The start of the golf season, and most anticipated event of the entire year. There is always so much hype heading into The Masters with any number of great storylines. This year is especially exciting as all the contenders are coming in on good form, we’ve got a young and exciting “top 3” and there is plenty of great talent on tour right now.
That being said, there are probably only about a dozen players who can actually win this week. We always look for a good outside bet, but in all honesty we don’t think that just anyone can win, and clearly the bookies don’t either if you look at the odds. We may have been swayed by Zach Johnson given his win at The Open last summer and a previous win at Augusta National, but it may be a little optimistic to think that another short hitter can win again. Jordan Spieth is unlikely to be able to recreate last year’s form, and is perhaps a little too short to be considered a potential winner.
Saying this, if you are looking to back some of the longer odds players or some unusual bets: Patrick Reed has both the game and the moxy to turn the tournament on its head. He hits a good ball, draws it and pitches as well as anyone. He’s on decent form and has a lot of people talking about him this week.
One of the most amazing things we saw when scouring the odds was the 250/1 offered for Angel Cabrera. Given that he rarely plays and can produce major-winning form from nowhere, it may be worth having a couple of quid on this.
First round leader bets: This can be a decent market to get into for a bit of fun, though far less predictable than over 72 holes. Justin Rose has become a bit of a regular 1st round leader with his now standard first day 66, but given that he has recently claimed his own short-game to be “dreadful”, it might be worth a miss. One that caught our eye was Bryson Dechambeau at 150/1 – it’s his last event as an amateur and he has already proven himself to be comfortable among the pro’s. It would be no great surprise for him to come out the blocks fast before fading while thinking about the money he’ll soon make as a pro.
We haven’t backed any of the “big 3” this week because of the shortness of the odds, but if we did then we’d be going with Jason Day given his current form and his proven record at The Masters. We’d love Rory to do it, but fear that his putting may not last the 72 holes. There’s no doubt that if Rory putts well, he’ll win going away from the field. We think there is some decent value in the chasing pack, with a few former winners in there:
BUBBA WATSON 12/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £170
It’s a match made in heaven. Bubba and Augusta National. He’s already got two Green Jackets hanging in the closet and it would be no great surprise to see him add a couple more. His game is just perfect for this golf course, he’s coming in in red-hot form having already won and recorded runners-up finishes very recently. The fast greens suit his putting. He will relish trying to quieten the talk of the so-called “big 3”. He’ll be in amongst it.
ADAM SCOTT 12/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £170
Is there a hotter player on the planet right now? Jason Day may run him close, but already having won here is going to be a huge confidence boost. His game is all about the Majors now, and there is no part of his game that you could really improve upon. These odds really are pretty generous if you consider his form.
PHIL MICKELSON 20/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £270
He’s won The Masters 3 times and been in the top three a further 8 times. Lefty loves Augusta and he’s actually bringing in some of his best form in years. He’s not won, but he’s been close of late, and the extra boost of being back at Augusta may give him the extra push he needs. This is a course where experience is worth a lot, and of the actual contenders, nobody knows this course better. Phil being in the mix on Sunday could ensure that this is a classic Masters.
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN 35/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £457.50
We’ve been on red alert for Louis all season and actually picked him up a month ago at 50/1. We still think this represents great value as he is playing great, and has again proven himself around the course. He was desperately unlucky to miss out to Bubba in 2012, lost out to Jason Day in the Matchplay final last week, and looks to be coming into a run of all-time form. Keep an eye on him sneaking through the field.
MARC LEISHMAN 80/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £1020
Having said that we couldn’t see anyone outside of a dozen players win this week, we still like to have a fish around for some each way value! He came close here in 2013, eventually ending up in a tie for 4th following a visit to the drink on the 12th and a gentle unravelling on the back 9. Following on from his playoff loss at last year’s Open Championship, we think that he has the game to contend once again, and in particular here at Augusta. There will be no attention on him for at least 63 holes, so hopefully he’ll give us a run.