Chuck wagon: Bettors back Barkleys golf game

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

Charles Barkley says he’s an improved golfer and recommends people bet on him at this week’s American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament.

And they are.

Caesars Sportsbook at William Hill is offering a yes/no prop bet on whether Barkley will finish in the top 70 at tournament, which is this week in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The odds on the yes opened at +1,600 but were bet down to +400 in the days leading up to Friday’s first round. As of Thursday, 99% of the money bet on the prop was on the yes at Caesars/William Hill, including a $1,900 bet on the yes at +1,400 that was placed June 27 and would pay a net $26,600.

“We actually have good-sized liability on that prop,” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S., said in a company release. “They took the big plus price [on the yes] that he will finish there. That’s been the most popular prop so far.”

Former NFL quarterback and current CBS broadcaster Tony Romo, a two-time winner at the event, is the favorite to win the tournament at +150. Retired professional tennis player Mardy Fish, last year’s champion, is next at +225, followed by former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder (+400) and former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam (+700).

Barkley is 7,500-1 to win the tournament — and people are betting on him. Only four golfers — Sorenstam, Romo, Mulder and former MLB pitcher John Smoltz — have attracted more bets than Barkley, according to Caesars/William Hill. The largest bet on Barkley to win was $50, as of Thursday.

Barkley birdied the 18th hole in the final round to secure 69th place at last year’s tournament, which had a 70-player field.

“I’m playing really, really well,” Barkley said at a news conference leading up to the tournament. “I’ve had a lot of improvement in the last couple of years. I actually started playing well up there — better, I shouldn’t say well.”

There are 89 participants in this year’s field. The tournament, which uses the Stableford Scoring System, begins Friday at Edgewood Tahoe South.

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