This year’s Open Championship represents a landmark of sorts in the much storied career of Tiger Woods, as it will be the first major this century in which he can be backed before the off at double-figure odds.
Of his contemporaries, only two-time winners Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington are close to matching Woods’ achievements in pursuit of the Claret Jug, with the last of the American’s Championships equalling Gary Player’s three career titles.
That most recent success – coming at Royal Liverpool in 2006 – mimicked the achievements of countrymen Tom Watson and Lee Trevino and indeed Harrington, in following a victory in the previous year’s affair.
Such a record might demonstrate a particular flair for links golf, but it’s worth noting that two of those three victories came at St Andrews so a liking for that particular course may have aided his exploits.
The previous Muirfield Open Championship came when the young Woods was at the peak of his ‘force of nature’ stage, yet he could only muster a T28 finish behind Els as his dreams of a 2002 major Grand Slam flew off on the Scottish breeze.
The California native is in the midst of a PGA Tour campaign in which he has won two more tournaments than any of his rivals, yet he’s double the price that he was for victory in this year’s US Open and six points longer than when pre-tournament hot pot for the 2013 Masters.
The chief reason for the layers’ generosity is the elbow ligament injury which was noticeably hampering him as he ghosted his way to a T32 finish at the US Open and has kept him out of action ever since.
A blog posted just over a week ago by Woods on his own website suggested that he had recently began to chip and putt again, but made no mention of driving or of full rounds being played.
Also in the piece he mentioned the fact that he was still taking anti inflammatory medicine, whilst suggesting avoiding the rough would be something he would be extra-careful to do considering his setback.
According to the BBC, Woods has told a press conference that the elbow is fully recovered and there will be those for whom – with Ladbrokes paying 1/4 the odds for the first six places – it may be worth taking a punt on the great man being back to his best for Muirfield.
However, there are four days of high-pressure major golf ahead and numerous opponents boasting the tournament sharpness which the 10/1 favourite will be missing to contend with, along with any nagging injury doubts the great man has been too coy to admit to the press.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.