Tiger Woods’ long-awaited return to the links finally arrives on Thursday as he attempts to win his fifth green jacket at the 74th Masters. Woods may not have played on the tour in nearly five months but he’s still the oddsmakers’ favorite at the Masters. The latest odds place Woods as a +450 favorite. Those are actually high odds for Woods. Last season at Augusta Woods was a +175 favorite despite returning from knee surgery, while back in 2008 he was heavily favored at -120. Woods hasn’t won a green jacket since 2005 and with all the distractions thrown his way lately it wouldn’t be a surprise if his winless streak continued.
Last year at Augusta the green jacket went to Angel Cabrera after he bested both Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry in a playoff. Cabrera was a big underdog last year when he won, and despite being the defending Masters champion he returns to Augusta as a heavy underdog again +3500 at Bovada. A back-to-back champion at Augusta is a rare feat and it’s only happened three times in the history of the Masters. The last one to do it was Woods in 2001-2002. Woods isn’t the only multiple Masters winner to tee it up this week. Two-time Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Bernhard Langer, and Ben Crenshaw are all expected to be among the field this week. No offense to Langer and Crenshaw, but the only one from that trio that really has a shot this weekend is Mickelson. If you want to take a risk on one of the veterans you can get Langer at +35000 and Crenshaw +200000 at Bovada. Mickelson last won at Augusta in 2006 after previously winning in 2004. Since his 2006 win his results have varied, tying for 24th in 2007, tying for fifth in 2008, and finishing alone in fifth last season. Mickelson hasn’t had the greatest of seasons so far in 2010 after being unable to put together four quality rounds. Because of that his best finish of the season so far was tying for eighth at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.
If you want to try and ride the hot hand at Augusta this weekend your best bets look to be Ernie Els and Anthony Kim. Els, a +800 underdog at Bovada, already has two wins under his belt this season. He’s had a horrible time at Augusta lately, missing the cut the last three years, but he’s also finished second at Augusta twice and this could finally be his year to earn a green jacket. Kim is the latest winner on the PGA Tour after capturing the Shell Houston Open last week. Last year in his first appearance at Augusta he finished well back, tied for 20th place. He hasn’t had much luck in majors so far in his short career but that could change this week, especially if he putts as well as he did last weekend; the latest odds on Kim at Bovada have him listed as a +3000 underdog.
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