Northwestern Mutual World Challenge: Rory can go back-to-back

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All three of the main golf tournaments this week feature a short price favourite, but none as are cramped in the betting as Tiger Woods at 5/2, who trades as market principle for the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, a hugely popular off season event staged at Sherwood Country Club in California and hosted by the world number one.

The tournament is for the benefit of the Tiger Woods foundation with Woods donating any cash he wins to the cause.

And given he has claimed the title five times, it is easy to see why the odds makers have Woods as the favourite.

The 18 man field is packed with quality however, and Woods might not have it all his own way this year.

Don’t get me wrong there are few chinks in Woods’ armour this week, his course form is there for all to see, but he hasn’t won a title since claiming the Bridgestone Invitational back in August, with only two each-way efforts since.

Time and time again we’ve seen Tiger come good on courses he is familiar with though, so he obviously cannot be ruled out.

The market has thrown up better value elsewhere however, with Rory McIlroy the best bet at 6/1.

The Ulsterman won a first tournament of 2013 last week – as predicted in this column – when he denied Adam Scott glory in the Australian Open.

The win, after progressively better performances in the Gulf and the Far East, was fully deserved and crucially, his putter got hot just at the right moment – his performance with the flat stick matching his play from tee to green.

Remember, Scott was looking to complete the Australian Triple Crown and McIlroy couldn’t hide his joy at downing the current Masters champion in his own backyard stating; ‘I’ve said for a while I wanted to end the season with a win but more satisfying was to be able to take on one of the best players in the world down the stretch and come out on top.’

McIlroy defeated Woods in a recent head-to-head exhibition in China and he should be backed win this week.

There is a strong assault from these shores and an interest in Ian Poulter could also pay dividends.

The Englishman is still looking for a first win of the campaign but with form figures of 2-5-2 in his last three starts – all of which were high class European Tour playoff events – he cannot be ignored at 16/1.

My duo to back – McIlroy (6/1) and Poulter (16/1).

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