As recently as 2013 it would have been hard to imagine a scenario where Tiger Woods was the 40/1 outsider in an 18-man event, but that’s the case in this week’s Hero World Challenge, Phil Casey writes.
Woods won five times in 2013 but has started just 23 events since and comes into the event after a fourth back operation in the space of three years in April.
That followed his most recent aborted comeback in the Dubai Desert Classic in February, where he shot an opening 77 and then withdrew before the start of the second round.
The 14-time major winner admitted in September that he might never play competitively again, but soon afterwards began posting clips of his swing on social media and last month gave himself the final place in the field in the Bahamas.
Reports from practice rounds with other players have been encouraging but it is hard not to think we have heard this all before, not least at the same event 12 months ago.
In that case a watching brief is advised for the former world number one and instead the first of our Hero World Challenge betting predictions is the man currently top of the rankings, Dustin Johnson.
Johnson’s last start was obviously far from ideal as he squandered a six-shot lead with a round to play in the WGC-HSBC Champions, but the laid-back American has the ideal personality to put such a setback – not the first in his career – behind him.
The former US Open champion shared the halfway lead at Albany last year before fading somewhat over the weekend and finishing tied third, but he offers the most appeal at the top of the market at 6/1.
A small field obviously means small prices and it’s therefore with a note of caution that Rickie Fowler is chosen as our second selection at 17/2.
Fowler simply does not win as often as a player with his talent should, but he has finished third here the last two years and was second in the OHL Classic in Mexico on his last start.
The last of our Hero World Challenge betting tips was intended to be a choice between the in-form Brooks Koepka and Bahamas resident Justin Rose, but at the last minute the seemingly tireless Tommy Fleetwood gets the nod at 25/1.
Europe’s number one is playing his sixth event in a row on a round-the-world odyssey which has taken in China, Turkey, South Africa, Dubai and Hong Kong.
But amazingly his form has not been badly affected, with a worst finish of 23rd in Turkey, and he again demonstrated his ball-striking excellence with sixth place at Fanling, just two shots behind winner Wade Ormsby.
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Best bets for Hero World Challenge