06/18/2006 11:00PM

Books feel brunt of Lefty's collapse


The 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., will most likely be remembered as the one that Phil Mickelson gave away.

Lefty led by two strokes with four holes to play and needed a par on the final hole to win his third straight major or a bogey to force a playoff. Yet, as the golf world watched, Mickelson hit a wayward tee shot, hit a tree with his second shot, then hit into a sandtrap, and then blasted over the green on his way to a double bogey.

Geoff Ogilvy, a native of Australia whose previous biggest accomplishment in this country was a victory was in the WGC Match Play Championship in February, was the one lifting the trophy.

Bettors who foresaw Ogilvy's victory were rewarded at 60-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton and as high as 75-1 at offshore books. Jeff Sherman, Hilton sports book supervisor and golf oddsmakers, said there were enough bettors who took the 60-1 odds to stick the Hilton with a loss, especially when combined with the adjusted odds that Sherman put up heading into Sunday's final round.

"We had Ogilvy at 5-1 and had to drop him to 4-1 after taking some bets on him," Sherman said. "Mickelson and [Kenneth] Ferrie were tied for the lead and Ogilvy was one shot back, with well-known players like Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh with a chance to win, so I guess Ogilvy was one of the few who was right around the lead at a price. People might have been cheering for Phil, but they weren't going to lay odds on him."

Mickelson was the heavy favorite at -150 (risk $1.50 for every $1 you wanted to win) heading into the final round, and there was so little action on him that Sherman said he lowered the price to -125.

Though Sherman conceded the Hilton lost on the odds to win the tournament, he said it did very well in head-to-head matchups and proposition wagering.

"The more we read into the tournament on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the more we saw how everyone was expecting the course to play very hard," he said. "We made the odds higher than they would normally be, and bettors took a lot of unders."

The winning score prop was set at 280, or even par for the four-day tournament. It opened at -110 each way, and bettors bet the under to -130. Ogilvy's winning score was 285.

Sherman said he was going to set the lowest round prop at 66, but after seeing all the reports from back East, he made it 66 1/2, and the bettors again took the under. The lowest score all weekend was 68, by David Duval and Arron Oberholser on Friday, and only 12 scores were under par, of which Ogilvy had none.

But it was Ogilvy's consistency that paid off, for him and his backers.

* The Hilton posted odds for the British Open, to be held July 20-23 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Tiger Woods, who missed his first cut in a major as a pro this past weekend, is a lukewarm favorite at 5-1, with Mickelson at 10-1, Singh and Ernie Els at 12-1, Retief Goosen at 15-1, Luke Donald at 20-1, and Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, and Jim Furyk at 25-1. Ogilvy is in a group at 30-1.

Sports book notes

The 32 teams in the World Cup completed their second set of games Monday with sports books reporting increasing handle as the month-long tournament goes on.

Oddmakers continue to have a good grasp on handicapping the teams. Favorites went 11-2-3 straight up in the first set of games and 11-1-4 in the second set of games. After going 8-8 against the spread in the opening week, favorites fared better their second time out, going 11-5 against the number to improve to 19-13 overall (59 percent).

Scoring has dropped off with more on the line. In the first 16 games, there were 39 goals scored, an average of 2.44 goals per game, just under the 2.5 goals posted for the over/under in each game. The second set of games saw 36 goals scored, an average of 2.25 goals per game. After the first 22 games produced a record of 12 overs to 10 unders, there were eight straight unders from last Friday through Monday's Switzerland-Togo game. Even with Ukraine defeating Saudi Arabia, 4-0, and Spain rallying to beat Tunisia, 3-1, the unders were 18-14 (56 percent) through Monday.

* On Saturday night, Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright fought to a draw in a middleweight title bout. Taylor had opened as a slight favorite at -120 and was backed to -160 by fight time. It was a back-and-forth fight, with Wright thinking he had won enough rounds, so much so that he barely fought in the 12th round and was blatantly celebrating afterward. One judge scored the bout 115-113 for Wright, one scored it 115-113 for Taylor, and one scored it 114-114. The draw ranged from 12-1 to 15-1 around Las Vegas.

The fight easily went the full 12 rounds to cash on the over at around -350.

This is the kind of boxing match to look to bet the draw - one that's evenly matched and likely to go the distance.

* Kasey Kahne won the rain-shortened 3M Performance 400 Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway as the fourth choice at 7-1. A day earlier, David Gilliland won the Busch Series race, ending a streak of 15 straight races on the junior circuit this year that had been won by moonlighting Nextel Cup drivers. Part of the reason might have been that this race was held in Sparta, Ky., and usually the Nextel and Busch races are held at the same track.