Scottie Scheffler’s dominance is not a good thing for sportsbooks or golf bettors

Scottie Scheffler continues to dominate PGA golf events leaving sportsbooks and bettors longing for the days of Tiger Woods.

Scheffler's dominance is a lose-lose for bettors and books

Although team sports are the most popular bet offerings and biggest money maker for sportsbooks, individual sports have become far more popular in the last couple of decades, particularly golf and tennis. Tennis is very popular during Wimbledon, The U.S. Open and the French Open, but PGA Tour golf is popular every week. While tennis often has players that completely dominate leading to very low future odds, the competitive nature of golf traditionally means that there is no dominant player, and in any given week, any player can win a tournament and in head-to-head matchups, any player can beat another. This means that sportsbooks have pretty much been guaranteed a good profit regardless of who wins and bettors were guaranteed very good odds should their golfer come out on top.

PGA golf betting Scottie SchefflerThe one exception to that rule was when Tiger Woods ruled golf for about 10 years in the 2000s. Whenever Tiger won, most books would claim that they "got clobbered." No matter how low the odds were on Woods, it seems almost everyone would bet him. Only Phil Mickelson came close to the amount bet on Tiger. One year William Hill posted that they lost well over seven figures when Tiger won his second Masters.

This all changed in November 2009 after Tiger got in the famous car crash, subsequent scandal and divorce. His game was never the same.

Other golfers like Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, John Rahm and others rose to the top and became consistent winners on tour, but none were so dominant as Tiger that it produced a constant negative result for sportsbooks if they won. That situation however, changed in the last several months now that Scottie Scheffler has become the undisputable best player in the world.

Scheffler is the best in the world

Scheffler earned his PGA card in 2020 and was named the 2019-2020 Rookie of the Year. Naturally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a drastically shortened schedule that year, his coming dominance wasn't fully recognized. In 2022 Scheffler won his first tournament in February at the Phoenix Open, won the Masters and went on to win the money list. He also finished 2nd in the FedEx Cup Championship and was named PGA Tour Player of the Year. It was clear that he was the best player in the game. But it was only this year that Scheffler’s clear dominance on tour has really been noticed.

His prowess became cemented after winning the Player’s Championship by 5 strokes and finishing second to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Tour Championship (a tournament he probably should have won), leading to him being the undisputed number one player on tour. In 2022-2023 Scheffler made all 23 cuts and 17 top 10 finishes culminating with a win at the Hero Challenge. And in 2024 he has been unstoppable winning four of his last 5 starts including the Arnold Palmer Championship, the Player's Championship, The Masters and the RBC Heritage, all signature events. He would have won five straight had a couple of putts not lipped out at the Houston Open, which allowed Stephan Jäger to beat him by one stroke.

Sportsbooks lose when Scheffler wins

One sportsbook manager from MGM is on record saying that Scheffler is a disastrous result since almost 20% of the handle comes in on him each week. At this year’s Masters, Scheffler was a 4/1 favorite to win the tournament, the lowest starting odds since Tiger Woods’ 7/2 odds in 2013. Several sportsbooks indicated they lost 7 figures on futures bets with his win. Masters betting Scheffler15-18% of tickets were on Scheffler at all the big online books and more than 20% of the handle was on Scheffler, as the sharps jumped all over him. And at the RBC Heritage, the result was even worse. Without going into the golfing statistics, as it is beyond the scope of this article, it has been noted that Scheffler’s tee to green figures are as good as if not better than Woods in his heyday, and Scheffler’s putting, which until this year was said to be his Achilles Heel, is now among the best in the game.

Dave Portnoy, the founder and owner of Barstool Sports (something he reacquired after Penn Gaming dropped the brand to launch ESPNBet), is said to have won over $1.3 million at DraftKings betting Scheffler to win and then won even more at the RBC Heritage. In fact, there are reports that Portnoy has won over $6 million on sports this year with nearly half of those wins on Scheffler. And one offshore sportsbook bet manager told me that the results on Scheffler now are worse than it ever was with Tiger in his heyday.

"We knew if Tiger won, we would lose but Tiger was far less consistent than Scheffler." The bet manager said. "For every win, Tiger had far more losses. He would win by 13 one tournament and barely make the cut in the next three. Tiger would throw in the occasional stinker and he could be erratic which allowed us to stay ahead but Scheffler never misses. He is always in contention, which is a big issue with top 5, top 10 and similar bets, not to mention bets to make the cut. And I won’t even discuss matchups. At the Masters we matched Scottie with Rory and despite odds of -150 on Scheffler, over 80% of the bets came in on Scheffler. It’s irritating and we are just going to have to keep cutting the odds on Scheffler, particularly in the majors, and hopefully the price will be low enough that our bettors who keep winning on him will look elsewhere. We have to offer golf betting as our customers demand it but I wish it was more competitive than it has become."  

