Who do you think has better odds to win the 2022 Masters: the defending champion and 12th-ranked golfer in the world, or a 46-year-old who hasn’t played since undergoing emergency surgery following a car crash 14 months ago and may struggle to even walk the course?
BetMGM’s odds say both of those golfers have the same chance of winning—Hideki Matsuyama and Tiger Woods are both 40-to-1. Woods is also +4000 on DraftKings after starting the week at +7500 before the flood of bets came in.
Just one day after Woods announced he would play in the tournament, he was already the most-wagered golfer in terms of both ticket and handle percentage at every sportsbook that provided data to Sportico. At approximately 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 9.5% of all money wagered on PointsBet was on Woods. By 4 p.m., that number was up to 15%, more than double any other golfer. Twenty-four hours later, the number was up to 17.6%.
DraftKings took one $10,000 bet on Woods that would pay out $400,000 if he wins. “He’s got some serious backing here. We have a multimillion dollar loss on Tiger and growing,” DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations Johnny Avello said. “Could this be the largest liability [we’ve ever had]? It could be.”
Bettors flocking to Tiger is nothing new. In 2015, for instance, his odds shifted from 50-to-1 down to 25-to-1 due to a high volume of wagers placed on him. In 2019, when Woods started the tournament at 14-to-1 odds and won his fifth green jacket, about a quarter of bettors on DraftKings were winners, too. “It doesn’t matter what odds Tiger is, or what form he has coming into a tournament, you always see Tiger support,” SuperBook Sports vice president of risk management Jeff Sherman said.
In fact, Woods was an extremely popular bet back in the early 2000s, even though he would sometimes be nearly favored over the field. What’s new this year for sportsbooks managing risk, however, is Woods starting as such a heavy underdog. “It’s very easy to manage extensive liabilities when he’s 2-to-1 or 5-to-2. That money doesn’t add up as quickly as it does when he’s 100-, 80- or 60-to-1,” Sherman said.
Other than his 2019 Masters win, those liabilities haven’t come back to haunt sportsbooks in recent years. Although he still dominates the discourse, Woods has won just that one major since 2008, and the books have benefited every time he’s lost.
Most recently, he was 40-to-1 to win the 2020 Masters, in which he garnered the second most bets and the fifth most handle on DraftKings, but he finished tied for 38th on the leaderboard. Sportsbooks will once again have to root against him this year.
“He’s been good for DraftKings because we’ve been open for four years and we’ve only had that one loss, so I’d say he’s been profitable, but throughout my career, booking Tiger for so many years, I don’t know if I’m profitable,” Avello said. “There were times you’d get him at 7-to-5 and people would bet on him… To be 7-to-5 to win a tournament is ridiculous, but it was almost like it was a given that he was going to win it.”
Those days are long over for Woods, and he would be much more of a longshot than he already is if not for his public backing. “I would put his true odds at about 200-to-1 under these circumstances,” Sherman said.