IT USED to be that when Tiger Woods is set to play in a tournament, there is no other bet worth watching than the one wagered for Tiger.

Not anymore.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

Tiger Woods will play in the Masters April 8-11 (April 9-12, Manila Time) and, for the first time, he will not be the heavy favorite.

No one is surprised. Not even Tiger.

But look, even as Tiger was out of commission for nearly four months, he remains the world’s No. 1 golfer.

Well, that’s because he has won 82 tournaments since he turned pro in 1996. And his nearest pursuer has not even hit the 50-win mark in that same span of time.

His 14 majors lead the way in the chase for the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.

But to get to the point: Will Tiger pull off yet another miracle and win the Masters in April for his 5th Green Jacket?

Because golf is 99 percent mental and 1 percent physical, can he do it yet again?

This early, the odds are 4-to-1, Tiger against the field. Your P100 will win P400 if Tiger wins.

Scared, because Tiger might have lost his razor-sharp game since he’s been away that long?

Uh-oh. Listen.

Out for months to surgically repair a bad knee, he came back last year to win 6 tournaments – the most by any player in 2009.

He was voted Golfer of the Year, a feat he had won so many times already I have lost track of its actual count.

But then, this.

Just weeks after his last victory in Australia, Tiger crashed his Cadillac SUV in Nov. 27, first into a fire hydrant and then into a tree, in the exclusive neighborhood where he and his family reside in Pontevedra, Florida.

Not to brag, but I’ve been in his gated village some 10 years back, when I attended a golf rules seminar at the famed Sawgrass not far from where the Tiger accident had happened.

The accident was but a trigger to what would suddenly surface as the sordid details of Tiger’s extra-marital affairs with more than 12 women.

Shattered was Tiger’s delicately, tightly-guarded life as a model of not only golf’s genuine genius but everything good in a man mystifiyingly married to a blonde Swede with whom he has two young kids.

Devastated, he repaired to a sex-clinic to cure his “behavioral imbalance.” Whatever that means, only Tiger can tell.

Emerging from it barely four months later, Tiger, 34, said he is ready to face the world again.

Will we see a different Tiger next April?


But one thing’s sure: We will all watch him play.

Only a hypocrite will say he won’t.

Or, for concession, only the hardcore golfer – the golf nut if you wish – will be glued to the idiot box during the most important four golfing days of April.

Will they be collectively called April Fools?