on-3 basketball team even lost to Japan 20-18 on Monday, after looking like a million bucks in prior Group Stage action. As they say on the playground next to my house, I guess it must have been “make it, take it.”
You can always expect Team USA to fight back in the water. Heck, even in 1972, when the Soviets won the dirtiest Men’s Basketball gold ever and the United States couldn’t get its track stars onto the starting blocks on time, Mark Spitz won 5 gold medals in the swimming pool. It’s much the same at the
2021 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as Katie Ledecky and a host of American swimmers begin to gobble-up medals while the Water Polo squads make tadpoles of the competition.
Can state-side golfers help turn the Olympics around for Team USA, while avoiding trips into the water?
Bryson DeChambeau can’t. The rising links superstar has had an awful 2021 season so far, underscored by a positive COVID test and forced withdrawal from Men’s Golf at the Tokyo Olympics. DeChambeau made a terrible mistake prior to the Open Championship, firing his long-time caddie and handing NCAA golf coach Brian Zeigler the bag with just days to go to the event. Zeigler is known for his upbeat personality, but there wasn’t much for the pair to smile about as DeChambeau and his inexperienced links caddie finished -2 and T-33rd. Bryson is expected to help anchor the U.S. Ryder Cup team, already a (-180) favorite to defeat Team Europe in September. But after losing out in all 4 majors, DeChambeau now loses yet another chance to prove himself on the world stage.
Jon Rahm has joined the COVID-19 quarantine crowd once again, removing the top player for Team Spain in the Men’s Golf medal chase. It’s especially galling for Rahm to have fought-off a bout of coronavirus that ended his chances at the 2021 Memorial Tournament, only to test positive again at a very bad time. At least Rahm avoided COVID-19 long enough to play in all 4 majors and actually win 1 of them.
With a thinned field and a potentially vulnerable Olympic layout, underdog veterans and youngsters at (+2000) odds or longer are must-looks on the betting board. Will an upstart sneak up and win Women’s or Men’s gold at a jackpot of a payoff, or will the remaining stars of the PGA and LPGA prove as invincible as American swimmers in Tokyo?
Women’s Golf at the Tokyo Olympics: Futures Odds on a Gold Medal Winner
(Gold medal odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook)
Nelly Korda (USA) +650
Jin Young Ko (KOR) +750
Inbee Park (KOR) +1000
Sei Young Kim (KOR) +1200
Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) +1200
Danielle Kang (USA) +1400
Hyo-Joo Kim (KOR) +1400
Lydia Ko (NZL) +1600
Brooke Henderson (CAN) +1800
Lexi Thompson (USA) +1800
Patty Tavatanakit (THA) +1800
Shanshan Feng (CHN) +1800
Hannah Green (AUS) +2000
Nasa Hataoka (JPN) +2000
Leona Maguire (IRL) +2000
Jessica Korda (USA) +2700
Minjee Lee (AUS) +2700
Women’s Golf may not be the maiden place to look (excuse the pun) for a USA comeback to begin at the Tokyo Olympics. The event’s distaff South Korean golfers bring an abundance of talent and experience with them to the East Course.
Jin Young-Ko, In-Bee Park, and Sei-Young Kim are all currently ranked among the top 10 women’s golfers in the world, and Park will be defending Olympic gold. Kim will also be making her 2nd appearance at the Games. Ko has 8 LPGA Tour victories and won Player of the Year in 2019.
America, however, does boast a top betting favorite in the Women’s Golf competition. At 22 years old, Korda has already racked up 6 LPGA Tour trophies, having begun to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open 4 years before her official rookie year. Korda’s international exploits already include 1 big title, a win at the Women’s Australian Open in 2019.
Korda’s teammate Lexi Thompson goes into the Olympics as 1 of the most decorated pros in the field. Thompson has won 11 LPGA Tour tournaments in 9 years on the tour, including events in Thailand and Malaysia. She has competed in the Solheim Cup 4 times and at the Olympics in 2016, where she finished a disappointing T-19th. Thompson will be looking for some redemption when she tees off in Tokyo.
