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Woods' Masters win earns one lucky gambler US$1.2 million, crushes bookmakers

13th August, 01:21

The Washington Post

Published: 3:55pm, 15 Apr, 2019

Updated: 4:31pm, 15 Apr, 2019

The unidentified bettor took advantage of 14-1 odds, posted on Tuesday at William Hill's outlet in Las Vegas, on Woods winning his fifth green jacket this year. Having never before placed a wager with the firm, the prescient person put US$85,000 down with those odds, making for a "pretty good first bet," as William Hill's Nick Bogdanovich told ESPN.

The director of trading for the United Kingdom-based company's US operations, Bogdanovich told USA Today that the sportsbook took an overall loss of "seven figures" on Woods' win, his first at the Masters since 2005 and first major of any kind since 2008.

"We got our tails kicked," Bogdanovich said. "That's just business. A guy drops money on the counter, we accept the wager, we pay and then we move on. Does it sting? Sure it stings, but it's just part of the business.

"Tiger is Tiger. He's the greatest golfer I've ever seen. Hopefully, we will get some new golf bettors out of it."

That mixture of resignation and admiration was echoed by an executive at Westgate's Las Vegas bookmaker, Jay Kornegay, who told USA Today: "Despite our loss, I was rooting for Tiger. It was just great to see."

Bettors jumped on Woods early and often over the course of the week, intensifying their investment in him as he got off to a good start in the tournament. According to Darren Rovell of the Action Network, DraftKings made a big bet of its own against Woods, increasing his odds on Saturday, when he was two strokes off the lead, from 7-2 to 10-1.

From that point on, a DraftKings official told Rovell, pro-Woods wagers made up 60 per cent of the bets on the site. DraftKings actually goosed things again on Sunday, when Woods fell several shots back, raising his odds to 15-1.

FanDuel confirmed over US$3 million in losses, with over US$1 million a result of a promise to participants in a contest that all would get a refund if Woods won. As with officials from DraftKings, a FanDuel executive asserted to Rovell that, in the long run, Woods' return to prominence is a positive for their businesses.

"Tiger winning is good for the sport and good for our customers," said FanDuel's Mike Raffensperger.

"We actually want our players to get their wins," DraftKings' Jamie Shea said. "They definitely beat us today, and hopefully they'll come back."

William Hill said it made its largest payout since several huge wagers were placed on the Eagles to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018, and it was the largest for any non-Super Bowl bet. A New Jersey outlet of BetStars took a net loss of about US$360,000 on its Masters futures market, the biggest for the company since sports betting was legalised in the state last year.

It could have been much worse for BetStars, but the firm settled on limiting bets on Woods to US$10 at promotional odds of 100-1, as opposed to one executive's suggestion of a US$100 limit.

"I believe my direct quote was, 'Guys, there's no way Tiger is winning this tournament,'" the executive, Matthew Primeaux, told ESPN. "Whoops."

"I thought he had a chance to be competitive," Westgate's Jay Sherman said of Woods, "but I'm a little surprised by him winning, especially with the competition he faced. I said before the tournament that if you took the 'Tiger Woods' off, you'd have a golfer with the statistics of someone at 25-1 odds."

Not surprisingly, Woods has the shortest odds of any golfer set to participate in the next major, the PGA Championship in May.

Woods, though, is listed at 8-1, according to the Action Network, meaning that if he goes back to back, sportsbooks will be set to take another bath.