Tiger Woods is now the 2018 Masters betting favorite, but why?
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Tiger Woods is now the 2018 Masters betting favorite, but why?

It took five starts and about six holes into Tiger Woods comeback before he became the 2018 Masters betting favorite.

Jeff Sherman, who heads up odds on the sport at the Las Vegas Hotel Superbook, shared in real time a shift of 2018 Masters betting odds showing Tiger Woods going from approximately 10-to-1 (+1000) betting odds down to 8-to-1, installing him over Dustin Johnson atop the board.

That's bonkers.

When Tiger Woods came back at the 2017 Hero World Challenge, his odds had already shifted dramatically from an initial 100-to-1 slot down to 20-to-1 by the end of the week. It was kind of outrageous at that moment, though I have to give full credit to former poker pro Phil Gordon who told me at that time the number seemed fair. I said a 60-to-1 number seemed reasonable at that point.

However, as Tiger Woods has shown steady improvement throughout his four 2018 PGA Tour starts, he has stirred emotions in golf fans and golf bettors that he could, in fact, win a 15th major championship at Augusta National in April. That has meant a surge in the number of Tiger Woods tickets, including a $4,000 slip during the week of the Valspar Championship, where Woods finished tied for second place.

What most amateur observers of betting odds don't understand is that betting odds don't indicate what Vegas thinks is going to happen in an event. Having Tiger Woods as a 8-to-1 favorite doesn't mean the oddsmakers feel Woods is the most likely player in the invitational field to win a green jacket. Rather, betting odds are a balancing act -- partially what Vegas thinks is going to happen (especially in moneyline and points-spread plays) but also partially leveling their exposure to certain events happening. If Tiger Woods won the Masters and was 100-to-1 the entire way until first shots on Thursday, the books would get killed. So, as they take more and more action on Woods at attractive odds -- 100/1, 60/1, 40/1, etc. -- they lower the odds to make it a not-so-obvious proposition. This way, if Tiger Woods doesn't win the Masters, they come out well ahead, and if he does, they don't lose as much.

Sportsbooks are changing their Tiger Woods betting odds in response to money, not to a change in outlook on his likely finish. Wager wisely.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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