Life is not all fairways and greens. Sand traps, trees and water hazards sometimes get in the way of a good time. Tiger Woods knows all about the highs and lows, and so do the bettors who tail him.
Woods’ win at the Masters in April was a major comeback more than a decade in the making. The hype and money followed him from Augusta to the PGA Championship in May, when he missed the cut at Bethpage Black on Long Island. Now it’s on to the California coast and one of the most picturesque courses in the world.
Betting is a test of resiliency, so it’s no surprise that Tiger’s believers are back at it as he gets set to tee it up in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The biggest bet yet at the Westgate SuperBook is $10,000 on Woods at 10/1 odds.
“I think Tiger’s chances are good,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “He loves Pebble. He’s a factor for sure.”
Bogdanovich said the famous “Tiger bettor” is planning a comeback this week. James Adducci of Wisconsin cashed for $1.19 million at William Hill by wagering $85,000 on Woods at 14/1 to win the Masters. Adducci gave some back last month by throwing $100,000 on Woods at 100/1 to win this year’s Grand Slam.
Woods’ only appearance since the PGA was at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, where he tied for ninth on June 2. He has home-field advantage at Pebble Beach, where he won the U.S. Open in 2000. Pebble features narrow fairways, deep rough and small greens. Woods has been wild with his driver, but long hitters will not have a big advantage, so the key to success will be fairways and greens.
Tiger is not necessarily a value bet at 10/1, though he should finish in the Top 20. Watch these other 10 players and consider following a few with your money (Westgate odds):
Dustin Johnson (7/1): Course history favors DJ, who has two wins and two runner-ups in the annual Tour stop at Pebble, where he also was the 54-hole leader in the 2010 U.S. Open. He pushed Koepka at Bethpage before finishing second, after rallying to tie for second at Augusta. He’s grinding for a second career major win.
“Not only has DJ won a U.S. Open (in 2016), he has won at Pebble Beach, so he’s a guy you have to look at really hard,” VSiN golf analyst Brady Kannon said.
On Monday afternoon, Johnson overtook Brooks Koepka as the tournament favorite, and DJ is also a -135 favorite in a matchup against Koepka.
Brooks Koepka (8/1):
The wire-to-wire PGA champ is also the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, but that might be a reason to avoid him this week. Willie Anderson is the only golfer to win this major three consecutive times (1903 to 1905).
“Koepka elevates his game for the big tournaments,” Bogdanovich said, “but he’s due for an off major.”
Rory McIlroy (10/1):
Believe it or not, McIlroy has missed the cut in three straight U.S. Opens and has not won a major since 2014. But he’s suddenly hot. He fired 64-61 on the weekend to win the Canadian Open by seven strokes at 22-under-par. Rory has a realistic shot at redemption after recent pathetic showings in this major. He’s the likely British Open favorite next month at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. In a Westgate matchup, Rory is a -160 favorite over Tiger this week.
Patrick Cantlay (16/1):
The Memorial winner’s odds have been chopped down from 40/1. Koepka, DJ and Cantlay are the only players to record Top 10 finishes in each of the year’s first two majors. Westgate golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said Johnson and Cantlay are his top bets this week.
“Cantlay was my guy, and I still like him,” Bogdanovich said. “He’s a California kid who plays well there.”
Jordan Spieth (16/1):
Bettors are back on Speith’s bandwagon after his PGA odds soared as high as 50/1. He tied for third at Bethpage while leading the field in strokes gained: putting. He also was the runaway winner in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2017. Spieth still has a lot to prove and is unplayable now after a radical odds adjustment. He’s 10/1 at William Hill.
Rickie Fowler (20/1):
There is no buzz around Fowler for a change, and that could be a good thing. Jump on the bandwagon when everyone else jumps off. He has eight career Top 5s in majors but zero wins. Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood or Francesco Molinari seem to be more sensible plays in this odds range, yet Fowler profiles well at Pebble due to his driving accuracy and superb putting.
Xander Schauffele (25/1):
The former San Diego State star is only 25 and looks like a future major winner. He has three Top 5s in nine major starts, including a tie for second at this year’s Masters. Schauffele, who opened 2019 with a win in Maui, likes putting on poa annua greens.
Phil Mickelson (30/1):
Lefty’s desperate pursuit of a U.S. Open triumph takes him to one of his favorite places. He’s a five-time winner at Pebble Beach, including a win in February. Phil’s recent form has been poor, but his 49th birthday is Sunday, for those who buy into sentimental storylines. Bogdanovich is not buying it, saying Mickelson has “no chance.”
Adam Scott (30/1):
A puzzling inability to sink clutch putts is his lone weakness. Scott’s wedge play has been second to none this year, and he was on track to win the Memorial before Cantlay made a phenomenal Sunday charge to steal the win in front of Jack Nicklaus. Similar to DJ, Scott is grinding hard for a second major win and it’s coming.
Brandt Snedeker (50/1):
A few weeks ago, Snedeker was getting 100/1 odds. The two-time winner at Pebble is a more attractive long shot after shooting a 60 in the second round and tying for fourth in Canada. A couple of other potential contenders in this range are Matt Kuchar (40/1) and Webb Simpson (50/1).
“Snedeker has got a good Pebble history,” Sherman said, “and he should go there with some positive vibes.