Betting The Masters: Master The Possibilities

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As the only one of golf's four major events that can boast a permanent home course, betting The Masters is a little more predictable than golf betting in general.

But not much.

Betting The Masters, which gets its annual four-round stroll around the storied Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia, April 10-13, still comes down to the fundamental question of whether you wager your money on Tiger Woods or bet against him. Of course, if you choose the latter option, then another question arises. If not Tiger, than which other golfer deserves your cash?

The Heydays Of When Tiger Used To Be Money In The Bank

Woods, who saw his seven-event winning streak come to an end when he lost for the first time in six months at the CA Championship in Doral, Florida, Sunday, will try to start another winning streak at The 2008 Masters. Woods is a four-time champion of that event. Despite his recent most setback, he opened at consensus odds of even money. That makes him the shortest priced favorite in the 74-year history of the event.

The world's top ranked player has captured 64 of 234 career starts (27.3 percent) on the PGA Tour. However, he has done even better at The Masters, winning four times in 12 outings (33.3 percent). But Woods was just a 5/4 favorite when he finished tied for second last year. And at less than even money, at least based on the percentages, isn't the greatest of wagering choices.

Still, it's tough to ignore how Woods has fared at Augusta. From his record breaking 12-stroke victory in 1997 at age 21 to his seven-shot comeback in 2005, when he last wore the Green Jacket.

If you can't stand the very short price on Tiger then maybe 8/1 on Phil Mickelson appeals more to your golf betting sensibilities. Lefty won The Masters in both 2004 and 2006. He has the requisite distance and imaginative short game to win a third title.

Ernie Els is the consensus third choice on most Masters future book lists. The Big Easy, who is seeking his first Green Jacket, is quoted at odds ranging from 14/1 to 20/1. This is after a bookmaker review of more than a dozen shops.

Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose also are possibilities for those looking to bet against Woods. Singh, a 25/1 shot, won here in 2000 and can challenge again if his putter is hot. Scott, 28/1, could be due for a breakthrough. As for Harrington, who is at 33/1, he earned his first Major last year at the British Open and you know what they say about the first one being the toughest. Rose, another golfer who could bloom under the right circumstances, offers value at odds of 40/1.

Defending champion Zach Johnson, who broke through at mouth-watering odds of 125/1 last year (no, you did not have him), is a somewhat less appealing 50/1 to repeat.

Longshots To Win The Masters

In addition to Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Johnson, three other former Masters champions, Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabel and Fred Couples, also are available. Weir, the winner in 2003, is offered at odds of 66/1. Meanwhile Olazabel, who won twice in the nineties, is 125/1. You can get 200/1 on Couples, the 1992 Masters champion.

Unlike years past, there have been no significant changes to the par 72, 7445-yard layout at Augusta. The finishing holes are difficult and holes 11, 12 and 13, dubbed “Amen Corner” in 1958 by journalist Herbert Warren Wind, test both the skill and the will of a golfer.

In addition to straight future book wagering, some books also have individual win prices as if Woods were not in the field. Even if Tiger wins, you'll get 5/1 on Mickelson or 12 on Els if either he finishes second.

Props At The Masters

There's also a place bet where you get paid off if your golfer finishes in the top three. Odds are smaller but chances of cashing are greater. In this prop, Woods is listed at -320 (bet $320 to win $100) while Mickelson is +165 (bet $100 to win $165). Meanwhile, Els is +310 to finish in the top three.

As we get closer to The Masters, books will add more props. That includes over/under wagers on both the low round and the winning score, whether or not there will be a hole-in-one and margin of victory.

On second thought, Masters betting may not be any easier than golf betting in general. However, it just might be a lot more fun.