The Las Vegas Hilton sportsbook is on pace to have its largest betting purse on the Masters possibly ever.
If Tiger Woods returns, Vegas records will be broken. If he doesn’t, everyone except horny Perkins waitresses will suffer.
Since Woods’ infamous run in with a fire hydrant Thanksgiving week and the ensuing media storm over his infidelity, money has poured in on Woods and Phil Mickelson to win the 2010 Masters.
The uncertainty of the whole situation forced the MGM Mirage sportsbook to take the tournament off the board for over a week. It reopened with Woods at an unheard of price of +500.
But Hilton sportsbook assistant manager Jeff Sherman expects the action to slow down significantly, at least until more information becomes available on Woods’ return.
Until then, sportsbooks, like TV executives, will be lamenting his absence.
According to Sherman, a golf specialist, the total betting purse on a tournament without Woods is approximately 40 percent less than when he is in the field.
“On the majors [without Woods], I’d say it drops it about a third, because you still have diehards who will bet the Masters regardless,” said Sherman. “But it really hits the weekly tournaments and cut the action by about half.”
TV ratings decline at a similar rate. The Nielsen Company reported a 46.8 percent decrease in viewership of PGA tournaments missed by Woods in 2008-09 from the previous year.
Stoneback fears the impact could be worse and says Woods’ absence could drop action on the Masters “at least 60 percent”.
“We’d really rather Tiger play,” he joked.
So should bettors, who, with Woods’ absence, will see reduced value in other favorites like Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.
Sherman opened Woods at 9/4 (+225) to win the 2010 Masters, but has bumped him all the way up to 7/2 (+350), where its sits now.
In turn, Mickelson’s odds shortened. “Phil is 6-to-1,” said Sherman. “Usually, he’s at least 8 or 10-to-1. That’s where bettors are going to see the biggest difference, in those second-tier guys who usually are getting better prices than they will be without Tiger.”
Regardless if Woods tees it up or not at the Masters, all action is played. There will be no refunds if he sits it out. That’s why Stoneback felt comfortable pushing Woods’ odds all the way to 5/1 at the MGM. “Bettors know they’re a legitimate risk of him not playing,” Stoneback said.
This has truly been a unique situation for book managers and it shows just how dominant Woods has been.
“We’d never been in a situation like this before,” said Stoneback. “We thought, ‘geez, do we put the tournament up against without Tiger and have him in the field?’”
Even if Woods takes the next two years off and returns for the 2012 Masters, Stoneback and Sherman would expect he would be the favorite.
“Whenever he comes back he’ll be the favorite,” said Stoneback. “He’d probably be the favorite if he came back four or five years from now, because you’d have to drop the odds on him because he’ll be the sentimental favorite. He’s going to get a lot of tickets that way alone.”
Betting the return of Tiger
All types of Tiger Woods prop bets are available on online. One of the more intriguing is when he’ll return.
Sportsbetting.com has posted the following odds on his return:
April 2010: 5/6
May through Sept. 2010 – 19/1
No in 2010: 6/1
“Personally, my gut feeling is that his first tournament back would be the Masters,” said Sherman. “It makes sense that if he’s going to do that to get a tournament under his belt, but he’s proven in the past that he’s capable of showing up and winning.”