- Mike Ehrmann/Getty
- Tiger Woods made his return to competitive golf on Thursday, shooting a three-under 69 at the Hero World Challenge.
- By the end of the round, his odds of winning the Masters had surged from 66-1 to 33-1.
Tiger Woods is off to a solid start in his latest return to competitive golf, and bettors across the US were quick to take notice.
The 14-time major champion spent almost all of this year recovering from back surgery, but he became the talk of the sports world when he circled his foundation’s tournament, the Hero World Challenge, as the stage for his comeback. Nearly every shot in Woods’ opening round was admired, scrutinized, and tweeted about, and by the time it was over, he had a three-under 69, just three strokes off the lead.
It would be an overreaction to make any definitive judgments after just one round, but when it comes to Woods, overreactions are par for the course. While he opened Thursday as a 66-1 choice to win the Masters, his odds improved to 33-1 after the round, a staggering rise for just 18 holes of golf. Those odds come from Bovada and Vegas Insider.
It’s a perfect encapsulation of the almost hysterical atmosphere that has been present during every one of Woods’ comebacks. Any golf fan knows that life on the PGA Tour can be a grind, especially for a 41-year-old who has undergone four back surgeries in half a decade. There’s no reason interpret one round in November as a sign of an impending return to Butler Cabin, yet fans want to believe it so badly that they ended up dramatically shifting his odds.
It’s hard to say whether Woods’ chances of winning the Masters are really as good as some of the others listed at 33-1, like Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson – he still needs more reps to fully shake off the competitive rust. But with four green jackets and nine other top-10 finishes in 20 appearances at Augusta National, there’s no doubting his comfort with the course.
None of this is to say that there weren’t numerous positive signs from Woods’ round at the World Challenge. He sank multiple clutch putts and swung his driver with power and ease, circling five birdies on the day. His short game, while not perfect, looked much better than it has at other times in the past few years. He also seemed relaxed, backing up Brad Faxon’s positive assessment from last week.
The Hero World Challenge is set to conclude this Sunday. Woods is guaranteed to make a big jump in the world ranking, as even the worst finisher in the 18-man field will receive ranking points.