Tue, Nov 29, 3:56pm by Bren O'Brien
He’s back. Tiger Woods return to professional golf for the first time in 15 months has added massive interest to his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge, in the Bahamas this weekend.
There may be an elite 18-man field, including Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, but all eyes are on the man many regard as the finest ever to swing a golf club.
Woods was set to make his return from the two back surgeries which put his career on hold in October. But he pulled out of the Safeway Open and the Turkish Airlines Open, saying he wasn’t yet ready to return.
Now, a month shy of his 41st birthday, he gets back into tournament golf for the first time since the Wyndham Championship in August 2015, ranked 898 in the world.
The 14-time major winner has been kept relatively safe by bookmakers to win the tournament when you consider how long it is since he swung a club. He is $34 with William Hill, the same price as Zach Johnson and JB Holmes.
According to social media sources, a last placed finish would see Woods’ ranking jump some 150 places, while a tenth place would see him vault into the top 600. And an unlikely win would put him inside the world Top 125.
There are still those who believe Woods can climb back up the mountain and win another major, but significantly, bookies have stopped offering odds on that.
It appears just getting back on the fairways is a big achievement from the man who held the world No.1 spot for an incredible 683 weeks.
In terms of the overall market for the Hero World Challenge, William Hill has Dustin Johnson as $6 favourite. Fresh from his Australian Open success a fortnight ago, Spieth, who was fourth here last year, is $7 second pick.
Hideki Matsuyama, who played in Melbourne in the World Cup of Golf last week where finished sixth with compatriot Ryo Ishikawa, is also in the Bahamas, and is $9 third favourite.
Matsuyama has won three of his past four tournaments to be ranked No.6 in the world.
The three men who fought out last year’s tournament, Bubba Watson ($15), Patrick Reed ($13) and Rickie Fowler ($15) all look good value.
Watson won by three strokes from reed, with Fowler a shot back in third.
There are no Aussie in the field this year with Adam Scott choosing to play the Australian PGA and Jason Day resting his back ahead of the 2017 season.
Suggested Bet: Back Bubba Watson ($15/$4.2) each way
Hero World Challenge Market – William Hill
Dustin Johnson $6
Jordan Speith $7
Hideki Matsuyama $9
Henrik Stenson $11
Brooks Koepka $11
Patrick Reed $13
Rickie Fowler $15
Bubba Watson $15
Justin Rose $17
Matt Kuchar $21
Russell Knox $21
Louis Oosthuizen $26
Emiliano Grillo $26
Brandt Snedeker $29
Jimmy Walker $29
Tiger Woods $34
Zach Johnson $34
J B Holmes $34
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