Scottie Scheffler's Putter Keeps Him an Underlay Bet

by Hollywood Sports

Sunday, Mar 31, 2024
Scottie Scheffler was an overwhelming favorite this week at the Texas Children’s Houston Open at the Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston. After back-to-back first-place finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then THE PLAYERS Championship two weeks ago, DraftKings lists Scheffler’s odds to win this tournament at a very low +260.

That was a clear underlay value as far as I am concerned when I handicapped the event. Just as a gentle reminder for those too scared to not invest in Scheffler despite those short odds: even when Tiger Woods was at his peak, he was only winning PGA events 27% of the time — and he was averaging more than +1.0 Shots-Gained versus the field than what Scheffler is currently registering. Scheffler has a great track record both here and when playing in his home state of Texas — and his putting has improved with his move to mallet putter this year.

But his top priority is getting his body in shape and setting himself up for the Master’s in two weeks — so backing him this week comes with additional risk. At +260, the betting value lies elsewhere. And as it turns out, those bettors backing Stephen Jaeger at +4500 were rewarded as he won the tournament after watching Scheffler miss the opportunity to improve his score to 12-under par and force a playoff. 

In hindsight, there were many moments where Scheffler’s blade let him down. Missing the five-foot birdie putt on 18 to force the playoff is the most apparent misstep. But he also missed an 11-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. On the back nine in the final round, Scheffler missed three birdie putts inside 20 feet. He did not make a putt in the entire round outside 11 feet. He lost strokes on the green relative to the field for the fourth time in his twelve rounds going back to the start of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

Perhaps most telling was a series of blunders in his second round on Friday. After a nice sand save, he missed a par putt that was inside six feet. While that is an understandable and unfortunate error, Scheffler magnified the problem by quickly setting up again for his bogey putt from 22 inches but lipped the ball around the hole for a double-bogey. He later described it as a “lapse of judgment” — but it may be even more telling. When your putter is the clear weakness in one’s game, abandoning one’s pre-shot ritual in resetting one’s body and mind after a frustrating result was the exposure of a lack of mental discipline. Where was his caddie to stop him from such a hasty reaction? Or, does his caddie lack the authority in their relationship to call him out? The best putters in the world never attempt to tap in a 1-foot, 10-inch putt after missing a makable par putt. The most disciplined and successful putters pick up their ball and reset their ritual process to meld their mental concentration with their physical execution. Scheffler is the best ball-striker in the world. A mental mistake like this is damning. Perhaps that’s what simply happens when one is trying to win their third straight PGA Tour event in a row?

Scheffler is currently the favorite to win the Masters Championship coming up in two weeks — he is listed as a +400 favorite at DraftKings. I will not be investing in Scheffler at that price. Even if he is the best golfer in the world — and there are a few professionals on the LIV Tour who will take issue with that in Augusta — there is not nearly enough value in a 4-1 favorite given the volatility of a golf tournament. The leaderboard at the Houston Open demonstrates this. While Jaeger won the tournament at 12-under par, Scheffler was tied for second place at 11-under par with four other golfers. Another four pros finished at 10-under par — and then another three golfers were at 9-under par. When 13 pros are all within three strokes at the end of 72 holes, the value is with the field rather than even the best player in the world. Tiger Woods' history indicates that he only won an event that closely contested one out of every four times. Betting Scheffler at anything below -800 — and especially anything under -400 — is not a formula for success. 

At these prices, we will continue to look elsewhere on our weekly endeavors betting on the PGA Tour. 

Best of luck — Frank.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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