Tiger Woods at 150/1. Haven’t seen that before. Bookmakers must have bets flooding in after they put these odds out on Tiger to win the Genesis Invitational at Riviera. Admittedly, he hasn’t played an official tournament since The Open at St Andrews, and the last time he played an event was the Father-Son in Orlando before Christmas where he rode in a motorized cart. But 150/1?
Tiger speaks to the press this week about playing to win at the Genesis Invitational played at Riviera Country Club in California. Image credit Getty Images
Riviera Country Club is arguably one of the best courses the PGA Tour visits and the scene of Tigers first PGA Tour event back in 1992 as a 16-year-old. The sight of a skinny high schooler ripping one off the elevated first tee was just a glimpse into what was to come. Announcing he’s playing Riviera opens up some questions as to why. Is he helping the Tour with their initial ‘elevated’ events? (Last week’s WM Phoenix Open was the first on the new schedule). Is he prepping for The Masters? Or does he simply just miss playing and did the fact he’s the tournament host influence the decision? Something tells me it’s the second of the three. He's a competitor to the core and winning more majors will still be front of mind. It does however require competitive reps.
He wouldn’t enter if winning wasn’t a possibility or if his game wasn’t in good shape. Given all his injuries… the back, the leg/ankle… one of the biggest issues will be how he copes with walking the course four days (assuming he makes the cut). We all saw the pain he was in while playing the majors last year. And with Augusta National being a beast of a walking course (trust me, it’s so much more undulating than what you see on TV) in golf, there’s no time like the present to start figuring out how the body will cope.
No doubt he’s been working as hard as ever on and off the course so look for a ball striking clinic this week with plenty of speed off the tee and supreme control into greens with the irons. Short game-wise, well, that’s up for debate because nothing replaces the reps of tournament golf, but it should improve as the event goes on. Whether he misses the cut, makes it and finishes mid field, or has a chance come Sunday, there’s a story to tell whatever the scenario. Tiger’s the ultimate needle-mover and I’m sure every golf fan (including mine) will be glued to the telecast watching play unfold. In any case, the Cat is back and that’s always a great thing for the game of golf.
So, the question remains, are you going to bet against Tiger?
- Nick O'Hern
PGA Tour Pro and D3 Golf Board Advisor