Few people thought Tiger Woods would even win a major again. In fact, not even the man himself believed his own chances, going as far as telling friends he was “done” as little as two years ago.
The bookmakers certainly didn’t think it was possible and were left nursing hefty losses after the 43-year-old triumphed at the Masters on Sunday to win his first major in 11 years at Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia.
Tiger began the tournament as third-joint favorite at 14/1, which didn’t dissuade an unnamed bettor from placing an $85,000 bet on him at a William Hill sportsbook at SLS Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The bet returned $1.19 million, the largest single-ticket sum payout in the history of William Hill casinos in the U.S.
“It’s great to see Tiger back,” William Hill U.S. director of trading Nick Bogdanovich said in a statement. “It’s a painful day for William Hill—our biggest loss ever—but a great day for golf.”
Golf Digest reported that the wager was so significant that it immediately pushed odds on Tiger down to 10-1. Bogdanovich admitted earlier this week that William Hill had to confirm it could even accept the bet.
“I thought it was probably an $85 or $8,500 bet,” he explained. “But they were for real.”
William Hill has previously had to fork out seven-figure payouts at its sportsbook in the U.S. three times, with each of the bets backing the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The bookmakers was not the only one left nursing losses after Woods donned the Green Jacket for the fifth time. The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas had to pay out a $10,000 bet on Tiger at 12-1.
“I thought he had a chance to be competitive,” SuperBook’s vice president of risk, Jeff Sherman was quoted as saying by ESPN.
“But I’m a little surprised by him winning, especially with the competition he faced. I said before the tournament that if you took the ‘Tiger Woods’ off, you’d have a golfer with the statistics of someone at 25-1 odds.”
BetStars’ sportsbook in New Jersey, meanwhile, reported a $360,000 loss on its Masters future market, the largest in its history.
Woods entered the final round tied for second with Tony Finau, two shots adrift of leader Francesco Molinari. However, the Italian, the defending Open champion, saw his hopes of a first triumph at Augusta extinguished by double-bogeys at the 12th and the 15th on Sunday.
Tiger, meanwhile, held his nerve to card a 2-under-par 70, finishing one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
Westgate Superbook now has Woods as an 8-1 favorite to retain the Green Jacket next year, followed by Johnson and Rory McIlroy at 12-1.
After he put an end to an 11-year wait for a major, don’t expect people to bet against Tiger again soon.