The manager said that his shop was celebrating when Scheffler was well back at the RBC Heritage and they thought they would get a winning week, but couldn’t believe it when Scheffler went on a run Sunday and won the tournament easily. He said they offered 10/1 odds after the 3rd day on Scheffler and even more bets came in on him at those odds despite the odds being lower than they probably should have been. "It was an absolute disaster," the bet manager said.

Bettors not cashing in either

While the results have been bad for books it has also been terrible for most bettors. As mentioned at the start, most golf bettors love wagering on the sport because it provides them the opportunity to win a lot of money for a small investment. Personally, I still recall winning close to $5,000 with a $25 bet when Michael Campbell held off Tiger Woods by two strokes at the 2005 U.S. Open at 200/1 odds. But the combination of Scheffler’s terrible odds at signature events, along with favorites winning most of the other events, has made the lottery type win a distanbetting odds PGA  Schefflert memory. Save for Jäger’s victory and Nick Dunlap’s shocking win at The American Express Championship this year, it’s hard to find any winners that were more than 20/1 odds to win a tournament in the early odds in 2024 and the second half of 2023. And to make matters worse for bettors, many of the golfers that could have challenged Scheffler do not play against him due to their exodus to LIV Golf.

John Rahm was the Masters champion in 2023, but was not a contender at all this year and players like Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, who were always contenders at major events, have just not been as competitive since they moved on from the PGA. Brooks Koepka did win the 2023 PGA Championship not long after he defected to that tour, but he admitted that LIV does not set players up well for the major tournaments due to its 54 hole, shotgun format and he even contemplated returning to the PGA Tour because he was not happy with the LIV format. And in this year’s Masters, only Bryson Dechambeau, who has been awful since defecting to LIV, was in contention for the win.

"I used to live for the majors on Sunday and seeing if one of my longshot bets could pull off the victory," Harold, a bettor from Mississauga, Canada said to me, "but I now dread the day because I know Scottie will beat one of them and I will end up frustrated. I didn’t even bother watching the Masters this year when it became clear Scheffler would win again. I just spent time with my wife. She loved it, but a day at the mall with her is not nearly as fun as watching a barn burner golf tournament. I think from now on I’m just going to play it smart and bet on wagers without Scottie Scheffler."

Fortunately for Harold, most top online books are starting to offer those bets. At the RBC Heritage, BetMGM, Bet365, FanDuel and BetCaesars, which all offer wagering to Ontario residents, offered pre-tournament odds to win without Scottie Scheffler and I’m sure other books did too.

There’s no question that this dominance of Scheffler is not good for longshot bettors or the sportsbooks, but his dominance hasn’t been that good for TV broadcasters either. Scheffler is a calm, cool and somewhat stoic player, and because he doesn’t have the persona of Woods, most viewers just can’t get as excited when he dominates. Instead of the exuberance that was shown by Woods weekend and week out, Scottie just goes about his business and if a viewer is lucky, they will see a smile or fist shake at a good putt. And for other obvious reasons Scheffler is also not the media darling that Woods was. In fact, when Woods was dead last of the golfers that made the cut at the Masters, NBC decided to show every shot from Tiger Woods rather than the leaders.

By all accounts, Scheffler is a great human being and at 27 it seems his dominance will last for years. He and his wife are expecting their first child any day now and Scheffler suggested at the RBC Heritage that he may take time away from the game to support his wife Meredith and the baby, and that could be great news for books and bettors. If that does indeed happen, his break from the game would be for a happy reason and not because he wrapped his car around a tree after being chased by his wife with a golf club for infidelity. But for bettors and books a break from Scheffler regardless of the reason will be a welcome relief. It could will allow bettors to try and find some of those lottery type wins that they have gotten used to and it could allow fans of players like McIlroy, Schauffele and some of the better players on tour to root for a win without wondering if Scheffler is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat and come out of nowhere to win. It’s almost certain Scheffler will return for the PGA Championship on May 13th, the U.S. Open Championship on June 10th and the British Open on July 15th even if he chooses to skip the other events to be with his family, but at this point for books and longshot golf bettors, any tournament without Scheffler is a bonus.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley's RUMOR MILL!

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