Tiger Woods' triumph Sunday at the Masters wasn't just a feel-good story for himself and legions of golf fans; it made a lot of bettors happy as well. Several major sportsbooks took a beating on the victory, with one bettor heading to the 19th hole with a tidy profit of approximately $1.2 million.
The unidentified bettor took advantage of 14-1 odds, posted Tuesday at William Hill's outlets in Las Vegas, on Woods winning his fifth green jacket this year. Having never before placed a wager with the firm, the prescient person put $85,000 down with those odds, making for a "pretty good first bet," as William Hill's Nick Bogdanovich told ESPN.
The bettor was expected to fly into Las Vegas on Monday to receive what the Action Network's Darren Rovell reported was the "the largest single golf payout" in William Hill's U.S. history.
The director of trading for the United Kingdom-based company's U.S. operations, Bogdanovich told USA Today that the sportsbook took an overall loss of "seven figures" on Woods's win, his first at the Masters since 2005 and first major of any kind since 2008. Other major firms that also divulged huge payouts Sunday included FanDuel and DraftKings.
"We got our tails kicked," Bogdanovich said. "That's just business. A guy drops money on the counter, we accept the wager, we pay, and then we move on. Does it sting? Sure it stings, but it's just part of the business. Tiger is Tiger. He's the greatest golfer I've ever seen. Hopefully, we will get some new golf bettors out of it."
That mixture of resignation and admiration was echoed by an executive at Westgate's Las Vegas sportsbook, Jay Kornegay, who told USA Today: "Despite our loss, I was rooting for Tiger. It was just great to see."
Bettors jumped on Woods early and often, only intensifying their investment in him as he got off to a good start in the tournament. According to Rovell of the Action Network, DraftKings made a big bet of its own against Woods, increasing his odds Saturday, when he was two strokes off the lead, from 3½-1 to 10-1.
From that point on, a DraftKings official told Rovell, pro-Woods wagers made up 60 percent of the action on the site. DraftKings actually goosed things again Sunday, when Woods fell several shots back, raising his odds to 15-1, with the result that players won more than seven figures on him.
FanDuel confirmed more than $3 million in losses, with more than $1 million a result of a promise to participants in a contest that all would get a refund if Woods won. As with officials from DraftKings, a FanDuel executive asserted to Rovell that, in the long run, Woods's return to prominence is a positive for their business.
"Tiger winning is good for the sport and good for our customers," FanDuel's Mike Raffensperger said.
"We actually want our players to get their wins," said Jamie Shea of DraftKings. "They definitely beat us today, and hopefully they'll come back."
William Hill said it made its largest payout since several huge wagers were placed on the Eagles to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018, and it was the largest for any non-Super Bowl bet. A New Jersey outlet of BetStars took a net loss of approximately $360,000 on its Masters futures market, the biggest for the company since sports betting was legalized last year in the state.
It could have been much worse for BetStars, but the firm settled on limiting bets on Woods to $10 at promotional odds of 100-1, as opposed to one executive's suggestion of a $100 limit.
"I believe my direct quote was, 'Guys, there's no way Tiger is winning this tournament,' " the executive, Matthew Primeaux, told ESPN. "Whoops."
"I thought he had a chance to be competitive," Westgate's Jay Sherman said of Woods, "but I'm a little surprised by him winning, especially with the competition he faced. I said before the tournament that if you took the 'Tiger Woods' off, you'd have a golfer with the statistics of someone at 25-1 odds."
Not surprisingly, Woods has the shortest odds of any golfer set to participate in the next major, the PGA Championship in May. (Note the change in date for that tournament, previously held late in the summer and last among the grand slam events.)
Woods, though, is still listed at 8½-1 (per the Action Network), meaning that if he goes back-to-back - and who would doubt him at this point? - sportsbooks will be set to take another bath.