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Sleeper Picks: Olympic Games men’s golf competition

Rikuya Hoshino (+10000) … Qualifying for the Olympics in his native Japan is reason enough to celebrate, but he’s also been assigned the opening tee ball at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East Course on Thursday morning. Fellow countryman Hideki Matsuyama, who is positioned 20th in the Official World Golf Ranking, has hogged international headlines as the first male Japanese golfer to win a major (2021 Masters), but the 25-year-old Hoshino is second-best at 86th in the OWGR and he continues to pace his home circuit’s money list with a trio of victories in the 2020-21 season. The intangible benefits of the home game also should ease him quickly into a comfort zone.

Henrik Norlander (+10000) … The 34-year-old from Sweden has had little trouble in retaining his position in the heart of the FedExCup in what is his now his fourth season on the PGA TOUR. He’s 81st in points with a T5 at the Barbasol Championship as the nearest event in his rearview mirror. His performance at Keene Trace was a microcosm of why he’s dangerous every time he pegs it, with better-than-average metrics across the board. His tee-to-green game not only is his moneymaker, it’s also the default expectation to define who medals on the unfamiliar greens of Kasumigaseki.

Thomas Detry (+8000) … It’s just a matter of time before he wins for the first time on the European Tour, and if it happens at the Olympics, it’d qualify as his breakthrough since it’s an official event on the circuit. In the last 12 months, the 28-year-old Belgian has a quartet of runner-up finishes, including a pair in his last five starts. Since joining the European Tour in 2017, he’s totaled five seconds and five thirds. While prone to the big number, his proclivity to attack pins is encouraged by large greens and the absence of a cut.

Carl Yuan (+15000) … After relocating from his native China to Florida, he played collegiately at the University of Washington for three years before turning professional in 2018. It was that summer when he prevailed as an amateur at the Qingdao Championship on the PGA TOUR China. By 2019, he was a regular on the Korn Ferry Tour where he remains a member. At least for now. Currently 31st in KFT points on the strength of a trio of runner-up finishes among six top 10s, he’s challenging for one of the 25 automatic cards reserved for the 2021-22 PGA TOUR. Ranks 24th in greens hit and second in par-5 scoring average. With that success and his muscle off the tee, the 640-yard par-5 fifth and 625-yard par-5 14th holes will be opportunities for the 24-year-old to separate.

Kristian Krogh Johannessen (+40000) … Joins countryman Viktor Hovland and representatives of Norway, and the attention here is all about striking while his irons are hot. It was earlier this month when Johannessen rose to a career-best 280th in the Official World Golf Ranking because the 26-year-old has been lighting up the Challenge Tour for two months. In his most recent six starts on that tour, he’s gone T5-T2-T23-T15-T9-T16.

Odds were sourced on Tuesday, July 27 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.

NOTE: Sleeper is a relative term, so Rob uses unofficial criteria to determine who qualifies. Each of the following usually is determined to be ineligible for this weekly staple: Winners of the tournament on the current host course; winners in the same season; recent major champions; top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; recent participants of team competitions.

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