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Opinion & Analysis

The USGA-Approved Alternative To Golf’s Walk of Shame



You just hit a tee shot to a blind landing zone. You smashed it, right on the screws. As the ball disappeared behind the hill, it was right on your target line. Great shot, you. You make your way over the hill but your ball is nowhere to be found. You march up and down the fairway, zig-zagging between the left and right rough. After five minutes, the infuriating reality is no longer deniable. It’s lost.

It could have been a bad kick, picked up by a group on an adjacent hole, plugged, or maybe you were lying to yourself about how great your shot was in the first place.

Now what?

If you’re a rule-follower, you march back to the tee-box, add one, and re-load. Hopefully your partner will watch from the fairway, where you’ll be hitting your fourth shot assuming you find it this time. Don’t worry about the group shooting daggers at you from the tee box as you start the hole over. The “While We’re Young” campaign encouraging golfers to pick up the pace? Don’t worry about that, either.

In theory, the stroke-and-distance penalty for a lost or out-of-bounds ball is sensible. In practice, however, it’s ludicrous. During a casual round, most players aren’t willing to make the aforementioned march back to the tee. If you fall into that category, Andrew Elaimy, assistant pro at TPC Boston, offers his suggestion for an appropriate alternative to the stroke and distance dilemma.

“During everyday play, or when playing with members, I suggest playing it as a hazard with your best guess on where you think it entered,” he says. “At the clubs I’ve worked at it, if someone walked back to the tee and set the whole day back, it would be a big issue and they would definitely hear about it from someone in the professional staff.”

The proposed new rules of golf don’t provide a solution for golf’s “walk of shame.” The USGA did, however, acknowledge its shortcoming in this area, echoing Elaimy’s suggestion by offering an “Appropriate Penalty Under Any Alternate Procedure.” This, you know, ensures everybody can break the rules equally. After all, it’s a gentlemen’s game.

The entire explanation for not introducing a solution is worth a read, but the nuts and bolts of the suggested alternative are: use your best judgement on where to drop, then take your fourth shot from there. The section of the USGA’s explanation regarding an agreeable alternative states:

It was recognized that, when groups of golfers agree among themselves to use an alternative to stroke and distance, the player usually drops a ball somewhere around where the player or the group thinks the ball was lost or went out of bounds and takes a penalty of one stroke.

In reviewing the various alternatives to stroke and distance, we discussed whether there should be a penalty of one stroke or two strokes (noting that, at one point in history, the Rules applied a three-stroke penalty in stroke play, and at other times the penalty was distance-only with no added penalty stroke). While no definitive conclusions were reached, it was generally felt that any option that removed the need to return to where the previous stroke was made should carry a penalty of two strokes. This was based on the view that any alternative should seek to replicate the likely outcome of the stroke-and-distance procedure; in effect, the second penalty stroke would substitute for not requiring the player to return to make another stroke from where the previous stroke was made.

By way of example, a player who loses his or her tee shot and plays another ball from the tee into the fairway will be playing the fourth stroke from the fairway. In view of this, any alternative relief option that allows the player to proceed without returning to the tee should have the player playing the fourth stroke, which means a two-stroke penalty needs to be imposed.

Commendably, the USGA uses sound logic in both assuming that most players won’t follow this ridiculous rule, and in how to best break the rule without cheating its spirit. Nicely done.

This explanation should suffice as permission to replace the trek back to the tee box with a reasonable drop and two-stroke penalty the next time you hit that perfect tee shot that somehow vanishes off the golf course. Whether you like the rule as it is, agree with this solution, or have an alternative of your own, the USGA would like to hear your feedback and creative thoughts.

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Nick Heidelberger writes about all things related to golf, from the world's best players to the weekend warriors, although he can only relate to the latter. When he's not writing or golfing, Nick co-hosts the @AtTheTurnPod, hikes with his dogs and roots for his wife's soccer team. Twitter: @njheidelberger



  1. Dill Pickelson

    May 9, 2017 at 1:06 am

    In Japan, even in many non-pro tournaments, this is a rule. They put two more tee markers out in the fairway and you drop it there, playing your fourth.

  2. Onintwo

    May 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Matt well said

  3. Onintwo

    May 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Well said and too funny. Thought they were for aesthetics, never considered them to being another “on course revenue stream”. Great comment.

