John Locher / AP
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | 2 a.m.
With snow still on the ground in his Wisconsin hometown, avid golfer James Adducci said he’s been a little bored this spring.
“There’s not a lot going on,” Adducci said. “We’re still waiting to play golf.”
His excitement level picked up this weekend.
Adducci, 39, had a hunch about Tiger Woods’ chances to win The Masters, traveling to Las Vegas to wager $85,000 on Woods to win the prestigious tournament at 14-to-1 odds on April 9.
Adducci on Monday cashed in his ticket at the William Hill sports book at SLS Las Vegas and was presented with a $1.275 million check. Woods won the tournament Sunday, his first major championship in more than a decade.
It was the largest payout ever for a William Hill golf wager.
“I felt like (Woods) was going to put something together that we’ve never seen before,” Adducci said. “His kids had never seen him win a major tournament. I started having a feeling about this about a month before (the bet was made).”
A stock trader by day, Adducci said the wager was the first he ever placed. He said he needed to “move some investments around” to free up money for the bet. He first tried a couple of other sports books, he said, but was turned away.
“When I said how much I was looking to bet (at the other sports books), it was kind of laughable. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do,” he said.
With his big win in tow, Adducci said he’s talked to William Hill officials about possibly placing a bet on Woods to win golf’s grand slam — wins at The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship — this year. Exceptionally rare, William Hill, as of Monday afternoon, was offering 125-to-1 odds for Woods to complete the grand slam.
“I was probably rooting against Tiger a little bit,” quipped William Hill CEO Joe Asher. “A day later, though, I’m really happy about it. The whole story of Tiger being on top of the world, then hitting rock bottom, and then climbing back to the top is an amazing story. Yes, we blew a million dollars on the bet, but that’s the business we’re in. We’ve lost big bets before and we’ll lose them in the future.”
Asher referred to Adducci as “the everyman.”
“Having met James, I couldn’t be happier,” Asher said. “Here’s a guy from Wisconsin who follows golf and wants to bet on Tiger Woods. It’s a fantastic story. It’ll probably get more people thinking about betting on golf and that’s probably a good thing for us.”
Having learned the game of golf from his father, Adducci said he had a feeling Woods — playing and in contention during a major tournament in front of his two children for the first time — would perform well. Adducci nervously watched the final round from home.
“It was special for me just seeing (Woods) celebrate that victory with his kids,” Adducci said. “He’s a real guy with super-human golf abilities. In that moment, he had something with his kids that he’s never had before. That’s what I was going for in thinking that he was going to win.”
When Adducci ran the idea of the bet by his father, the elder Adducci wasn’t thrilled with the prospect.
“He said don’t do it,” Adducci said. “He’s not a bettor. He’s a conservative engineer kind of guy. He wouldn’t do church bingo. I’m just grateful to Tiger Woods. I wish I could shake his hand.”
Adducci said watching the tournament play out was an emotional roller coaster.
“I watched (the tournament) with my dad,” Adducci said. “I probably lost some years of life during that four days. It was up and down, but it went exactly like I thought it would.”
A Mississippi River city of about 50,000 on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, La Crosse is about 160 miles southeast of Minneapolis.