There is a player lurking in the betting at 40/1 to win the Farmers Insurance Open called Tiger Woods who some of you may have heard off but as much as it would make a great story those odds are about right. Brandt Snedeker is a former winner and has the best recent course form of the entire field. He looks the best alternative to a sensational return to winning a golf tournament for the former world number one.
Woods still believes he can add to his tally of major championships and the Masters in April is his best chance of recording his 15th. Augusta National provides some latitude off the tea and is more forgiving of wayward driving than other major championship venues. This week is more about reacquainting himself with his profession and the tournament has been hand picked due to Woods’ course form. The host course at Torrey Pines in California has been good to Tiger in the past and he won this week’s tournament there in 2013.
The whole golfing world will be focused on how Woods fares and even Donald Trump may take time out from his busy schedule to catch up with the tournament. Woods has not played competitively for about 18 months and he missed each of the four majors last season. There have been signs in practice and over the off season that the skills have not gone away but the mental element may take some time to click into gear. Woods can make the cut this week and record a solid four rounds of golf.
Snedeker is a more realistic winner on a course that actually doesn’t suit his game. The key skills for good scoring are scrambling, hitting the greens in the correct number of shots and driving distance. Snedeker won the event in 2012 and recorded has several other high finishes despite and not because of his game. The course clearly suits his eye more than his attributes so he can go about his business while the media attention will be on you know who!
Woods has won 79 PGA Tour titles and events of four other tours. He was the best player of his generation but the game has moved on. However, at 41 he is not yet quite a veteran and Vijay Singh could not stop winning after his 40th birthday. Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson won the Open Championship in their fifth decade and Jack Nicklaus won the US Masters in 1986 aged 46. It would be a great story if Woods prevailed but other players are better equipped to win this week.
Rickie Fowler is the only player in the field who finished in the top 25 for the three key skills on the PGA Tour last season. He has the best profile this week and has built up a solid bank of course form. He has done nothing exceptional at Torrey Pines but that can change this week when he can make the payout places or more. Charles Howell has made his last six cuts at the course and looks a contender on his main attributes but he doesn’t win enough but he could earn some place money.
It will be interesting who Woods plays with in the first two rounds. The organisers could be mischievous and send him out with Phil Mickelson. Despite saying they are buddies 36 holes of golf together would be a huge ego test and neither player would wish to lose that personal contest. You can be certain Woods will be playing at peak viewing times and maybe Trump will take his afternoon nap at an appropriate time. The Donald proved that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction but it would be taking that to extremes if Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open this week.