  4. Dave R

    May 8, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    That would be like summer rules . Some are some aren’t . Golf has rules just like every other sport follow them.

  5. Ron

    May 8, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I see so many issues with this proposed alternative. But the current rule is still too penalizing. So a shot (that is otherwise dry and playable) but rolls into someone’s backyard marked with white stakes incurs stroke and distance. But if you jack a shot into the bottom of a pond, you get to drop from point of entry?

    Best solution would be for courses to line every hole with stakes. No out of bounds. If a ball is lost you get two club lengths from the point of entry. And if it’s someone’s backyard or somewhere the course doesn’t want you attempting to hit from, mark it as a mandatory drop area.

  6. Jam

    May 8, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I’ve never been a huge fan of lost ball or OB for that matter. You can smash a tee shot 3 bills just slightly off your intended line and either lose it or have it kick out of bounds, and somehow that is deemed a worse shot than if you swung and missed your tee shot all together.

  7. Glenk69

    May 8, 2017 at 9:47 am

    How about courses putting in drop areas on each hole, near the back of the holes expected landing area. If someone loses a ball on that hole just go to the landing area.

  8. BallBuster

    May 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Our league course has 9 OB holes all very much in play. 2 left and 7 right. A slicer’s nightmare. And the ground is hard enough that a kick could easily roll OB when one thought it should nestle. It got ridiculous when one plays a provisional and that definitely went OB. Now a 3rd needs to be hit. And how many people carry 3 different balls or markings in their pocket? More trips to the bag to rearm themselves. The 3rd shot is a guaranteed duff 90 degrees in the opposite direction of 1 and 2. So screw the USGA. Almost 20 years ago we enacted a hazard rule of 2 club lengths/1 stroke rule from where it crossed the line and play on. Often the lie isn’t great in terms of access forward, so it still was penal, but play sped up significantly, and people were happier (I think that’s a goal of playing as rule anal people often lose sight of). These scores are not for USGA handicapping purposes so wft does it really matter?!!

  9. Lob Wedge

    May 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    It’s nice that the USGA has caught up with what the general golfing public has done for the past 40 years. I can’t recall the last time I saw anyone walk back to the tee during casual play. Do these guys play golf in the real world with real people or is it all 0HCP country clubbers? It’s like hearing the president being amazed at the cost of milk when he goes to the grocery store for the first time in 10 years.

    Here’s a thought for the USGA. Let’s be progressive and think ahead instead of agreeing that what’s already done is OK. You guys are without a forward thinking clue. Ugh..

  10. Iutodd

    May 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

    My friend and I had a ‘Tiger Woods Rule’: the idea being that Tiger Woods basically never ever loses a ball when he is playing because 900 people are watching and finding his ball for him.

    So when he and I are playing a course and I hit one into a blind area or just an area with a few trees that is mostly open and we can’t find it…the idea that I’m supposed to follow the same “rules” as Tiger is just ridiculous to me. If there is no hazard, no OB and it’s just an area of rough with a few trees (in the midwest every course I’ve ever played on has any number of playable areas like this) then I should be able to find a ball that I hit into that area. Tiger would have found it – actually basically ANY professional would have found it – but we chose Tiger cause he was fairly wild off the tee.

    But sometimes amateurs just can’t find their ball in an area where there isn’t any reason for them not to find it. The ball takes a weird hop off a tree, it went shorter or farther than I thought, some sort of hole in the ground swallowed it up – or it’s the first time I’ve played this course and I don’t know the distances/angles just yet. I’m supposed to take two penalty strokes in that situation and/or walk back to the tee? Just because I’m NOT Tiger Woods and don’t have all kinds of people and marshals watching? That’s ridiculous to me. What’s probably happened is that it’s under a tree or a rock and I would probably take an unplayable – which is just one stroke and drop within two club lengths.

    The bottom line is that a professional golfer hits something like 6 out of 10 fairways. But some days they only hit 3. An amateur might be having a good day if they hit 3 and an all-time kind of day if they hit 6. There is a lot of searching for your golf ball is the point. I watch a LOT of golf and I honestly can’t recall a pro not being able to find his ball no matter where they hit it. Didn’t Sergio literally find his ball halfway up a tree? C’mon.

