06/19/2005 11:00PM

Field scores, and so does house

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After sporting events, even when the longest shot comes in and the line at the cashier's window is short, it's pretty easy to find someone who says, "I knew they'd win."

That wasn't the case after Michael Campbell of New Zealand won the U.S. Open on Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Sure, some people were cashing tickets here in Las Vegas, but only because he was part of the "field" of all other golfers. At the Las Vegas Hilton, Campbell wasn't among the 49 golfers listed on the SuperBook's betting board. And why should he have been? He hadn't really done anything in the 10 years since he was the leader going into the final round of the 1995 British Open. Even the legal state betting agency in New Zealand had its native son at 150-1, and reportedly Campbell's father didn't see fit to put a kiwi on his boy.

The Hilton had the field at 7-1, and sports book supervisor Jeff Sherman said that worked out well for the book's bottom line.

"Michael Campbell's win was a very positive result for the house, as any time a golfer from the field wins a major, the book usually does well," he said. "We get our share of tickets on the field, but in smaller increments, as most bettors tend to purchase tickets with an associated golfer's name to root for."

Sherman said proposition wagering was a case of win some, lose some. The over/under for the winning score had opened at 275 1/2, and Sherman said bettors, perhaps emboldened by the fact that the USGA tries to make the U.S. Open course a very tough test, bet it up to 277 1/2. Campbell's winning score of an even-par 280 made a lot of bettors happy.

Sherman said, however, that a lot of bettors were hoping for a playoff, which was offered at +240 (win $2.40 for every $1 wagered) before the tournament. When Tiger Woods made his charge, that looked like a possibility until he bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes. Sherman said bettors also lost on the over/under for lowest score of any round, which was set at 65 1/2. Bettors took the under, but the lowest score was only 66.

On Monday morning, Sherman posted odds for the British Open, to be held July 14-17 at St. Andrews. Woods is the 7-2 favorite.

"I think he will see some support from the bettors, as he is now coming off a Masters win and a U.S. Open second place and going to a course where, when last held in 2000, Tiger was victorious," Sherman said.

Sherman probably would have made Woods even lower, but he said longshots tend to fare well in the British Open, such as Ben Curtis two years ago and Todd Hamilton last year, so bettors might be looking more for the longshots. As a result, Sherman said he will have to offer more enticing odds on the top contenders in order to get action. Ernie Els is the second choice at 8-1, followed by Vijay Singh at 10-1, Phil Mickelson at 12-1, and Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia at 15-1. Campbell is at 50-1. Curtis is the longest shot on the board, at 250-1. For those looking for the field to come in again, that's 5-1.

Spurs break through as road dog

The Spurs beat the Pistons, 96-95, in overtime Sunday night to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals heading into Tuesday night's Game 6 in San Antonio. As most people know, it was the first time the road team had won a game in the series, but it was also the first time the underdog had even covered the spread; the first four games were all blowouts.

Sunday's game, in which the Spurs were 4-point underdogs, was the fourth straight to go over the total, and the extra session wasn't even needed - the game was tied, 89-89, at the end of regulation, and the total ranged between 172 and 173 around Vegas.

For Tuesday's game, the Spurs opened as a 5 1/2-point favorite (though early betting moved it to 5 at the MGM Mirage properties and the Stardust) and the total was at 173 1/2, with the lines expected to be about the same if there is a seventh and decisive game Thursday night.

Sports book notes

Antonio Tarver won a unanimous decision over Glen Johnson in their light heavyweight bout Saturday night in Memphis, Tenn. Tarver was the 1-2 favorite and fought like it in avenging his loss to Johnson last December. No titles were on the line, since both fighters passed up mandatory defenses vs. other lesser fighters in order to stage this rematch. Bravo to both for not giving in to the sanctioning bodies and instead giving the fans an entertaining fight.

* Greg Biffle is finally starting to get the respect of oddsmakers and bettors. He won the Batman Begins 400 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway as the 8-1 co-favorite at Station Casinos.