Three months since the Players Championship was suspended after round 1 due to Coronavirus, the PGA Tour returns on June 11th with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Fort Worth in Texas. The PGA tour has been busy; quick to act and very pro-active with the re-scheduling of their calendar. The American major championships will still take place with the Open Championship, being the only casualty, no doubt with the inter-continental travel required for the European Tour making dynamics impossible at present.
2020 Major Championships
- PGA Championship, August 6-9, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco.
- US Open, September 17-20, Winged Foot, New York.
- US Masters, November 12-15, Augusta National, Georgia.
What measures are in place to combat the Covid-19 pandemic?
The PGA Tour has the luxury of using the one continent and so quarantine becomes simpler. The PGA Tour is strongly encouraging players and caddies to use their option of inter-city travel using a charter jet. All persons wishing to travel are required to submit for viral testing within 24 hours of the flight’s departure. Once they arrive in the city, they will face another test, no matter what form of transport they have chosen. Once at that week’s tournament, there is a plan in place for all-inclusive temperature testing and virus-related questionnaires during the event.
How will the enforced break affect the players’ immediate and long-term futures?
The immediate thing that I have noticed when looking through the entries for the first event, the Charles Schwab Challenge was how it has gained a higher profile field than previously known with players needing to get their games sharp.
Firstly, Rory McIlroy has never previously played at the Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth but has chosen to tee up while Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson also unusually tee up in Texas having only previously played there once before. Major champions, Jason Day and Bubba Watson also make their course debuts later than normal in their established careers.
The next noticeable difference is a sudden influx of European Tour players whose opportunities in the short term are limited; Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Perez, Erik Van Rooyen, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Christian Bezuindenhout have all taken the opportunity for a course debut when normally they would be grinding their livelihoods in Europe.
Will this affect the players careers lower down the ladder?
This brings about a catch 22 scenario short-term for the players, whereby the Charles Schwab Challenge has a stronger field than normal and an exciting look for fans and bettors worldwide. The downside, however, could be considerable for the lower-ranked players who are going to lose out on earning opportunities in the immediate future although they will have the chance to drop down to the Korn Ferry Tour, but that too will perform the domino effect of previously entered players missing out on that tour.
In my experience, this pandemic will bring new pressure for sports professionals around the world but immediately it could be very serious and pivotal for the careers of the lower-ranked. They face the problem of having worse or less earning opportunities than previously while needing to keep their minds strong for those big occasions that may come. Golf is already a sport that many say is 80-90% mental once the physical practice hones the game so only the moto only the strongest survive becomes more relevant than ever.
How should we approach our golf betting when the PGA Tour restarts?
My plan is to start cautiously by decreasing my stakes and gradually building them throughout the remainder of the year. I always approach my betting in this fashion from the beginning of each calendar year when players had only played fleetingly during the previous December (off-season) if they played at all.
The plan in golf betting is built around the ability to marry a player’s current form to his course or course correlation form. I also try to use my experience as a former snooker professional which like golf is a solitary sport that sets a premium on the players’ state of mind. I try to pre-empt how a players’ state of mind is currently and whether the coming week will mean their biorhythms produce the correct endorphins for peak performance from their hand to eye co-ordination.
Normally the end of a season means a player has less than three months off so this time it is a longer break than normal. Some players may have chosen the option to take a complete break, clear the mind, and recharge their batteries while others will have been physically still trying to keep their games as sharp as possible. There is also the added problem from the fact that some may have enjoyed that time off while others being forced to spend an unusual amount of time at home has brought its own mental wellbeing challenges.
Will there still be a betting edge to be found in the opening week’s PGA Tour?
Yes, there will be an edge to help our betting in the opening weeks of the PGA Tour’s resumption. Firstly, there has been more activity than previous years on the minor tours of America as the PGA professionals have attempted to get their games in shape during recent weeks. We can look through those results to see who has played well so far but we must bear in mind that the professionals will only be using them to tune their games up.
There has been much activity throughout on the Outlaw and Golden State tours plus the Scottsdale AZ Open that are all in Arizona. In recent weeks the other minor tours also have restarted across the country and for most professionals it will be an advantage to have the opportunity to sharpen their game. Be careful, though, because certain professionals play better fresh with no mental expectations than others and these individuals will be worth a look with the current environment too.
In conclusion, it will be great to have golf back and at SBR we will have extensive coverage of all the PGA Tour betting markets in the coming months.