For sports fans and sports bettors, Memorial Day weekend is going to feel a little more normal than the last 10 weekends, thanks to four of the biggest fortysomething sports stars in the world.
On Sunday, May 24, televised live on TNT and TBS, a pro/am foursome will take to the links for “The Match: Champions for Charity” to raise money for coronavirus relief. Tiger Woods is teaming with retired NFL icon Peyton Manning to face Phil Mickelson and recently relocated six-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady in an 18-hole golf match at Medalist Golf Club in Florida.
And that means Pennsylvania’s legal online sportsbooks can start taking wagers on athletes who are household names. No offense to the finest table tennis players in Russia, soccer players in Belarus, and even some UFC fighters who are well known within their niche sport, but Tiger, Phil, Tom, and Peyton are four guys whom everyone betting sports in the modern era has risked money on or against prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even though the event is 10 days out,” Rush Street Interactive COO Mattias Stetz, who oversees the PlaySugarHouse and BetRivers sportsbooks in PA, said on Thursday, “we have already seen some action on this highly anticipated matchup.”
The great majority of the action, of course, will come next week and especially next weekend. The question for bettors is when they can get the best number on the side they’re backing. That might be next Sunday when the golfers are warming up. Or it might be right now.
Tiger and Peyton are the chalk
Even though Mickelson edged Woods in 2018 when they staged a one-on-one, betting-friendly, pay-per-view event, Tiger has had the better form of late. And Brady recently admitted Manning is a better golfer than he is these days:
Not true. Peyton is the better golfer right now. He’s had much more practice these past few years. https://t.co/etoGOmd0c0
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) February 7, 2020
So it’s no surprise that the Woods-Manning duo is favored everywhere you look in Pennsylvania:
|Woods & Manning||Mickelson & Brady|
With the highest payout of the PA books on underdogs Mickelson and Brady at +180, PlaySugarHouse tells Penn Bets it’s seeing 75% of the handle so far on “Lefty” and the new Tampa Bay QB to win.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the split has been a bit less dramatic in the early wagering, perhaps because the odds on the ‘dogs aren’t quite as high. At FD, 63% of the bets and 57% of the handle is on the team of Brady and Mickelson.
A tale of two nines
Before you bet, it’s crucial that you understand the match format.
The first nine holes will be “best ball,” meaning only the better score within each duo matters for each of those holes. It will be interesting to see how often, if at all, Brady or Manning’s play on that front nine counts. (And you can probably expect books to offer some props on those questions as the event draws nearer.)
The back nine will have different rules. For each hole, all four golfers will tee off. Then each team will pick which ball it wants to use and alternate shots from there. The strategy will be fascinating. For example, if Woods hits a slightly better drive than Manning, the team might still choose to use Manning’s ball because that allows Tiger to hit the second and fourth shots on the hole.
There will be plenty of promos and prop betting opportunities to come in PA, although as of Friday morning, the only one available in the state was a FanDuel prop on the first hole:
- Woods/Manning +260
- Mickelson/Brady +270
- Tie -140
In New Jersey, PlaySugarHouse is already offering such props as player closest to the hole on specific shots, pairing to be leading after a certain number of holes, and pairing to win specific holes.
We’ll see which options come to Pennsylvania as the match nears — and what the in-play betting markets entail.
“I expect,” said Stetz, “that it will attract significant betting volumes as people will be watching it live on TV next Sunday.”
Photo by Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports