Former World No. 1 Jason Day withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Thursday. But unlike Tiger Woods, Davis Love and Talor Gooch, who all withdrew with some sort of injury prior to the event, Day played six full holes and then called it quits from the fairway on hole No. 7. Day explained to his caddie and playing partners that he could not continue due to a back injury.
Day’s withdrawal caused quite a stir on social media and in the betting market. Especially after Day told reporters following his WD that he “woke up and couldn’t really walk or sit up in the car” after last Saturday’s practice round at TPC Sawgrass in preparation for next week’s PLAYERS Championship,
“I was on a dose pack to try to get the inflammation out of it and that didn’t get any better,” Day said. “I saw a physio here (in Orlando) and tried to do as much work as I possibly could to get ready for this week,“ Day said. “I couldn’t play at 100 percent today, so I just wanted to see if I could get out here and may have loosened up.
“But unfortunately it didn’t, so I had to pull out.”
Will Gray of the Golf Channel said in an interview that Day had an annular tear in the L4/L5 disc which was revealed following an MRI this past Monday. He was taking some anti-inflammation medicine and carefully moving around the locker room after his WD from the event.
Day’s WD and impact on the betting market
Day won the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational and was one of the betting favorites this week at 14/1 odds to win the tournament. Day was also listed in a number of head-to-head 72 hold match-ups. Sportsbook rules grade any match-up or outright wagers as a loss when a golfer withdraws after he tees off on his first hole.
However, some sportsbooks again came to the bettors’ defense and offered a goodwill refund of bets made on Jason Day. That includes Ladbrokes, Sportsbet, and new legal U.S. operators FanDuel Sportsbook.
Since he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational after just six holes due to injury, we went ahead and refunded all Jason Day bettors for the tournament.
If you had money on Day, we strongly encourage treating yourself to an ice-cold Arnold Palmer on us 🍹 pic.twitter.com/1DYOH1ngzA
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 7, 2019
Should players health reports be disclosed?
Most bettors and daily fantasy sports (DFS) players are feeling like this is another example of why injuries and health reports need to be disclosed. Do the players owe it to the PGA, fans or gamblers to report health issues?
According to a PGA spokesperson, the answer, for now, is NO.
“For the foreseeable future, medical information is considered confidential,” the spokesperson said. “Players are not required to disclose an injury.”
Fellow PGA pro Kevin Kisner made his point on the subject clear.
“It’s nobody’s business,” said Kisner, co-chairman of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council, on Thursday. “I mean, are we out here to gamble, or are we out here to play golf? I don’t really give a s*** about the DFS guys. You should have picked someone else. If he had shot 65 and he had a hurt back, those guys wouldn’t have said anything.”
Gamblers often seem to feel a sense of entitlement, and they are often critical of league rules changes and reporting procedures. But the league injury reporting is not likely to change anytime soon. Even if it would seem of interest to the PGA Tour, sponsors, fans and especially gamblers.
Gamblers need to soften their stance on the issue and quit complaining. That includes verbal attacks on players and through social media rants. Bettors place bets on NFL players knowing they are playing injured, and rest assured many PGA pros are dinged up and feeling the aches and pains and even playing injured.
Day didn’t play in the Pro-Am Wednesday, which could have been a warning sign. Many golfers are playing injured to some degree, and Day has even missed three other Wednesday Pro-Ams in his career due to injury or illness and won the tournament four days later.
Gambling comes with a risk. Day took a far greater one even trying to play in Thursday’s opening round. He likely did so to not only test his back, body and ability to perform in the days and weeks ahead, but also to satisfy a commitment he’s made as a professional golfer. He may be an independent contractor and play for himself, but he and fellow Tour players at all levels represent the PGA for fans, sponsors, fellow competitors and this week the King – Arnold Palmer. Give Day and the Tour a break.
Golf is partying like it’s 1999.
Flashback almost 20 years ago. Tiger Woods was about to go on an unprecedented run. Country clubs were jacking up membership dues. You actually had to book tee times way in advance of your round. Golf TV ratings were at record highs.
Then Tiger started banging porn stars, crashed his car, got injured, couldn’t play, and the masses stopped caring.
As we’ve written, daily fantasy sports provided a teaser of how gambling could boost interest in golf. With Tiger turning back the clock and betting legal in the U.S., is golf America’s next big gambling sport?
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago this week, a panel that consisted of veritable Nostradami predicted that, yes, sports gambling will make golf more popular.
According to George Pyne, CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, “You’re 19 times more likely to watch an event if you’re betting on it.” Given that simple season-long fantasy football will have me tuning in to watch the Cleveland Browns on a Thursday night in September just to see if Jarvis Landry can snag 8 catches (PPR league, obv) for 100+ yards, Pyne might be on to something there.
