The Masters is usually special, but Sunday’s final round at Augusta National will go down as one of the best in modern history. At one point there were seven players either tied or one shot off the lead.
The drama produced was a network television CEO’s dream, and golf fans, and bettors gobbled it up.
Besides the obvious feat of Tiger Woods’ winning his fifth Green Jacket, there were plenty of others who walked away from Augusta feeling like a champion. Just ask the sportsbooks, who were some of the biggest losers, having to pay out one of the most popular longshot bets in recent memory.
The 43-year-old overcame a scandal that led to a divorce, addiction issues, and four back surgeries. Not many people thought he could win a major championship again, but he proved them all wrong.
Not only did Woods win his 81st tournament, putting him one behind Sam Snead’s all-time record, his fifth green jacket gives him 15 major championships, three less than Jack Nicklaus.
“I know that I made a few mistakes the last couple tournaments, but it just felt like it was there,” Woods said. “I was able to play some of my best golf over the last three days, and the first day was a little bit here and there, but the last three days, I really played well.”
The early tee times because of inclement weather gave the network the chance to highlight a packed leaderboard early in the morning before the storm came rolling through. It also gave them a chance to highlight Tiger Woods, who always moves the needle on television ratings.
Those that missed out on the morning broadcast, got to see it at its usual time in the afternoon.
The 61-year-old has now made the cut at Augusta for the fifth time in seven appearances, all over the age of 50. Langer is the No. 1 player on the PGA Tour Champions, but has shown on the right course he can play with the younger kids.
It is a good Masters if two of the amateurs make the cut, but this year four played on the weekend. It was the highest number since 1999.
Oklahoma State’s Viktro Hovland, the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion and a native of Norway, finished as the low amateur with a 36-hole total of 1 under.
“Obviously, you try not to think too much about the cut, but it is there,” Hovland said. “If you don’t play well the first two rounds you’re not going to be able to play the weekend. But I kind of view it as I played two rounds, there’s still two more to go.”
The favorite to win at 7/1, McIlroy opened with a 1-over 73, then followed it with a 1-under 71. Still even par was seven shots off the lead, and the Irishman was never a factor.
“It’s not as if I’m playing bad golf,” McIlroy said after the third round. “I mean I’m under par for the golf tournament, but I’m just not enough under par. I just made too many mistakes.”
The course couldn’t stop Woods, neither could the other players, but an Augusta rent-a-cop almost did. It happened Friday on the 14th fairway. Woods had hit his drive to the left in the trees. His approach shot that came to rest 28 feet from the cup, a security guard ran to get between him and the crowd.
But in his rush to do his job, he slipped on some wet crash and slid into Woods’ right ankle. The golfer hopped for a bit, stretched out his ankle, then walked up to the green, and calmly knocked the putt in for birdie.
In case you missed it, here’s the video:
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The security guard later told golf.com, “Well, he made birdie, so I guess it all worked out. Man, I am really glad he made birdie.”
The No. 1 player in the world stumbled from the opening round, shooting a 3-over 75. Rose needed a low round on the second day to avoid the cut, and at one point was 1-over. But he couldn’t sustain his round and finished at 1-over 73 for a total of 4-over and missed the cut by two.
This was one of the biggest one-day hits for some sportsbooks, especially William Hill, who took a seven-figure loss on one bet alone. An anonymous gambler wagered $85,000 on Woods at 14/1. He was paid $1.19 million.
The bet was the single largest payout on a golf bet in the US division of the company’s history and the 2019 Masters marks the book’s biggest golf loss ever.
FanDuel and DraftKings also reportedly paid out more than $1 million apiece.