Tiger is back! Or not. He played well at (three-quarters of) the Hero World Challenge, recording a top-10 finish against some of the best golfers in the world, and now books have him as a 15/1 shot to win the Masters, because if sportsbooks know how to do anything, it’s exploit public hysteria for profit. While his return to golf was a great start for Tiger and his Woodsmen, let’s remember that Woods has had four back surgeries in the last four years, already attempted several comebacks and, at 41, is getting just plain old (by sporting standards).
We’re not all doom-and-gloom on Tiger’s future, but we’ve set some (hopefully) more reasonable odds for what 2018 will hold for Eldrick.
I think it’s very likely that Tiger gets at least one win in 2018, as he and his team are being good about picking a limited schedule of courses and events where Tiger can win. He’s not playing the money-list game, where golfers stack their schedule with event after event in order to maximize prize money, but rather trying to score good results at his favorite courses and be in peak form for the Majors.
On the eyeball test, Tiger looked competitive at the Hero, where the field is mostly top players. If he keeps in good health and keeps playing like he played at the Hero, he’ll be in the top ten with frequency. If.
If you’ve convinced yourself that Tiger is “back” and just divide the number of contests by the number of wins, you get ludicrous numbers (Masters: 5/1, for example). You have to entertain, however, the idea that Tiger might not be “back,” or that the competition has gotten severely more difficult, or maybe he gets into a helicopter accident. You therefore have to multiply his career odds by somewhere between six and ten to produce something both palatable and realistic.
US Open: 35/1
The Open Championship: 33/1
PGA Championship: 25/1
This is a long shot, because of how choosy Tiger will be with his schedule and how the FedEx Cup points system works. It also requires consistently good performances, which might elude Woods. The likeliest “good” scenario for Tiger is that he’s up-and-down, with shades of his former game at times, some great tournaments, but mostly a little disappointing. That isn’t the recipe for success in a playoff format.
I’m not trying to throw shade here, but most of the guys in the top 50 at the end of the year have played 50-ish events and there’s no way Tiger competes in that many. Unless he’s a hyper-competitive doofus with no concern for his own well-being and an inability to recognize his limitations. Which we’ll mark down as a “maybe.”
Top-ten finish: 3/2
Misses cut: 6/1
Word is that his next tournament back will be the Farmers Insurance Open, which is at Tiger’s favorite course, Torrey Pines. Tiger has a long-standing love affair with Torrey Pines, the canvas on which he painted his masterpieces, and if he can conjure even a shadow of that, he’ll be a terror.
You’ll get some of these in the latter days of any competitive golfer or athlete: feeling a little stiff after a major and had a rough first-round? Skip the rest of the next tournament and rest. Even in the best possible scenario for Tiger, you still get one or two of these.
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