This weekend’s Valspar Championship wound up quite a bit more thrilling than your average pre-Masters tune-up: Tiger Woods came into Sunday near the top of the leaderboard, and spent the afternoon just off the lead, tantalizingly close to a breakthrough win for this comeback chapter of his career. That he was lurking just behind the leaders, right to the very end, gave the tournament a Big Moment feeling it never would’ve otherwise produced.
The day started well enough, with a birdie on the par-5 1st, but Tiger was back to par after bogeying the par-3 4th, and it would be a grueling, infuriating 12 holes before Tiger’s score would move again, in either direction. He reached the green in two on the par-5 14th, but three-putt to miss his best chance at jumping up the leaderboard. He had birdie chances on holes five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 12, 14, and 16, and failed each time to sink the putt. But his round was not without highlights: with the lead still barely within reach, Tiger lined up this 44-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th:
This left Tiger with a chance at grabbing a share of the lead on 18, a hole he hadn’t birdied all tournament. His approach shot left him with a long but not impossible birdie putt that he left juuuuuust short of the hole:
Paul Casey finished 10-under to win the tournament. Tiger finished 9-under: interestingly, Tiger’s odds to win the Masters shot to 10-1 during his run at Valspar this weekend, according to ESPN:
More bets have been placed on Woods to win the Masters than any other golfer at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Woods has attracted 6 percent of all bets placed on the book’s Masters odds — more than co-favorites Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas have received.
Johnson and Thomas are each 8-1 and are the only golfers with better odds than Woods.
The Masters will be held April 5 to April 8, and roughly a million billion more people will be watching than otherwise would’ve, now that Tiger appears to be in the hunt.