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Woods vs Mickelson: A groundbreaking first for sports betting

Calling any other sporting event ‘The Match’ would be considered arrogant. Not so for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Two of the world’s best ever golfers will go head-to-head this Friday in a groundbreaking first for the sport – and sports betting. As part of a pay-per-view event in Las Vegas, Woods and Mickelson will duel over 18 holes in a contest more fitting for the boxing ring than the greens of Shadow Creek.

The Match will also see the players place “side bets” against one another... as if it needed more excitement.

Bets Woods and Mickelson can place

Although any money won from said side bets will go to charity, it won’t take anything away from Woods’ competitive edge.

He told Bloomberg ahead of the heavyweight golfing tussle: “We’ve always embraced it, Phil and I, in how we’ve taken chances on a golf course. Whether it’s a weekend round with our buddies or a practice round out on tour, we’re always trying to have a little bit of an edge and have a bit of fun out there.

“Wagering is part of what we do in the game of golf. That’s what’s going to be the fun part for everyone viewing. They’re going to realise it’s a lot like what they do at their home club.”

The first side bet is already in play, with $200,000 of Mickelson’s money saying he’ll birdie the first hole.

Bets you can place

This all creates the exciting introduction of a brand new concept: not just betting on a golfer, but betting for or against that golfer’s own bet.

Betfair is even offering a market on who will win the most in side bets (Woods is 8/11, Mickelson evens). Betting on betting – truly innovative.

As far as consumer wagering is concerned, Woods is favourite with Sky Bet at 4/9, while Mickelson is priced 7/4. BetVictor’s odds, meanwhile, favour Woods even more in the outright market, so Mickelson backers will enjoy a price of 13/8.

The beauty of this event, though, is the presence of multiple markets possessing far better value. For example, Sky Bet is accepting wagers on the winning margin (Woods by two or more holes is the favourite option at 5/6). The 42-year-old is also favourite to lead after three holes, but at a price of 11/8, while a tie is 2/1. Mickelson is 7/4 here, so there’s value in either outcome.

After nine holes, Woods is back to a shorter price of 4/5 to lead. He is 11/4 to win the first hole, with Mickelson 3/1 and odds of 4/6 on things being level. In terms of match specials, Sky Bet is offering Woods to win both Hole 1 and the Match at 7/2, any Woods eagle at 4/1 and any Mickelson eagle at 5/1.

There will no doubt be considerable opportunity for further in-play wagering – and not just for bettors, either. Let’s hope Woods and Mickelson gamble responsibly.

By Tim Poole
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