Best three-ball bets for Friday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: Casey's quest continues

Paul Casey at The Masters
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Ricky Dimon

Golf· 3 months ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Jon Rahm is the undisputed best golfer in the world right now, but he is out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because of a positive Covid-19 test. If the door to a gold medal is open for the rest of the field, some unusual suspects are the ones currently walking through it. The leaders through 18 holes are Sepp Straka, Jazz Janewattananond, Thomas Pieters, Carlos Ortiz, Joachim B. Hansen, Jhonattan Vegas, and Juvic Pagunsan. Paul Casey is the only player in the entire top 10 who would be easily identifiable for casual golf fans.

Are more surprises in store for day two, or will big-name players start climbing to the top of the leaderboard? Here are our best three-ball bets for Friday.

Xander Schauffele (+125) over Abraham Ancer and Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Schauffele was among our best pre-tournament bets, and we still like him following a solid 3-under 68 on Thursday. Bezuidenhout also played well and pushed the first-round three-ball bet with Schauffele (Ancer came in at 2-under). The American trails Straka by five strokes, but he is still the favorite to win the gold medal at +1100. After all, the leaderboard is unspectacular ahead of him. As for Bezuidenhout, he has not been in great form of late—only one top 30 result in his last nine starts; none in the top 20. Ancer had been struggling with two missed cuts in his previous four appearances. Well into plus money again (he was +115 on Thursday), Schauffele has great value to beat his playing partners.

Xander Schauffele at the U.S. Open

Paul Casey (+165) over Justin Thomas and Joaquin Niemann

Casey has never won a major despite being in contention on the weekend a million times. No, the Olympic event is not a major; but it is of similar importance with the same kind of pressure. So if past history is to go by, Casey will probably be in the mix from start to finish but can’t be expected to win gold. For now, though, we are only worried about Friday—and it should be another strong round for the Englishman following his 4-under 67 on Thursday. As for Thomas, his opening 18 holes were like what his game has been over the past few months: unspectacular. The American shot even par, and guess how he did it… with 18 pars! That isn’t going to be good enough to beat an in-form Casey. Niemann (1-under in the first round) also can’t be discounted, but Casey is the value play at +165.

Mackenzie Hughes (+185) over Alex Noren and Jazz Janewattananond

Speaking of being in contention, Hughes has been in the mix in each of the last two majors. The Canadian was one of many guys briefly atop the U.S. Open leaderboard on Sunday before he faded. He placed T6 at the British Open with four rounds in the 60s. There is still a long way to go at the Olympics, but Hughes’ 2-under 69 on Thursday has him in position to contend. Janewattananond went wild with a 7-under 64, already putting him in serious contention. But the pressure will already be on, and he is unproven in this kind of situation. Noren also played well in round one (-4), but can he sustain it? Maybe not. The Swede had missed three of his last four cuts heading into Tokyo.

The Pickswise golf handicappers are on hand with expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions as well as tournament previews and analysis throughout the PGA Tour, including all of the majors and the Olympics.

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