    I understand it’s a fairly fine line between saying: “It should be here and I’m not taking a penalty” and using a Judge Smails foot wedge – but the line exists and there is a difference. I can act in good faith. If I’m not playing a tourney or keeping track of my handicap…

    • Mat

      May 8, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Amen. Damn leaves. The penalty is the $4.

      • PCR

        May 8, 2017 at 9:41 am

        It’s only $1.25 if you are playing a K-Sig. 😉

      • Onintwo

        May 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

        Too true. Playing in a blind draw alternating shot tournament, I saw the blood drain from my partners face as I shillelaghed his shiny $5 Pro V into the netherworld.

    • Grizz01

      May 8, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Not only do the have people watching their ball. The have crowds that act as natural backstops. (we don’t have) The ball doesn’t roll further into trouble. And you know there are people in a big crowd that will ‘give’ them a good lie.

  11. CGC

    May 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

    It’s not the rules that need to be fixed. Rules are not slowing down the our play on the weekends. It’s “the stupid”. We need a cure for stupid. It’s 2 people in a cart standing over 1 ball, taking 5 practice swings. Then getting in the cart and driving 40 feet across the fairway to the other ball, only to take 5 practice swings.

    It’s bringing 1 wedge to the green, deciding its the wrong club, going for your other wedge, hitting the shot, then going back to the cart for your putter.

    I’d rather play behind somebody shooting 90 with a 110 IQ, than somebody shooting 80 with an 90 IQ.

    NONE of the foursome slowing you down are following the rules. They don’t even know the rules, and they will never ever know that they have been changed.
    When you bring people out to learn golf. Don’t waste your breath teaching them the rules. Teach them to PLAY FAST. Teach them to be ready. Keep a 2nd ball in your pocket, continue your putts. STOP MARKING YOUR BALL when your lag put leaves you 1.5 feet left. Your lowering your chances of making it anyway.

    Fix the stupid.

    • Steve S

      May 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      Ignorance can be cured(fixed). Stupid is forever.

      • Fredo

        May 17, 2017 at 11:38 pm

        Wow, I nominate you for our local swami, well done!

  12. Mark hawkinson

    May 7, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Why is hitting a ball OB worse than hitting a ball in a pond? OB should be treated as a hazard with the stipulation that the player may not attempt to play out of it (someone’s back yard) A two stroke penalty is too severe. If the player had re-teed the ball it would be likely the second shot would be in a better position than two club lengths from OB.

    • Mat

      May 8, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Totally agree.

      Some will say they want to make it worse, etc.

      Sometimes, I think it would be better if we all played double-bogey pickup (Original Stableford) and if you have a penalty ball, well, double-bogey it is.

  13. James

    May 7, 2017 at 4:59 am

    It doesn’t happen to professionals because they have spotters everywhere. Us amateurs are considerably worse (and not getting better according to the stats) and punished unfairly so why not treat it like a hazard and do away with the stroke and distance penalty in these circumstances? No more provisionals, a single simple rule for all circumstances and much faster play???

  14. coolhandbirdman

    May 7, 2017 at 2:07 am

    you’ve never played where creeks and streams are common in the area have you. no reason to dam up mother nature to give you break. be a man and jump in after your round and fetch your lost balls.

  15. Luke

    May 7, 2017 at 12:41 am

    If you are at the estimated spot. Then you should find your ball. If it’s not there then you have no idea where you hit it. Take a walk back and reload or dq. If your handing in a card and you took the liberty of thinking this is where it should have been then your a cheat!! Those who complain about the time should play nothing but stableford then you can just wipe a hole and move on and pick up after double.

    • coolhandbirdman

      May 7, 2017 at 2:03 am

      who are you handing your card into on a casual round of golf that is semi-competitive between the people you are playing with other than the garbage can after the winner of the 5 bucks? you’ve never hit a ball that you knew was in some overseeded thick rough, and couldn’t find it? take a chill pill luke and be more coolhand….ayyy.

    • Scott

      May 8, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Handing in a card? HAHAHAHAHA.
      OB rule is just as stupid as the “You can not post a round if you played by yourself” rule. 99% of the people that I play with have no idea what score I posted for handicap purposes.
      The proposed rule changes are a step in the right direction but they still have a ways to go. There is a big difference between cheating and basically playing by the intended rules.

    • Steve S

      May 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      I play at a LOT of different courses with people from all walks of life. Out of 100 people MAYBE 2 of them have an official USGA handicap and record their scores. Even some of the private courses I’ve played only 1 in 4 record their scores. Most of us don’t take the game that seriously but love to play….

