Bridgestone Invitational preview: Who's afraid of Tiger Woods? I'd say just about everyone
Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods. They talk of little else: how great he is, how boring he is, whether his current utter domination is a huge turn-on for golf or a massive turn-off. My mind goes to Formula One car racing which I used to watch religiously until Michael Schumacher insisted on leading a weekly procession. But that’s unfair: F1 make the roads so narrow you can barely overtake, but anyone’s free to pass the Tiger - if only they could work out how.
Maybe he’s not as perfect as some make out, but he’s good enough to see his price plummet from something like 7.5 ahead of the Western Open to a measly 2.7 going into this week’s main event, the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron.
Not a price to have you dreaming of life in the Bahamas, but who else do you back in the face of such awesome form?
The betting forums blaze with discussion of whether Tiger’s price represents value. Hard to tell. Sure, Tiger is looking imperious and hardly comes to this tired and emotional - he was barely pushed at Medinah last Sunday. This is a course he loves - four times a winner since the competition started in 1999. And when I look at Tiger these days I see someone who doesn’t just want to win every week, he expects to win every week.
We have been here before: Tiger won four in a row in 1999 and three in a row in 2000 and 2001. At one stretch in 2000 he had six wins divided by just two losses - that year any price over 2.1 would have represented value.
Value or not, though, I fancy laying him. He might be in “tremendiferous” form as colleague Wiliam K. Wolfrum puts it, but he’s got to fall some day and there was a gap of almost two months between two of the four-in-a-row wins. Face it, at 2.7 there’s more upside potential than down.
Not a Widows and Ophans Fund investment though, I’ll grant you, so why bother with Woods at all when there’s a “Without Woods” market. I would have had another go to back Robert Allenby, the gifted but under-achieving Aussie, until I saw he was the latest to ask “who’s afraid of Tiger?” Answer: Robert Allenby last week. Talk like that is usually the kiss of death, so I have him as a lay.
An interesting couple at prices that offer trading opportunities are Carl Petterson at 210 - he’s missed three cuts in a row including last week but is a darned good golfer who desperately needs to impress to get into Europe’s Ryder Cup squad - and Scott Verplank at 180, who will be immensely buoyed by being captain’s choice for America’s Ryder squad. But I’m going to have a quiet weekend and stick to laying Retief Goosen, just to keep things interesting.
There’s another little tourney up in Reno, of course, but that’s far more of a lottery. Like the International the other week, its up at high altitude so the balls don’t half fly about. Woody Austin’s pretty much on top of his game and is as good a favourite as you are likely to get. But again I’ll just content myself with opposing Fredrik Jacobsen, distinctly out of sorts recently.
Two warnings to exchange punters: the Reno-Tahoe in-play will be very illiquid because most punters’ money will he swirling around the Tiger. And there will be no last round in-play for either event on Betfair. Incredibly, they’re shutting down to put in new machinery to propel their invasion of Australia (oh the power of a virtual monopoly!) so the markets will be suspended for good at 12.30 GMT Sunday.
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