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Bad Beats: Sportsbook Kudos and Burned-Out Tigers

   by Ben Burns - 08/26/2009

Since none of you had Y.E Yang, and a lot of you had Tiger Woods, last Sunday was a little painful.

But Tiger’s collapse in the final round of the PGA Championship hurt no one more than Irish sportsbook Paddy Power.

Ireland’s largest sportsbook, Paddy Power is known for paying off bets early, when they deem the outcome has been decided.

This was the case last week at the PGA. After two rounds, Tiger led by four. In Paddy’s eyes, it was over. They paid off any wagers on Woods at 1/5.

Paddy made the announcement on its really funny blog before Saturday’s third round:

“Paddy Power has decided that Tiger Woods, with just a four shot lead, is such a certainty to lift the Wanamaker Trophy we’ve paid out on him to win the US PGA Championship early – before a ball has been a hit in the third round and before Westwood can get in contention only to bogey the last and miss out on a playoff.”

When Tiger wasn’t able to close the deal, it cost Paddy Power $2.1 million (1.25 euros).

"It takes a special kind of dimwit to turn what should have been our best ever golf result into our worst," Paddy said in a statement.

Dimwitted or not, it was a generous and playful gesture that only enhanced Paddy Power’s “punter-friendly” reputation.

Hopefully, more industry leaders will follow Paddy Power’s lead and join in their mission of making “risk-based entertainment more accessible and fun.”

Kudos.

Speaking of Tiger …

At 32, Tiger has played golf at a higher level than anyone. Period.

Put Jack and Tiger on the course in their primes and with their A games, and Woods wins by three shots.

But, right now, Tiger seems burned out. His collapse at the PGA wasn’t caused by pressure; nor did Yang beat him.

It looked like he just wasn’t into it. He looked like someone who’s used to playing for $1,000-a-hole but somehow got roped into playing a $10 Nassau.

Sure, he muttered under his breath and looked displeased after errant shots on Sunday. But he does it so often that it comes off as a habit instead of a sincere reaction.

In the news conference afterwards, Woods, to his credit, gave straightforward answers. But, as he rattled off career stats, it seemed rehearsed.

Something else that seems a little off about Tiger: Why is he all of sudden playing in these extra tournaments?

Three weeks ago, he committed late to playing in the Buick Open, which he won. Now, he’s decided to compete in next week’s FedEx Cup Playoff opener, The Barclays.

The playoff scoring system has been tweaked to make it more difficult to skip tournaments and still win the FedEx Cup. But it is not impossible.

He didn’t sign for the event until last week, so, clearly, he wasn’t originally planning to play in New Jersey tournament.

Maybe he knows that he’s not dominant enough right now to skip the event and still win his second FedEx Cup. He’s a 2/5 favorite to do so.

It will be interesting to see how zoned in Tiger is during the playoffs. It’s extremely difficult for an athlete keep their extreme competitive edge throughout an entire career. And Tiger is the ultimate competitor.

But if you seen his wife, it’s easy to see how the father of two might not consider golf the most important thing in the world right now.

Could we possibly be headed into the low point in Tiger Woods’ career? We’ll see.

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