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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Resurgent Tiger Woods clear favourite for Valspar glory

Old master strutting his stuff in Florida

Tiger Woods is getting back to his best
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 6pm

The evidence is staking up. Tiger Woods was looking much more like his old, majestic self in the Honda Classic last time out, and the 14-times Major champion has underlined the optimism by performing superbly over the first two days of the Valspar Championship.

Woods, competing in the Valspar for the first time, followed an opening round of 70 with a Friday 68 to move to four under par at the halfway stage of the tournament. That left him in a tie for second place at the difficult Copperhead Course, two shots behind Corey Conners.

Woods, no bigger than 30-1 for victory ante-post, has taken over as Valspar favourite, with plenty of big names having missed the cut. Jordan Spieth, 9-1 market leader at the outset, fell two shots shy of the cut-line, while Rory McIlroy went the same way. Henrik Stenson, Gary Woodland and Matt Fitzpatrick also suffered an early exit.

Woods is thrilling the world of golf with his incredible comeback, recovering from what seemed the brink of retirement due to chronic injury problems to find fitness and form at the age of 42. He is a general 4-1 for Valspar glory, with BoyleSports offering a stand-out 9-2.

Conners failed to come through a Monday qualifier for the Valspar, but the Canadian got his place in the field as an alternate on Tuesday, installed as a general 200-1 rag by some firms. The US Tour maiden is 12-1 to convert his lead into a maiden victory. It is a tough task with Woods and other, more established US Tour stars, lurking just behind him.

In-running outright punters should consider Justin Rose, who is extremely well suited to this course. The Englishman overcame some back niggles in round one to post a decent score, scrambling well, then got his ball-striking boots back on for round two. The way Rose is putting and chipping, typically a weakness, bodes well for the weekend. He looks razor sharp on and around the greens and is a huge threat from just three shots off the pace.

Webb Simpson, another who relishes the Copperhead layout, is also a dangerman. Rose and Simpson look the pair most likely stop Woods turning the Valspar into the 80th US Tour triumph of his remarkable career.

Third-round twoball punters are pointed towards Sean O'Hair, a former Copperhead champion, who can prove too steady for Jason Kokrak in the 6.25pm (UK and Ireland time) match. Shaky recent form means O'Hair is the outsider with the layers, but his comfort on this layout and the erratic nature of Kokrak's driving, makes for an attractive wager.

The final twoball of Conners and Paul Casey is scheduled on the tee at 6.55pm. A sunny day with light breezes is forecast.

S O'Hair
2pts 6-4 bet365

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In-running outright punters should consider Justin Rose
E.W. Terms
Sky bet