TIGER WOODS is back – although who knows for how long?
It doesn’t really matter. Tiger’s first competitive appearance since he limped away from the Open eight months ago means the event he also hosts, the Genesis Invitational, will be the focus of the sporting world this week.
Even without Woods, the field for the final event on the West Coast swing was already a stellar one.
Woods is 150-1 to make a dream return to action, but don’t be tempted.
Despite putting his name to the tournament, it was never one he managed to win, even when he ruled the world. Merely making the cut would be a big achievement.
It will be interesting to see how McIlroy reacts to having his nose put out of joint by Scheffler, while world No 3 Jon Rahm and the rest of the big guns will be just as determined to accept the winner’s trophy from Woods on Sunday.
Hot shot: Justin Thomas, 16-1.
Thomas clearly has a chip on his shoulder at being ranked “only” seventh in the world rankings, and the double USPGA champion is showing signs of doing something about it.
His share of fourth at the Phoenix Open last week was his third top five finish in his last six starts. And he finished like a train at Scottsdale, after opening with a sloppy 71.
He got better and better with scores of 68-67-65, and three top tens at Riviera since 2018 suggests he is the value bet this week.
Mid price: Viktor Hovland, 28-1.
The Norwegian star was expected to really kick on after closing out 2022 by successfully defending his Hero World Challenge crown against an all-star cast.
Instead he keeps playing well without really catching fire – his last 24 rounds on the PGA Tour have all been par or better, and you get the impression that he just needs to find a spark to go really low.
This could be the time and place for it to happen. His previous two visits to Riviera have produced two top five finishes, with rounds of 64 and 65 a year ago underlining the fact he knows how to tackle this course.
Long shot: Emiliano Grillo.
The Argentine golfer seems to have been around forever, but he is still only 30. So there is still time for him to scale the same heights he reached in his rookie year, as a raw 23 year old.
A first PGA Tour win in 2016 was accompanied by top twenty finishes in three of the Majors that year, and it seemed a star was born.
Grillo’s progress has stalled because of his iffy putting. But two runner-up finishes and a couple more top fives last year – and a decent showing here a year ago – mean he is worth a small interest at these odds.
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