When you think of gambling at the office, you’re usually about to get in some kind of trouble. Or it’s NCAA Tournament time — but every once in a while you get to work for a company that supports gambling on golf.
Or, you know — maybe you and some buddies do one for every major each year? Either way — you know that “major pools” are arguably the most fun ways to bet on golf.
Like most other types of fantasy golf, you’re picking players for the week. Unlike most others, you get a chance to make some bogeys along the way. Daily Fantasy Sports doesn’t let you do that and betting the odds definitely doesn’t allow for those.
As a degenerate, golf-gambling junkie with a taste for punishment, I find myself competing in three or four of these things every major. As I’ve said, they’re fun, approachable and you don’t need to be a savant to win.
Seriously — my wife has won one of these things.
If you’re unfamiliar, basically the field gets broken down into chunks and you take players from each “pool.” For instance, the one I’ve been in for years breaks it down by “Top 10 in Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR),” “11-20 in OWGR,” “Americans,” “Europeans” and “World.” These are pretty self explanatory.
From there, you select two players from each pool and a “wild card” whose OWGR must exceed 50. Of your nine players, you must have at least five make the cut in the tournament to continue. If all your players make it, only your five best scores will count.
The most beautiful thing — and most important to remember as you make your picks — about these pool games is that you’re not necessarily picking a winner. You’re simply picking players you expect to have good weeks. With that in mind, you can throw out some of the trends (i.e. no rookie has won since 1979, no one over 46 has ever won) that might normally sway you one way or another.
Got it? Good.
Here’s a look at those upon whom all my hopes and dreams shall be riding this week at Augusta:
Top 10 in OWGR (pick 2)
Jordan Spieth – As I noted yesterday, Spieth has an average finish at Augusta of 1.6. ONE. POINT. SIX.
Dustin Johnson – Seriously, do I need to explain this? If you’re apprehensive about DJ, it better be for one reason — you’ve already taken Jordan Spieth and you have a soft spot in your heart for Rory McIlroy. Otherwise, there’s no reason on Earth not to select DJ.
11-20 in OWGR (pick 2)
John Rahm – Rahm is off to a great start this season and despite being a Masters rookie, I firmly believe he will have a great week at Augusta National.
Phil Mickelson – Having taken the unproven Rahm with my first pick in this pool, I decided to take the proven horse here with Mickelson. Sure, he’s had his off weeks on property, but his triumphs here far outweigh his disasters. Lefty comes in playing well and — for me — is a must-have player in this format.
Americans 21+ in OWGR (pick 2)
J.B. Holmes — Holmes is a guy who I honestly believe has major championship title coming his way soon. I don’t necessarily think he wins this week, but he finished T-4 here last year and has the fire power to bring Augusta National to its knees — if he’s accurate.
Ryan Moore — In taking a bomber with Holmes first, I shift my strategy and draft a plodder in Ryan Moore. Moore has a great track record here and, while he won’t over power the course, will be able to rely on local knowledge and stellar iron and wedge play to keep him in the hunt.
Europeans 21+ in OWGR (pick 2)
Matthew Fitzpatrick — The young Englishman played well enough here last year to get invited back, and I think he does just that again this year. A top-15 would do the trick.
Thomas Pieters — Pieters may be a Masters rookie, but I don’t think that precludes him from having a solid week. He’s proven he can play on the biggest of stages and I doubt Augusta National will intimidate the 6′ 5” Belgian.
World 21+ in OWGR (pick 2)
Marc Leishman — Leishman is a bit of a sentimental pick — as I’ve said before — but I wouldn’t say the choice is unfounded. He’s played well here and has added two more top-5 finishes in majors since finishing T-4 here in 2013.
Louis Oosthuizen — For some reason, my gut tells me Shrek is going to be fire this week. I’m probably wrong, but if I’ve learned anything betting on and playing fantasy golf, it’s that it hurts much less when you trust your gut and lose than when you don’t and lose.
Wild Card (pick 1, must exceed 50th in OWGR)
Lee Westwood — Normally, I’d be worried about a guy’s form coming into the tournament, but that’s not the case with world No. 54 Lee Westwood. He’s proven in the past that he can basically roll out of bed and shoot 67 at Augusta National and, quite frankly, I’m betting on him doing it again this week. Only time will tell, but Westy is statistically due.
There you have it, folks! Obviously with a pool style game, there’s quite a bit more options — but these are the guys I’m counting on earning me some office bragging rights. As long as you don’t work at the same place as me, feel free to make them your own!