Tiger Woods: Bay Hill Victory Propels Him into Role as Masters Favorite

Jeff GrantContributor IMarch 25, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 25:  Tiger Woods of the USA proudly holds the trophy during the final round of the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 25, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Tiger Woods has leapfrogged Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy as the betting favorite for the 2012 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. after securing a five-stroke victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on Sunday.

Bovada Sportsbook has established betting odds of 7/2 for Woods to capture his fifth green jacket in golf's first major tournament of the 2012 season starting on Thursday, April 5.

It's been a long time since golf's most polarizing figure finished a weekend atop a PGA Tour leaderboard—923 days, to be exact, since capturing the 2009 BMW Championship.

Despite the thrill of victory, the 36-year-old, donning his usual fourth-round attire, was already looking ahead when giving interviews after a two-under 70 in Sunday's final round: "It's not like winning a major championship or anything," Woods said. "But it certainly feels really good." 

The golfing world has been put on notice with his exploits in Orlando, as there's nothing more intimidating than a 14-time major championship winner reborn on a golf course.

Five golfers have tasted victory at Augusta since Woods last won in 2005, including Phil Mickelson twice.

Mickelson has also tasted victory during the early portion of the tour's schedule, finishing with a score of 17-under 269 in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.

He is currently the third choice in future wagering for the event at odds of 11/1, while defending champion Charl Schwartzel sits alongside Adam Scott at odds of 25/1.

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are also receiving considerable attention in the betting market at odds of 14/1. 

The resurgence of Woods will make this a must-see event in less than two weeks' time.