124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2


Fantasy Golf: My Vegas bets on the Shriners Open will make you rich! (Or not)

October 31, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- "Hang on, sir, I have to call in my manager for bets with odds that high."

Ooooh, I like the sound of that! I thought. Moments later, a man in a suit came over, glanced at the computer screen and chuckled. "Hunter Mahan?"

Yeah, yeah, Mahan is a long shot at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but his 100-to-1 odds were calling my name. Plus, it was either burn $100 in five minutes at the blackjack tables or waste my money more gradually by wagering that much on this week's PGA Tour event at the Planet Hollywood sports book. Easy decision. Choosing five players to plunk $20 down on was a little more difficult, but here's who I wound up going with:

Patrick Cantlay (18/1): The second-favorite behind Tony Finau (16/1), Cantlay has proven in his short PGA Tour career that he plays well every time he tees it up. Cantlay qualified for this year's Tour Championship in only 12 starts, and he's coming off a T-15 at his first WGC event at the HSBC Champions. Provided his back held up OK on that return flight from Shanghai, he seems poised to pick up his first PGA Tour title.

Webb Simpson (20/1): I was a bit surprised Simpson wasn't the favorite based on his track record at TPC Summerlin (a win in 2014 and T-4s in 2010 and 2015). He's also finished in the top 20 in five of his last six starts, including a third at the Wyndham Championship. OK, let's look at some guys with some longer odds, shall we?

Jamie Lovemark (50/1): The soon-to-be 30-year-old finished T-5 in his last start at the CJ Cup. Maybe more importantly, he hit 80 percent of his fairways, which is always a good recipe for playing desert golf.

Hunter Mahan (100/1): Quietly, Mahan has played solid golf over the past few months, both on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. He's coming off a T-18 at the Sanderson Farms Championship and a T-13 at the Safeway Open. I might make a return trip to Vegas just to laugh in that manager's face if Mahan gets back into the winner's circle for the first time since 2014.

Kyle Thompson (300/1): I had to flip the betting sheet over to find Kyle listed, but this isn't as crazy as it sounds when you factor in that the past three Shriners Open winners (Rod Pampling, Smylie Kaufman and Ben Martin) were all at least 200-to-1 long shots, according to Betfair. Kyle's chances get a boost with windy conditions expected since he won that Web.com Tour event earlier this year that had crazy winds in the Bahamas. Plus, I talked to him at the Major Series of Putting on Monday night, and he said he loves this course, so I should probably start planning how I'm going to spend that 6 grand.

Let it be known that at least I didn't bet on Tiger Woods to win the Hero World Challenge. (Full disclosure: Planet Hollywood wasn't offering bets on that event yet.) And I also received a free drink voucher for placing my wager. Yep, this was definitely a good choice.