The Return of Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods Wins Tour ChampionshipIt was a Sunday that reminded us why we always care about Tiger Woods - by Alastair Bull
Did anyone other than diehard golf fans take any notice of Justin Rose winning the FedEx Cup on Sunday, or of Dustin Johnson regaining the number one ranking in the world from Rose, after the Tour Championship?
The answer, quite clearly, was no. Most were far more interested in the most improved golfer in the top 100.
It’s been so long since Tiger Woods won a golf tournament that it even dwarfs the Cleveland Browns’ 635-day streak between wins that ended Sept. 20. His Tour Championship victory Sept. 23 was his first since Aug. 4, 2013, when he won his eighth Bridgestone Invitational. The victory took him to number 13 in the world – a big leap from 656 last year.
"The Tour Championship victory gave Tiger Woods the triumph that his year deserved."Though Woods’ very public marital problems caused his career to nosedive in 2009, he turned his career around quickly enough and was winning again in late 2011, becoming the world number one again in 2013. But he was plagued by injury and has required four back surgeries since 2014.
From late last year, however, Woods has gotten his game back. The steady improvement was enough to see him contend strongly in the Open Championship and the US PGA Championship. It felt like it was only a matter time before he would be marching towards the 18th in vintage Tiger style. And then it happened. The Tour Championship victory gave Tiger Woods the triumph that his year deserved.
As he has begun contending again, Woods has been drawing the biggest galleries, and the most media attention, of anyone on the golf course. Despite a slew of outstanding young golfers, who don’t have the same fear of Woods that his contemporaries did when he was at his peak, Woods is clearly still the biggest draw in the sport.
With Tiger Woods back in the mix, interest in golf has risen again, and his return has clearly had sports broadcasters and golf organizers salivating. But it’s also great news for the betting industry.
Woods was always at astoundingly short odds to win tournaments when he was at his peak. Where betting was allowed, the odds on Woods always looked shorter than they should be in a sport where it’s very difficult to win every week, but he attracted the attention of casual bettors far more than any other golfers before or since. And with his odds being so short, it encouraged players who fancied others in the tournaments, knowing they would get better odds than they may have done otherwise.
Woods’ return is definitely impacting the odds markets again. After the Tour Championship, Woods is now the favorite with many oddsmakers to win the Masters in April, at odds about +1000. And by the time of the Masters, there should be a lot more US states offering betting.
In short, Woods’ return to form should be great for everyone connected with golf – including oddsmakers and bettors.
Woods’ next outing will be at the Ryder Cup this week. It’s an event he hasn’t had great success in considering his ability – 13 wins, 17 losses, and three ties, with singles events the only ones where he has a winning record. But as a 42-year-old who is thankful to be among the best again after his problems, don’t be surprised if he has a great time in Paris.
Welcome back, Tiger Woods. We missed this feeling.