Before Tiger Woods teed off in the 2017 Hero World Challenge, he hadn't played golf in 301 days, since shooting a birdie-free 77 in the first round of February's Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour. He had a spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, and it was unclear as late as September if Woods saw a future for himself in competitive golf.
Naturally, the sports betting community priced Tiger Woods' 2018 Masters odds commensurate with those doubts. While Woods is an incredibly popular ticket to have for any major championship, Woods to win the Masters is the biggie. Prior to Thursday's first round with Justin Thomas at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, Woods was a 100-to-1 (+10000) shot to win the 2018 Masters.
Oh, how those odds quickly changed.
After Woods shot an encouraging 3-under 69 in Round 1 of the Hero World Challenge, his odds plummeted from 100-to-1 to around 60-to-1 at a number of sportsbook, as well in Las Vegas.
After Woods shot a second-round 68 which saw him own the lead in the 18-man event for a portion of the round, Woods odds continued to drop precipitously. All of a sudden, books in Vegas were getting hit with tons of tickets for Woods to win the Masters. The books had to respond, moving Woods' odds down in places as low as 15-to-1 (+1500). Those odds all of a sudden made him one of the betting favorites for 2018's first major. That's insane. His odds were even better than defending champion Sergio Garcia and US Open champion Brooks Koepka.
On Saturday, playing in difficult conditions, Woods shot 3-over 75 and likely lost any chance he had of winning the tournament. Still, with most of the field struggling in the wind, Woods' odds didn't change that dramatically. He bumped up to 20-to-1 and 25-to-1 in a number of golf betting sites. Perhaps the number spooked some bettors and stemmed the flow of tickets.
Ultimately, Woods finished T-9 and beat eight guys in the field. That's way better than his comeback bid in 2016 at this same tournament, and Woods' Masters odds have pretty well settled in the 20-to-1 range, though the pricing you see may vary.
So why the sudden move? A lot of golf fans believe it's the sportsbooks moving the lines arbitrarily based on what they see from Woods and a potential fear he could win a fifth green jacket. That's not so. Bettors -- and the amount of money they bet -- are what move lines. If the market perceives a line as undervalued, they'll hit it hard while they can see it as a good price. In response, books change the odds so that they have less exposure on future tickets for that line. Way out from an event like the Masters, the odds for a player can swing dramatically as more golf is played in 2018.
For Woods, however, it seems like he's settling in as a favorite for a 15th major title. Amazing how four days made that possible.