Golf: Tiger Woods Still Favorite to Win Masters

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
Published on:
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is the +350 favorite to win this year's Masters at Augusta at Sportsbook.com (see website here).

This past calendar year, the NFL, college football and college basketball have posted their best TV ratings in years. This has not been the case with the PGA Tour, down 15-20 percent in 2010 viewership. That all changes starting Thursday on ESPN and CBS pray's it lasts deep into the weekend. With a fellow named Tiger Woods coming back into the fold, things will be different at the Masters. For instance, betting action on the odds for the Masters at Sportsbook.com has already surpassed recent tournaments.

Woods, of course, has been in the news since Thanksgiving for a lifestyle that brought unwanted attention to him. While he normally doesn't play in many tournaments to start the year, Woods has been involved in many well-documented activities to alter his life and he hopes to be involved with his children and hopefully his wife looking ahead.

Tiger was well-known in the sporting world and most people that had no interest in golf were at least familiar with him as the best golfer in the world. That for now at least has changed.

Everyone knows about his escapades and he will be doing something that would be stupendous even for Tiger, winning the Masters with no prior tournament exposure since the end of last season.

Woods as the +350 favorite to win the Masters at Sportsbook.com would pay out $350 for every $100 bet or $35 for every $10 bet, well ahead of the second choice Phil Mickelson at +1000, who would pay $1000.

Among the most disappointing players that have played this season is Mickelson, who wasted a perfect opportunity to be the best player in the world. Maybe he needs a foil like Woods to motivate him. Mickelson has one Top 10 finish (8th at AT&T Pebble Beach) in seven starts and has broke 70 once in last eight rounds.

Players garnering more of the attention are Ernie Els, Andy Kim and Camilo Villegas.

Els is No.1 on the money list, thanks to wins at the WCG at Doral and Arnold Palmer Invitational, along with three other Top 12 finishes. Els is healthier than he's been in years and admits to attitude change, after "stinking it up" as he put it the last couple of years. Els is +1200 at the moment.

Kim has regained his touch and is a noted "hot" player who can stay in the zone for extended period. His last three starts are a second, 22nd and winner last week at the Shell Houston Open. Kim is 21st in driving distance on the tour and 14th in birdies. He's an intriguing +2000.

Villegas started the year white hot, finishing 3rd and 8th in opening starts before winning the Honda Classic. He followed that up with 16th place finish at the WCG and took a few weeks off from the tour and missed the cut at Bay Hill. Maybe he will be recharged and he's got the game to be a factor, ranking third in birdies and sixth in driving distance at 297.7 yards. Villegas is +2500 to win.

Others receiving hits are familiar names across the golf world if not necessarily in the United States. Padraig Harrington (+1500), Lee Westwood (+2000) and Ratief Goosen (+2000) are the usual suspects whose names come up when the Majors start.

 For those that follow the PGA Tour more regularly, Jim Furyk (+2500) has the grinder mentality needed to play four days of pressure-packed golf and won the Transition Championship three weeks ago and has five rounds in the 60's out of previous eight.

Steve Stricker is second on the money list, with his career rejuvenation. The 43-year old has four Top 10's, with a win at the Northern Trust and can get white hot with the flat stick.

If Tiger is not as sharp as many experts believe, here are value priced matchups to consider.

Els +130 vs Woods -160

Mickelson +125 vs. Woods -155

Because of Tiger's return, the prop bets this year are out in record numbers, many centered on Eldrick. Here is a list of some of the possibilities at Sportsbook.com besides winning The Masters:

*Making the Cut

* First hole score (Par or other)

* Leader at the end of any round

* 1st Round score (72)

* 1st round score on front or back nine

* How many holes before first birdie or eagle

* 1st round position, plus highest and lowest round, along with Over/Under on final total strokes

Woods has only missed one Major cut in his career, but brings a real unknown into his initial appearance of 2010, even as the betting favorite. The Masters is annually the most watched golf event on TV and this one could break all the records.

Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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