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Do the Favourites Always Win in Golf?

In the high-pressure world of professional golf, where every stroke counts, assuming the pre-tournament favourite reigns supreme is natural. But how often does this assumption hold? 

Let's investigate the statistics and see if the favourites live up to their billing.

GolfTipsters has analysed data from the past five years (2019-2023) on the PGA Tour paints a surprising picture. While the players deemed most likely to win by oddsmakers hold a slight edge, their dominance could be clearer-cut. 

Here's the breakdown:

  • Total Tournaments: 250

  • Favorites Winning: 23

  • Win Percentage: 9.2%

  • One of the top-3 favourites win 23.26% 

  • One of the top-5 favourites win 34.19%

On average, the favourite has only emerged victorious in less than 10% of tournaments over the last five years. This statistic aligns with our findings. At GolfForecast, our reported win rate since 2016 is 8.15% for favourites.

Statistical Insights

Analysing historical data provides valuable insights into the frequency of favourites winning golf tournaments. The OWGR, which ranks players based on their performance over a rolling two-year period, offers a snapshot of the favourites at any given time. However, winning a golf tournament is not solely determined by ranking; it depends on the player's current form, adaptability to course conditions, and mental strength.

In general, favourites in golf have a higher probability of performing well, finishing in the top positions, or contending for the title. However, outright victories are not guaranteed, and the competitive nature of the sport often leads to unexpected outcomes.

The bookies' bet

There are several factors to consider when determining the favourite for any given golf tournament;

  • Weather Conditions: Weather plays a crucial role in golf, affecting players' strategies and performance. Adverse weather conditions can level the playing field, making it harder to predict outcomes.

  • Injuries and Form: Injuries can hamper a player's performance like any other sport. Additionally, a player's recent form leading up to a tournament is a significant factor in determining their chances of success.

  • Depth of Talent: The PGA Tour boasts a deep pool of incredibly talented golfers capable of mounting challenges and pulling off upsets.

  • The Course: Players may have specific courses where their skills and experience shine, giving them an edge over their favourite.

  • Unexpected Performances: Even the most well-rounded players can have off days, while lesser-known golfers can rise to the occasion and surprise everyone.

Is betting on the favourite a risky proposition?

Given the low win rate, betting solely on the favourite is sometimes a sound strategy. The odds offered for favourites typically reflect their higher chance of winning, which translates to lower potential payouts.

Should you entirely disregard the favourites? Not necessarily. Analysing recent form, course history, and overall playing style can still be valuable when making informed decisions.

However, golf is a game of individual brilliance and unexpected twists, making the outcome of every tournament a thrilling spectacle to watch, regardless of who's labelled the favourite.

Looking for a favourite? Get the best tips for every PGA and DP World Tours, every week, from GolfTipsters.


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