Las Vegas oddsmakers still believe in Tiger Woods. The former golfing great hasn’t played a competitive round in 15 months, but makes his return to the course today at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas.
Though there are only 18 players in the Hero World Challenge, an offseason tournament hosted by Woods that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, the 14-time major winner is listed at 40-1 to win.
The Westgate SuperBook has Dustin Johnson the favorite at 9-2, followed by Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama at 13-2.
Woods is the biggest underdog for the $1 million prize. Jimmy Walker, Zach Jonson, and JB Holmes have the second-worst odds at 30-1. Vegas oddsmakers are also offering in-play lines on Woods, including whether his first drive will land in the fairway.
Woods has undergone multiple knee and back surgeries in recent years, and following the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015, decided to properly rehab his body and remove himself from the game. Now, he claims, he’s back.
“People around me who know me, my physicians, my friends, family, they know how hard it’s been to get to this point. It’s taken a lot of work, but I’m here,” Woods said this week.
Year of the Tiger
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2017 is the year of the rooster, but Woods is hoping it’s the Tiger. Oddsmakers in Vegas aren’t betting against him.
While this weekend’s line doesn’t show much confidence in Woods returning to old form, the books believe he will at some point get close over the next 12 months.
Second to only Jack Nicklaus in terms of total majors, Westgate has Woods at 12-1 to win at least one major in 2017. Those odds are pretty strong in Woods’ favor considering his last major came in 2008 at the US Open, and he’ll celebrate his 41st birthday later this month.
Woods is currently ranked 898th in the world, but is guaranteed to move up roughly 150 spots for playing in the Hero World Challenge.
He actually wouldn’t have been eligible for the event since it’s reserved for the defending champion, 2016 major winners, and those ranked inside the top 50, but he was given an exemption since he’s the tournament host.
Woods’ fall from grace is one of the most startling stories in sports history. He singlehandedly revolutionized the game of golf, and today’s stars largely have Woods to thank for their own fortunes.
But in 2009 his life came crashing down after news of his infidelity broke. Woods hopes to begin the final chapters of his competitive career in April at the Masters, the place where he won his first major at the age of 21.
Most golf observers might think that’s a long shot, but Bovada has Woods at +3300 to win in Augusta, Georgia. Only 11 players have better odds to don the green jacket next spring.
At +3300, Bovada thinks Woods has a better shot than defending Masters winner Danny Willett, as well as the likes of Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, and 2011 champ Charl Schwartzel.