Read other newspapers for a dossier on how great Tiger Woods is. In Las Vegas, the measure of Tiger is that the Hilton lists him a 7-4 favorite this week at the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, the world’s No. 2 golfer, was an 11-1 favorite last week in Memphis. And he’s an even longer 15-1 second choice at the Open.
That huge odds disparity pretty much defines how Woods is appraised in what matters most to us – winning bets.
Bethpage Black is long and tough, just the way Tiger likes it. In fact, he won the U.S. Open on that very same track in 2002. He also won the Open last year at Torrey Pines, a course he has made more money on than anywhere else west of the Mississippi. East is Orlando’s Bay Hill.
Those who were skeptical about Woods coming all the way back from his knee surgery are quiet. After that slam dunk iron shot to 14 inches on the 18th to win the Memorial, Woods seems to have it all there. He hit 14 of 14 fairways when inaccurate driving was thought to be his downfall in some missed opportunities at majors.
Woods has finished no worse than ninth in any event this season. He wins basically 30 percent of the tournaments entered for his career. Everyone else struggles to win 10 percent.
So Woods is our choice to finish at least fifth. And that would be a major disappointment to the many who will lay 7-4. The New York Yankees often go off -200 to win a game. Looking at it that way, Tiger at 7-4 is really a bargain.
While everyone in the field will be watching Tiger, more than a few are capable of winning at Bethpage. Here is my Fave Five of golfers to watch this week at Bethpage Black:
Jim Furyk (15-1): Down from 20-1. He is ways there, like at Memorial when his birdie on 18 gained second all alone. Furyk has been close so often people forget he’s won a major.
Henrik Stenson (40-1): A big-event player. Stenson won the Players Championship this year and is a past WCG Match Play winner. The Swede excels on tough courses.
Geoff Ogilvy (20-1): Fourth choice in the field and arguably Tiger’s toughest challenge. This guy doesn’t crack.
Steve Stricker (30-1): Down from 40-1. He has the game – just that it seems to come and go. Right now, he’s on.
Paul Casey (25-1): Padraig Harrington has the British Open and PGA, but Casey may just be the best international player now.
Notice we haven’t mentioned Anthony Kim, Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry, Harrington or Phil. Harrington and Garcia have not played well. Perry has, but his big chance was the Masters and he blew it. Mickelson did struggle at Memphis and will have a hard time focusing with wife Amy gallantly battling cancer.
The Hilton SuperBook has some quality golfers at nice odds if you care to take a chance. They include: David Toms at 60-1 (down from 100-1), Justin Leonard at 100-1, K.J. Choi at 100-1 and last year’s Open Cinderella Rocco Mediate at 200-1.
And now for the Hilton matchups, which are often more exciting than the tournament:
• Tiger Woods -400 vs
Phil Mickelson +330
• Jim Furyk -120 vs
Geoff Ogilvy EVEN
• Paul Casey -120 vs
Steve Stricker EVEN
• Padraig Harrington -120 vs
Henrik Stenson EVEN
• Sergio Garcia -120 vs
Camilo Villegas EVEN
• Retief Goosen -120 vs
Ernie Els EVEN
• Kenny Perry -120 vs
Zach Johnson EVEN
• Ian Poulter -120 vs
Tim Clark EVEN
• David Toms -120 vs
Mike Weir EVEN
• Luke Donald -120 vs
Nick Watney EVEN
Picks: Stenson, Goosen,
Johnson, Toms, Donald
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer