Monday, 2 July 2012

Woods and his barometer of success

One of the ways of tracing Tiger Woods’s level of golfing dominance in the 15 years since he first blew everybody away by 12 strokes and more in the 1997 US Masters is to look at the price he was offered at by bookmakers running into each major.

Predictably, the layers were quick to catch on to the Woods phenomenon and the Open Championship Odds of 4-1 they offered for the 2000 Open at St Andrews just a month after he had run away with the US Open by 15 strokes was soon the sort of bet punters could only dream of making.

For several years after that, backers did well to get better than 6-4 Tiger winning any particular major as he started collecting them for fun and that lasted pretty much until it all began to unravel after he won the 2008 US Open ‘on one leg’ as injuries and then revelations of a seedy private life took their toll on his career.

Now, following a lengthy time out, punters, layers and US Open Golf Tips writers recognise him as a force to be reckoned with again, but his price of around 7-1 favourite for the Open reflects neatly the unease and uncertainty surrounding the physical and mental states of his game.

One week he struggled and we all wondered whether we would ever see the old Tiger again; the next week (the Memorial Tournament) he was indeed the old Tiger, arrowing irons to the pin and sinking every putt; the week after that he was struggling again.

Everyone, from his old coach Butch Harman to the ‘expert’ at the bar at the 19th hole, seems to have their own technical take on what has gone wrong with Woods’s game and what he needs to do to put it right.

The suspicion is that he will sort it out for himself in the near future, soon enough maybe to add to the three Opens he has already captured. As those same pundits never tire of reminding us, form is temporary, class is permanent.

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