Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Punter: Woods’ reaction to trauma is his key to victory

Tiger Woods

All media and sporting attention will be focused on Augusta from today until Sunday, probably making it the most watched Masters since the tournament first began back in 1934.

And all because of Tiger Woods, whose off-the-course activities have dominated his life, and the news, in the last five months.

The layers are taking no chances in quoting him as the 4-1 favourite to win for a fifth time but, in the circumstances, he has to be opposed.

All golfers need Woods back doing what the does best in the sporting context. His presence increases viewing figures, general public interest, and advertising volumes to such an extent that all his competitors feel the financial draught when Tiger is in absentia.

Woods can’t go on flagellating himself for ever over his misdemeanours, but how he handles this comeback will be closely scrutinised by psychologists and others.

There are those, especially among his rivals, who believe he has the mental strength to overcome anything.

That may be the case, but cast your mind back to 2006 and the passing of his father, Earl.

It is not exactly the same thing, in terms of emotional effect, but the trauma the event caused resulted in a poor performance from the maestro in his first tournament after that loss in the US Open at Winged Foot.

Woods missed the cut on that occasion, the first and only time that has happened to him in a major championship.

So beware all you Tiger punting fans. Odds of 5-1 not to make the cut as opposed to 1-10 to do so, might be worth a look.

If Tiger overcomes his problems and is the centre of attention in the Augusta clubhouse on Sunday night, then it will be the greatest sporting comeback since Muhammad Ali retook the world heavyweight title from George Foreman in that famous Rumble in the Jungle back in 1974.

I’m not convinced the weekend will end that way, and would rather be a layer than a bettor on this occasion.

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