PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Aside from actually winning their bet, there is just one thing all degenerate gamblers want: that whatever (or whoever) they wagered on cares as much about their wager as they do. The more you bet, the more you realize, however, that the odds of players and coaches giving a damn about your bet are somewhere in the 1 million-to-1 range.
That does not sit well with the gambling community. How dare the basketball team that was a six-point favorite fail to play defense on the final possession and allow a back-door cover? How could the football team not kick the garbage-time field goal to hit the over? Why on earth did the tour pro pull driver on the 72nd hole and hit it in the water when he could have played it safe with an iron and secured that top-10 bet?
These are all thoughts that run through every gambler's head while watching a sport they have action on. And as gambling becomes more normalized around the country, the potential harassment that these athletes receive, both online and in person, for "not caring" as much as the bettors might prefer is only likely to increase.
Max Homa deals with it on a regular basis, and he addresses it in the best way possible: with humor. Earlier this week, Homa received a tweet that read "You going to show up for work this week at the Players or are you going to play like Coronavirus took your eyesight like you did last week?"
"I got 24th last week," Homa responded.
To someone who bet Homa to win, or a Daily Fantasy player who rostered Homa at Bay Hill, 24th ain't gonna cut it. To Homa, a 24th-place finish was damn good, especially given the brutal conditions over the weekend in Orlando. Homa was the only player in the field to shoot a round under par on Saturday. Of course, he was also the only player in the field to get caught on camera hitting a cold hard shank on Sunday, which is likely what the fan on Twitter was referring to.
That doesn't mean Homa is unaware of his odds, or your lineups, on a week-to-week basis. He just doesn't care if you win or lose your bet, although he hears your cries. "People just tell them to me, I don’t really seek them out," Homa said on Wednesday morning at TPC Sawgrass, when asked if he knows his odds entering any tour event. "But yeah, I know what I am to win [this week] … 150-to-1 yesterday."
Depending on what book you use, Homa is anywhere from 100-to-1 to 150-to-1 for this week's Players Championship, so he was spot on. It's a juicy number for a guy playing some of the best golf of his career. Is it disrespectful? He doesn't see it as such.
"I understand how the system works, they’re trying to get 50/50 bets," Homa said. "I’d say anyone who bets on me, it’s a wild move, so you deserve a big payout. I’ll never feel slighted by Vegas.”
One man who is consistently slighted by Vegas is Patrick Reed, who is 40-to-1 on the BetMGM Sportsbook as of this writing. That means you can bet $10 to win $400 on a player who wins as much, if not more, than many of the favorites to win this week.
"I honestly don't pay any attention to the gambling or any kind of odds," Reed said. "Does anyone know what my odds were at Augusta? How about WGC?"
For the record, Reed was 50-to-1 when he won at Augusta in 2018. Last month at the WGC-Mexico Championship, which he won, Reed was the same number he is at TPC: 40-to-1. Will Vegas ever learn with this guy?
"I like my odds then," Reed joked. "Those are good odds. So no, I mean, I don't really ever focus to that because at the end of the day when you come out here, the fields now are so deep and you have to play your A-game in order to win golf tournaments out here. Especially at an event like this, where you have all the top players here playing, and when that happens, you have to go out and you have to play really good golf from top to bottom.
"So at the end of the day, to me it's just like any kind of [bet] during the March Madness or anything like that. When you start playing, all those odds go out the window. It's all [about] how you go out there and what you do when your name's called."
Coming off a victory at Bay Hill, Tyrrell Hatton also has attractive odds this week of 50-to-1. Like Reed, he didn't know this, even though he's a bit of a gambler himself.
"To be honest, I have no idea with my odds in terms of golf tournaments," Hatton said. "I don't mind putting bets on the football back home, but obviously we are—we're not allowed to do any betting or anything like that in golf. So sort of, I've got no interest in that kind of thing. It makes no difference to how I go about my week, but I can tell you that I'm not very good at betting on the football. I'm quite good at losing money each Saturday."
Hatton has a friend in Joel Dahmen, who often bets on other sports. Never on golf, but only because it's not allowed under PGA Tour rules. If he could, he'd bet on himself—he'd do it every time he tees it up.
“Absolutely. All the time," said Dahmen, who is 100-to-1 this week. "In a way, we're betting on ourselves out here anyways. If you lose a bet, obviously you lose all your money, but here if you don’t win you get less money than if you do well. All golfers have gambled on themselves—we don’t have any guaranteed contracts from mini-tours to Canadian tours to the Korn Ferry Tour. That’s all kind of gambling on ourselves in a way, and week to week is kind of the same deal. There are certain courses, certain weeks where I’m feeling some kind of way, and I’d definitely like to bet on myself."
Those who do have a bet on Dahmen, or Reed or Homa or Hatton this week, and also have a NBC Sports Gold subscription, will be able to live and die with every shot, live. It's something that's been done only at last year's Masters, and it was a rousing success. How it fares this week remains to be seen, but it will be a welcome new way to follow golf. Homa wouldn't recommend the whole living and dying part, though.
"Do I think it’s healthy? God, no. It’s probably unhealthy to even live with every shot Rory [McIlroy] hits, but to live and die with every shot I hit is quite a frightening thought."