Who can emulate Justin Rose in winning golfing Gold? Matt Cooper has a pair of each-way selections for both the Gold Medal and First Round Leader markets, with the Sportsbook paying six places...
"What he needs is a spark and perhaps this week will provide it. Consider the sheer joy with which he discussed his experiences so far this week in the Olympic village."
Gold Medal Main Bet: Tommy Fleetwood 1pt each-way @ 28/1
I really want one of Team GB's golfers on-board this week because they're both absolutely flying high on the giddy vibes of being both in the Olympic village and around fellow athletes.
Of course, almost all of the field will be feeling similarly excited so it's a pretty fraught business trying to ascertain who will be inspired, who will be distracted, and who will be overawed.
So the decision process works like this: whose odds reflect form and who might be motivated to perform at their best this week, a best that would ordinarily have them a shorter price?
I'd argue Tommy Fleetwood fits that bill best from the top of the market.
There's absolutely no doubting that this has not been a vintage year for the immensely likeable Southport-lad and, was he performing at base level, he'd be among those 20/1 and lower.
But he's in far from disastrous form.
He's made six of his last seven cuts and in four of those efforts he was in the top 10 after 18 holes.
In fact, he's been in that position in each of his last three starts.
What he needs is a spark and perhaps this week will provide it. Consider the sheer joy with which he discussed his experiences so far this week in the Olympic village.
"From the moment I put the shirt on in my garage at home, to getting on the flight, to being around the village, surrounded by all the athletes who put so much into this, it's inspirational," he said.
"I was so, so happy when I made it to the team and so far I've loved every minute. It's really, really cool.
"There are so many things that happen on a daily basis that either inspires you, makes you happy, or makes you proud.
"I love the attitude of everybody here. I love sport. I love how much is going on. We were lucky enough to meet Matty Lee, who'd won a gold, and Lauren Williams, she'd won a silver.
"You're watching those guys, talking to them, seeing their emotion, how they feel. It makes you feel really, really good."
There speaks a fellow having the time of his life, who is gaining vivid insight into how he would feel were a medal slipped around his neck.
An Olympic-form carrot if ever I read about one.
I had a few concerns about the course being a fit for him. Kasumigaseki Country Club's East Course is a Charles Alison original from 1929 which means it is traditionally created and, in line with most Japanese courses, it is tight from the tee box.
But Fleetwood has contested for the WGC Mexico Championship (eventually finishing second) on a slim track, he's also got multiple good efforts at Hong Kong GC and Milano CC - those are three of the tightest tests he'll have come across on Tour.
Next Best: Mackenzie Hughes 0.5pt each-way @ 60/1
Looking for a wrong price is largely tricky in this top heavy field, but the very impressive recent form of Canada's Mackenzie Hughes seems to have been overlooked.
In his last four starts he's shared the lead heading into the final round of the US Open at Torrey Pines (a Sunday 77 left him T15th), finished T14th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and then contended all week at the Open before finishing tied sixth.
The compilers are happy to deduce that he's had a good month and will now slope off. I'm content to give him another go.
"Another good major experience," he said when his Open was complete at Royal St George's. "Hanging in there with the best players in the world does a lot for you. I'm growing. I'm learning.
"Now it's time to start thinking about Tokyo. I'm excited. I do think I have a strong chance. I'll go over there believing I can win."
Bold talk and this week he hasn't let up. Even better news, he likes the test.
"Golf course is amazing," he said Tuesday. "Really like the way it looks. I love the way it sets up. It's right in front of you. The greens have a lot of undulation and slope, but there's not really much tricky about it.
"You just got to hit really good golf shots and put the ball in the fairway because the rough is quite tricky to play out of. Very excited for the challenge this week and I feel like it suits my game pretty well."
First Round Leader Main Bet: Mito Pereira 0.5pt each-way @ 70/1
The first motivation for backing the 26-year-old Chilean Mito Pereira is simply down to his form.
The lad's on fire, landing back-to-back victories on the Korn Ferry Tour last month, the first in a play-off, the second when thrashing the field by four strokes.
Nor was it out of the blue because he'd finished top 10 in three of his previous four starts, including defeat in another play-off.
That great form earned him four starts on the PGA Tour this month and he's finished tied sixth and tied fifth in the last fortnight.
Dizzy stuff and he's gone low on plenty of occasions.
I also like that he's accurate from the tee - handy given what Hughes said of the tricky Kikuyu rough.
An added bonus is that Pereira has experience of playing golf in a multi-sport celebration - he lost yet another play-off in the Pan American Games in 2019.
First Round Leader Next Best: Fabrizio Zanotti 0.5pt each-way @ 175/1
Guess who beat Pereira to gold two years ago in that Pan American Games play-off? Yes, second pick Fabrizio Zanotti.
And that's not the only reason he'll being feeling extra fab this week because he started this Games by carrying the Paraguayan flag at the Opening Ceremony and he also performed decently at the Rio event five years ago, finishing T15th.
He's another arrow-straight South American and he loves playing parkland golf between the trees.
There's no doubt it's a big ask, but he's also a big price. He's led his team this Olympics, maybe he can also lead the field on Thursday night.
MATT'S 2021 P/L
2020 P/L: -32pts
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