Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tiger Woods
- Tiger Woods is the second favorite in a weak field at the Quicken Loans National.
- It seems like a logical time to bet on Woods finally putting it all together.
- But he’s taking a risk by considering using a mallet putter, so anyone backing him would also be taking that risk.
This is the week.
This is the week you’ve been waiting for, the one when funding meets fandom, the one that proves once and for all that you can have your cake and eat it, too.
This is the week you’ve pegged for months, as Tiger Woods will compete in a limited field comprised of so many journeymen, wannabes and never-wases.
This is the week, finally, when you can simultaneously root for Tiger because you want to witness the climax of his monumental comeback and because, hey, it’s fiscally responsible to wager on the man who isn’t just one of the oddsmakers’ favorites, but also has a legitimate chance to win for the first time in nearly five full years.
And then, just as you’re about to click that “PLACE BET” button, you decide to check social media for any last-minute clues as to just how much you should wager on a theoretical “sure thing” — and suddenly, all of those months of waiting for this intersection of funding and fandom incurs the record-screeching soundtrack of a bad sitcom that’s giving you the wait-just-a-minute vibes.
There he is, Tiger himself, practicing for this week’s Quicken Loans National.
And there it is, that … thing … looking so foreign in such familiar hands.
Then you read the fine print: Woods is toying with using a mallet-style putter this week.
Despite his major-less years with a Nike flatstick and despite his recent struggles on the greens, Tiger without The Scotty — the Scotty Cameron putter which has 13 majors victories to its credit — just doesn’t feel right.
It’s like Roger Federer using a racquetball racquet. Or Tom Brady using fully inflated footballs.
Woods has been enlisted with the second-lowest odds this week at +1050, behind only Rickie Fowler (+650).
Unlike at other points this year — remember when he was made the favorite going into the Masters? — Tiger is a viable option this week.
No matter which way you slice ‘em, Tiger’s tee to green stats are top-five on the PGA Tour this year. His speed with the driver is amongst the highest of anyone, not just the over-40 and recent back surgery crowd. His iron play has been tremendous, with distance control issues a thing of the past.
It’s his putting, though, which has continually flummoxed Woods.
Two starts ago, he led the Memorial Tournament field in ball-striking, but finished last in putting. His most recent start at the U.S. Open wasn’t much better and he missed the cut.
It should stand to reason that a switch to a new tool could be the perfect alteration for Woods right now, a necessary evil that can only yield better results on the greens.
And it’s true: His putting can’t get any worse. Literally.
But let’s remember that Woods is the ultimate creature of habit. He’ll still hit a putt on a certain line because he had it once in a pro-am in 2002 and recalls the subtle break.
Now he’s introducing — if he does indeed decide to employ the mallet — another variable into his game.
There’s a chance it could provide immediate relief and newfound optimism. There’s also a chance it takes a lot more than four days to figure it out.
I get it. You’ve waited six months to place a winning wager on Woods and had this week targeted as the logical site of his next win.
This was your opportunity to not only root for him as a fan, but as an interested bettor who wanted a piece of history when he wins again.
This was going to be your week.
If Woods does use this new putter, though, he’s taking a chance with something he’s never done before — and if you click that “PLACE BET” button on the field’s second-favorite, you’re taking a similar chance.