The PGA Tour season for Tiger Woods could be considered a success for everyone except those who bet on him. While Woods was in contention for several tournaments, he didn’t win until the end of the season. Those who bet on the former No. 1 player, ripped up betting slips, except for the Tour Championship.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods walks up the 18th fairway last Sunday en route to winning the Tour Championship. (Image: Getty)

The Tiger Woods comeback from multiple back surgeries began in December last year, when the 43-year-old decided to play in the Hero World Challenge, a limited-field charity tournament that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. In this low-pressure tournament setting, he was able to test out his back, nearly eight months since undergoing a spinal fusion.

“I had the adrenaline going and overall I’m very pleased,” Woods said. “I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds. That wasn’t going to be an issue. The issue was how was my scoring going to be, how was my feel, how am I going to get used to the adrenaline in my system for the first time in a while.”

Finishing ninth out of 18 golfers, Woods and his fans (and bettors) for the first time in a long while saw hope.

Golf Gamblers Line Up

Fans of Woods saw the former No. 1 player as one of the contenders for the first major championship of the year, and started driving down his odds for the Masters. Before the Hero World Challenge, Woods was a 50/1 pick to win his fifth green jacket. Afterwards he was bet down to 15/1.

His first event of 2018 was the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, an event he had won seven times. It was also the site of the last major he won, the 2008 US Open.

Woods came into the late-January event as a 25/1 pick to win for the first time since 2013. He opened with an even-par 72, followed that with a 1-under 71. He shot 70-72 on the weekend and finished tied for 23rd.

That didn’t concern gamblers, who dropped his odds to 12/1 to win the Masters two weeks later. By the time the tournament arrived in April, Woods was a co-favorite at 10/1 with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.

He struggled at Augusta, shooting over par rounds in his first two days, eventually finishing tied for 32nd. The biggest victory for Woods was that he had played six tournaments in a little over three months and his back felt fine.

Swing Time

The odds continued to stay around the 10/1 to 15/1 area for tournaments Woods played in before June’s US Open. At the nation’s championship, he was 16/1, but struggled at Shinnecock Hills, missing the cut.

Fans and bettors didn’t lose faith in Woods, however, and a month later he was 20/1 to win the Open Championship.

It turned out to be the best tournament of the year for him at that point. He had a chance to win, ultimately finishing tied for sixth, but was very encouraged by his play.

“It was a blast,” he said after his fourth round. “I was saying earlier that I need to try and keep it in perspective because, the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing The Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

As good as The Open Championship felt, the final major of the year, the PGA Championship would elicit an even better emotion. Woods was a 16/1 pick to win, behind favorite Dustin Johnson at 9/1, and Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy at 12/1.

He came into the final round four shots behind the leader and mounted a charge, shooting a 64 and finishing second.

“I didn’t know how I was going to play,” Woods said. “At the beginning of the year, if you would say, yeah, I would have a legit chance to win the last two major championships … with what swing? I didn’t have a swing at the time.”

Hitting Paydirt?

The season was winding down, and Woods hadn’t won, but didn’t really expect to, despite what bettors thought.

When he entered the last tournament of 2018, Woods was a 12/1 pick to win the Tour Championship. It turned out to be a payday for gamblers as Woods won by two strokes.

“It’s certainly up there with obviously all the major championships I’ve won, Players, World Golf Championships,” Woods said about the win. “But this is under different circumstances. You know, I’ve explained throughout the year that I just didn’t know whether, when this would ever happen again. If I could somehow piece together a golf swing this year, I felt like I could do it. But somehow I’ve been able to do that, and here we are.”

The optimism for Woods’ future continues at sportsbooks. He is already the 9/1 favorite to win the 2019 Masters.

Tiger Woods Comeback Trail

2018 Tournament Results
(majors in bold)

T-23rd — Farmers Insurance Open
Cut — Genesis Open
T-12th — The Honda Classic
T-2nd — Valspar Championship
T-5th — Arnold Palmer Invitational
T-32nd — The Masters
T-55th — Wells Fargo Championship
T-11th — Players Championship
T-23rd — Memorial Tournament
Cut — US Open
T-4th — Quicken Loans National
T-6th — Open Championship
T-31st — WGC Bridgestone Invitational
2nd — PGA Championship
T-40th — The Northern Trust
T-24th — Dell Technologies Championship
T-6th — BMW Championship
1st — Tour Championship