By Kent Whitaker
What is a sure-fire way to add some excitement to the odds for a PGA Tour event? Add Tiger Woods to the field! Woods announced Thursday that he was making his return to PGA play following the COVID-19 hiatus by playing in the Memorial Tournament.
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Woods has won the Memorial five times with three of those coming back-to-back-to-back in 1999, 2000, and 2001. He tagged on number four in 2009 and the fifth in 2012.
It will be interesting to see where Woods lands on the odds list to win outright. It is his first outing in almost five months. Some nostalgia may come into play for oddsmakers but not much. The Memorial field is loaded so Woods may fall outside of the top-ten, possibly top-twenty, favorites to win outright.
That may make him appealing as a middle to long shot (to win outright) and a player to consider when building your fantasy picks.
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Getting the Word Out
Woods skipped a big announcement by his camp and PR people associated with the PGA and the event. He went straight to Twitter to alert golf fans.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the @MemorialGolf next week. I’ve missed going out and competing with the guys and can’t wait to get back out there.”
Speaking of “the guys.” Woods will be joining the top-five player in golf according to the Official World Golf Rankings. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, and Justin Thomas are all scheduled to play.
If you are looking at betting the 2020 Memorial Tournament, take a look at my article over on Scores and Stats. I write a weekly piece where I breakdown every tournament, giving my best bets each week. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve picked the winner twice since the PGA returned post COVID-19.
None of the five have won the Memorial but Bryson DeChambeau did in 2018 and he is scheduled to play. DeChambeau won earlier this year at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and he’s finished in the top-ten four times since play resumed.
But, even with the stellar field, all eyes will be on Tiger as he returns to a course, Muirfield Village Golf Club, that has seen both his best – and worst play.
As mentioned above, Woods has five wins at the Dublin, Ohio course, along with nine top-ten runs. But it was the sight of one of his worst rounds where he went 13-over finishing at 85. That came in 2015 during a season where he battled back pain.
No Fans Once Again
A side note to the exciting news of Woods’ return is that the PGA has announced that fans will not be allowed at the event. The Memorial was the tournament on the schedule where fans would make a return, but bettors will see changing odds at online sportsbooks.
Imagine – finally seeing a gallery filled with golf fans complete with crowd noise! Not now.
The change comes after a rapidly changing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a month ago things were looking better and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine approved a play that allowed a fan count of 20% of normal capacity.
That number would have included fans, private hospitality events and areas, and essential PGA, Course, and Media staff to run the event and broadcast it. Things have changed as confirmed cases have started to rise.
“Given the broader challenges communities are facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stay focused on the No. 1 priority for our ‘Return to Golf’ – the health and safety of all involved,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement released on Monday.
The course was designed by Jack Nicklas who also plays host for the Memorial. The legendary player commented on the loss of fans at the event.
“We had a good plan in place, and I could not be more proud of everyone who contributed to it,” Nicklaus said. “In the end, we have the responsibility to recognize the health and safety of the players and all who attend the Memorial Tournament.”