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Tour Championship odds, predictions: Two matchup bets we’re backing

The Action Network's Nick Hennion shares his best matchup bets for the Tour Championship.

FOR ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY. WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - AUGUST 18: Collin Morikawa of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club on August 18, 2022 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
FOR ACTION NETWORK USE ONLY. WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - AUGUST 18: Collin Morikawa of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club on August 18, 2022 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)Read moreRob Carr / Getty Images

Less than 24 hours separate golf bettors from the start of the Tour Championship. For us, that gives one final opportunity to share our favorite bets!

Yesterday’s focus was on the derivative and longshot markets. Today, we turn our attention to two more markets — matchups and first-round leader. Here, we’ll focus on the former as we attempt to find head-to-head matchups that give bettors a good chance of cashing a ticket.

Without further delay, let’s dive right into the picks. Please note — both matchups exclude bonus strokes and purely concern each player’s combined 72-hole score. All odds come courtesy of BetMGM and are reflective at time of writing.

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Best bet #1 - Collin Morikawa (-115) over Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland has the historical edge in terms of performance at East Lake, but my statistical model gives the advantage to Collin Morikawa.

Across both player’s last eight rounds, Morikawa ranks seventh overall in the field. On the flip-side, Hovland sits a distant 28th. In that projection, Morikawa ranks in the top-half in all the following categories: SG: T2G (13th), good drives gained (2nd), SG: Approach (10th) and GIRs gained (4th). He simultaneously ranks second in birdies or better gained and eighth in Par 4 Efficiency.

On the flip-side, Hovland ranks 20th or worse in every category that includes at least 10 percent emphasis. Additionally, there’s one glaring issue that leads me to believe Hovland will struggle at East Lake. Entering this tournament, Hovland ranks 28th in the field in GIRs gained across his last eight rounds.

Potentially even more concerning? Hovland failed to gain greens on the field in three of four rounds at the BMW Championship, which features putting surfaces stretching beyond 8,000 square feet on average. Now, he finds himself at a course that punishes those players who miss greens and don’t possess strong short games, which is widely known to be one of the weakest facets of Hovland’s game.

For those reasons, back Morikawa up to -125 in this head-to-head market.

Best bet #2 - Joaquin Niemann (-110) over Jordan Spieth

Joaquin Niemann has struggled immensely in his two previous starts at East Lake, but arrives this week in fine form.

Over his previous eight rounds, not a single player ranks ahead of the Chilean in my statistical model. Over that span, Niemann ranks first in SG: T2G, first on approach and sits third in bogey avoidance. He also ranks 10th or better in the field in good drives gained (fourth), GIRs gained (10th) and birdies or better gained.

He has also bested Jordan Spieth at both the FedEx St. Jude and BMW Championship while posting two consecutive top-20 finishes at those events.

As for Spieth, he owns a decent historical record at East Lake but has struggled in these two playoff events. He projects out 22nd of 29 in my eight-round model and ranks dead-last in bogey avoidance over those two events. Sure, he simultaneously ranks eighth in birdies or better gained, but Spieth also sits 25th in SG: T2G and 26th on approach, normally the reliable marks of his game.

Plus, for all of his success at East Lake, Spieth ranks 17th of 20 in SG: Approach amongst those players with previous course experience.

Barring a sizable correction with his irons, I foresee Spieth struggling to produce another strong showing in Atlanta. Back Niemann in this market up to -120.

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.