Tiger Woods' return sees huge betting influx for Genesis

Tiger opens Genesis Invitational with up-and-down for birdie (0:31)

Tiger Woods starts strong at the Genesis Invitational with a nice up-and-down for birdie on the opening hole. (0:31)

As the saying goes: Tiger Woods doesn't move the needle, he is the needle. Any time the all-time great suits up for a tournament, the sports world pays a little more attention to golf, and that holds especially true in sports betting.

Closing at 125-1 (via ESPN BET) to win the Genesis Invitational, Woods, who hosts the tournament, is the biggest long shot he's been for any PGA Tour event in more than 15 years, per ESPN Stats & Info. Woods' previous longest odds were 100-1 at the 2023 Genesis.

Despite the immense odds against Woods, the public seems excited to see him back on the golf course and rushed to wager on him.

Woods garnered a tournament-leading 8.0% of the tickets at BetMGM, which also saw a notable uptick in overall wagers compared to other golf tournaments with Tiger in the field. ESPN BET has 6.5% of its bets on the 48-year-old, trailing only Scottie Scheffler (7.6%).

However, not every sportsbook is seeing increased action: DraftKings reported just 5% of its tickets on Woods, good for sixth among all golfers playing. Perhaps in an attempt to bolster that action, the book offered a profit boost for Woods to make the cut at +130 -- up from -140, but which was at one point as short as -110.

Because Woods is in such unfamiliar territory as a huge long shot, the sportsbooks could have a huge problem if he performs well at Riviera Country Club.

"Tiger Woods is by far the biggest liability, and not just in winning the Genesis Invitational, but also in making the cut and finishing top 5/10/20," BetMGM's golf trading lead Matthew Wall said. "We're expecting the action on Tiger to double over the weekend as well. The book needs anyone except for Tiger raising the trophy on Sunday evening."

That said, if the sharp action is any indication, the books shouldn't be sweating it too much.

Woods ranks seventh in betting handle at ESPN BET (4.4%), eighth at BetMGM (4.2%), and ninth at DraftKings (3%). With the big money seemingly backing other contenders at a higher clip, Woods is likely attracting lots of smaller wagers from more novice golf bettors.

Adding to that, Riviera has proved to be a quagmire for Woods over the years, as he has made 14 starts there without a win, by the far the most for any venue in his career (PGA National, TPC Scottsdale and Westchester Country Club are all the next closest at four).

If there's one sliver of hope the public can cling to, though, it's the fact that the start of this PGA Tour year has been very friendly to long shots: Every tournament winner in 2024 has been 80-1 or longer in pre-tournament odds. If you subtract the 80-1 winner (Wyndham Clark, who is also a reigning major champion), every winner has been at least 125-1, with two winners in the 300s.