Major letdown? Not for this Tiger

August 13, 2002 1:11 PM
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Tiger Woods has brought golf wagering on a par with baseball, which unknown to him may be his most incredible achievement. “It’s absurd the odds that are on him in a tournament,” said Eric St. Clair, race and sports manager under Sid Diamond at Rampart Casino in Summerlin. “I have been in the odds business for 17 years and I have never seen anything like this.” Woods opened as a 6-5 favorite to this week’s PGA Championship, which would mark the second time in three years that the world’s No. 1 player has captured three of the four major titles. Normally a favorite in a golf tournament would at best open as 6-1, odds that would figure to grace the world’s No. 2 golfer. Currently that’s Phil Mickelson, who happens to be 0-for-40 in major tournaments. Tiger has won seven of his last 11. “Woods is the best golfer bar none,” St. Clair said. “Mickelson or (Sergio) Garcia are poised to win, but you couldn’t get enough odds to make me bet against Tiger. He’s the St. Louis Rams of the NFL.” Golf wagering is always active when Woods plays, major or not. Tiger’s victory at last weekend’s Buick Open was his fourth of the season in just 13 events, a .308 average in baseball terms. And that’s exactly the way Woods should be bet. “It is like a baseball game, getting 6-5,” St. Clair said. “Those are lousy futures odds, but you can say it would work for baseball. It’s just that you would never think of a golfer winning as often as a baseball team. It’s just not done.” Las Vegas Sports Consultants posted its odds for the tournament (listed on Page 33) with Mickelson, British Open champ Ernie Els and Garcia as the only challengers to Woods under 20-1. Minnesota’s Tom Lehman, familiar with Hazeltine Golf Club layout in Chaska could be a good futures play at 40-1. Mark O’Meara, Tiger’s good buddy who tied for second last week at the Buick, is part of the “field” at 5-1. Yet, nobody will bet against Woods. “Tiger without a doubt is good for the sport,” St. Clair said. “He generates business, which is good for us, but not so good for matchups. Who could you put up opposite Tiger, the field?”