Pyne raises one good and very prescient point: Golf tournaments have 75+ players, making the gambling opportunities “off the charts.” From individual player props to basic round +/- wagers, golf offers more opportunities to bet for the action junkies.
As always, content is going to be king
The panel also discussed something we touched on this week: sports betting content opportunities and ways to further engage fans.
ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell, confirmed that the mouse ears are creating more sports betting programming (including show called I’ll Take That Bet). This could also lead to more ways of interacting with and engaging gamblers.
“This is just the beginning of exploring how this changes how you connect with sports fans, and how you connect with the real avid and engaged sports fans.”
Buckle up, the sports betting landscape is taking off. Things are only going to get more and more interesting.
Golf and gambling are like peanut butter and jelly: they go well together, perfect compliments for each other.
This week, Golf.com examined why the PGA Tour itself believes that gambling, and in particular live betting, may be big business for golf.
Live betting may fuel growth of golf gambling
If you harken back to the early poker boom years, the names Martin de Knijff and Bill Edler may ring some bells.
Martin won an early WPT tournament (for then a record-setting $2,728,356) and Edler won a 2007 WSOP bracelet and WPT title.
They’ve both been on the business side of sports bookmaking and technology (Edler was listed in the “Molly Bloom” indictments). The two are now with Metric Gaming, and they see a booming future in “Super Live” golf betting.
As de Knijff notes, while Super Live betting, which in golf’s case gets as micro as recalculating odds for a certain golfer based on the distance of each putt, has some absolute degenerate appeal, it can draw in casual fans too, stating they may view it as, “…hey, I’ve got some time to kill, and here’s something I can engage with right away.”
As with most things, the truth is in the middle there. Super Live betting is like crack for degenerates, but also provides casual fans with some edge-of-seat engagement too.
While possibly a somewhat self-serving believe, de Knijff believes that golf betting (and presumably with Super Live action) can capture 10% of the total turnover for U.S. sports betting.
And the PGA Tour is good with this?
The PGA Tour has already announced starting an integrity program and has joined other sports leagues in a push for integrity fees and official data rights.
Plus, you know that the PGA Tour knows that Tiger Woods isn’t going to be in contention every Sunday (where he’s good for a 37% or more ratings bump).
And as we’ve noted on TheLines, there’s some correlation to increased golf ratings and the rise of fantasy golf on DraftKings.
Integrity fees aside, increased ratings equals increased advertising and sponsorship dollars. Anything to juice the ratings, especially as golf has seen its viewership decline the past decade, is good for the bottom line.
You don’t need Metric Gaming to calculate the odds of the PGA Tour supporting live betting. It’s absolutely in their best interest to do so, perhaps more than any other sport right now.
The PGA Tour is betting on big data.
Over the past few weeks, they expressed their support of USsportsintegrity.com, a new website launched by sports-data behemoth Genius that would track all wagering from legal sports books around the country. The site features a video interview with PGA SVP or Tournament Administration Andy Levinson, who waxed dryly about sports betting and integrity.
“Integrity is a fundamental tenant in the game of golf. Our athletes call penalties on themselves,” he said with rather catatonic excitement. “If regulation would require more reporting and transparency from the gaming operators, then that would be a positive for all sports.”
Leagues say big data protects game
Levinson went on to say that big data is a tremendous resource for the PGA, announcers and the players themselves. Ball speed, drive apexes, greens-in-regulation, and a litany of other data points are the engine that dries player analysis, good commentary and, apparently, the integrity of the PGA as well as the MLB and NBA.
If you’re having a hard time understanding how good data relates to sports betting, you aren’t alone. The missing factor here is the belief that illegal sports books use unofficial data — data that could push bettors to place money based on data that just isn’t accurate. Crap in, crap out, basically, official-data proponents say.
What the leagues really mean: We get paid when you use our approved data providers
The NBA, MLB and PGA have expressed their desire to see official data worked into sports betting legislation on a state-by-state basis.
While USsportsintegrity.com makes the concept of official data seem warm and fuzzy, there are those who would argue it’s anything but.
- For example, their argument is partly based on the fact that gremlins of bad data run rampant through illegal betting economies. This isn’t exactly an airtight argument, as sports betting analysts have noted that the damage done by “unofficial” data among illegal sports books isn’t the problem that it is.
- Second, the call for legislating the use of official data is a roundabout way for the leagues making money. If your state legislator tells you that, as a sports book, you have to use data sources approved by the leagues whose games are generating handle, then you’ll be forced to choose, for example, Genius’s services.
Those services will come at a cost. You pay for the data, Genius makes money and, most likely, there will be a premium worked into that price that will go directly to the leagues.
What about the integrity fee?
The PGA hasn’t made an official statement on the integrity fee that the MLB and NBA are asking for – 1% of the total dollar amount of bets placed.
However, it would be hard to believe that the PGA wouldn’t ask for 1%; why settle for par when an eagle is within grasp, financially speaking?