Gambling Trends

Arnold Palmer Invitational 2021: Why are so many people betting on someone who hasn't won on the PGA Tour yet?

March 03, 2021

Sean M. Haffey

It should be no surprise to learn more money has been wagered on Rory McIlroy to win the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational than any other player in the field at Bay Hill. After all, the four-time major champ has finished inside the top-6 in this event the past four times he's played it, including a win in 2018. He's an 8-to-1 favorite for a reason. Or, multiple reasons.

But the golfer who has received the most bets this week is one who hasn't won at the Orlando-area track. In fact, he hasn't won anywhere on the PGA Tour yet.

That honor goes to Sam Burns, who has accounted for 6.9 percent of all wagers taken by BetMGM Sportsbook thus far and tied for the fourth-most at William Hill. Burns is currently listed at +4000 odds (Risking $100 would win you $4,000) at William Hill. He's the biggest liability over at BetMGM for the event.

As for McIlroy, he's drawn the fourth-most wagers at 5.2 percent behind Burns, Viktor Hovland (5.8 percent), and Jordan Spieth 5.6 percent. But the McIlroy wagers total 26.3 percent of the handle, more than triple the next most, defending champ Tyrrell Hatton, at 8.4 percent. At William Hill, he's leading by the most money, garnering 13 percent of overall dollars.

So why is Burns drawing so much attention? Are you familiar with the phrase, "Fear of missing out"? Or FOMO, as the kids call it.

The talented 24-year-old has long been a darling of golf gamblers and DFS players. A former standout at LSU, Burns bombs it off the tee and is a great putter, a fantastic combination to rack up birdies. And in recent months, he's also been racking up close calls.

Most recently, Burns held a three-shot lead with nine holes to go at the Genesis Invitational before a rough back nine kept him one shot out of that playoff between Max Homa and Tony Finau. And as he continues to pop up on leader boards, it appears gamblers are scared of missing out on his breakthrough win.

We talked about Burns and the rest of the field on this week's Be Right podcast: