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Betting Tiger at the 2018 Majors: Odds Woods Loses All 4

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in Golf

Updated Feb 9, 2018 · 11:10 AM PST

Tiger Woods plays out of the bunker at Congressional. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
  • You can bet on Tiger Woods to not win a major in 2018 and get a 10% return.
  • You can also bet against Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy and get a decent profit.
  • What’s the best value in the current PGA Tour futures?

Will Tiger Win a 2018 Major?

Finally, a sportsbook (in this case, 888sport) will allow you to settle the debate you’ve been having with your golf buddies for years: will Tiger Woods win a major this year?

The important thing here is that the sportsbook also lets you bet the other way, so you can bet against Tiger Woods winning a major in 2018. Furthermore, they’re not even charging a huge vig; a lot of these bets add up to ~105% implied probability. That’s a totally reasonable figure, and for a futures bet, it’s fantastic.

Player Odds to win a major in 2018 Odds to not win a major in 2018 Implied Probability of winning a major in 2018
Jordan Spieth 23/20 4/6 46.5%
Rory McIlroy 2/1 7/20 33.33%
Hideki Matsuyama 5/1 1/10 16.67%
Tiger Woods 11/2 1/10 15.38%
Sergio Garcia 11/2 1/10 15.38%
Phil Mickelson 7/1 1/16 12.50%
Xander Schauffele 11/1 1/40 8.33%

888Sport has our boy Tiger Woods at the same odds to win/not win a major as Sergio Garcia, which is fairly common but still something of a head-scratcher. Sergio was the consensus “best player to never win a major” right up until he won the Masters last year. So even if you’re factoring the paranormal into your betting, whatever curse was on Sergio for all those years has clearly been lifted.

This is all to say that there’s a button on the internet that will give you a 10% return if Tiger Woods doesn’t win a major in 2018. That’s a long time to tie up some of your bankroll, but it’s a lot more reliable than buying Bitcoin. There’s a £25,000 limit, of course, but still. Talk to your financial advisor about whether betting against Tiger Woods is right for you.

Tiger Woods [has] the same odds to win … a major as [2017 Masters winner] Sergio Garcia.

Some of these guys are listed with dubiously strong odds to win a major. Rickie Fowler has never won one, but according to these odds there’s a 33% chance he does it this year. I don’t feel comfortable wagering a huge amount of money against Fowler, he’s consistently one of the best golfers on tour and it really is a miracle he hasn’t won more, but 2/1 is really rich.

Once you creep up the board to betting against the favorites, things get very profitable. Jordan Spieth not winning a major will get you a 40% return. Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t won a major since 2014 and missed three cuts in the last two years, will get you 35%. Winning a major, even for the best players in the world, still requires playing 72 excellent holes of golf against a big field of the toughest competitors in the world. Even when Tiger was at his most dominant, it was still a nail-biter.

Will Anyone Finish Top 20 in All 4 Majors?

There’s another bet that the same sportsbook is offering: odds to make the top 20 of all four majors. This is very, very difficult to do and, in my opinion, you should get some kind of prize for doing it. Even peak Tiger Woods only managed a handful of these seasons: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, and 2007.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
Rory McIlroy, likely not winning a major championship. Photo by Tour Pro Golf Clubs (Flickr) [CC License].
Player Odds to finish top 20 in all four Majors Odds to not finish top 20 in all four Majors Implied Probability of finishing top 20 in all four majors
Jordan Spieth 3/1 11/50 25%
Rory McIlroy 9/1 1/25 10%
Hideki Matsuyama 9/1 1/25 10%
Sergio Garcia 28/1 NO BET 3.45%
Tiger Woods 33/1 NO BET 2.94%
Phil Mickelson 50/1 NO BET 1.96%
Xander Schauffele 100/1 NO BET 0.99%

Jordan Spieth has only managed this feat once, during his charmed 2015 season. Since then, he hasn’t come close, recording three top-20 finishes across eight majors over the last two years. That’s pretty far from the pace you need to find value in these odds, and a 20% return if he fails is pretty enticing. Even if you include his 2015 season, you still come up with a probability well short of 25%.

I wish the sportsbook would let you get on the other side of this bet at lower odds, but that’s just because I’m boring. They don’t give you great value on anyone but Spieth; waiting around all year for a 4% return on Rory McIlroy isn’t a great way to invest your money. You can get better return from most of your fancier hedge funds.

So what exactly stands out as the best option from all of the above?

Best Bet

The value bet here is either Jordan Spieth to have one disappointing tournament in 2018, or for Rory McIlroy to come up short at the majors again. Both get you a great return, neither is subject to a tight payout limitation.

As we’ve learned elsewhere in the Tiger hunt, the value in futures is always on the other side of the feel-good bet, betting the no-pass line like the antisocial goon you are. It doesn’t feel good to root against some of the most iconic athletes in the world, but the expected value should make you feel better about it.

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