The overblown March Madness has finally come to an end, so what sporting event do you bet on next?
Bet on the Masters. It is a timeless American tradition and probably the only golf tournament most people actually watch for enjoyment. And don't just bet on it for money, but for the entertainment as well. Here are a few storylines that deserve to be looked at further.
3:1 - Tiger Woods
As of now, Tiger Woods is listed at 3:1 odds for winning the green jacket according to VegasInsider.com. What would a golf story be without Tiger Woods? Whether you love the guy or hate the guy, his presence makes golf more interesting. He is back as the No. 1 golfer in the world and he is back as the projected winner for every tournament here on out. If Tiger wins, he will bring his green jacket total to five. With five, Woods will surpass Arnold Palmer (the beverage mogul) and be within one title of Jack Nicklaus' six Masters victories.
If El Tigre is a winner come Sunday, it will mark his first Masters title since the great infidelity fiasco of 2009. If all of this is not enough motivation for Tiger to win, then the new Nike ad featuring Tiger saying, "Winning takes care of everything," will be sure to get the job done. It is an extremely polarizing ad. Some people claim the ad shows his hubris, arrogance and the flaw in his singular mindset that winning will cure all of the events that took place in his life recently. But should we really hold athletes to a higher standard outside of their profession? He did not cheat, at least not in the game of golf. He just wants to get back to his job and his job (and what is expected from golf fans) is simply to win.
14,000:1 - Guan Tianlang
Guan Tianlang does not actually have odds listed on VegasInsider.com - he is part of "the field" category at 20:1 - so I made some up for him. 14,000 seemed appropriate because Tianlang is 14 years old. Oh, 14 years and five months, apologies. The Chinese eighth-grader received the invite to the Masters after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last November. To celebrate his arrival at Augusta, Tianlang said he brought homework. He will become the youngest person ever to compete in the Masters, breaking the previous age record of 16 set by Matteo Manassero in 2010.
Both Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods were 19 years old when they made their first Masters appearance. Tianlang was six years old when Tiger Woods won his last Masters in 2005 and was not born yet when Woods won his first in 1997. Although the odds are against him (including mine), I hope Tianlang makes the cut, because imagine what you were doing when you were 14.
8:1 and 10:1- Rory and Lefty
Rory McIlroy (8:1) and Phil "Lefty" Mickelson (10:1) are ranked second and third respectively to win the Masters by VegasInsider.com. Why did I group these guys together? Because they are both in the shadow of Tiger Woods. Even when Woods was rehabbing, the media still talked about Woods more. Once McIlroy was picked up by Nike, the comparisons to Woods began faster than Woods backing out of his driveway as his wife chased him down with a nine-iron.
And none of these comparisons were warranted. They are two different players, with two different styles and demeanors. It has added an unnecessary pressure to McIlroy and the pressure seems to have had an effect on him so far this season. Yet, McIlroy has proven himself to be a new young contender in every tournament, so the 8:1 odds are warranted.
Then there is poor old Phil. His whole career has been dominated by being second-best to Tiger, but if he is victorious this weekend, he will bring his jacket total to four as well and will be tied with both Woods and Palmer. Now there is a thought. Tiger finally appears to have gotten back to his old form and is poised and expected to win the Masters, but along comes Lefty to knock Tiger down from the mountain and even out the score.
It might be that Mickelson went to Arizona State or possibly that he is a great guy, but whatever it is, I hope the 10:1 odds work out for him this weekend.
Contact Isaac Lorton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.