Tiger Woods among Masters favourites as he confirms long-awaited comeback
The 41-year-old is the most popular bet in Las Vegas as he prepares for his first three tournaments of the year
American golf superstar Tiger Woods has announced his tournament schedule for the opening months of this year. Currently ranked 652 in the world, the former world number one is already proving a popular bet to win the first Major of the year – the Masters Tournament at Augusta in April.
Woods, who played only once in 2016, will make his first appearance of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open held at Torrey Pines golf course. The event, which he has won seven times, most recently in 2013, begins on 26 January.
Next he will compete in the Genesis Open, a Tiger Woods Foundation event, held at Pacific Palisades in February. Later that month he will take part in the 2017 Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort & Spa.
"The 41-year-old recently returned to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas after 15 months away from the sport to recover from back injuries and is stepping up his workload as he aims to take part in more tournaments in 2017," says The Guardian.
Woods, who won the last of his 14 Majors in 2009, finished 15th of 18 in his comeback event last month, but did make 24 birdies.
Woods is also attracting a lot of interest from punters ahead of the Masters, says Forbes. "The former world number one now sits at 652nd in the world rankings and has played only one competitive event in the past 16 months, but he's still leading both the ticket count and money-wagered categories at Las Vegas sportsbooks."
Indeed his odds of winning the Masters have fallen to 20-1 at some sportsbooks, making him the sixth favourite for the tournament, with only Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama ahead of him.
So will Woods finally return to the top on his latest comeback? One thing in his favour could be Nike's decision to stop making golf clubs, says the BBC.
This has enabled the golfer to pick his own equipment for the first time since he signed an exclusive deal in 2011. "It is extraordinary to think that a man of Woods's means was only able to go back to the putter with which he won 13 of his 14 majors once Nike had pulled out of their golf manufacturing business," says Iain Carter.