When will Tiger Woods break through? It's the biggest question in golf.
So far, Phil Mickelson already has a win this year, while Tiger is without one. That being said, he was in the hunt just about a week ago, in a tournament called the Masters.
However, Tiger didn't get a green jacket this try. He fell four strokes short of Charl Schwartzel, whose epic charge to the lead in the closing holes had everyone on the edge of their seat.
So what was the biggest headline after the Masters? Not the winner, but the loser—it was Tiger Woods.
The question that people were asking, more importantly, was when is he going to have it?
Let's take a look at what will likely be Tiger's schedule in the upcoming weeks, and take a look at the odds he has at taking home the trophy.
Tiger has made it clear that he only plays the courses he likes, that he only plays the tournaments he wants and doesn't like to add to his schedule.
He now only averages about 16 or 17 tournaments a year—leaving about half the season to survive without him.
This year is not going to be any different, unless Woods feels like showing up at a new tournament is going to give him a real shot at winning.
The tournaments that Tiger will likely be hidden in his house for, prior to the US Open, include the Heritage, Zurich Classic, Crowne Plaza, HP Byron Nelson and St. Jude Classic.
If you're wondering, that puts Woods at a ratio of three tournaments played to five missed between the Masters and the US Open.
Some of it is his sponsor deals, some of it his life, but Woods will not be adding to his schedule.
If he did, I would say he'd go for Zurich or the Crowne Plaza, but don't count on those.
Hosted at Quail Hollow, Tiger will most likely be present for this tournament.
His history? One win in 2007.
The difference? The tournament's name—and Tiger.
Last year, Rory McIlroy stunned the leaderboard by rocketing to the top with a final-round 62 to top Phil Mickelson by four strokes.
This was after McIlroy had to eagle the 16th hole to make the cut on the number.
What stunned everyone other than McIlroy was Tiger Woods' performance in the second round.
Everything appeared to come undone for Woods, as he posted a 79 in tandem with his 74 in the first round. This placed him around 140th.
Other than last year's awful appearance, Woods has a T4 (2009), DNP (2008, 2006, 2003), T11 (2005) and a T3 (2004).
So, his resume isn't too stacked here and Quail Hollow is known for having the toughest three-hole stretch on tour.
That being said, it's three closing holes, especially the 18th, which has ranked in the top five on finishing holes on tour since 2003.
The ideal situation would see Tiger have the lead going into the tough three-hole stretch, birdie the 18th, stick a fork in it and call it done.
The worst case scenario would be MC for two years in a row, and an 80.
However, the most likely scenario is a top 15 finish for Woods.
Nothing spectacular, but still respectable.
I would say 40-1 are long odds for a Tiger win, but that's what I would rate him at.
It's former claim as "Golf's Fifth Major" seems to be diminishing, with many top ranked Euros not planning on attending.
However, it doesn't change the fact that it is one of America's favorite tournaments. Much of that, of course, is thanks to the 17th hole.
Tiger's definitely had his success in this millennium at Sawgrass, with a win that was "better than most" in 2001, a T8 (2009), T22 (2006), T16 (2004), T11 (2003) and a T14 (2002).
While many may not classify that as success for Tiger Woods, for anyone else it is.
He's also had struggles. Other than not playing in 2008, Woods had a T37 in 2007, T52 in 2005 and couldn't muster a finish last year—pulling out due to injury.
It's not looking likely that TPC will be the course that Tiger breaks through on. It's pretty narrow, for starters, and doesn't provide much of a miss zone for someone like Woods.
We all know the ideal scenario would be a birdie-birdie finish to close out the tournament, with the worst case being that Woods misses the 17th green and misses the cut.
As for what's likely, judging by history, I'd say a T12 is on the cards for Tiger.
His odds of winning aren't much better. How does 34-1 sound?
Another tournament that Tiger frequents, hosted at historic Muirfield by the even more historic Jack Nicklaus, will provide an almost perfect opportunity for him to win.
What's more, he's won at this tournament before.
Tiger, in fact, has won this tournament four times, including a stretch from 1999-2001, where Woods won consecutively (the other was in 2009).
Outside of that dominance, Woods has a T19 (2010), DNP (2008, 2006), T15 (2007), T3 (2005, 2004), T4 (2003) and a T22 (2002).
Sticking with the trend above, Tiger will of course finish inside the top 25.
In fact, I'd say he has around a T6 finish.
Yet again, the ideal finish would be Tiger pulling off a huge win to take home the Golden Bear's tournament.
How fitting would it be for second-best player ever to win and trigger his comeback at the tournament that is hosted by the best player ever?
Of course, let's all dread this.
Jack's course has yielded some high scores. I'd say the worst case scenario for Tiger is that he makes the cut, only to blow up and shoot in double digits over par.
Odds of a Tiger victory are at a high as of now, at a 20-1 line. He can thank his consistency at the tournament for that rank.
This is probably my favorite tournament of the year.
Yes, even ahead of the Masters—although Augusta is only behind by a little bit.
What makes this tournament so great is the opportunity for any golfer to qualify and play, with probably some of the toughest conditions on course that the players see all year.
We all know Tiger has won majors, and he has three US Open trophies—as many as he does Open Championship Claret Jugs.
The theme that rings true between Tiger Woods and majors is consistency.
His worst finish at the US Open was an MC in 2006, when Woods was struggling with the death of his father.
Other than that, a T82 in 1996. Only top 20 finishes have followed since.
In the past five US Opens, where Tiger made the cut, he has two runner-up finishes, a T4, T6 and a win.
All of that seems to point Tiger's way.
If you're wondering how Tiger has done other than in those years, the full rundown is as follows: WD (1995), T82 (1996), T19 (1997), T18 (1998), T3 (1999), win (2000, 2002, 2008), T12 (2001) T20 (2003), T17 (2004), 2 (2005), CUT (2006), T2 (2007), T6 (2009), T4 (2010).
Considering he has pretty much every single part of the top five except for fifth, Tiger's chances at the US Open are extremely high.
The ideal situation would be a dominant US Open for Woods, to break through with his first win.
The worst possible situation would be another missed cut, especially at a tournament where Woods is always on the leaderboard.
I have this as Woods' most likely first victory of the 2011 season. The wait will be over on June 19, at Congressional Country Club.
Odds of Woods winning are 6-1. His own successes and the lack of success of other, experienced players (Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson) combine for Woods to be the favorite for the US Open, barring any horrid play down the line.