By James Hammer in Vegas
Tiger Woods miraculously won The Masters in 2019 — his only major victory since the 2008 U.S. Open and since his career took a downward spiral due to scandal and injuries.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Masters was delayed from April to this week of November — 19 months since Woods’ victory.
Woods has struggled with his health and his game since, particularly since the PGA Tour resumed. He has not finished better than 37th in any Tour event since July and has missed multiple cuts.
“I haven’t put all the pieces together at the same time, whether it’s I’ve driven well or hit my irons poorly,” Tiger Woods said this week about the state of his game entering the Masters.
“Or I’ve put the ball striking together, and I haven’t putted well. And then I’ve had it where I’ve putted well and I’ve hit it poorly. I haven’t played a lot, obviously … I really haven’t put all the pieces together, and hopefully that will be this week.”
Yet, name recognition is always a factor at the sportsbook, and emotional bettors always gravitate towards Tiger. That trend is manifesting again the day before he tees off at Augusta. Despite 35-1 odds, Woods has garnered plenty of action, according to ESPN. BetMGM reported receiving a $5,000 wager on Woods at 40-1 to win a sixth Green Jacket, which would net $200,000.
Fortunately for bettors, Woods claims to be in better place physically than he was before last year’s event.
“My body is feeling better than I did last year, so it was a little bit easier to hit those shots,” Woods ssaid. “Hopefully this year, I’ll be as consistent as I was last year. Last year, I was able to hit a lot of really good iron shots and I putted great. I had a great feel of the greens.
Of course, this time around, Woods won’t be able to benefit from the roaring crowds that only he can generate.
As it currently stands, defending U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is the Masters favorite at 8-1, per Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. Dustin Johnson is next (17-2), followed by Jon Rahm (10-1), Justin Thomas (12-1), and Rory McIlroy (12-1).
Phil Mickelson (200-1) has apparently seen some long-shot action, too.
Tiger Woods will begin his championship defense from the 10th tee at 7:55 a.m. ET on Thursday. He’ll be playing alongside Shane Lowry and amateur Andy Ogletree.