Monday, July 14, 2008

Gambling on Golf is Fun Again Without Woods

It seems like one of the guaranteed headlines in the past 10 years or so has been the odds that Tiger Woods will win a major championship or a string of them, and how awful of a value it is. At the Masters, Woods was even money. I think he was like 7/5 for the US Open - despite not having played a competitive round leading into the event. But, without Tiger Woods around to ruin the fun, golf betting can be wacky again - with fun odds.

Thanks to Geoff Shackelford for the LA Times link to preview the impact of the Woods-less Open. The impact? Actually, positive.

Now Adams sees "an extremely open book, the best possible for a bookmakers," while Nick Weinberg of Ladbrokes sees "a balance of the books." Said Adams, "Everybody in the book's first 30 or 40 has been extremely well-backed," and both the wagering and the outcome have become "jolly difficult to forecast."

On Saturday, Sergio Garcia led at 8-1 on William Hill and 10-1 on Ladbrokes, followed in both by Els at 9-1 and 12-1. Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk stood plausibly enticing at 25-1.

Specialty bets had tilted. Ladbrokes, Weinberg said, used to run one for who might finish second, but, "Because Woods isn't there now, it's so open that we don't really need to offer any other markets like that."

Who'll finish second has become who'll finish first.

"Before, you'd see money for British golfers from what we call patriotic punters," Weinberg said, but in Woods-lessness those bets seem both patriotic and capitalistic.

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