Tiger Woods’ epic Masters victory Sunday was celebrated by millions.
President Donald Trump, an avid golfer who has played with Woods, tweeted his congratulations, as did former President Barack Obama.
“Congratulations, Tiger!” Obama wrote. “To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination.”
One gambler in particular was extremely happy.
James Adducci, 39, of Wisconsin, placed an $85,000 bet at 14/1 odds on Woods to earn his fifth green jacket at William Hill SLS Casino in Nevada last week. He won $1.19 million. According to William Hill U.S., it was the largest individual payout on a golf wager in the company’s history.
The Masters wasn’t a total loss for William Hill U.S., however. The company got $80 of it back from me.
Since I was in Atlantic City last Wednesday, I ventured into William Hill’s Sportsbook at Ocean Casino Resort and decided to put some money on the tournament.
I was extra excited this year because this marked the first time I could legally bet on the Masters since New Jersey adopted legalized sports betting last June.
I glanced at the bet sheet and odds and placed $20 each on Brooks Koepka at 24/1, Rory McIlroy at 8/1, Phil Mickelson at 40/1, and Francisco Molinari at 18/1.
Perhaps I should have bet on Woods because he’s the only one I have met. Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch. It’s like saying I met Oprah Winfrey a few weeks ago when she and boyfriend Stedman Graham, a Middle Township High School graduate who was the Panthers’ first 1,000-point scorer, ate breakfast a few feet away from my wife and me at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Cape May.
In 1997, a day after Tiger became the youngest Masters champion in history, he made an appearance at the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort to open its Official All-Star Cafe that was located just off the Boardwalk. I and a few other journalists stood along the Boardwalk with thousands of cheering fans as he strolled past.
After Thursday’s opening round, I was in good shape. Koepka shot a 66 and shared the lead with Bryson DeChambeau. Mickelson was just one shot back. A win by Phil would pay me $820. That would be a nice down payment on a new Trek racing bike for the upcoming Escape the Cape Triathlon.
I was still optimistic after Friday. Koepka and Molinari were among five players tied for the lead while Mickelson was two shots back. Koepka would pay $500 and Molinari $380. Not a huge windfall, but good enough.
Koepka and Molinari, who caddied for his brother Edoardo in the 2006 Masters, were still in the mix with six holes to go in a frenzied race to the finish, but my Palm Sunday prayers went unanswered in Amen Corner on Sunday.
I didn’t see the finish live. Every year for at least the last 10 years, I’ve entered a “Masters” tournament at Cape May National Golf Club in which you pick the name of a player out of a hat and combine their score Sunday with your own 18-hole score.
While Tiger was mounting his epic comeback at Augusta National, I was teaming with Rickie Fowler to try to win the Masters at Cape May National.
Rickie held up his end by shooting a 3-under 69. His partner was almost 40 strokes worse. My chances disappeared on the par-4 11th hole, when I rinsed three Titleists, nearly decapitating a swan in the process, and three-putted en route to a 10.
Lower Township’s Bob Sheppard, who was paired with me, helped me put things in perspective.
For years, the 73-year-old was known around the course as Every Day Bob. He would play 325 to 330 days a year, even in bone-chilling cold and sweltering heat. Some medical issues, however, have recently restricted him to a couple rounds a month.
“Look at it this way,” he said after watching me four-putt the par-3 17th. “As long as I’m on this side of the grass and that grass is on a golf course, I’m having fun.”
That’s the perfect outlook for golf.
As the poem, “Invictus” says, as long as I’m “the master of my fate” and “the captain of my soul,” it’s all good.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.