AUGUSTA, Ga. -- They don't play the national anthem prior to the start of the Masters, so it was impossible to wager, through online betting sites, on how long Christina Aguilera would prolong the word "brave" at the end. But the number and type of Masters golf bets available through a number of online sports book were and are wild and intriguing enough. As of today, the menu of bets at the site we looked at continued to be downright dazzling.
If you wanted to bet somebody would make a hole-in-one before the end of play Sunday, a wager of $100 would return $150. Not a bad bet, considering there have been aces in four of the last seven years, including two aces on No. 16 last year.
Winning score? The over/under was 276.5 against par of 288. The sharp-eyed punter who looked at the weather forecast (perfect all four days) and an inviting golf course ("they're bringing back the roars!") would lean toward the "under." Another enticing proposition bet was would the low single round shot by any player during the tournament be above or below 65.5? This one was decided early when Alvaro Quiros and Rory McIlroy torched Augusta National with 65s on Thursday.
A smorgasboard of bet types were available. You could wager on what the 36-hole cut score would be, how many amateurs would make the cut, how many holes would elapse before Tiger Woods recorded his first birdie or eagle, and whether or not there would be a playoff on Sunday.
Friday's head-to-head match bets were intriguing, and make one wonder, what do the oddsmakers know that the average fan does not? In the Lee Westwood vs. Martin Kaymer matchup, Westwood was listed as the favorite at money odds of -170, meaning you had to risk $170 to receive $100 in return. Conversely, if you chose Kaymer, the No. 1 ranked player in the world but a +140 underdog here, a $100 wager would return $140 if posted a lower-round score.
The odds on the Woods vs. Graeme McDowell matchup on Friday was interesting, if only to belie the notion that Woods has fallen adrift as a "public team" -- one who drew a lot of reflexive betting action in his direction. For Friday's second round, Woods was listed at -170, McDowell +135.
A bit of Googling reveals that the legality of online sports wagering within the U.S. is up in the air. Some say yes, some say no, but all agree there has been little enforcement. And credit cards do clear at the site we looked in on.
-- Guy Yocom