Tiger Woods is back and punters can't get enough of his ever-shortening odds for both this week's Memorial Tournament and the US Open. Paul Krishnamurty, however, thinks the value is long gone...
"For my money, without detracting from recent results, we are not back in 2001. There is so much more strength in depth nowadays and a generation of golfers that aren't scared of Tiger. He'll win his share but so will others."
There are increasingly two types of week on the PGA Tour. On one hand, the standard fare involves big-priced, often unforeseeable winners, benefiting from the failure of various big names to deliver when it matters. On the other, there are 'Tiger weeks' where the great man dominates throughout, while the rest of us ponder backing him to win the next major. The predictable response, for instance, to Tiger winning his eighth Bay Hill title was a surge of money on him to win the Masters.
With Tiger a mere 3.259/4 chance to land a sixth Memorial Tournament title, this week meets the latter criteria. Given that Woods has even won this event during the bad spells of his career, it is almost unimaginable that he won't contend in his current mood. One measure of his domination is illustrated by the fact he's trading at just one sixth of second favourite Rory McIlroy's 18.5 odds. Just a few months ago before their Abu Dhabi season opener, Tiger had been clearly usurped at the head of the market.
Whether such short odds represent a good value betting proposition, however, is another matter. There is a sense that any value about Tiger disappeared after his victories at Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill and, last time out, Sawgrass. Whereas much bigger odds were available before those wins, Tiger is now back to around the standard mark we saw at his early-2000s peak. Even in those days, he often traded much higher than 3.259/4 in-running.
In my view, you'll struggle to make money trading over the long-term by taking such short odds before a tournament starts. Instead, my advice is to lay at 3.259/4 with a view towards either backing Tiger if he drifts, or laying other short-priced contenders in-running. If Tiger gets off to no better than a fair start whilst other big-names challenge the lead, it should be easy to bank a profit. There is certainly no shortage of quality opposition.
Likewise, while it was possible to make a tidy profit simply trading in and out of Tiger's Masters odds, any early value for next month's US Open may have gone. If he wins this week the odds will doubtless shorten slightly from 4.94/1, but even so, when it comes to the event there are bound to be plenty of willing layers. The fact he hasn't won a major for five years has burnt many fingers and emboldened layers. It was notable that, following a post-Bay Hill surge, his odds drifted significantly in the final days before the Masters.
Furthermore, compared to the other American majors, the US Open always seems like the one in which he is most vulnerable, due to the penal nature of the test. His three victories came at courses that were perfect for his power game - Pebble Beach, Bethpage and Torrey Pines - but his record is ordinary on shorter, tighter tracks. As Joe Dyer explains in his advance preview of this year's venue, Merion is in the short, penal category.
None of this is to say Tiger can't win either or both event. If he can win at Sawgrass, he can win anywhere. Nevertheless, every man has his price and the key to successful trading is backing or laying at the most opportune moment. For my money, without detracting from recent results, we are not back in 2001. There is so much more strength in depth nowadays and a generation of golfers that aren't scared of Tiger. He'll win his share but so will others and the general trend of modern golf betting suggests we should run a mile from short-priced favourites.