Tiger Woods may have dominated the Firestone course in the past, but few fancy the former world number one to make a winning return at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this week.
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"Feeling fit and ready to tee it up at Firestone next week. Excited to get back out there!", Woods recently wrote on his Twitter feed, confirming his return to action following injury.
There was a time not so long ago, when such a tweet from the greatest player ever to pick up a golf club would have sent the markets into a frenzy. Yet since Woods announced his plan to return at this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, at a course where he's already won seven times, his odds have actually drifted from 16.5 to 22.0. Likewise, Tiger remains friendless for next week's USPGA at 19.5.
Indeed, 'friendless' increasingly describes Tiger's relationship with the outside world. Much of the bile directed at Woods since his personal life unravelled struck me as unfair. He's a golfer, not a vicar, and those of us paid to write about sport or gambling should generally stick to our remit, but it's becoming hard to ignore the public relations car crash that has become his life.
I'm still prepared to judge the man on his golf game, but after the acrimonious sacking of his caddie Steve Williams, even those previously loyal to Woods are turning their backs.
The player who revolutionised the modern game, and to whom the current emerging generation owe an enormous debt, is in danger of becoming the man everyone loves to hate. Having alienated many journalists on the way up with an aloof approach, there are plenty in the media revelling in his downfall.
Without completely knowing the background, the treatment of Williams does seem appalling. Reports suggest he was sacked for 'moonlighting' with Adam Scott, whilst Tiger was on the sidelines. Hardly a great act of disloyalty, especially if Williams indeed wasn't paid during Tiger's long lay-off. Williams stayed loyal when so many others, not least sponsors, were turning their backs. Given his caddie's reputation for candid criticism, this move will further fuel the rumours that Tiger is surrounded by yes men, and that Williams' great crime was to speak his mind.
There was certainly an element of denial about Woods' recent interview at his own tournament, the AT&T National. Remember, he hadn't been deemed fit to play that week at Aronimink, and hadn't been seen on the course since withdrawing at Sawgrass after nine agonising holes. Yet with just 11 days to spare before the British Open, Tiger wouldn't rule himself out. Never mind the career-threatening injuries or total lack of preparation, Woods seemed as cocksure of his ability to win as ever.
Whereas that ultra-confidence lay behind his former success, now it looks like arrogance. The golfing world has changed in the 22 months since he last won a title. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day have no reason to fear Woods. He never broke their hearts like he did to the likes of Ernie Els, and is now the one with everything to prove. With every week, Tiger's ranking points stash recedes, and the path back to the top becomes ever more daunting.
Moreover, even if he can eventually put all the personal issues to one side, the injury problems go much deeper. Clearly, his knee has been in a terrible state for years, and repeat surgery has yet to put things right. The sensible thing to do in these circumstances would surely be to take a complete break from golf to fully recuperate, although whether he has anyone close enough to tell him straight anymore is open to question.
To even contend on a course like Firestone after a three-month break is a huge ask, and the likeliest outcome is humiliation. 12 months ago, the seven-time Firestone champion finished an embarrassing 78th out of 81 players, probably the lowest point of his career. This is not a course where one can afford to spray it around off the tee, as has become his norm over the last few years. Anything less than a sure touch around the greens will be disastrous here, and the same is bound to apply on both counts at the USPGA.
Tiger's only saving grace is that, despite all the wider misery, he's been placed in three out of five major appearances since returning to action at the 2010 Masters. If it wasn't for that, it would be tempting to dismiss his current odds as truly atrocious value. Were any other player to enter a big event under such a cloud, it is hard to imagine they'd be any less than 50.0. Woods has rewritten so many rules during his career, not least winning a US Open with a broken leg, but putting his current predicaments behind him will be his toughest challenge yet. I sincerely hope he manages it, but he won't be carrying my cash for the foreseeable future.