We learned a few things during the opening round of the Zozo Championship on Thursday: Tiger Woods isn’t exactly prepped and ready for his Masters title defense, Rory McIlroy is going to need a replacement wedge for the one he snapped in half after one of many poor shots, and Sherwood CC is predictably going to yield plenty of red numbers this week.
Let’s get right to figuring out any live outrights entering Friday’s second round.
My first bit of advice is this: If there are a few players you loved pre-tournament who are only in the middle of the pack right now, don’t worry. In fact, it might be smart to bet ‘em again.
For me, those guys are Patrick Reed, who opened at +2500 and is now +6600 after a 2-under 70, and Bubba Watson, who opened at +3500 and is now +9000 after posting the exact same score.
Picking up a half-dozen strokes on a world-class leaderboard might seem like a daunting task, but a lot can happen in 54 holes, especially when there’s no fear of a cut. Don’t be afraid to double down.
If you’ve got a few of those leaders and want to hedge, though, or maybe you put all your eggs in the Tiger basket, or maybe you just waited to see one round before betting anything outright, here are three other players I’d consider at this point.
Use our new markets tool at Action Labs to find the best live outright prices on every golfer for the Zozo Championship.
Patrick Cantlay (+1600)
Everyone within two strokes has an inflated price right now, so I’ll start with Cantlay, who posted a 5-under 67 despite losing strokes with the flatstick. He tends to play some of his best golf on West Coast courses, so this should be right up his alley.
Russell Henley (+5000)
Few players have been as hot as Henley lately, as he finished T-3 at Shadow Creek last week. He posted a 4-under 68 in the opener and, like Cantlay, was solid with every club but the putter.
Tommy Fleetwood (+9000)
This is a massive number for Fleetwood, another guy who hit the ball like Ben Hogan and putted it like Hulk Hogan. His recent results haven’t been too special, but looking back on last week, once he got over the opening-round jetlag, he didn’t play poorly. Don’t be surprised if he’s got a low one in him on Friday.
Round 2 Matchups
Russell Henley (+102) over Harris English
Expect this one to be a — wait for it — Dawg fight.
In all seriousness, English has been one of the best Thursday players over the past year, but Henley has a hot hand and could take him as the dawg — sorry, ‘dog — in this one.
Webb Simpson (-109) over Rory McIlroy
Nobody in the entire field — which includes a few randoms from other tours around the world — posted a worse tee-to-green number Thursday than McIlroy. Not only do I love Simpson in this matchup, I’d also give serious consideration to Phil Mickelson against Rory at +130.
Carlos Ortiz (+102) over Mackenzie Hughes
Even though Hughes has been one of the pleasant surprises over the second half of this year, Ortiz is coming off a truly befuddling round that saw him gain 4.10 strokes on approach shots, but lose 4.52 on the greens. Something’s gotta give, so I’ll bank on the putter progressing more than the ball-striking regresses.