  16. Mat

    May 7, 2017 at 12:30 am

    I believe the worst part of the rule is that:
    a) We know are rules are stupid
    b) We suggest this rule for casual play
    c) We don’t observe casual play as official
    d) Casual play is not bifurcation; it’s just sanctioned cheating

    These new rules are a start, but they do not go far enough… I’m against any bifurcation in equipment rules, but good gravy, either clean up the rules to match the initiatives for fast, fair play, or split tournament rules officially. This rule change is half-pregnant.

  17. Mat

    May 7, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Frankly, I find even this rule stupid. If my ball is in the fairway under one of 10,000 leaves, another ball goes down in the closest estimated landing position. No penalty.

    If everyone agrees it *should* be in the fairway, toss one over your shoulder where it should be. Two minutes looking maximum. If you’re near a hazard, you’re in the hazard.

    This is the reverse of the “call-in” rule. If you lose a ball because no one is watching, how is it your fault? The loss of a golf ball within the “field of play” is a terrible penalty. When people say that the rules are to help a golfer, that’s nonsense.

  18. Philip

    May 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Just think … in a few decades they can just stay home and watch the tube while their robot goes out onto the course and plays on their behalf … in fact, why ever leave their homes .. then again why even exist in the first place …

  19. Philip

    May 6, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I have applied the drop + 2, hitting 4 off the tee whenever I turn out to be incorrect on where I thought my ball was (of course actually watching my ball land and taking note of a nearby tree or other object works wonders too). In a way I am hurting myself more than going back to the tee as I have assumed my second off the tee went to the same crappy place as my first. Then again – highly likely if my swing has sailed away for the day. Of course, I do not think the rule is ridiculous as one just has to hit a provisional which myself and most I play with do. Fact is, people do not want to be punished for a crappy shot … or having to hit off of hardpan … or having to make a 3-5 foot putt … or having to play a shot from the sand … or on a hilly lie …

  20. alan

    May 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    yet we still have to play out of a divot in the fairway. get it together usga.

    • Mat

      May 7, 2017 at 12:24 am

      Exactly. 6″ / 150mm lift and place in non-green non-hazard is long, long overdue.

    • Jam

      May 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Somehow a ripped tee shot that kicks out of bounds is worse than a whiff.

  21. George

    May 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    There’s a rule for the example that is mentioned. R27-2. If you can’t see your Ball from the tee, HIT A F$%#ING PROVISIONAL!!!

    • Jimmy D

      May 6, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Kind of an ignorant comment…obviously you have never played a course where the tee shot is to a landing area that No One can see from the tee. I have played courses in CA, MA, NC, and NH where your suggestion would require all golfers that hit a reasonable tee shot to hit a provisional (hell, some courses have red/green lights because you cannot even tell if the group ahead of you is in your way – in the fairway!) Better players can also cut the corner on doglegs which makes it impossible to see if the ball landed in the fairway (or was short…or long)…If everyone hits a provisional, now the group is looking for 8 balls – Great Idea!

    • Mat

      May 7, 2017 at 12:15 am

      This is stupid. The example was blind landing. That means that every blind landing needs a provisional. If that’s the case, you’re now asking everyone to load up twice.

      • George

        May 7, 2017 at 6:08 am

        Where’s the difference between a ball disappearing behind a mound aka blind landing spot and disappearing behind a bush in the rough? Answer: the confidence of the player.
        Have you ever heard of “rub of the green”? Have you ever sliced one in the woods just to see that same ball come back and ending up middle of the fairway after ricocheting from a tree? Well, sometimes you ball bounces in the water or the rough and it’s lost. Boo-hoo.
        If you can’t see your ball, hit a provisional. Easy as that. How many blind landing spots are there on any given course?

        • Iutodd

          May 7, 2017 at 7:46 am

          A course near me has four tee shots that have blind landing areas I can think of off the top of my head.

          Another one near me – depending upon your tee box and how far you hit it/the line you choose to take – has as many as five.

