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Justin Thomas
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Presidents Cup: Mr. Reliable at Quail Hollow

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: September 20, 2022, 5:59 pm ET

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This week marks the 14th playing of the Presidents Cup; this year hosted at the iconic Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The United States and International teams will play 30 matches over four days – 18 team matches, nine using foursomes, and fourball formats, followed by 12 singles matches on Sunday. Each match will be worth one point, and ties will result in a tie and half a point. The first team with 15.5 points wins the Cup. If both teams are tied at the end of the tournament, they will split the cup.

The United States is an overwhelming -700 favorite. While you would think there is value in betting on the International team, they have only won once in 14 tournaments. They also have a massive talent disadvantage. The average world ranking of the United States team is 11.83, while there is no International player higher than 16. That leaves me ignoring the outright market or waiting to see if the line changes in-tournament to something that is in a more playable range. It would take something close to a miracle for the International team to win. Instead, I am looking at two prop markets to find value.

Top American: Justin Thomas +700

This market is fun because you could make a case for almost anyone on the United States team to win. An interesting golfer is Max Homa at +900. He won the Wells Fargo on this course back in 2019 and is coming off a win. I'm not sure he plays enough matches to be an option for me, but he makes a lot of sense if he does.

My attention is on Justin Thomas. In 2019 he was the United States' leading point scorer with 3.5 points after going 3-1-1. Thomas should feel comfortable here. He won the 2017 PGA Championship here and has finished inside the top 26 in three other events at this course. At +700, he makes just as much sense as Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler, yet they are +500, and he's +700.

The grounds crew at Quail Hollow will not be overseeding, and they are keeping the rough no higher than two inches. The bombers already dominate Quail Hollow; now, the importance of piping your drive as far as possible becomes much more significant. Thomas is third in driving distance and won't be penalized nearly as much with the shorter rough length.

Thomas was dealing with a bit of a back injury, but his solo 4th at the Tour Championship without strokes gives me confidence that his back isn't going to be an issue. At the Tour Championship, he gained +0.9 strokes putting. A strong showing with the putter will be ideal if you want to do well here. Average Strokes Gained: Putting per round is the highest correlated metric to winning.

Short game and ball-striking are two other highly correlated metrics with winning. Thomas is top 10 in SG: BS and seventh in SG: Short Game. He's special with a wedge in his hand and worth betting on to finish as the top American point scorer.

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Top International: Tom Kim +700

Top Debutant: Tom Kim +1200

Tom Kim has taken the golf world by storm due to his infectious smile and extreme talent on the golf course. He already has six international victories and picked up his first PGA Tour win a few months ago at the Wyndham Championship. He most famously recorded a quadruple bogey on the first hole and still won by five strokes. Kim is a good mix of youthful exuberance and poise on the golf course. The President's Cup is a fun event that will have the crowd and golfers pumped up with energy. I think Kim can feed off that energy. Everyone loves Kim, and he should be a crowd favorite.

Backing Kim as top international and top debutant could be fruitful. He should be paired with Sungjae Im, who finished with a 2-1-1 record in the 2019 Presidents Cup. Im is a worthy favorite. He was tied with Abraham Ancer as the top International and top overall point scorer. Much like Ancer did, I think Kim will score a lot of points paired with Im. It will be up to him to win his singles matches, which he has a good chance of doing. He hits the ball far enough and is very accurate off the tee. He gains a ton of strokes on approach, and he's a very good putter. At +1200, for him to be top debutant, he has the skill set to cause problems.

Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.