Tiger can start his comeback in tidy fashion
Koepka and Johnson could dominate event
Starts 4.10pm Thursday
Live on Sky Sports Golf from 5.30pm
Plenty of bookmakers are trying to take advantage of Tiger-mania with some awful prices about how the former king of golf will perform in the Hero World Challenge this week, but one quote stands out as a worthwhile wager.
Early shows saw Woods available at 6-5 with BoyleSports to card 72 or bigger in round one, while Betfred made him an even-money chance to shoot 71 or better.
Betway offer 4-9 about the 14-times Major champion finishing the Hero under par, and the same firm go a best-price 3-1 about Woods finishing last. He is 8-1 with Betway to record the longest drive of the tournament and 6-4 to make an eagle.
The most attractive Woods punt, though, is the 8-11 chalked up by Betway about him finding the first fairway. The opening hole at the Albany is a slight dogleg right, which sets up perfectly for the gentle fade which has become the stock shot of the modern Tiger.
Some pre-tournament rain has softened the fairway, making it a generous target, and even in the expected moderate breeze Woods should find the cut and prepared. Competing over 72 holes is a different kettle of fish, but the living legend should be trusted to start the comeback in tidy fashion.
Of course, first-tee nerves are inevitable after such a long lay-off, but Woods has spent a week practising at Albany, so knows exactly the line with which to strike his opening shot. He pulled a driver last year and found the left rough, but could easily take a three-wood this time in a bid for greater accuracy.
Justin Rose can approach the first tee with more confidence than most. Albany is his home track and he used that local knowledge to awesome effect when closing with a 62 in the 2015 Hero. The Englishman has been in terrific form, winning the WGC-HSBC Champions a month ago, then the Turkish Airlines Open, before top-tens in Dubai and Hong Kong.
Rose can be fancied to end the week as the leading European, with many more negatives against the names of Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and Alexander Noren, while he is also an appealing bet for his first-round twoball against Fleetwood. The Hero is the sixth consecutive week of competition for flagging Fleetwood and he has never played at Albany before.
The top-class duo of Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson could easily end the week jostling for the title and 28-1 is a generous dual-forecast price from Betway about the two American powerhouses.
T Woods to find first fairway
2pts 8-11 Betway
J Rose top European
1pt 13-8 bet365, Sky Bet
J Rose to win twoball
1pt 5-6 BoyleSports
Johnson-Koepka dual forecast
1pt 28-1 Betway
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