LONDON (AP) British bookmaker William Hill has cut the odds on Tiger Woods playing at the Masters.
The world's No. 1 golfer is taking an indefinite break from the game since a November car crash outside his home in Florida and reports of marital infidelity. Shortly after the crash, William Hill was giving 4-6 odds that Woods would be back in time for the Masters in April. On Wednesday, the company cut the odds to 1-4.
"We've only taken money on the one side that he will be playing there, so that's why we shortened it right up," William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said. "Everybody who's had a bet seems absolutely certain that he'll make it to Augusta."
Adams said they have taken 224 bets and 217 of them are that Woods will be playing at Augusta National. At 1-4 odds, a $4 bet returns $5; at 4-6 odds, a $6 bet returns $10.
Adams said the bets have come from all over the world, with at least one coming from Dubai via the Internet.
Although Woods has not spoken publicly since the Nov. 27 crash, a celebrity Web site reported last week that he was at a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi. Other reports say Woods and his Swedish wife Elin Nordegren, who have two children, were trying to work things out.
"Within the British press there's a suggestion that Elin has been to see him for a week. Apparently they are getting along quite well, or rather better," Adams said. "Therefore, obviously if on the private side things start perking up, then what better rehabilitation to him than getting on the golf course."
Woods has won the Masters four times. Adams said it's the "perfect" tournament for Woods to make his return.
"In terms of security and everything else like that, the Masters is perhaps the perfect place. Not just any old chap can get there. The crowds are pretty quiet," Adams said. "They aren't the sort who are going to start giving him a bit of the old leg-pulling halfway through.
"I really can see why everyone's backing it."
William Hill is also offering 5-2 odds that Woods will win this year's Masters, making him the favorite. But bettors will get their stake back if the American doesn't play. Phil Mickelson is the second favorite at 11-2.
"He's the favorite for every tournament he plays in," Adams said. "It's as simple as that."
Woods has won 14 major titles, and he needs four more to equal Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.
William Hill is offering 33-1 odds that Woods will win all four majors in 2010, 16-1 odds that he will win three, 4-1 for two and 11-8 for one. Bettors can also get 5-4 odds that Woods will not win any of the majors, but he has to play in all four for the bets to be valid.