Pro Golf Is Back and Gamblers Are Betting on No-Touch High Fives

(Bloomberg) -- After three months of shutdown, the PGA Tour returned to action Thursday -- and was an event unlike any other in golf’s history.

Sure, the game itself looked normal, but the surrounding environment and how players and caddies acted were foreign. Gone was the gallery of packed fans ready to ooh and aah at every fairway splitting drive and slice into the woods. In came 487 coronavirus tests for all players, caddies and essential personnel.

“It was weird,” said Justin Thomas, after his 6-under-par round of 64. “You make a good putt and you’re kinda clapping for one another.”

For a sign of the new normal, consider this: oddsmakers are putting out lines for how the winner of the tournament will celebrate given social distancing protocols.

Pro Golf Is Back and Gamblers Are Betting on No-Touch High Fives

It’s a 35-to-1 shot that a player will publicly withdraw from the tournament due to a positive coronavirus test, according to Sports Betting Dime, a gambling news service. Or what about: How will the winner celebrate? A virtual high five or fist bump is going at 2-to-1, a regular old handshake at 3-to-1, a hug at 4-to-1 and the oh-so-awkward elbow shake is priced at 12-to-1.

And if all you want to do is bet on the winner of tournament, easy enough, Rory McIlroy was the pre-tournament favorite at 10-to-1 odds.

With pent up demand for sports gambling, or at least sports that aren’t Ukrainian table tennis, the money could be rolling in for a normally forgettable event on the PGA calendar.

“We can report Masters-like traffic for golf odds and content on our website,” said Matt McEwan, executive editor for SportsBettingDime.com. “This is consistent with several sportsbook operators we spoke with that also indicated to us a dramatic uptick in action from Bay Hill, the last PGA Tour event this year.”

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