In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowicki argues that the combined decisions of large groups of people produce better results than the experts. Thus whether you’re trying to strike it big in Vegas, interested in making money with free bets, or just a golf fan who wants insight into who might win, golf odds might very well be better than the Golf Channel panel experts. Odds, while initially set by an expert, are adjusted to account for where punters are placing their cash, thus producing the best of both worlds.
So how did the 2019 Major winners fare against the odds?
Below are the top ten players in the odds before each major, along with their actual finish. The odds did not successfully predict the winner of any of the four Major. Further, the eventual winner was only in the top ten in the odds in two of the Majors (The Masters, and the PGA Championship).
However, the eventual second place player was in the top ten in the odds in each of the four Majors.
The PGA Championship
The US Open
The winner of the US Open was of course Gary Woodland, who was literally on no one’s betting radar.
The Open Championship
The winner of the Open Championship? Shane Lowry, at 50/1.
Overall, what I think this shows is that golf may be the hardest sport to predict an outcome. In team sports, the outcome is binary: one wins, and one loses. In golf, there are typically fifty players who have a chance to win any given tournament.
Still, I will continue to look at the odds to win the Majors, simply because it is fun.