A reader brought up in the comments section the prices for Tiger to win the US Open at different shops around the web. As absurd as they sounded, he was right, Tiger is the one golfer that potentially could have this good of a chance to win.
I’ll just go ahead and say it, I flat out have no idea.
On one hand, watching Tiger win events with ridiculous pitch-ins an absurd number of long putts and one or two incredible scrambles SEEMS lucky.
Until he does it every week.
The fact is, Tiger is very good in all aspects of the game of golf. When you continually pitch the ball close it will go in once in a while, or when you continually putt the ball close from long distance it will find the right line and fall every now and then.
Tiger is so much better on approach shots and around the greens that he is going to get these seemingly lucky breaks more than other players.
In fact in 2008 if he had played enough rounds he would have ranked first in the following statistical categories: Scrambling, Scrambling from over 30 yards, GIR from 100-125 yds, GIR 150-200 yards, Approach proximity from 100-125 yards, Approach proximity from 150-200 yards, Approach proximity from 50-125 yards, Approach proximity from 200-225 yards, Putting from inside 5 feet, putting from 5-15 feet, putting from 15-25 feet, putting from 3-5 feet, Scrambling from the rough, and GIR Percentage from 100+ yards.
In a non-long winded paragraph that means Tiger is better than everyone at getting it close, and scoring when he is close.
Based solely on his performance from before last year’s US Open my numbers give Tiger an almost 50% chance of winning a tournament against a major championship type field. If you include this year’s tournaments for Tiger, that number drops down to about 40%.
That seems so absurd on the face of it, but I’m not entirely convinced that it is out of the question for Tiger Woods.
For one thing, when I was looking at the career arcs of other PGA Tour players it was not at all out of the question for them to have a career year at age 34. In fact looking at a small sample size of about 20 golfers, the peak seemed to be between ages 34-37(more with this next week).
That means that Tiger’s 2008 season could have been just a glimpse of a golfer entering his peak. Obviously the injury did have some effect on his preparation for the beginning of this season, but his final two rounds of the Memorial have me wondering if we may see three more years of dominant Tiger.
In 2007, Tiger teed it up 13 times in stroke play and won 8, in 2008 he teed it up 6 times and won 4, this year he is 2 for 6. Overall that comes out to a 56% winning percentage over the past three years. Factor in the harder major fields and 40-48% seems entirely reasonable.
That part I am sure of.
The thing that keeps coming back and placing a lingering doubt in my mind, is why would Vegas be consistently underrating him? He is clearly the most popular golfer in the world. Are people more afraid than I think of playing a small plus number in golf? Is it possible that Vegas has no idea what to do with a once in a lifetime talent like Tiger Woods?
I’m just not sure.
The fact is in terms of level of play 2008 was the best Tiger has ever played. For a PGA Tour player to have a great year at age 33 doesn’t appear to be that rare, nor does maintaining that form for several years. I’m not betting on Tiger, I’m not betting against him, I’m just simply planning on sitting back and enjoying watching the best man to ever play the game of golf.