        • Jimmy D

          May 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm

          My bad, George…If you are playing Par 3 courses, executive courses, or flat resort courses then you are 100% correct. OTOH, if you are playing real golf courses with dog legs, rolling terrain, or actual elevation changes then you will have some blind tee shots. I have played in tournaments where better players try to drive the green on dogleg par 4’s and their ball ends up in green-side rough; my son routinely has to wait for the group ahead to clear the green on shorter par 4’s (which is a pain without a cart, esp since we can NOT see the green from the tee); and even I have accidentally cut the corner on doglegs and ended up with a flip wedge (although the ball can be tough to find if it isn’t in the fairway). Based on the quality of the tee shot and initial trajectory, NOT ONE person in the group has ever considered a provisional remotely justified… And yes, other than these blind landing area examples, we always hit a provisional when there is a chance the ball we hit may be lost or OOB (and we also make sure to announce that it is a provisional…)

    • BallBuster

      May 8, 2017 at 9:33 am

      If every time you can’t see your tee shot and “HIT A F$%#ING PROVISIONAL”, play would slow down to a more than it painful crawl than it often is now and you’d be b!tching more. Then factor in that people don’t often carry a second distinguish-ably different ball (or third) and then it’s trips to get another one, go through their routine, and more. Fact is over 95% of rounds of golf played are for non-USGA handicapping purposes so wtf cares if they go and drop where it disappeared. I’m thankful when they do. Saves me time and aggravation.

  22. Jalan

    May 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

    To me, this is akin to the new rule in baseball, which allows a team to walk an opposing batter without having to pitch out. It speeds up the game, without, generally, changing the outcome.

    I have always accepted dropping 3 and hitting 4 at the same spot. It does eliminate the possibility of the the player hitting another one out of bounds, leaving him on the tee box lying 5, which everyone hates. Of course, people should hit a provisional if they even suspect a problem.

  23. Matt

    May 6, 2017 at 11:27 am

    This isn’t nearly as complicated as they’re making it. Playing it as a hazard and taking the drop is already a good solution for casual rounds. Golf is about more than perfect rules. I’d prefer to keep the pace of play up than be such a stickler for old rules.

    • madeinguam81

      May 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      The USGA is recommending essentially the same thing but instead of one penalty stroke, you take two, which is closer to the the penalty of stroke and distance.

      • TR1PTIK

        May 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        I’ve always played OB this way, and take a one-stroke penalty for a lost ball (at least if I’m certain it was not OB or in a hazard). I don’t agree with a two-stroke penalty for a lost ball. That just seems cruel to the recreational player that has to deal with the potential of another golfer claiming his or her ball. I also don’t think it’s fair since the recreational player doesn’t get a team of ball spotters and spectators to help them locate their golf ball.

  24. PineStreetGolf

    May 6, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Ugh. This is an example of the USGA at its worst.

    They want to solve the problem of a really stupid rule. That is great. Nobody follows stroke and distance during casual rounds, especially when its busy. Good for the USGA.

    Then they decide the best way to solve it is instead of coming up with the best solution from scratch their going to come up with the closest approximation to the stupid rule that existed before.

    If you think the rule is stupid enough that it needs to be changed why make the solution have anything to do with the previous rule? Just make the best rule possible.

    USGA: “This is a really stupid rule. We’re going to change it.”
    US: “Awesome! What’s the new rule?”
    USGA: “Well, here’s the closest we could come up with to the old, stupid rule….”

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Opinion & Analysis

How valuable is hitting the fairway, really?



Hitting more than 50 percent of fairways has long been considered a good goal for amateur golfers. The winners on the PGA Tour tend to hit 70 percent. I have long maintained, however, that it is not the number of fairways HIT that matters. Instead, it is the relative severity of fairways MISSED.

Think about it. By the one-dimensional Fairways Hit stat, every miss is the same. A perfect lie in the first cut is exactly the same as a drive in a hazard… or even OB. There is nothing in the 650+ PGA Tour stats about this. In all, there are 60 stats in seven categories that relate to driving performance, but none about penalties! Like PGA Tour players don’t make any?

Let’s see exactly how important the old tried-and-true Driving Accuracy (Percentage of Fairways Hit) really is. To test it, I used two data clusters: the 2017 PGA Tour season (14,845 ShotLink rounds) and my database for the average male golfer (15 to 19 handicappers – 4,027 rounds).

For the graph below, I started with the No. 1-ranked player in the Driving Accuracy category: Ryan Armour. He certainly was accurate by this measure, but why did he only rank 100th in 2017 Strokes Gained Off the Tee with a barely positive 0.020?

