Can't Wait For 'March Madness?' Then Try 'February Frenzy'



If you can't wait for the "March Madness" that is the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament then try out the "February Frenzy" that is the Match Play Golf Championship in Carlsbad, California, this week. In fact, thanks to The Greek Sportsbook, which offers an almost endless variety of bets on the five-day golf tournament, the single elimination, head-to-head competition is every bit as wager friendly as the "Big Dance."

To that end, The Greek Sportsbook not only offers a future book on the eventual winner but, just like next month's hoop tournament, has posted prices on each of the 32 opening round matches on Wednesday. And, where "March Madness" also features a future book on each regional, "February Frenzy" duplicates that with odds on which golfer will emerge from each of the championship's four brackets.

No, the Match Play Championship isn't one of golf's four majors but it is a major wagering vehicle for anyone interested in betting on golf.

Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods, the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world, opened as the +475 favorite (bet $100 to win $475) to win it all. Woods conquered 63 rivals and the La Costa Country Club resort in both 2003 and 2004 and was the runner-up in 2000. Known as a fierce head-to-head competitor, Woods' 12-1 record in playoff events augers well for this type of format.

In terms of future book prices, Phil Mickelson (+1215), Ernie Els (+1525), Vijay Singh (+1715) and Retief Goosen (+1825) should have the best chance of denying Woods a third title. Defending champion David Toms (+2250), 2000 winner Darren Clarke (+2485), Chris DiMarco (+2550), Jim Furyk (+2550), Adam Scott (+2550), and Luke Donald (+2550) also loom as prime contenders.

Of course, anything can happen, as demonstrated when Kevin Sutherland, +15000, was the upset winner in 2002.

Woods is a strong +215 favorite to win the Bobby Jones Bracket but either Toms (+655), the bracket's No. 2 seed, or Scott (+655), No. 3, could challenge.

Mickelson opened as a slight +325 favorite over Els (+385) to survive the Ben Hogan Bracket while Singh is a solid +415 favorite in the Gary Player Bracket.

The Sam Snead Bracket could be the most contentious with Donald (+495), Goosen (+585), Furyk (+605) and Clarke (+645) all more than capable of advancement.

Woods, who plays No. 64 seed Stephen Ames - he got in only because Thomas Bjorn withdrew Monday with a stiff neck - is the biggest head-to-head favorite, lining up as a -395 choice (bet $395 to win $100). Quite naturally, at +335, Ames is the biggest take back price on The Greek Sportsbook board.

Els (-225) could have a tough time with Ryder Cup veteran Bernhard Langer (+190) while the opening round matchup of Mickelson (-190) and Charles Howell III (+170) also bears watching.

Other familiar names favored to advance to the second round include Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal, Michael Campbell, Rory Sabbatini, Davis Love, Justin Leonard, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie. Two of the PGA Tour's most popular golfers, John Daly and Fred Funk, opened as first round underdogs.

As with the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, The Greek Sportsbook will update futures as well as provide fresh odds for each subsequent round of the Match Play Championship.

BOXING BRIEFS: "Sugar" Shane Mosley opened as a -175 favorite to defeat "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas, +155, in a junior middleweight showdown at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Saturday. The Greek Sportsbook opened the total on the fight at 11 1/2 rounds with those preferring the 'over' having to risk $180 to win $100. 'Under' bettors lay $100 to win $160.

Mosley (41-4, 35 KOs), a three-time world champion, has lost four fights to two fighters, Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright. On the other fist, Mosley has handled Oscar de la Hoya twice. To beat Vargas, Mosley must control the fight with his jab and superior hand speed and avoid getting into a slugfest with the bigger and stronger Vargas (27-2, 23 KOs).

Naturally, the opposite is true for Vargas, who must pressure Mosley, get inside and try to turn the scheduled 12-rounder into a brawl.

HBO is offering the Mosley-Vargas fight on a pay-per-view basis.

The Greek Sportsbook also has odds on another fight, the British Heavyweight Championship bout between Matt Skelton and Danny Williams, from London, Saturday. Skelton (18-0, 17 KOs) opened as a -220 favorite over Williams (34-4, 28 KOs) the +190 underdog. Williams, though probably less talented, is more experienced, having stopped a washed up Mike Tyson and gone eight hard rounds with Vitali Klitschko.