There it is. Consider the gauntlet thrown. Tiger Woods is going to end one of the most famous droughts in sports this week. Back to the winner’s circle in a real, live PGA Tour event. Is this the biggest jinx in the history of the blog? Will Tiger go on to shoot 75 this afternoon? NO. That’s how confident I am. Tiger is about to make news for something other than his views on the belly putter. By the way, is this one of the reasons golf is so unpopular? Can you imagine being a casual sports fan and hearing about golfers argue to the death over putter length? Good god, how boring that must seem–and how boring it actually is–let the long putter live. Speaking of boring, I’m a huge detractor of the AT&T Pro-Am. Saturday is the worst day of golf television of the year. But, I’ve got be strong this year. See Tiger to the end. Why is he going to win? Glad you asked…
1. The Odds. Tiger is 4/1. He’s by far the favorite. This is a return to normalcy, to borrow a slick phrase from our 29th President. Back in the day, Tiger would be favored at every tournament. 1/1, 3/2 if you were lucky. Granted, we’re not quite back to that point, but if this was last year he’d be a co-favorite with Phil at 12-15/1. The oddsmakers know what’s up. They survived the longer odds on Tiger, but now they’re afraid of getting burnt. This might be the best price you can get on Woods for the rest of the year.
2. The Field. This isn’t the most glamorous or star-studded field. A lot of the European players are in Dubai and really the truly elite fields will only gather for about 10-12 events this entire year. This is not one of those events. You never know when a guy is going to come out of a throng and shoot an obscene number, but we’ve seen in recent weeks that the unproven guys aren’t the best finishers. Not many finishers in this field at all.
3. The Course(s). This tournament produces repeat champions. Mark O’Meara won it all the time. Tiger has multiple wins. So does Phil. Johnny Miller drug himself out of the recycling bin for an improbable win here in the late 90s. Dustin Johnson recently went back-t0-back. I don’t know what this says about the courses used for this event, but they don’t stray from the script here. Dustin Johnson is still recovering from an injury, Phil has been wild all year to this point–that leaves Tiger playing the best out of the former winners.
4. Tony Romo. Romo is Tiger’s amateur partner this week. Word is they have him playing to a (+3) handicap. From the baby amateur tees, I’m not surprised. As we’ve covered here, Romo might be a better golfer than he is a QB. Tony might have picked the wrong sport. I don’t think he’s quite ready for prime-time, but playing short courses, it wouldn’t be a surprise for Romo to make, five, six birdies in a round. Tiger, who has to be one of the most competitive people of all-time, will not want to be shown up. A “Romo Beats Tiger,” story would be very embarrassing.
5. Tiger’s New Attitude. By all accounts, Tiger gave one of the most friendly press conferences of his life this week. He approached, but did not quite reach, charming. A lot was made about Tiger behaving better on the course when his scandal blew up on him. He said he was going to conduct himself better, etc. Well, Tiger isn’t going to ever stop cursing on the course, or doing the driver slam. Those behaviors are ingrained. He could be a little more approachable, though, a little more interactive. That wasn’t going to happen when he was struggling to make cuts. Now that he’s got a little bit of game back he can put on a happy face and win back the crowd. They’ll be behind him this week.
So, there you go. After that, the headline doesn’t seem all that ridiculous, does it?