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The Match VII Odds, Picks & Preview: Value on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as Underdogs (December 10)

The Match VII Odds, Picks & Preview: Value on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as Underdogs (December 10) article feature image
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Via Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Tiger Woods of the United States watch a tee shot on the 10th tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 20, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Match VII Odds

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy Odds +100
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth Odds -125
Time 6 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds via FanDuel

In some ways, it feels like just yesterday that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson battled each other in the first edition of The Match, a not-so-underlying subplot of the $9 million winner’s share stacking a rich-get-richer layer onto what turned out to be a fun little exhibition.

In many other ways, of course, that feels like a century ago, with more tumultuousness occurring in the golf world over the past three years than we ever could have imagined possible.

The seventh iteration of this series will take place this Saturday, a 12-hole best-ball competition in primetime which pits Woods and Rory McIlroy against Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Tiger & Rory vs. Jordan & JT

The Match is back on December 10. pic.twitter.com/ga7RxEWTVv

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 7, 2022

This edition will take on a much different message from that first one, as these four players have served as perhaps the most vocal supporters of the PGA TOUR during this critical crossroads in professional golf.

While they compete at Pelican GC in Belleair, Florida, not for their own riches, but for charitable contributions toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts, bettors can still invest in either team for the victory.

When The Match was first announced in early November, Woods and McIlroy opened as the favorites at -135, while Thomas and Spieth were a plus-money play at +105. Those prices have since shifted, largely based on Woods’ withdrawal from last week’s Hero World Challenge, to the point where they’re nearly opposite of those original odds, with Thomas/Spieth now listed at -125 and Woods/McIlroy at +105.

Choosing a winning side for this one, however, isn’t simply as easy as picking the better players.

Just as in placing any wager, the first objective is to know the parameters of the bet. As mentioned previously, this is a 12-hole competition – not 18 – which seriously limits the potential variance.

But that’s not all: The 12 holes in use will include four par-3s – Nos. 3, 5, 8 and 9 – which again should level the playing field. Then there’s the fourth hole, where each player will only be allowed to use one randomly selected club and play the entire hole with that single club.

It should all make for a breezy, entertaining viewing experience, not to mention a charitable one; two of the par-3s carry a $2.5 million hole-in-one bonus, while the other two have a $1 million bonus, and $250,000 will be donated no matter what scores take place on these holes.

But it should also – like so many previous versions of The Match – render the result more of a toss-up than some sort of referendum on team talent and chemistry.

Certainly, there’s still some reason to back the favorites here. The duo of Thomas/Spieth aren’t hampered by having a player who has appeared in just three competitive tournaments over the past two years. Instead, they’re ranked eighth and 14th, respectively, fresh off a season during which they each won PGA TOUR titles.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas after winning the 2022 PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

And yes, they’re good buddies – though perhaps more importantly, they might be even better partners, earning a perfect 4-0-0 record together at this year’s Presidents Cup, giving them an 8-2-0 overall mark in international competitions.

That’ll be tough to beat – and yet, I see reasons to chase the underdog side here.

First off, McIlroy is playing some of the best golf of his career right now, ascending back to No. 1 in the world ranking, with top-five finishes in each of his last six starts and 11 of his last 16. He’s never paired with Woods in any type of official competition, but that might just fuel him to bring his best stuff for a partner who’s become one of his close friends.

Then, of course, there’s Tiger. While it’s true that he was forced to skip last week’s tournament due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, the injury shouldn’t hamper him too much in a shortened event where he’ll have use of a cart (as will the other three players). From all reports – at least those from the man himself – the rest of his game is still very much intact.

“I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want; I just can’t walk,” Woods said last week, revealing he’s been posting scores of 63 and 64 at his home course while riding in a cart.

Speaking with those who spent time around Tiger at Albany, his pessimism about the long-term impact of this latest injury might only be surpassed by his optimism about his swing.

Even so, a play on Woods/McIlroy isn’t fully based on any support that they’re the better team, only that they should hardly be overmatched whatsoever in this one.

With rationale for choosing either team, the end result essentially comes down to the odds of a coin toss – and if we’re getting plus-money for Woods and McIlroy on one side of that coin, it seems like a smart play.

We should expect plenty of laughs, perhaps some forced trash talk and a decent dose of entertainment value come Saturday evening. While we shouldn’t “expect” either team to win, neither result would come as a surprise, all of which offers some equity on the underdog.

Pick: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to Win: +100

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