Tiger Woods climbed the leaderboard of the $6.5 million Valspar Championship on Friday, putting himself within striking distance of his first win since 2013.
After four back surgeries, Woods is back on the comeback trail and seeking to regain his status as the face of the sport. Woods held a share of the lead during Friday’s round, the first time he sat atop the leaderboard in nearly four years. He ended the day at 4-under par, tied with four others for second place and two shots behind Canadian Corey Connors for the lead at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Woods is now favored to win the whole tournament with 4/1 odds, according to Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
The winner will receive approximately $1 million of the Valspar Championship’s $6.5 million purse, a slight increase over $6.3 million in prize money last year. Adam Hadwin, who won the 2017 tournament, received $1.13 million.
With his success at the Valspar Championship, Woods is also one of the favorites to win the 2018 Masters Tournament next month. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas have 8/1 odds of taking the green jacket, while Woods is the lone third favorite at 10/1, according to the Westgate SuperBook. Woods had 16/1 odds as recently as March 8.
Woods ranked as the 17th highest-paid athlete in the world last year, despite ending his season early to undergo a fourth back surgery. Nearly all of his $37.1 million in earnings came from lucrative endorsement deals, including sponsorships from Nike and TaylorMade, Forbes estimated. After Nike dismantled its golf equipment business, Woods signed with the Adidas-owned TaylorMade in 2017. Woods continues to wear Nike-branded apparel on the course.