Danielle Kang is a solid Team USA pick at 14/1. Kang has a lot of professional experience at 28 years old and has won 5 LPGA tournaments in total, including back to back victories at the Buick LPGA Shanghai. Golfers who can adapt to a relatively-short Japanese layout will be the most lucrative bets on the board – as we’ll explore more in the Men’s section.
The women’s tournament will begin in early August, starting as the Men’s Golf event ends after teeing-off this week.
Betting Odds to Win Men’s Golf at the Tokyo Olympics
(Courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook)
Collin Morikawa (USA) +700
Xander Schauffele (USA) +900
Justin Thomas (USA) +1000
Rory McIlroy (IRL) +1100
Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) +1200
Viktor Hovland (NOR) +1400
Patrick Reed (USA) +1800
Paul Casey (GBR) +1800
Abraham Ancer (MEX) +2200
Joaquin Niemann (CHI) +2200
Cameron Smith (AUS) +2500
Shane Lowry (IRL) +2500
Corey Conners (CAN) +2800
Sungjae Im (KOR) +2800
Tommy Fleetwood (GBR) +2800
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) +3300
Marc Leishman (AUS) +3300
Garrick Higgo (RSA) +4000
Guido Migliozzi (ITA) +4000
Alex Noren (SWE) +5000
Si Woo Kim (KOR) +5000
Thomas Pieters (BEL) +5000
It’s time to add Collin Morikawa’s name to the list of Yankee golfers taking over the links. Morikawa triumphed at the 2021 British Open with a final-round 66 that did not include a bogey, marking the 24-year old Californian among the first since Nick Faldo to go without dropping a stroke for an entire Open Championship round when playing in the weekend’s late pairings.
Morikawa’s title marks the 3rd out of 4 potential upset major-championship outcomes, as the betting favorites of 2021 have not fared well at short odds outside of U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm. The upstart is an underdog no more, favored at 7/1 to win gold in Tokyo.
But as the comic/golf junkie Norm MacDonald points out, sometimes sub-10/1 lines on golfers like Morikawa or Xander Schauffele are sucker’s odds. Even when they pay off, it’s not enough of a generous price to keep a stake in black. What are some “jackpot” markets that could pay off in Men’s Golf?
Don’t look at Rory McIlroy, who’s priced at 11/1 thanks mostly to name recognition. McIlroy concluded yet another disappointing year of major-tournament play by finishing 46th in the 2021 British Open at Royal St. George’s. Rory was a 20/1 underdog to win the Open Championship, but managed to underwhelm even those odds while playing on his homeland’s links.
McIlroy failed to contend at the Irish Open despite a thin field and a vulnerable Mount Juliet layout. He then missed the cut at the Scottish Open a week later before finishing even-par on a relatively calm British Open course.
Paul Casey (+1600) may be on the tail end of his professional golf career at 44 years old, but he could still make a serious run at the gold in Tokyo. The Englishman is currently ranked 46th in the FedEx Cup standings and has 3 career PGA tournament wins. Casey has experienced much more success internationally, where he’s won 16 tournaments.
Casey knows how to adapt to an Asian Tour style venue, and the short Par 4s at Kasumigaseki Country Club will not overtax an older player’s long game.
Can power players like McIlroy overwhelm the East Course’s Par 4s and 5s? Maybe, but the crucial accuracy could be missing, as superstar players haven’t prepared for the 2020 Olympic Games as they would a major tournament.
Joaquin Niemann (+2000) will be among the youngest golfers going for Men’s Golf gold at just 22. The Chilean sensation was the #1 ranked amateur for nearly an entire year before turning pro, and he’s already won a PGA tournament.
Niemann won 7 tournaments in a 2-year span as a teenager, and participated in the 2019 President’s Cup as a member of the international team. It’s difficult to predict how such a young talent will perform under the Olympic spotlight, but Niemann could be overlooked on the FanDuel betting board with longer odds than fringe contenders like Shane Lowry.
WagerBop’s Recommended Picks: Nelly Korda, Jennifer Kang, Paul Casey, Joaquin Niemann
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.