How Did The 2019 Major Winners Fare Against The Odds?

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 Masters:

PLAYERODDSACTUAL FINISH
Dustin Johnson10/1t2
Rory McIlroy11/1T21
Tiger Woods12/11
Justin Rose14/1CUT
Jordan Spieth14/1T21
Justin Thomas14/1T12
Bryson Dechambeau16/1T29
Brooks Koepka18/1T2
John Rahm16/1T9
Rickie Fowler20/1T9
Jason Day25/1T5

The PGA Championship

PLAYERODDSACTUAL FINISH
Dustin Johnson10/12
Brooks Koepka10/11
Rory McIlroy11/1T8
Tiger Woods11/1CUT
Rickie Fowler20/1T36
John Rahm20/1CUT
Justin Rose20/1T29
Jason Day22/1T23
Tommy Fleetwood28/1T48
Francesco Molinari28/1T48
Xander Schauffele28/1T16

The US Open

PLAYERODDSACTUAL FINISH
Brooks Koepka13/12
Dustin Johnson15/2T35
Rory Mcilroy9/1T9
Tiger Woods11/1T21
Jordan Spieth16/1T65
Patrick Cantlay18/1T21
Justin Rose20/1T35
Rickie Fowler22/1T43
Justin Thomas22/1CUT
Jason Day25/1T21
John Rahm25/1T35
Xander Schauffele25/1T35

The winner of the US Open was of course Gary Woodland, who was literally on no one’s betting radar.

The Open Championship

PLAYERODDSACTUAL FINISH
Brooks Koepka15/2T4
Rory McIlroy8/1CUT
Dustin Johnson12/1T51
Tiger Woods12/1CUT
Francesco Molinari20/1T11
Jordan Spieth20/1T20
Xander Schauffele22/1T41
Tommy Fleetwood25/12
Rickie Fowler25/1T6
Henrik Stenson25/1T20

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.

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