Tiger Woods favourite as he returns to happy hunting ground

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Tiger Woods heads into the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual as the massive 5/2 favourite – and with good reason.

The 14-times major champion is the reigning champion following his one-shot victory over Zach Johnson last year. It was his first win in over two years and his two birdies in the last two holes showed a tantalising glimpse of what the former world No.1 is still capable of.

That was his fifth victory in the tournament that he hosts and was all the more impressive as he was a good way off full fitness – something that has changed for the better in 2012.

“This year has been fantastic in that regard,” said Woods. “I’ve felt good. I’ve played a full schedule for the first time in a very long time, and I’m just very pleased with what I’ve done overall with my game.

“At the outset of the year I didn’t really putt well. Towards the end of the year I really started putting well. My short game has really come around and I’m becoming more consistent.”

That improved form with the putter has seen him win three times on the PGA Tour this year and, with the limited field teeing it up at the Sherwood Country Club, it’s tough to see anyone taking the title away from him.

Such is the tightness of the field beyond Tiger, that four players – Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk and Bo Van Pelt – are all joint second favourite at 12/1.

Meanwhile, further down in the betting, European Ryder Cup heroes Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell can be backed at 14/1 and 20/1 respectively.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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