LAS VEGAS — The Match: Champions for Charity raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts on Sunday and brought live golf competition back to fans and bettors.
The team of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning looked like it was going to run away from the duo of Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, but the latter pairing was able to take it to the 18th hole before Woods and Manning held on for a 1-up victory. Woods, who hadn’t played a competitive round since Riviera in early February, hit every fairway and his game overall looked ready for return to competition after having to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and being forced to skip The Players Championship with a back injury. Currently, Tiger is 16/1 to win the Masters and the PGA Championship and 20/1 for the U.S. Open.
The Sunday event drew a fairly solid betting handle indicating that bettors are more than ready for sports to return en masse.
“Total handle would be like a medium regular-season NFL game,” said William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich. Bets at most shops were steady in terms of volume, but not massive in terms of the bigger bets. DraftKings Sportsbook reported a $15,000 wager on Mickelson and Brady at +170. UFC President Dana White posted a similar $15,000 wager on Twitter for the Mickelson/Brady side. FanDuel Sportsbook reported its largest wager as $10,250 at -205 for Woods and Manning which netted $5,000 for an individual bettor.
PointsBet USA reported a small loss overall on the match as it was rooting for the Mickelson/Brady team, who closed as +155 underdogs there.
“We closed with 48 percent of the bets, but 71 percent of the money on Woods and Manning,” according to Patrick Eichner, PointsBet USA’s director of communications. A fair amount of the small loss for PointsBet could be attributed to the price boost promotion it provided for its bettors. PointsBet opened Woods and Manning at -225 and moved the price downward for every 100 bets that were placed and the price eventually closed at the standard -110 juice that you will often see with an NFL or NBA point-spread wager.
In a little over two weeks, the PGA Tour resumes its schedule with actual tournament play with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Fourteen of the world’s Top 20 are already committed to the event (players have until June 5 to officially commit) including four of the top five in the world. No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be making his debut appearance at Colonial. No. 2 Jon Rahm and No. 3 Brooks Koepka both have runners-up finishes at Colonial in the past three years. No. 5 Dustin Johnson also makes his return to Colonial for the first time in six years. This will make for an interesting handicap with the strongest field in many years at Colonial and all essentially off a three-month layoff from any semblance of competitive golf. Recent form is usually a key in golf handicapping as is course form. With no recent form to speak of, course historical form could prove to be a stronger indicator in the first few events.
With the British Open, originally scheduled for July 16-19, being canceled, we will not get major championship golf until Aug. 6-9 when the PGA Championship is scheduled for TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. The U.S. Open is currently scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County. The Masters will close out the 2020 majors on Nov. 12-15. McIlroy, as the world’s No. 1, is currently the betting favorite in all three majors at all major betting houses, including Westgate Superbook USA. He is 9/1 for the Masters and 10/1 for both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Rahm is the second choice at the Masters and PGA at 12/1 (14/1 at the U.S. Open). Two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka is the second choice at Winged Foot. No. 4 Justin Thomas and No. 5 Dustin Johnson alternate between fourth and fifth choice at 14/1 or 16/1, respectively.
In a little less than two weeks time, sportsbooks across the country will have prices up for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial with a stronger field than usual. Bettors will have a decision to make with a large pool of top players to choose from, but also with players down the board with more value who have a great deal of experience playing Colonial.
Some players will have to shake off rust returning to competition in general. Additionally, some players reside in places where there have been more restrictions in terms of just getting out onto golf courses. Needless to say, there are even more handicapping angles in play for the PGA Tour’s return to tournament play, but if the handles on the exhibitions over the past two weeks are any indication, then bettors, including many newer ones, will be eager to dive into the action.