(Bloomberg) -- This year’s Masters will be the first time golfers from the Saudi-backed breakaway league go head-to-head against their former rivals at the sport’s best-known tournament. The odds are not in their favor.
The first major championship of the year, starting Thursday on the manicured fairways and greens of Augusta National Golf Club, has more tension than in previous editions. And if someone from LIV Golf wins, it would be about as improbable as when Tiger Woods secured his fifth title in 2019. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power boils it down to an 8% chance.
LIV recruited some of the world’s best players, luring them from the PGA Tour with large upfront payments and plunging the golf world into a nasty civil war. The feud has spilled over into the law courts, and there’s every chance that the normally well-behaved patrons at Augusta will be less than charitable to the LIV rebels who’ve upended the established norms of professional golf.
Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner and for many the leader of the LIV camp, says he has “no expectations” for the mood at Augusta.
According to prices at oddsmakers on both sides of the Atlantic, expectations for any of the 18 LIV players teeing up on Thursday and holing the winning putt on Sunday are not particularly high — even if six of them are former champions.
Paddy Power says more money is going on defending champion Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy, who developed into the PGA’s defacto spokesman and defender when the LIV tour was in its infancy, than on the entire LIV contingent.
Data released by SlotsOnlineCanada.com shows that Scheffler has earned a huge $3,548 per shot at The Masters, which is over $400 more than the second-placed Will Zalatoris.
At Betfair, the chances of a LIV triumph are 13/2 — meaning a successful $2 bet would make $13. And for anyone fancying a wager on a PGA winner, you’d need to put down $7, just to earn a $1 profit.
In one of the more intriguing bets on offer, Betfair has a special market on which LIV player will have bragging rights over his colleagues by the end of the tournament. Mickelson is the big outside bet.
At BetMGM, Australia’s Cam Smith has the lowest odds among his LIV counterparts, at +2000 — where a successful $1 wager makes $20. Posting a top-five finish is a +333 chance, relatively high for someone with three straight top-10 Masters finishes and who won last year’s British Open.
There’s a risk that the LIV players at Augusta will come into the four-day event half-cooked, or at the very least unable to play 72 holes of golf in fewer strokes than their former colleagues on the PGA Tour.
Among the reasons: there are fewer LIV tournaments to hone those shot-making skills, they last only 54 holes, and the players are guaranteed a solid payday even if they finish last — so their competitive instincts may be rusty. Sihwan Kim, who won’t be at the Masters, pocketed $120,000 for bringing up the rear at LIV’s most recent tournament.
Several other big names, who attracted heavy betting interest before their defection to LIV, are languishing in the middle of the overall betting pack.
Dustin Johnson, who was world No. 1 for more than two years and won the Masters when in his pomp, is down at +2500. Patrick Reed, the 2018 winner who was no stranger to controversy even before he moved over to LIV, is at +6600, while former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is down the field at +10000.
As for Woods, who acknowledged on Tuesday he’s approaching the twilight of his competitive career, he’s quoted at +6600 at BetMGM.
But as McIlroy noted after playing with him in a practice round, “We never count him out.”
--With assistance from Peter O'Dwyer.
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