The Masters 2019: Is Tiger Back to His Best?
Tiger Woods heads to Augusta for his 22nd Masters, teeing off on Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Haotong Li.
With four Masters already to his name, alongside 20 tournament records, he will no doubt be a popular selection for those keen to place a bet. And it's not just nostalgia at play here; there is definitely reason to believe that the 43-year-old can roar to victory once again.
The fact that Jon Rahm will be teeing off with Woods is only a plus, as he will want to keep up with the man who was fourth at Augusta 12 months ago. This could well help Tiger to up his game from the off.
World no.12 for good reason:
Since Tiger’s comeback, he’s only won one Tour Championship and it has been 11 years since he has won a major, but his form heading into the US Masters needs to be looked at very seriously.
He was leading heading into the back nine, final round in the British Open and also finished second in the PGA Championship at Bellerive.
His other recent form has been mightily impressive, as he reached the WGC Match Play quarter-finals, beating Rory McIlroy in the process, who is the clear outright US Masters favourite at +750.
All of this has taken him back to number 12 in the world - quite a remarkable turnaround to say the least.
Away from Augusta, there is some value elsewhere when it comes to Tiger. He's currently best priced at +250 to win any PGA Tour in 2019 and if he is going to end his drought, and the next 12 months may well prove to be his best shot.
Woods: 'I've proven I can do it':
Speaking to the press recently, Woods said: “I’m going to have a gameplan on how I play each and every hole. I feel like I can win. I’ve proven that I can do it. I just need a couple of things to go my way and not throw away a couple of shots here and there.”
There will be few participants who will know the course like Tiger does, which will stand him good stead throughout the tournament.
Brooks Koepka, a +3000 shot to pick up the famous green jacket, has warned other contenders that Tiger is well and truly back to form - although the man himself has won two of the last three majors.
He said: “We all know he’s back. There’s no doubt about that. I mean, it would be cool to see him win. I think everyone in the field would love to stop him. I enjoyed stopping history (last year).”
Challengers hungry to stop history being made:
And that is just one stumbling block for the four-time champion. Not only is there an abundance of world-class players heading to Augusta, but they will all want to beat Tiger Woods.
Rest assured, however, that the experienced champion is far from stubborn; he's been able to adapt his game in order to stay at the very top. For instance, Woods has changed the shafts of his drive and 3-wood to offset the neck pain he suffered with at points during 2018.
He said: "A little lighter shaft made it a little bit easier for my body to take it and, next thing you knew, I got a little bit better, which was nice."
Does Tiger represent good value in the betting?:
At the end of the day, Tiger has all the right tools to go there and win – and his victory at East Lake in the Tour Championship will only give him the confidence to believe in himself, something he has hardly been short of over the past 12 months.
To say Tiger was back to his best would be a bold claim, but there's definitely reason for optimism and each-way backers could well be rewarded.
Tiger's relationship with this particular tournament is rather special, and there won't be a dry eye at Augusta if he is able to get his hands on his fifth green jacket and his first since 2005.