Tiger Woods was as close to victory as he’s been in a long time.
Woods had a long putt on the 18th green to force a playoff with Paul Casey. But it came up a little short, and he was forced to settle for second.
Tiger had everything he needed from tee to green to win the event, but the putter just didn’t cooperate for him outside of draining a long one on No. 17.
That was fun, TW. ? pic.twitter.com/yL1MxDZfW8
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 11, 2018
Casey shot a 6-under 65 (matching the low round of the tournament) to come from five shots off the pace after being listed at +5000 on Saturday night.
It was really just one of those rare occasions where someone stepped up to take a tournament from Tiger.
Confidence in Woods has reached a new high since his return with this week’s result. His Masters odds have dropped to +900 on Bovada. Bovada has only Dustin Johnson ahead of him, at +800, with Justin Thomas available at +1000. Sportsbook is in a similar spot with Woods nearly the co-favorite at +1000. They have Johnson listed at +900, just barely ahead of him.
Overall, this week has to give Woods backers the belief that he can still compete on Tour. If not for Casey’s spectacular round, we’d have been looking at a Woods/Patrick Reed playoff. Tiger had no problem outplaying Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson in the first two rounds. Woods was also able to upstage Justin Rose with both players in contention.
It’s clear that if Tiger’s playing well, enough of his game is still there that he can beat anyone in the world.
The Trickle-Down Effect
Tiger’s climb from +10000 Masters longshot four months ago to +900 has shifted the odds for other big names.
Bovada moved Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm out of the teens: Rahm is +2000 and Fowler is +2200. Hideki Matsuyama has seen more than a 50% increase, from +2000 to +3300. Guys we’d expect to see in the +3000 range, like Stenson and Adam Scott, are available for +5000.
It appears a lot of players are on the move as books try to find a way to balance out the Tiger money that’s flowing in.
Matsuyama is a guy I’ve already backed in parlays to win the Masters, and he’s someone to keep an eye on this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s been battling a wrist injury recently, but if he looks healthy and his strokes gained with the approach and off the tee are back to normal, then +3300 for him is a steal.
Scott is also worth considering. He’s starting to round back into form, as evidenced by a 16th-place finish this week. He’s won a green jacket before, so if he can find a way to get into contention in the next couple of weeks, then he’s another guy whose number is just way too big.
This is all good news if you’re not planning to back Woods, because it’s likely that we’ll be able to find even more unexpected values on top players as the Masters draws closer.
Top Photo: Tiger Woods via Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Odds as of March 11