LAS VEGAS -- There are plenty of unpredictable things about the Open Championship, a tournament played on links courses unfamiliar to most and often in less-than-ideal conditions. But one thing we could have predicted is there's more betting interest with Tiger Woods playing, after he missed the Masters and U.S. Open.
Jeff Sherman, who sets the golf odds for Jay Kornegay at the LVH SuperBook, told me the Masters is always the biggest handle of golf's four majors with the U.S. Open usually handling about half as much and then another drop-off to the Open Championship. This year, though, the British handle at the LVH is approaching last month's U.S. Open handle. And it's mostly thanks to the return of Woods.
"As of now, we've written the second-most tickets on Tiger, just behind [U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer], but I fully expect that Tiger will pass him by the time they tee off," Sherman said early Tuesday morning. "I had Tiger at 25-1, but we took a limit bet on him and lowered him to 20-1 and then we got more action and he's now 15-1."
(Note: the LVH's limit is "to win $50,000," so a limit wager at 25-1 would be $2,000. They would take $100 on a 500-1 long shot.)
Sherman said 98 percent of the action on the odds to win the tournament is public money; the sharps usually concentrate on the matchups and props to try to find their edges. Alf Musketa, the sharpest golf handicapper I know and the man who usually pens the golf betting previews for ESPN Insider, thinks the Open "will be a crapshoot with all the crazy bounces at Hoylake."
I certainly respect his decision to pass, but I'm not against taking a shot in such sporting events (although I would suggest you take your normal "unit" that you might bet on a golfer to win a tournament and instead divide that up among several golfers). After all, we've seen the Open produce some very unlikely results, such as Ben Curtis (2003) and Todd Hamilton (2004) winning at odds of 500-1, so I can't blame anyone for taking a flier.
As a result, I'm leaning on Sherman to give more insight about whom to consider this week. In sports I don't follow as closely, I'm not opposed to using the knowledge offered by an oddsmaker I respect and betting that at another book. (The odds posted here are the odds from the LVH SuperBook, but, as always, shop around for the best price you can find.)
Sherman said this Open Championship was particularly hard to handicap.