The Masters is 2-1/2 months away, but Tiger Woods’ four-shot victory last week in San Diego made the bookies in Las Vegas take notice. Woods has been installed as the favorite to win the PGA Tour’s first major championship of the 2013 season.
Woods, who hasn’t won at Augusta National since 2005, is a 9-2 pick to win his fifth green jacket. After the ’05 victory, Woods posted six more consecutive top-10 finishes at the Masters before slipping to a tie for 40th last year, when Bubba Watson defeated Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff.
At the end of last season, when Woods won three times and signaled that he was back on his game, he was a 6-1 co-favorite with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy to win at Augusta. Woods’ victory last week at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight PGA Tour events, including the 2008 US Open, swung the oddsmakers toward Woods.
McIlroy, who is No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, remains a 6-1 selection. Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner at Augusta, is the third choice, at 15-1.
Woods was the favorite going into last years Masters at 9-2, as well, but his 5-over-par 293 score left him 15 shots behind Watson and Oosthuizen.
It’s unclear when Woods will return to the PGA Tour, though he likely will play two to four more events before the drive up Magnolia Lane in April.