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New LIV Golf league no match for PGA Tour at sportsbooks

When it comes to golf betting, the PGA Tour is the NFL and the LIV Golf Invitational Series is the USFL.

At least that’s how Westgate SuperBook golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman described the difference in wagering interest on the professional golf tours.

“Basically, the PGA Tour is like the NFL. No matter what we put up — props, top five, top 20, matchups — there’s a very good handle on that,” he said. “Any other tour we do is like the USFL. It pales in comparison.”

The Westgate also books the LPGA Tour, Champions Tour, DP World Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour.

The Saudi-backed LIV Golf league will host its inaugural event Thursday to Saturday at the Centurion Club in London.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Westgate and Station Casinos were the only Las Vegas sportsbooks with odds on the 54-hole, no-cut tournament.

Dustin Johnson is the 5-1 favorite at the Westgate, followed by Talor Gooch at 9-1, Louis Oosthuizen and Las Vegas resident Kevin Na at 10-1 and Sergio Garcia at 12-1. Phil Mickelson, playing in his first event in four months, is in a pack of seven golfers at 30-1.

“Getting Dustin Johnson and other golfers who’ve won majors, I think (LIV Golf) can became the second-most bet tour we offer,” Sherman said. “But there will still be a large discrepancy between that and the PGA Tour.”

LIV Golf, with two-time major champion Greg Norman as its CEO, will go head-to-head with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open this week. Reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is the +850 favorite to win the Canadian Open, followed by reigning PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy at 9-1 and Cameron Smith at 12-1.

“We’ll write 10 times more on the Canadian tournament than we will on LIV,” Sherman said.

The LIV Golf series will consist of eight events that will take place between June and October, including five in the United States. The first seven tournaments will consist of 54 holes, the fields are limited to 48 players and the purses are a staggering $25 million.

While each player will compete for $20 million in individual prize money — including $4 million for first place and $120,000 for last place — players also will comprise 12 four-man teams that will compete for $5 million in prize money at each event ($3 million for first, $1.5 million for second and $500,000 for third).

The team championship will take place during the eighth and final event in Miami. The competition will feature a four-round match-play knockout bracket and a $50 million purse.

The Westgate has posted odds on individual matchups on the LIV Golf Invitational in London, including Oosthuizen (-115) over Garcia, Gooch (-120) over Na and Ian Poulter (-135) over Lee Westwood. But the book didn’t post odds on the team competition.

“We’re only going to book the individual portion of it, not the team portion of it,” Sherman said. “In its simplest form as a three-day stroke-play tournament.”

Sherman said betting on the league might be light because it doesn’t have a lucrative TV contract and is only available to watch at LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.

“You can’t just turn on a mainstream channel and watch it,” he said. “People will bet on anything they can watch, and if they have trouble finding where to watch it, that will be a deterrent for the betting handle.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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