Tiger Woods heads into the U.S. Open as the early favorite.
Another major golf tournament begets yet another stream of prognosticators claiming that this is finally the event where Tiger Woods snaps his majors drought.
Woods, the polarizing face of the sport, has not won a major since 2008, yet he is poised to enter the U.S. Open, which begins on Thursday, June 13, at Merion Golf Club, as a considerable favorite.
Golf Odds currently has him at 5/1, with Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar all trailing in a tie for second at 20/1:
U.S. Open Odds (as of June 6)
Do you know what other tournament Woods was expected to win? The Memorial, where the 37-year-old delivered one of the worst performances of his career. He finished in a tie for 65th with a 296 that nearly surpassed his 298 from the 2010 WGC Bridgestone as his career high.
His day to forget (at least that's what Woods would want us to do) was highlighted by two triple-bogeys. SportsCenter's Twitter account joked that most casual golfers would at least consider the effort a decent day.
Tiger Woods posted his highest 9-hole score as a professional today - 8-over 44. Many "weekend warriors" would take his worst 9...— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 1, 2013
That's not to say his failure at the Memorial foreshadows a similar misfire at the U.S. Open. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, six golfers who missed the cut in their prior outings have gone on to emerge victorious at the U.S. Open.
Woods will certainly improve on his poor Memorial outing, but it's odd that everyone is absolutely positive of it. Not having seized a major title in the past five years eventually has to mean something, even if he is Tiger Woods.
How much of the credit handed to Woods stems from his past accolades rather than his recent results? Based on his past five years of work, should he still be labeled the golfer to beat before every tournament, even though many continue to beat him?
Woods has reset his career to again resemble an elite contender by winning four events in 2013. It'd be one thing if he were a marginal favorite, but much of the hoopla around him stems from the golfing world's desire to see him dominate the sport.
This seems like a case of paying for the name brand. While one of the greatest golfers ever to play has found his stroke in 2013, Woods still should not receive the full benefit of the doubt until he shines on the grand stage once more.