Ryder Cup odds (as of Sept. 25):
Team USA: 1.85
Team Europe: 2.20
Tiger Woods had been getting closer and closer to that breakthrough performance during what has been an increasingly impressive comeback season.
He has posted seven Top-10 finishes this year in 18 events, including a tie for sixth at the Open Championship and a solo second-place finish at the PGA Championship, the final major of the year, less than a month later.
Tiger had been knocking on the door. He was finally able to put it all together for four rounds at the TOUR Championship last weekend, shooting a pair of five-under par, 65, and cruising to a triumphant victory on Sunday.
Expectations may have been a little lofty when Woods first returned to competitive play this season. The hype was off the charts, but in hindsight, thinking his comeback would be punctuated by a miracle victory at The Masters or US Open was a tad unrealistic.
Golf Betting Breakdown:
But as the season progressed, the elements of his game started coming back. His iron play improved. His driving improved. His putting improved. When that all comes together at once with his competitive drive to win, a Tiger Woods victory became a matter of 'When' and not 'If.'
After earning his first win in 1,876 days, the expectations and the pressure on Woods to not only win again but win at a major next year will likely go through the roof in the spring.
As of Monday, the day after his win at East Lake, Woods was a co-favourite with Jordan Spieth to win the 2019 Masters, with odds of 10.00 to leave Augusta next April with the green jacket. To win the FedExCup in 2019, Woods is among the favourites behind only Dustin Johnson.
Woods' odds to win the FedExCup in 2019 stand at 15.00, alongside Justin Thomas, while Johnson has odds of 13.00 to win outright. Woods has come a long way since the end of January, when he was listed as 666th in the Official World Golf Ranking. On Monday, he as 13th in the world.
The bigger focus for Woods, however, will be a pair of upcoming events beginning with the Ryder Cup this week. He makes his eighth appearance as a player at this event - his first was 21 years ago! - but enters the week with a record of 13-17-3, which is rather underwhelming given his stature as one of the game's greatest of all time.
The USA is the defending champion, having captured the Ryder Cup on home soil in 2016. They're also the pre-competition favourites - in Europe, this time, at Le Golf National in Paris, France - with odds of 1.66 to lift the trophy once again.
As he does everywhere else, Woods is sure to draw a huge crowd in Paris.
A captain's pick for Team USA, he should, as the most recent winner on the PGA Tour, also face considerable pressure to get his Ryder Cup results trending in a much more positive direction. At this point, who would doubt that Woods couldn't turn it around this week?
Momentum has been building behind his game for a couple of months now. He isn't favoured to be the top point producer for the US this week (that distinction belongs to Dustin Johnson with odds of 5.70) but if Woods is able to put it all together again this week, that gives his team an 'It' factor that Europe would have difficulty matching.
Beyond the Ryder Cup, Woods is scheduled to face Phil Mickelson in a one-on-one match in Las Vegas during American Thanksgiving.
A winner in March, Mickelson's game has been trending down through the summer and into the fall. He didn't shoot a single round in the 60s at the TOUR Championship, finishing 13-over par. That followed a tie for 58th at the BMW Championship, and he missed the cut at the final major of the year in the middle of August.
Woods is now a considerable favourite versus Mickelson two months out from the highly anticipated Showdown at Shadow Creek, with odds of 1.44 to win outright compared to Mickelson's odds of 2.75.
With two significant events ahead of Woods, he can further put his stamp on a remarkable comeback year.