Time For Tiger
By Jason McIntyre
The Memorial Tournament isn’t one of golf’s four majors, but it certainly will feel that way with 27 of world’s top 30 golfers competing this weekend.
There’s no bigger name in the field than Tiger Woods, who is playing for the first time since February at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles. He finished 68th, last among players who made the cut, at +6.
Of course, he's still Tiger. Any time he takes to the tee, the entire sports world watches. This week will be no different, with Woods starting at 1:17 p.m. ET on Thursday.
And despite his most recent struggles, fans are lining up to support the 15-time major winner. According to FOX Bet, nearly 15% of all bets on the Memorial have been on Woods, and over 18% of the money.
In what is surely the most anticipated tournament since the PGA returned, here are my five best bets:
5. Abraham Ancer: +4500
He’s only been on the PGA Tour since 2016, but Ancer falls into the sleeper category for one reason: He was phenomenal at the RBC Heritage last month, finishing 2d to Webb Simpson.
He also leads the tournament in driving accuracy (82.1 percent) and Greens in Regulation (90.3 percent).
Ancer was +6000 over the weekend for the Memorial and his price has dipped as low as +4500 depending on where you shop.
4. Daniel Berger: +4000
Before you scratch your head and wonder, “who?” Berger’s here because, like Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland, he has been on a tear since the PGA resumed play.
Berger performed well even before the stoppage with three top 10 finishes, then addd two top five finishes since resuming play, winning the Charles Schwab Challenge and then placing 3rd in the RBC Heritage.
This is, of course, a massive step up in class for Berger, and that’s evident in the fact he has the longest odds of any winner since the PGA Tour restart.
3. Patrick Cantlay: +1500
Not only did he win the Memorial Tournament in 2019, but playing this exact course last weekend, Cantlay shot a final-round 65 to finish tied for 7th.
Cantlay also shot a final-round 65 in his only other tournament since the PGA Tour restarted, in late June. He told Yahoo Sports this week he feels like his “tournament rust” has shaken off.
Cantlay emerged as a golfer to watch in 2019 with Top 10 finishes at the Masters and the PGA Championship, along with the win at Memorial in which he shot a 64 in the final round to rally from four strokes down.
If Cantlay is within a few strokes of the leader heading into Sunday, you’ll feel good holding a ticket with his name on it.
2. Bryson DeChambeau: +1200
No golfer has raised their profile more in 2020 than the 26-year old DeChambeau, who packed on 20 pounds of muscle during the PGA Tour hiatus, and has been blistering off the tee (1st in driving distance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic with 350.6 yards).
He won the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks ago, finishing a career-best 23-under. And here are his finishes in the first four events since the PGA Tour resumed:
Charles Schwab Challenge: Tied for 3rd
RBC Heritage: Tied for 8th
Travelers Championship: Tied for 6th
Rocket Mortgage Classic: 1st
Although Justin Rose opened as the favorite at Memorial, DeChambeau surged ahead of him by Monday afternoon. To top it all off, DeChambeau won the Memorial in 2018.
It’s gambling malpractice to not have a few bucks on the hottest golfer in America.
1. Tiger Woods: +2200
No, this isn’t just about the excitement of Woods returning to the course for the first time in five months.
The primary reason it’s easy to think Woods has immense value here is because he’s won the Memorial five times. When he returned for a few months to his legendary form in 2019 — winning the Masters — he also finished ninth at Memorial.
Is Tiger just using this as a warm-up for the PGA Championship on August 6th? Probably. But when have you ever known Tiger Woods to not be competitive?
He’ll be grouped with the world’s No. 1 player, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka to start the tournament. There’s mild concern about that most recent finish at the Genesis Invitational. There has to be; it's our most recent data point.
The counter: Sunday afternoon, if he’s in contention, we can both wonder why the greatest golfer in the sport over the last two decades was only +2200.