Golf Picks: Rory Up, Tiger Down at 2015 Masters

Jason Lake

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 8:24 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2015 8:24 PM GMT

Tiger Woods is playing this year’s Masters Tournament in Augusta, but his golf odds are nothing like they used to be. Rory McIlroy is the 11-2 favorite at press time to complete his career Grand Slam.

If you close your eyes and think hard enough, you might remember when Tiger Woods was considered the greatest male athlete in the world. Even as recently as 2013, Woods was the leading money-winner on the PGA Tour. But we might as well be talking about Old Tom Morris at this point. Woods has played just nine tournaments the past two years, and he finished in the Top 25 exactly once, coming in 25th at the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship.

So why are we talking about Tiger now? Because he’s decided to play the 2015 Masters Tournament this week at Augusta National. After taking a couple months off to work on his swing and let his broken body heal, Woods says he’s ready to play at a high level again. The golf betting odds aren’t so sure: Woods is priced at 28-1 on the Masters futures market at Bovada as we go to press, well behind the favorite, Rory McIlroy (11-2).

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Tiger Balm
Long gone are the days when we’d wonder if the odds were too short to add Woods to our sports picks. There were tournaments where he’d be priced at 2-1, and it’d often be worth it, because he was winning everything in sight – including four straight majors in 2000-01. Things are a little different now. Woods will soon turn 40, he’s had multiple surgeries and multiple break-ups with swing coaches, and there was something a while back about saucy text messages and his wife attacking him with a 9-iron. It’s all a blur now.

If Woods has in fact recaptured some of his old form after this layoff, he’s definitely a steal at these much longer golf odds. But it’s pure speculation until we see some proof. At the very least, Woods appears to have softened his hyper-competitiveness, taking the time to shake hands and even hug the other players when he arrived at Augusta. That might win Woods some valuable PR points, but it’s not the recipe that brought him success on the golf course.

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When I Reel My Irish In
It hasn’t been a Hollywood movie for McIlroy, either. He’s been criticized for skipping tournaments and throwing the occasional golf club, and his public profile took a hit when he dumped Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish tennis player and his fiancée at the time, over the phone. But unlike Woods, McIlroy is still very much in his prime at age 25. He also recently won the Dubai Desert Classic for the second time on the European Tour.

All well and good, but is the Masters the right place for McIlory to shine? It might be a little too easy to lump the Irishman in with the rest of the Euros and assume that he’ll fare better on the links-style courses across the pond. However, his best result at Augusta was in last year’s event, when he finished tied for eighth. And McIlroy did miss the cut at his first PGA stop this season, the Honda Classic.

Pretty much anytime you’re looking at the golf odds for who will win an event outright, your best value is with the “medium” shots who sit just behind the first tier or two of favorites. Consider some of the more unlikely golfers to wear the famed Green Jacket, people like Charl Schwartzel (2011), Trevor Immelman (2008) and Mike Weir (2003). Augusta National isn’t the easiest course in the world, but it does feature wide fairways and plenty of lay-up opportunities. The field is open for someone like 2013 champion Adam Scott to make it happen again at 20-1, or up-and-comer Jimmy Walker (18-1), who’s coming off a victory at the Valero Texas Open. Let’s roll with the hot mashie.

Free Golf Pick: Take Jimmy Walker at 18-1

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