Tiger Woods' PGA Return At Memorial Has Sportsbooks Juiced
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Tiger Woods is returning to tournament golf in friendly territory. The 15-time major champion committed Thursday to the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, where Woods has five wins and nine top-10 finishes. He never has missed the cut at this Dublin, Ohio, course in 17 career starts.
PointsBet senior sports content analyst Andrew Mannino started thinking about Woods’ odds as soon as he tweeted the news. The sportsbook can’t set tournament lines until the field is complete and this week’s Workday Charity Open – also at Muirfield Village – wraps up Sunday. But the wheels are already in motion.
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“I’m certainly interested to see where it shakes out,” Mannino said of Woods’ odds. “No doubt he’ll be right near the top.”
There’s been a lot more interest in golf recently with most professional sports still on hiatus due to coronavirus. The total handle on golf at PointsBet in recent weeks is about equal to where MLB betting would normally be at this time of year.
In-play golf betting is also generating enormous interest. PointsBet offers hole-by-hole betting, so bettors can get action on a players’ individual score on every hole or which player in the group will win a given hole.
“It’s definitely been huge,” Mannino said. “What we’ve seen has been an unusually large amount of activity for golf.”
I’m looking forward to playing in the @MemorialGolf next week. I’ve missed going out and competing with the guys and can’t wait to get back out there.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) July 9, 2020
Sportsbooks Facing Unique Challenges
The Tour’s unprecedented three-month break has created unique challenges for oddsmakers, who need to weigh Woods’ chances against players who have teed it up three or four times since golf returned in June.
Oddsmakers also know they’ll always see tons of action on Woods no matter the price.
“Tiger’s the kind of guy that’s always going to attract more attention. So are the Yankees,” Mannino said. “But the line needs to be set correctly anyways. So, we can’t take that into account too much. We want to be at the right place in the line. We don’t want to sort of artificially fade him because he’s going to be popular. We want to be sure the line reflects our beliefs at the time.”
Woods was +1600 entering his most recent start at the Genesis Open, listed fifth behind Rory McIlroy (+750), Jon Rahm (+1000), Justin Thomas (+1000) and Dustin Johnson (+1400).
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Will Woods Be Rusty?
While Woods hasn’t played a tournament since the Tour returned from its sabbatical last month, we’ve had glimpses into his game. He played very well in May’s Champions For Charity match, easily beating Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady alongside partner Peyton Manning. Woods' driver was accurate, his swing was smooth and he looked sharp throughout the entire bag.
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Granted, it was just an exhibition match. It was also played at his home course, The Medalist, in Hobe Sound, Florida. But everything looked good and the excitement for Woods’ return grew even stronger. How much of an impact will that performance have on Woods’ odds at the Memorial?
“You have to take that into account as it’s his only recent performance,” Mannino said. “Obviously he’s swinging the club well and it looked like he felt comfortable out there, so we’ll certainly take it into account. But not as much as we would had it been a normal PGA event.”
If anyone is nervous about Tiger’s health or swing since he hasn’t been playing...— Daniel Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) July 1, 2020
Absolute stripe show yesterday. pic.twitter.com/WaJaCesWK9
Woods’ Abbreviated 2020 Season
Woods started the PGA Tour’s wraparound season with his 82nd professional victory at the inaugural ZoZo Championship in Japan.
Woods only has two PGA Tour starts under his belt for 2020. Most recently, he logged a 68th-place finish at the Genesis Open in February after a promising start. He opened with a 2-under 69 but struggled all weekend, shooting 76-77 to plummet down the leaderboard.
His game looked a lot better in January at Torrey Pines, where Woods finished T-9 for the week.
Woods is tied with Sam Snead for the all-time PGA Tour wins record and could surpass him with a victory at the Memorial.