The Match VII: Spieth/Thomas flip to favorites vs. Rory/Tiger

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were the sentimental favorites shortly after The Match VII was announced.

Many sportsbooks installed the 15-time major winner and reigning FedEx Cup champion as the favorites to beat Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in Saturday’s 12-hole contest under the lights at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla. (6 p.m. ET, TNT).

BetMGM was among them, with Woods and McIlroy opening as the -135 favorites.

That was before Woods had to pull out of his own Hero World Challenge due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Woods is still struggling with the injury, but will use a cart on the course this week.

Woods’ injury is one of the major factors in the Spieth/Thomas pairing flipping to a -125 favorite, with the public backing them with 65 percent of the winning tickets and 82 percent of the money. McIlroy/Woods’ odds have lengthened to +100.

Spieth/Thomas are also -125 at DraftKings, where McIlroy/Woods are being offered at +105.

“Being in a cart is a totally different deal. That’s something I’ve done at home … quite a bit,” said Woods, who will compete for the first time since The Open at St. Andrews in July. “When I was trying to gear up and be able to play in the Hero and see if I could actually do it, the walking part was the challenge, it wasn’t actually swinging.

“I can tell you one thing. I have the No. 1 player (in the world rankings) on my team, so I’m good.”

Thomas and Spieth are long-time friends dating back to their college days, and their excellent history as a pairing in numerous Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup tournaments is another contributing factor.

The Match VII will use a best-ball format, with the best individual score winning each hole.

Thomas and Spieth were 4-0 as a pairing at the Presidents Cup in September, with Spieth also winning his singles match. They are a combined 8-2-0 in Presidents and Ryder Cup as a team in competitions.

“If you told me and Justin back in 2012, when we were in school, that we’d be playing a match against those two, we’d say things have gone pretty well,” Spieth said. “We’d be pretty excited to play with those guys. I don’t want to lose sight of that.”

All four players are major champions and have spent time atop the world rankings. While Woods has participated in two of the previous six iterations of The Match, this is the first time for the other three.

There is deep familiarity between all four players. Thomas and Woods are also close friends, with the two pairing to go 2-0-0 at the 2019 Presidents Cup at which Woods served as a playing captain.

“I think we all are obviously very close, and we have an opportunity to just honestly go out like we would us four, go play a practice round and have some kind of match,” Thomas said. “I’m sure it will be very entertaining. It’s just going to be fun for us.

“Even if it wasn’t on TV, us four would have a blast going out and playing 12 holes together, let alone under the lights at what sounds like a really cool golf course.”

–Field Level Media

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