Master Picks: How We're Betting LIV Golf vs. PGA Stars

Cameron Smith has been the most prolific golfer on a watered-down LIV Golf tour that still doesn't measure up to the PGA. With his solid track record at Augusta, he's the member of the rebellion worth backing at the Masters.

Apr 5, 2023 • 15:05 ET • 4 min read

The best week of the golf season is upon us as the 2023 Masters Tournament is set to get underway. As always, Augusta National will host this iconic event.

A new wrinkle this year is the addition of the LIV Golf duffers who still qualify for this tournament, which is not “officially” a part of the PGA Tour. The 2022 LIV Golf season didn't begin until a few months after last year’s Masters Tournament, which is why this year’s installment features an abundance of extra drama, and Masters odds catalysts.

Let’s dissect this rivalry that’s sure to fuel a few storylines throughout the weekend with our best bets and LIV Golf vs. PGA Masters picks

LIV Golf vs PGA history

For those who want a deep dive into the whole LIV Golf vs. PGA saga, I highly recommend reading this article from GolfDigest.

Prefer a quick synopsis? Here goes: Guys such as Rory McIlroy have a lot of animosity towards those who left a growing PGA Tour to chase Saudi money, while those on the LIV side think a lot of people remaining on Tour are hypocrites. Even Patrick Reed — a former Masters Champion now on LIV Golf who is teeing up this week — is suing McIlroy (among others) for defamation.

Needless to say, there’s tension in the air, and I, for one, really hope Reed and McIlroy are paired over the weekend if they make the cut and their scores are close.

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Augusta course notes

Augusta is a par-72, 7,545-yard track that rewards the best ball-strikers and those who excel green-side. Looking at the top of previous leaderboards, the two metrics that predict the most success at this tournament are strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained around the green.

LIV Golf vs PGA analysis

Only a few sportsbooks are offering Masters prop bets for LIV Golf members, one of them being our friends at 888sport. Those who follow both leagues mostly agree that there are only three guys from LIV who have a realistic shot at winning this week at Augusta: Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka.

Smith is LIV Golf’s biggest acquisition since its inception, due to his current status in the golf world. While DJ is the most accomplished golfer on LIV outside of the aging Phil Mickelson, Smith is still in the prime of his career.

In 2022, Smith finished T3 at the Masters and ended the year in the Top 5 of the Official World Golf Rankings, the highest ranking among any active golfer on the LIV circuit. Smith currently holds the No. 6 spot in those rankings, the only LIV golfer to sit inside the Top 24.

Meanwhile, DJ is a past Masters champion (2020) and has finished inside the Top 5 at Augusta numerous times. Koepka, fresh off his win at LIV Orlando, is always a threat at major. He's a guy who seems to elevate his game when facing the best of the best.

Of his eight wins on Tour, an absurd 50% of them were at major championships, boasting two US Open and two PGA Championship titles. While Koepka has never slipped on the historic Green Jacket, he’s made the cut at Augusta in five of his seven appearances while producing three Top-12 finishes, including his runner-up performance to Tiger Woods in 2019.

While these three LIV golfers could make some noise this week, it’s a rival program to fade as a whole. First of all, the competition on LIV is extremely watered-down relative to standard PGA events, which means these guys are not as consistently tested.

Secondly, the courses that LIV Golf play on are much easier than the ones which host Tour events. LIV tends to play at courses that are mostly open to the public or were developed specifically for LIV, while the PGA continues to play on tracks specifically designed to test the best golfers in the world.

The one outlier course is El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba in Mexico, a venue that annually hosts the Tour’s World Wide Technology Championship. This year, it also hosted LIV Golf Mayakoba just a few months later.

The best scorers on Tour at Mayakoba were averaging anywhere between 65-67 strokes per round, while the top LIV guys were averaging 66-69 strokes per round on the same layout. Obviously, a multitude of other variables go into those figures, but it demonstrates the top-level talent of the PGA versus LIV.

LIV vs PGA picks and predictions

I don’t shy away from the fact that I thoroughly enjoy LIV Golf and think it could continue to develop into a legit rival golf organization. However, as of right now, these two fields are on different levels.

In terms of betting, I would look to fade LIV as a whole, especially those not-named Smith, DJ, or Koepka. For those who want to bet a LIV-specific prop, I would back Smith to finish as the Top LIV player on 888sport at 4/1.

Top LIV Golf player odds 

Golfer Odds
Cameron Smith +400
Dustin Johnson +450
Brooks Koepka +600
Joaquin Niemann +1,000
Patrick Reed +1,100
Mito Pereira +1,300
Louis Oosthuizen +1,500
Abraham Ancer +1,600
Talor Gooch +1,600
Bryson DeChambeau +1,800
Thomas Pieters +1,800

Odds courtesy of 888sport as of April 5, 2023.

While that is the chalky pick, he’s currently the most gifted player on LIV and finished T3 at Augusta just last year. In his final season on Tour, Smith ranked 28th in SG: Tee to Green and 42nd in SG: Around the Green.

PICK: Cam Smith top LIV finisher (+400 at 888Sport)

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