Commentary

Making book on the Masters

Originally Published: April 7, 2010
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Not even the wiseguys in Vegas have these 2010 Masters betting odds.

150-1: Odds of someone yelling "Fire hydrant!" in the middle of Tiger Woods' backswing.

1-1: Odds of that someone being escorted off the Augusta National grounds within 30 seconds.

10-1: Odds of Woods winning his fifth green jacket. (Vegas says 3-1, Ladbrokes says 7-1.)

5-1: Odds of Woods winning back corporate sponsors.

3-1: Odds of Woods winning back fans.

Woods said he was going to change the way he conducted himself on and off the course. I can't vouch for the off-course behavior, but here at Augusta National, Woods has signed autographs, reached out to his fellow pros, acknowledged Masters patrons, conducted a 34-minute news conference and, in a late development, announced he has hired smile guru Ray Romano.

100-1: Odds of Japan's Yuta Ikeda breaking 80 in the opening round.

Not only is this Ikeda's first Masters, but he's playing in the group directly in front of Woods' threesome -- I mean, group.

10,000-1: Odds of me ever getting a one-on-one interview with Woods after that wisecrack.

20-1: Odds of Woods' playing partner Matt Kuchar breaking 75.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Kim
AP Photo/Rob CarrCan Anthony Kim go low at Augusta? In just his second competitive round in the Masters, the youngster carded a single-round record 11 birdies.

5-1: Odds of Woods' playing partner K.J. Choi breaking 75.

3-1: Odds of the NCAA wanting to expand the Masters field from 96 to 192.

2-1: Odds of the Masters winner coming from the final Sunday pairing. With the exception of Zach Johnson, 18 of the past 19 winners have come from that final group.

1,000,000-1: Odds of anyone saying it better than Augusta National chairman Billy Payne did when discussing the controversy surrounding Woods:

"But as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. ... But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par; but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change."

50-1: Odds of a player ranked 29th or lower in the world rankings winning the Masters.

Johnson (56th) did it in 2007. Trevor Immelman (29th) did it in 2008. Angel Cabrera (69th) did it in 2009.

Infinity-1: Odds of green Zubaz pants being sold in the Masters merchandise store.

Infinity-1: Odds of any other former major winner other than John Daly selling stuff out of a bus across the street from Augusta National.

75-1: Odds of Ernie Els winning the Masters.

The wiseguys in Vegas say he's 20-1, mostly because Els has already won twice on the PGA Tour this season (back-to-back victories at the WGC-CA Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational). But Els has also missed the Masters cut in each of the past three years, and hasn't finished in the top 10 here since 2004.

16-1: Odds of amateur Matteo Manassero (Italy) making the cut.

Manassero, who won the British Amateur and finished T-12 at the 2009 British Open, doesn't turn 17 until April 19. I've got golf shoes older than that.

4-1: Odds of the winner shooting below 12-under par for the tournament.

Cabrera's four-round total of 12-under-par 276 won it last year. Immelman finished at 280 in 2008. So 12-under sounds about right. But the weather is supposed to be nice for the rest of the week, so a sub-276 wouldn't stun me.

3-1: Odds of Phil Mickelson finishing in the top 10.

Lefty is eight for his past eight in top-10 Masters finishes, and 10 of his past 11. Even though he hasn't played particularly well in the past few tournaments, Mickelson will figure out a way to reach the top 10 again.

20-1: Odds of a 20-something (or younger) winning this week.

Give me those odds and you can have everyone else. I'll take my chances with Ryo Ishikawa, Martin Kaymer, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy, Sean O'Hair, Alvaro Quiros, Camilo Villegas, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney.

1-1: Odds of you hearing gentle, soothing guitar music during Masters television coverage.

45-1: Odds of my Masters pick -- Kim -- wearing a green jacket Sunday night.

Here's my thinking on AK: He's already won once this season (just last week at the Shell Houston Open) ... he finished T-20 his first time here in 2009 ... he's capable of going low here (a second-round 65 with an Augusta-record 11 birdies) ... he's fearless ... he putted well on Augusta National's car hoods (he ranked second in '09) ... and did I mention he's fearless?

20-1: Odds of my fallback Masters picks -- Padraig Harrington or McIlroy -- winning this thing.

Harrington because he knows how to win majors and has had two top-10 finishes here in the past three years. McIlroy because he did well in his Masters debut (T-20) and, despite a crummy 2010 season so far, has some of the best skills on tour.

1 gajillion-1: Odds of me not writing about Woods on Thursday.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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