UG Tips: The Masters
The start of the golfing season, the sights and sounds of Augusta National and the dulcet tones of Peter Allis wittering and on the cusp of committing broadcasting suicide – yes, it’s The Masters. Of course, we are behaving like eight year olds at Christmas this week and expectations are high for another spectacular tournament.
It’s been great to see most of the big boys hitting form in recent months, but there is no doubting the favourite: Dustin Johnson. DJ has been in ridiculous form and now that he has got the monkey off his back looks set to collect up a few more Majors. Trouble is that his odds are pretty off-putting. Jon Rahm will also be attracting much money given his spectacular rise to prominence, but a lack of course experience may just hold him back this year.
As ever, course experience is expected to be key around Augusta and that is very much driving our picks. As we compile our list the weather looks like a bit of a nightmare for Thursday and Friday with it being cold and breezy, so there could be a few big names coming undone and leaving the door open.
JORDAN SPIETH 8/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £120
Forget his capitulation last year. Actually, don’t! Bearing in mind that his arse fell out and he had one of the most ridiculous collapses in living memory it’s a wonder that he managed to finish 2nd – to record his joint worst finish at The Masters. He’s been playing ok so far this season, but to dismiss him entirely from the equation would be foolish given his proven love-affair with Augusta National. He’s priced at the same odds as Rory, but will surely provide a more reliable ride and with his putting could pretty much knob it round from tee to green and still compete!
JUSTIN ROSE 28/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £370
Rose has become a big-game player in recent years and has a proven record at Augusta. He’s in fine form this season and it’s about time he got up to his back wheels in a Sunday showdown here.
PAUL CASEY 50/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £645
Another Englishman with an affinity for Augusta. He may well be one of the biggest bellends in the game, but he’s a fine player. Since his “snowboarding” accident he’s come back to the form which took him to number 3 in the world. He’s played well plenty of times at The Masters in the past and is bringing a sustained period of good play into the tournament which must surely boost his already inflated ego.
MARK LEISHMAN 66/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £845
Off the back of an emotional win at Bay Hill a couple of weeks ago, Leishman must be feeling pretty good about life. Memories of piping it into the H20 on 12 a few years back when he had one arm in the jacket, followed by a narrow miss at The Open should actually stand him in good stead. He’s been through the mill both personally and in a golfing sense, and with any luck he’ll feel good about becoming the second Aussie to claim a green jacket.
MATT FITZPATRICK 80/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £510
Anyone would think that I am expecting Willet’s win last year to spark a wave of English victories. Well, I reckon we’ve actually got a pretty good crop of players who are well-suited to the course. Our own European Tour player, David Griffiths, berated me for backing Fitz due to his ball flight erring on the low side, but nobody played better at last year’s Masters than the young Yorkshireman. His putting let him down badly, but signs are that he is getting iit together this season and a run of impressive finishes on the PGA Tour have got me excited about his chances.
ROSS FISHER 150/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £947.50
It’s all a bit English isn’t it? Maybe, but given his last 3 finishes in WGC events and the nature of his game, you’d have to agree that 150/1 is a tad generous. When bookies are offering 8 places and you want a tickle on somebody who can come from the longer odds and give you a run, you’d be hard pressed to get a better fit. Much like Paul Casey he’s found his old game of late, and on top form can compete with the very best.
SNEAKY EXTRA BET – 1st ROUND LEADER
It’s one of life’s great certainties alongside taxes and death: Justin Rose will shoot 66 to be first round leader. At 28/1 the bookies are virtually giving their money away here. If the weather is as tough as the forecast suggests, then Rosie will have built himself a handsome lead after this round and will be visiting the Augusta tailor for regular fittings throughout the weekend.