Next I looked at the actual top-5 PGA Tour money winners (J. Thomas, J Spieth, D. Johnson, H. Matsuyama and J. Rohm), the 2017 PGA Tour average, and all PGA Tour players that missed the cut in 2017. We all know the significant scoring differences between these three categories of players, but it’s difficult to see a meaningful difference in the fairways hit. They’re not even separated by half a fairway. How important could this stat be?

For those that have not tried, our analysis includes Strokes Gained and Relative Handicap comparisons. That enables users to easily differentiate between FIVE MISS categories below based upon severity. The final three categories are what we consider to be Driving Errors:

  1. Good lie/Opportunity: One can easily accomplish their next goal of a GIR or advancement on a par-5.
  2. Poor Lie/Opportunity: One could accomplish the next goal, but it will require a very good shot.
  3. No Shot: Requires an advancement to return to normal play.
  4. Penalty-1: Penalty with a drop.
  5. OB/Lost: Stroke and distance penalty, or shot replayed with a stroke penalty.

As we are fortunate enough to work with several PGA Tour players at Shot by Shot, we have access to ShotLink data and can provide those clients with the same valuable insight.

Let’s see how the frequency and severity of driving errors relates to the above groups of players (removing Mr. Armour, as he simply helped us prove the irrelevance of Driving Accuracy). The graphs below display the number of Driving Errors per round and the Average Cost Per Error. Note the strong and consistent correlation between the number and the cost of errors at each of the four levels of performance.

Finally, the average cost of the errors is heavily driven by the three degrees of severity outlined above (No Shot, Penalty, OB/Lost). The graph below compares the relative number and cost of the three types of errors for the average golfer and PGA Tour players. The major difference is that PGA Tour players do not seem to have a proper share of OB/Lost penalties. I found only TWO in the 14,000+ ShotLink rounds. While I accept that the most severe faux pas are significantly less frequent on the PGA Tour, I also believe there must have been more than two.

Why so few? First and foremost, PGA Tour players REALLY ARE good. Next, the galleries stop a lot of the wayward shots. And finally, I believe that many of the ShotLink volunteer data collectors may not actually know or care about the difference between a Penalty and OB/Lost.

Author’s Note: If you want to know your Strokes Gained Off the Tee (Driving) and exactly how important your fairways and the misses are, log onto for a 1-Round FREE Trial.

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Opinion & Analysis

Yo GolfWRX: “Are you betting on Tiger Woods to win the Masters?” (Bonus: A March Madness-inspired shot attempt)



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss a variety of topics including Tiger Woods being the favorite at The Masters. Also, a Fujikura Pro 2.0 shaft unboxing, Knudson paints the new TG2 studio, and Tursky tries to go viral during March Madness season.

Enjoy the video below!

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Opinion & Analysis

Tiger shoots opening-round 68 at Bay Hill, is now the Masters betting favorite



It’s happening. Tiger Woods is playing good golf, and the Masters hype train is full-steam ahead. After opening at 100-1 odds to win the Masters, Tiger is now the favorite to win at Augusta in 2018, according to Jeff Sherman, an oddsmaker for (according to his Twitter bio).

After 9 holes (he started on the back nine) at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill — where Tiger has won eight times — he was sitting at 3-under par. What also happened at that time was Sherman updated Tiger as the favorite to win the Masters. Clearly, bettors and Tiger fans had seen all they needed to see in order to put their money down on him winning another Green Jacket in 2018.

Related: See the clubs in Tiger’s bag

On the course’s third hole, however, with water looming left, Tiger hit a foul ball with a 3-wood off the tee and later realized the shot had gone out-of-bounds. Tiger was hot under the collar after hearing the news, and he threw his 3-wood headcover backwards in disgust as he started walking back to the tee to reload. He salvaged double-bogey, and he then made three more birdies coming home to complete his 4-under par round of 68; one of the birdies was a 71-footer after which all Tiger could do was smile.

Woods currently sits in a tie for fifth place, just two shots behind the leader Henrik Stenson.

Can Tiger win at Bay Hill for the ninth time? Will you bet on Tiger as the favorite to win at the Masters? Will Tiger win the Masters?

The questions above would have seemed ridiculous to ask just a month ago, but they’re now legitimate. Welcome back to the spotlight, Tiger.

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19th Hole