By Matt Youman’s VSiN
When Tiger Woods made the statement Sunday morning, it felt like football season. Woods declared it was a “game-time decision” to compete at the Masters, meaning he may not decide whether to serve until Thursday morning.
Woods’ status is comparable to a quarterback playing or sitting on game day. In his heyday, Woods’ influence on a golf odds board was greater than the value of Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers up to a point. But at 46 and just over a year away from a serious car accident, Woods is more of a circus attraction than a serious threat to win this week.
Tiger’s Tale is phenomenal for fan interest and betting action. His presence as a player at Augusta National is welcomed by all. Still, as American showman PT Barnum allegedly said in the 19th century, “Every minute a fool is born.”
Wood’s odds at Augusta vary from 40-1 at DraftKings to 90-1 at Circa Sports. A Las Vegas bookmaker recently said that the “true odds” on Tiger – excluding factors like the financial liability of the sportsbook and the fairytale storyline – are probably 300-1. In other words, only suckers take double-digit odds.
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“I hope to hell Tiger tees off on this so we don’t have to refund these bets,” said Jeff Sherman, Westgate SuperBook’s golf odds maker. “He has next to no chance of going out there and winning.”
As Sherman spoke, a $50 bet on Woods at 80-1 appeared on his computer screen. Sherman scoffed at the bet, which was likely inspired by Woods’ win at the Masters in 2019.
“I know some will say, ‘I’ve seen him do it before. It’s Tiger Woods,'” Sherman said. “But his leg was broken a year ago and he’s not going to go out and hit all these young guys now. If he only plays this week, that’s his win. I hope he plays because it would make the tournament more interesting. I’m not worried about liability for him.”
Wood’s liability for winnings on the SuperBook, Sherman said, would be well over $100,000. This week, don’t be surprised if you see a story with a headline that lures clicks and highlights that books would lose millions of dollars if Tiger wins. Instead, be surprised if Woods makes the cut and is there for the weekend.
Circa Oddsmaker Jeff Davis has placed six prop bets on Tiger which are generating brisk business. Woods is a -300 favorite to hit a shot and officially line up. There are props for his first round score (75) and finishing position (60.5) in addition to prizes for a top 10 finish (No, -1400), a top 20 finish (No, -540) and the achievement of the cut (No, -160).
“If Tiger serves in the Masters, I’d probably pale him in most – if not all – matchups and all other betting options,” said Paul Stone, a professional handicapper from Texas. “Given the question of whether he can even walk comfortably on the golf course, I can’t imagine him stepping up in those circumstances and competing against the best golfers in the world.”
On an odds board led by Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, Woods is bottom of the list. There’s no bigger name in golf than Tiger, but there are so many younger players with a sharper game at this point.
“I absolutely love Tiger and if he plays I will bet against him in every matchup,” said pro bettor Jeff Sealey, who is traveling to Las Vegas from Indianapolis this week to catch more of the action on the golf version of the Golfs to participate Super Bowl.
Sealey’s top pick is Koepka, who is long off the tee, precise with the irons and knows his way around the course. Koepka, Johnson and Xander Schauffele took second place as Woods won in 2019. Koepka, 0-for-9 in majors since winning the PGA in 2019, offers respectable value in the 20-1 range.
“Long iron play is just as important as driving distance, maybe even more so,” Sealey said. “In the end, players are hitting 50 percent more shots from 200+ yards than the average PGA Tour event, so that’s definitely a key area to look at this week.”
Sealey made Masters bets on Patrick Cantlay (25-1) and Will Zalatoris a few weeks ago. Zatoris’ odds were 40-1 at the end of January before climbing to 30-1 on most books. Zulatoris finished second last year, one shot behind Hideki Matsuyama. Sealey is also eyeing long iron wizards Hovland (18-1) and Thomas (15-1).
“When I ran my last model, Justin Thomas was at the top,” Sealey said. “I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to bet on JT or not and I tend not to consider the price, but that’s what my model likes this week. The #2 player is Hovland, who has a pretty similar profile to JT. I’d rather bet Hovland wins at a better price than I’m JT.”
Smith’s current price is a touchy subject. I bet 41-1 on Smith in early January when the Aussie beat Rahm in the first event of the year in Maui. It’s difficult to pitch Smith at odds of around 16-1 now. He’s popular for winning The Players Championship in March, and he’s placed second, fifth, and tenth in five trips to Augusta.
“As far as favorites go, I like Cameron Smith,” said Stone. “My absolute recommendation would be Matt Fitzpatrick (82-1 at Circa) who is in good form and tied for seventh place at Augusta 2016. Augusta’s greens have so many waves and layers that you know where to land Shots are a critical element of success. Shots Won: Approach is a stat I pay close attention to when handicaping at this event, and Smith currently sits eighth on the tour.”
Sherman plans to post 200 two-way props in the SuperBook by Tuesday, further proving that the Masters is the Super Bowl of golf betting. Odds for this tournament have been rising for almost a year, leaving even the pickiest bettor with a unique dilemma: with so many months of price discovery, it’s easy to buy too many players on the futures board.
How many futures bets are too many? There is no right answer to this tricky question.
I have nine futures games, could add a few more and that’s probably too much. My bets so far are on Johnson (18-1), Koepka (20-1), Zatoris (40-1), Smith (41-1), Joaquin Niemann (87-1), Seamus Power (125-1), Justin Rose (128-1), Cameron Young (425-1) and Cameron Champ (500-1). The long shot games in the triple digits are mostly a fifth of a unit, so I actually put about four units on futures.
Sherman said he has bets on Koepka (20-1), Cantlay (30-1), Morikawa (30-1), Hovland (33-1), Smith (35-1), Scheffler (35-1) and Talor Gooch (275-1).
“There’s so many good golfers out there now and you can put yourself in a good position and get a lot of value with a group of guys who could be in contention on Sunday,” Sherman said. “Even if I bet on seven players, I’ll still do very well if one of them comes in. It’s not like I’m betting on a bunch of guys between 14-1 and 20-1.”
Regardless of whether Woods plays, the show will go on – and it should be another fantastic Masters tournament.
Check out VSiN’s 2022 Masters betting guide:
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Matt Youmans is the senior editor and presenter for VSiN.