Dustin Johnson was the heavy pre-tournament favorite to win this week’s Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
But on Wednesday evening, just hours before the first round on Thursday, Johnson had a freak fall at his rental home. The world’s number one ranked golfer was wearing socks when he slipped on wooden stairs, fell, and injured his back.
Vegas sportsbooks took more bets on DJ than any other player in the field. On Thursday afternoon, after saying he was going to try to tee it up, Johnson explained his body simply wouldn’t allow him and he informed tournament officials he was withdrawing.
The news brought to light the importance of reading the fine print in Vegas when placing a sports wager. Several books said bets on Johnson wouldn’t be refunded, while others opted to return money.
Westgate’s SuperBook, South Point, Wynn, Golden Nugget, and Station Casinos said bets on Johnson would be refunded. But MGM, Boyd Gaming, Caesars, CG Tech, and William Hill sportsbooks told bettors to count their losses.
“At most sportsbooks, action is action. Doesn’t matter if Dustin Johnson showed up at the first tee or even hit a ball,” ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweeted.
Johnson had won his previous three tournaments, and was unquestionably the favorite to don the green jacket come Sunday. The reigning US Open champ was at 6-1 before he fell, quite literally, from the Masters.
Hoffman’s Cinderella Thursday
Few bettors in Las Vegas were eyeing up Charley Hoffman prior to Thursday’s opening round.
Ranked 52nd in the world, the SuperBook had him at 125-1 to win the Masters on Wednesday. After shooting a -7 par round of 65, bets at Westgate are now being offered at 13-2 on Hoffman.
His four-shot lead is the largest after one round in 62 years. “For lack of any better words, it was a dream,” the formerly longhaired Hoffman told reporters.
But 54 holes remain, and there are plenty of marquee names lurking. Fan-favorite Phil Mickelson, winner of three Masters, shot a solid -1 opening round. Justin Rose shot the same score, as did Sergio Garcia.
Rory McIlroy, who opened with the second-best odds behind Johnson at 7-1, shot even par 72. In what was a tough and windy day, especially in the morning rounds, Jordan Spieth, who also opened at 7-1 with McIlroy, struggled to a +3 round of 75 that included a quadruple bogey nine on the par-5 15th.
The weather will behave a little better on Friday, with highs in the mid 60s and wins around 10 MPH. Then the weekend appears to have an abundance of sunshine in store for the conclusion of golf’s first major of the year, with highs nearing 80 on Sunday.
Though Hoffman has the lead after day one, oddsmakers think McIlroy is the man to beat. The SuperBook’s updated line puts the Northern Irishman at 11-2, followed by Hoffman (13-2), Rose (9-1), and Mickelson, Garcia, Spieth, Lee Westwood, and Rickie Fowler all at 15-1.
Just remember, if any of those players withdrawal for some unforeseen reason, don’t bet on getting your money back. “Pays to read the fine print,” Golf Channel writer Will Gray tweeted.