A dig into Adam Scott’s closet uncovers no dirt, skeletons or porn stars. The new man to beat in golf is one of the good guys, and he’s a favorite around here because he’s a UNLV guy.
Scott is the anti-Tiger Woods, the evil empire of the majors. One smiles a lot, and the other shouts profanities and throws death stares at fans who snap photos during his backswing.
Tied for second on the leaderboard, Scott is the 11-2 favorite atop the adjusted odds board after Thursday’s first round of the Masters. It obviously does not mean he’s going to win it again, but it’s not premature to proclaim Scott as the man to beat going into the weekend.
“Frequently in the past couple of years, Scott has been power rated as the No. 1 guy out there,” said Jeff Sherman, golf oddsmaker at the LVH sports book. “I would be surprised if he’s not in the mix on Sunday.”
Soon after the sun set on a postcard-perfect day at Augusta, Sherman posted adjusted odds to win the year’s first major. Scott is tailed on the list by Bubba Watson (7-1), Rory McIlroy (8-1), Louis Oosthuizen (12-1) and several other good guys and long shots.
Scott, Watson and Oosthuizen each fired a 3-under-par 69, one stroke behind leader Bill Haas, who closed at 80-1 odds and is now 15-1. The bad news for Haas? A player holding the outright first-round lead has not won the Masters since 1984.
“I don’t think Haas is going to win it,” said Brady Kannon, a handicapper for Pregame.com. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he shot 74 or 76 (today).”
Kannon (lvteetimes.com) knows golf and has sharp NFL handicapping skills as a former winner of the LVH SuperContest, so he follows trends. This one could be bad news for Scott: No Masters champion has repeated since Woods in 2002.
Scott’s 69 was the same score he shot in last year’s first round, when he won his first major and slipped on the green jacket. He had one hiccup Thursday, a tee shot at the par-3 12th hole that hit the water for a double bogey. He smiled anyway, and rebounded with a birdie on the 14th.
“Adam was awesome, and he was probably the best player in the field,” Kannon said. “I just think the odds are against him to repeat.”
Watson was just as sharp, with no bogeys showing up on his scorecard. Watson, the Masters winner in 2012 when he topped Oosthuizen in a playoff, repeatedly blasted long drives to set up short approach shots.
“If you hold a gun to my head right now, it’s Oosthuizen and Bubba again,” said Brian Blessing, a radio host and handicapper for DonBest.com.
I know at least three people — Blessing, Kannon and this writer — who bet Oosthuizen at 60-1 before the tournament.
“Oosthuizen is really a mystery,” Kannon said. “He’s got a good game for the golf course. He’s got the sweetest swing. But he has missed the cut in four of five years.”
There was no gun to Kannon’s head when he said, “Look out for Rickie Fowler.” He said it before Fowler fired a 71, and Fowler still is a decent play at adjusted odds of 30-1.
“Rickie has had a good year, and everybody knows he’s got a lot of talent,” Kannon said. “The biggest change is he switched his swing coach. He’s basically got the Masters genius in his camp. All he does is churn out Masters winners.”
Fowler’s swing coach is Butch Harmon, who runs a golf school in Las Vegas and also has worked with Woods, Scott and Phil Mickelson.
It was not Mickelson’s day. Tournaments are not won in the first round, but they can be lost, and Mickelson hit the water on the 15th en route to a 76. That was four strokes better than Jason Dufner, who had a 9 on a scorecard that totaled 80. Mickelson’s odds rose from 12-1 to 50-1, and Dufner’s rocketed from 30-1 to 1,000-1.
“Dufner has got a lot of support in Vegas in the past couple years in majors,” Sherman said, adding that Jason Day and Matt Kuchar were the most popular players in the ticket count at the LVH. (Kuchar shot 73 and Day 75.)
It’s still a wide-open tournament, with 26 players shooting par or better, a group including McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker. I have a few live tickets (Fowler, Oosthuizen and Watson) and two dead ones (Dufner and Angel Cabrera), and that’s par for the course in golf betting.
“The only thing I don’t like about this is the TV coverage doesn’t start until noon, and you miss so many hours of it,” said Sherman, who also will post adjusted odds and matchups after the second and third rounds.
There’s still a shot to bet on Scott, a surfer from Australia who played for the Rebels 15 years ago.
The only dirt I could dig up on Scott — he resides in Switzerland for tax purposes and is a close friend of Leonardo DiCaprio — is nothing that makes him a bad guy.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.