Tiger Woods’ Strong Start at Augusta is a Liability for Sports Books: Data Viz

Lev Akabas
·2 min read

Twenty-five years after his first round as an amateur at Augusta National, Tiger Woods began his defense of his 2019 Masters title yesterday by shooting a 68 (-4) in the opening round, tied for tenth on the leaderboard. He got off to a fast start, birdieing three of his first seven holes, including the par-fives at Holes 13 and 15, which have historically been a cakewalk for him. Woods even birdied Hole 1, which has given him trouble in the past.

Lots of gamblers put their money on Woods to win the Masters despite longshot odds (45-to-1 on DraftKings as of Wednesday). Woods is the second-most frequently bet player to win the tournament on both DraftKings and BetMGM. “The book will be hoping he doesn’t win back-to-back Masters,” BetMGM VP Trading Jason Scott said in a statement.

The bad news for bettors is that Woods hasn’t come close to contending in any of the six tournaments he’s played in this year. The good news is that Woods had a strong opening round yesterday even though Thursday has been easily his worst day, on average, over his career at the Masters.

He’s also still Tiger Woods: far and away the best player the course has ever seen.

It’s a crowded field, however, and a host of young Americans are among the frontrunners. Eleven of the top 15 golfers in the world are American, the most at any point since 2000, and seven of them are younger than 30 years old.

2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who became the face of DraftKings golf through an endorsement deal last week, accumulated the most overall handle for outright winner on both DraftKings and BetMGM. He was also the most popular pick among bettors on both sites to be the first round leader, but came up short of his stated personal par of 67 by shooting a 70 on Thursday, while leading all golfers with an average drive length of 335 yards.

DeChambeau’s idiosyncrasies, such as devouring six to seven protein shakes a day in an attempt to put on weight and crush driving distance records, have allowed him to make a name for himself in the sport. Dustin Johnson is also a favorite among gamblers, along with fellow Americans Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. All three finished in the top ten on the leaderboard after the opening round.

The winner will take home a prize of $2.07 million from a total purse of $11.5 million. That number sits between the $12.5 million of the U.S. Open and the $11 million of the PGA Championship. All three golf majors this year have maintained the same total prize money as the 2019 season, in contrast to tennis’s U.S. Open, for example, which reduced its winner’s prize this year by $850,000 amidst revenue losses.

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