How much are gamblers wagering on The Match with Tiger and Phil in Las Vegas?

Harry How/Getty Images for The Match

How much are gamblers wagering on The Match with Tiger and Phil in Las Vegas?

PGA Tour

How much are gamblers wagering on The Match with Tiger and Phil in Las Vegas?

LAS VEGAS – The Match with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is a new brand of sports entertainment. With the $9 million prize purse, significant side wagers and pay-per-view broadcast, golf has never seen anything like this.

There are a lot of unknowns here, and that’s part of the appeal for fans. That uncertainty also created a unique task for Jay Rood, VP of Race and Sports for MGM Resorts International. Rood set the initial line of Woods as a -145 favorite, a number which has since moved to Woods -200.

Unlike established events in which Rood can estimate the total amount wagered based on past experience, there was no precedent to go on here.

“That was the challenge,” Rood said. “During a fight we’ve got a lot of history on the fighters like (Floyd) Mayweather and (Manny) Pacquiao. I can anticipate what my handle is going to be and that’s going to dictate how I price the match as well. … Whereas in this case, I don’t know what my handle is going to be. Don’t know if it’s going to be embraced or more of a spectator spectacle rather than a wagering event. It falls somewhere in between right now.”

So far, the interest level and amount wagered is higher than some might think. It will be by far the most ever bet on a single match for golf, already about 8-10 times the amount wagered on non-major tournaments like the Wells Fargo Championship.

Rood said the final tally come Friday could even match the amount bet year-round on the Masters. The number of actual tickets won’t come close, but the bets are much larger. The largest so far came Monday, when MGM accepted a $75,000 bet on Mickelson. They’ve also had multiple people inquire about placing six-figure bets over the next 48 hours.

“It’s probably approaching a really good college football game right now,” Rood said of the interest level from a betting standpoint. “With the bet we took yesterday and activity we’re getting on the props, the total handle of this is probably in the neighborhood of if we were gonna book Oklahoma-Florida or something like that. A pretty good regular-season football game.”

Rood will be keeping close tabs on one particular prop bet at Shadow Creek having set the odds of a hole-in-one at 100-1. He’s already taken on a liability in the low-to-mid six figures there, a number that’s going to keep growing in the hours leading up.

“If a hole-in-one is converted, our liability on that is gonna be in the neighborhood of losing a really bad NFL game for us,” Rood said. “That’ll be my biggest sweat.”

Betting that The Match will be tied through nine holes is also a popular prop, currently at +500. Rood expects that liability to approach six figures as well.

The MGM Race & Sports Book will offer live wagering during the Woods-Mickelson match, a first for golf at the facility.

Rood said the betting public drove Woods’ price up after a T-6 finish at the BMW Championship and the win at East Lake. He wanted to avoid being too reactionary with the line based on either player’s performance in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Ryder Cup.

Everyone is still getting a feel for the room at this point, Vegas included. But it’s not hard to envision this as the starting point for something much bigger in golf and sports gambling in general.

“Maybe expanding possibly to a boxing card, where you have a couple of headliners maybe and a couple of other guys going at it just below that,” Rood said. “That’s a possible scenario that could play out, or maybe even a two-day mini tournament. At some point in the season, the top four guys in the world rankings go play for a prize and call it a one-day tournament where they play two rounds or put it over two days. It may not necessarily still reside on pay-per-view in that format, but I think there’s strong possibilities this could move to that direction.”

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