Tiger Woods made it official on Tuesday morning. The five-time Masters winner will play at Augusta National for the 24th time in his illustrious career. Unsurprisingly, Woods’ confirmation that he will leave on Thursday sparked a ton of action in the betting window.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Woods’ odds of winning the 2022 Masters are between +3500 and +7500. Tiger’s true odds – remember, he hasn’t played on the PGA TOUR since being injured in a car accident last February – are likely much longer than even the high price of 75/1 , but bookmakers were not born yesterday. They know they can post virtually any price on the Big Cat and still write a ton of tickets, so they will impose a “tiger tax”. In fact, DraftKings, which was the worst price on Woods at 35/1, reported Tiger to be the most popular bet in the market outright. People want to bet on Tiger, even on wrong numbers.
And who can blame them? Of course, long term success in betting will always come down to making +EV (positive expected value) decisions and you won’t give yourself much of a chance of winning in the long run if you consistently bet on wrong numbers, but there are always exceptions to every rule and betting on Tiger at the Masters is one of those times.
If you’re a bettor who doesn’t like to think outside the box +EV, you already know the arguments against betting on Tiger. He hasn’t played in over a year because he was badly injured in a car accident, the Masters field is one of the strongest of the year and his chances don’t reflect any of these factors . In other words, does Tiger have a better chance of winning than Paul Casey, whose average odds are around +6300, or Billy Horschel, who sits at 100/1 in multiple stores? The answer is probably no.
It was a similar situation in 2019 when Tiger became one of the favorites to win the Masters at 14/1. It’s not exactly apples to apples as Woods was playing here and there before heading to Augusta and wasn’t that far off from a TOUR Championship win the previous fall. Even so, a bet on Tiger at 14/1 was still considered a “sucker bet” at the time. In reality, Woods shouldn’t have been considered one of the tournament favorites, but the bookies had to be prepared for the onslaught of Tiger money that was coming, so they slashed his odds to mitigate risk. .
But it turns out the only suckers for the 2019 Masters were bettors who wanted to bet Tiger thumbed their nose at the odds. Woods’ iconic win three years ago crushed bookies around the world and there were plenty of bettors with a severe case of FOMO in the aftermath because they went head over heart.
That’s why Tiger at the Masters is one of the few betting situations where you can turn off the logic inside your head and get caught up in the moment. Should you always consider basic betting best practices, like buying the best number? Absoutely.
Tiger’s most likely outcome at the 2022 Masters is that he doesn’t win and the sportsbooks are cleared. But there is a world where Woods argues in Augusta. He is the best golfer in the history of the game and has won five times at Augusta. The history of the course trumps all metrics around these parts and Tiger has played this course 24 times in competition over the past two decades. Can he win? He said he could. Is there a chance of winning? You know the answer to that one too.
Tiger’s money will continue to flow all week, setting up a potentially magnificent scenario where Tiger – and the thousands of people who have bet on him to win – have the sportsbook shaking in their boots on Sunday. And if that happens, bettors – even the coldest and most professional – must consider the real crux of this dilemma: what is the price to pay for staying away if the unthinkable happens again?