Vegas sportsbooks say Tiger Woods still favorite to win U.S. Open

Forget what the experts say -- Tiger Woods is still the favorite to win the 2010 U.S. Open.
Las Vegas sportsbooks have Tiger Woods as a 4-1 favorite to win this week's
tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links, followed closely by Phil
Mickelson at 5-1. Lee Westwood is the third choice at 10-1, according
to Chuck Esposito, casino operations manager at the Tropicana Hotel in
Las Vegas.
That means that a $1 bet on Woods will pay $4 if he wins the tournament. It sounds like short odds, but Esposito said 4 to 1 is actually a value bet for Woods at a major.
"That's not short on him," Esposito said. " At a major, he's usually even money or even laying money at 5 to 6 or 5 to 7."
Woods was a 4-to-1 favorite at this year's Masters, which was his first event following his sex scandals and ensuing five-month layoff. Woods finished tied for fourth at the Masters, and his inconsistent play since then has most golf observers calling Mickelson, not Woods, the favorite at Pebble.
Esposito said that casinos set their odds based on how they think the public will bet, which doesn't always match the so-called experts' picks.
"We're putting Woods as the favorite because that's the way we see the public viewing the tournament," Esposito said. "If his odds are too high, you'd see an abundance of Tiger action. We're trying to put a number up that will draw some good two-way action.After Westwood (10 to 1), the other favorites are Ernie Els (12 to 1), Padraig Harrington (15-1), Jim Furyk (18 to 1), Steve Stricker (18 to 1) and Retief Goosen (20 to 1).
Els opened as the third favorite at 8 to 1, but has fallen to 12 to 1. Meanwhile, odds have dropped considerably on Dustin Johnson (opened 35 to 1, now 20 to 1), K.J. Choi (opened 50 to 1, now 20 to 1), Hunter Mahan (opened 50 to 1, now 30 to 1) and Kenny Perry (opened 100 to 1, now 65 to 1). The field is 10 to 1, which was the smart bet last
year when Lucas Glover won at Bethpage.
Esposito said he expects the total wagering on the U.S. Open to be in the high six figures industry-wide, maybe even seven figures if Woods is in contention on Sunday. It won't, however, generate the most excitement in the sportsbooks. That honor goes to the World Cup, for which fans camp out with their vuvuzelas and flags for the best seats at Las Vegas casinos.
"The World Cup crowds have been phenomenal," Esposito said. "It's amazing to see how big it's become. People are waving flags, hooting and hollering, and when a goal is scored, it's like an eruption in the room."

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by Kevin Cunningham