Add another list of numbers to show how much has changed in the world of Tiger Woods.
Geoff Ogilvy ran across a bookmaker’s odds for the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio, when he noticed Woods at 20-1. This would only be startling because Woods hasn’t competed in three months while letting injuries to his left leg fully heal. In this case, however, Ogilvy considered that Woods has won a record seven times at Firestone, and until last year had never finished worse than fifth.
“Did you think you could ever get Tiger at Firestone at 20-1? Ever?’’ Ogilvy said to one of the caddies. “He was 2-1 for a while.’’
Then he paused on the putting green, which was filled with players getting ready for the World Golf Championship event that starts today.
“It’s been an odd year,’’ Ogilvy said.
The goal for Woods is to restore some normalcy, at least to his own game. He is coming up on the two-year anniversary of his last win on American soil. The last time he faced any competition inside the ropes, it lasted no more than nine holes at The Players Championship until he withdrew because of leg injuries.
Now, he claims he is as healthy as he has been in years - he wouldn’t say how many years, just “plural.’’ He has looked solid in a nine-hole practice round alone on Tuesday, and with Hunter Mahan and Arjun Atwal yesterday.
What to expect today? Not even Woods knows.
“I still haven’t been in a competitive environment yet, so that’s a totally different atmosphere,’’ he said.
The Bridgestone Invitational features a 76-man field, which includes only four past champions in the 11-year history of the WGC event - one win each for defending champion Mahan, Stewart Cink, and Darren Clarke, and seven titles for Woods.
But that was the old Woods, the guy who won at least one World Championship every year since 1999.
The recovering Woods?
He said his expectation was to win, just like always.
Whatever the expectations, the level of curiosity about Woods is close to what it was when he returned from his sex scandal at the 2010 Masters. There was something about the way he left The Players Championship on May 12 that made it look as though he would never be the same, that the four surgeries on his left knee would keep him from dominating the way he once did.
Return engagement US Open champion Rory McIlroy loves playing in America so much that he wants to join the PGA Tour again.
McIlroy spoke to tour officials yesterday and said he was leaning toward taking up his tour card next season, meaning he would play at least 15 events on the PGA Tour in 2012.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland said he would start looking for a place to live in Florida - either Orlando or the West Palm Beach area - after the PGA Championship next week.
“I feel I play my best golf over here,’’ McIlroy said. “I’m very comfortable in this country. Yeah, I’m definitely looking toward coming back and playing a full schedule.’’
McIlroy has three career wins, the biggest two in America - a 62 in the final round at Quail Hollow in 2010, and his record-setting performance in the US Open.