Bookies running scared but stay on the Tiger’s tail

THE bookmakers are running scared of Tiger Woods ahead of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.

Some firms have issued odds-on quotes about the world number one winning a fifth straight event this season — a clear indication they have had enough of punters forming an orderly queue every Monday morning to collect on his latest victory.

But should cramped prices put us off? Woods is in the form of his career, and with the Masters less than a month away, the layers are already wary that the player who scored his 64th PGA Tour win at the weekend will go on and claim the grand slam — Boylesports are offering a best price in the village 12-1 that he wins all four majors this year.

We’ve been on Woods for all four of his worldwide wins this year and given he has won the last seven tournaments he has teed up in (including the unofficial Target World Challenge) it seems stupid to desert him now. And it is not as if the statistics don’t add up in his favour at Doral. His record at the Florida layout is superb, having won the last three tournaments on the PGA Tour there (the last two Ford Championships and last year’s WGC-CA Championship) and he has won 15 events under the WGC banner, including this one six times in eight starts.

Bookmakers are so desperate to avert punters gaze away from Sunday’s Arnold Palmer Invitational winner and runaway Money List leader that they have started to price up tournaments “without Woods”, with Phil Mickelson the favourite. Outside Woods, though, a resurgent Ernie Els could be worth following.

The Big Easy’s win in the Honda Classic on his penultimate start was his first on US soil for the best part of four years, but as a former winner at Doral he could easily run a place this week. His work with sports psychologist Bob Rotella is paying off, and he has hopefully treated his infamous recent wobbles when in winning positions — including when recording an eighth at the last in the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Niclas Fasth could be the man to follow in the “top European” betting, or indeed at big odds in the outright market. The Swede shot an eye catching 66 in the last round at Bay Hill to finish in a share of eighth place. Fasth has form at the Miami layout, having claimed sixth in this event last year.

On the European Tour, the Madeira Islands Open at Santo da Serra is a contest with a reputation for throwing up first time winners. With that in mind, it could pay to follow Alex Noren and Jean-Francois Lucquin, both of whom have shown good form in events such as this already this season.

Collins Picks:

WGC-CA Championship: Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Niclas Fasth. Madeira Islands Open: Alex Noren and Jean-Francois Lucquin.

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