Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson Open as Favorites for 2014 Masters

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Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson Open as Favorites for 2014 Masters
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It has been nearly six years since Tiger Woods last won a major championship, but the oddsmakers are banking on that drought coming to an end at the 2014 Masters after installing him as a 5-1 favorite, according to CBS Sports' Erin Sharoni via Bovada. 

Per Bovada, Woods is a heavy favorite with Rory McIlroy checking in at 10-1 and Phil Mickelson following closely at 12-1. Here is a look at the top 25 contenders from a betting perspective:

2014 Masters Odds
Golfer Odds
Tiger Woods 5-1
Rory McIlroy 10-1
Phil Mickelson 12-1
Adam Scott 14-1
Henrik Stenson 14-1
Justin Rose 22-1
Jason Day 25-1
Dustin Johnson 28-1
Brandt Snedeker 33-1
Charl Schwartzel 33-1
Lee Westwood 33-1
Luke Donald 33-1
Ian Poulter 40-1
Jason Dufner 40-1
Jordan Spieth 40-1
Keegan Bradley 40-1
Louis Oosthuizen 40-1
Matt Kuchar 40-1
Sergio Garcia 40-1
Bubba Watson 50-1
Graeme McDowell 50-1
Hunter Mahan 50-1
Nick Watney 50-1
Webb Simpson 50-1
Zach Johnson 50-1


Woods regained his No. 1 ranking in the world last year by virtue of five victories, although he was unable to close the deal in the tournaments that mattered most. Even so, Woods is optimistic about his chances of finally coming through in 2014 due to his history of success at the major courses, including The Masters' Augusta National, according to a recent blog post by Tiger.

I'm really excited about the major championships next year. I've won at three of the four venues -- Augusta National, Valhalla Golf Club and Royal Liverpool -- and on Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Open), I'm trending the right way, having finished third and second. But I still need to practice, work, grind and prepare, and have my game come together those four times a year, and I hope that will happen.

With four, Woods is tied with Arnold Palmer for the second-most green jackets ever and behind only Jack Nicklaus. Woods also happens to trail Nicklaus for the most all-time major victories with 14 to The Golden Bear's 18. NBC analyst Johnny Miller believes the 2014 Masters could be a make-or-break tournament for Woods in terms of making a run at Nicklaus, according to Brian Biggane of The Palm Beach Post (via The Kansas City Star):

The Masters signals a lot with Tiger. If he doesn't win the Masters, it gives a great big 'uh-oh' because that course is so perfect for his game. If he were to win at Augusta, though, I'd almost bet he'd win another major this year. 

Over the past couple years Woods has come agonizingly close to ending his major dry spell, but he has been able to put all facets of his game together for four rounds. With so much parity and talent present on the PGA Tour currently, Woods simply can't get by on mystique and intimidation alone anymore.

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As for McIlroy, it is somewhat surprising to see him listed as the No. 2 contender. He struggled mightily in 2013 and dropped all the way from No. 1 to No. 6 in the world. McIlroy appeared ready to unseat Woods as the best player in golf in 2012, however, and it is certainly possible that he could regain that form by The Masters.

Mickelson is currently No. 5 in the world, but he is a three-time Masters winner and is coming off a 2013 Open Championship title. Lefty is as streaky as they come, so it is impossible to predict how he'll fare, but he has a history of doing incredible things at Augusta.

Woods may be the favorite at The Masters come April 10, but he'll have to hold off a field of hungry competitors and play consistently great golf to end his drought.

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