Last Updated: 2018-02-08
We’re still a couple of months away from the Masters, but odds have been out for a while and there are some good values on the board for those looking to take advantage. Fortunately, February is the shortest month, so we’re counting down the days. We’ll have an in-depth look at the top competitors and some of the betting angles like recent form and weather as the tournament gets closer, but it’s never a bad thing to think about the first major of the golf season.
Augusta National is iconic, as we all know, and it is a course that has made the careers of some players and left us wondering what could have been with others. Because this is a major, it brings out all of golf’s best players, which means that there are a lot of choices to be made about the favorites and the biggest names, but it also means that there is some value on really good players that don’t have as much notoriety.
Reigning champion Sergio Garcia is priced in the 25/1 to 30/1 range across the sports betting markets that have odds posted for the tournament. Sergio slayed that big elephant in the room about not having a major to his name, so we’ll see if he’s able to build off of that newfound success in golf’s premier events.
Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson are all battling it out to be the favorite, with odds anywhere from 6/1 to 8/1 in the European markets and 8/1 to 12/1 in the North American markets. In the second tier, players like Jason Day, who has a win this season at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Hideki Matsuyama, whose wrist injury has put a bit of a damper on his outlook, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, another, who, like Sergio, needs to grab one of golf’s premium events to get that “can’t win a major” label taken away, and Justin Rose have odds ranging from 12/1 to 20/1. We’re also seeing some low prices on Tiger Woods after a decent showing in the Farmers Insurance Open and with a few events to tailor his game for the challenges he’ll face at Augusta National. Don’t forget about emerging star Jon Rahm, who is also in that 15/1 price range.
Some really interesting prices are available for those who can shop around on players like Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey, a personal favorite of mine for this event anywhere from 30/1 to 50/1, Adam Scott, who won in 2013, and Henrik Stenson, who has never won or placed at Augusta. Two-time winner Bubba Watson hasn’t played like a two-time Masters champ for quite a while, but he can be had in that 50/1 or 60/1 range.
There have been some big surprises in this event before, with winners like Danny Willett, Charl Schwartzel, Trevor Immelman, and Angel Cabrera. Could that open the door for some other prominent European Tour players like Matthew Fitzpatrick in the 70/1 range or Tyrrell Hatton at 75/1? How about some young Americans like Xander Schauffele, who was great in the FedEx Cup playoffs events, at 70/1 or Patrick Reed at 70/1?
There are a lot of exceptional players in this event going off at good odds, so it’s never too early to start handicapping The Masters.
-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-
A prize pool of $10 million is up for grabs this week at Augusta National with a first-place share of $1.8 million, but it is a different kind of green that every player in the field wants. That iconic green jacket is the prize that every player is going for and somebody’s life will change forever on Sunday.
The field for the Masters is the smallest of the four major championships. The criteria to get in are pretty strict. Only the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of the end of 2016 or March 2017 can get in, unless they fulfill one of the other requirements, like being a past Masters champion or a recent major champion. In other words, this is a very select field filled with the best of the best that golf has to offer.
It shouldn’t be any other way. The Masters has been played every year since 1934, except for 1943-45 due to World War II. Jack Nicklaus holds the all-time record with six Masters victories. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have four apiece. Jimmy Demaret, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson all have three. There hasn’t been a whole lot of drama over the last three years. Danny Willett won by three shots last year. Jordan Spieth set a course record at 18-under in 2015 and won by four strokes. Bubba Watson won his second Masters in three years with a three-shot victory in 2014. Prior to that, there was a playoff in back-to-back years.
Hopefully we get some drama at Augusta this year. The par 72, 7,435-yard presents so many challenges, both physical and mental for the players. You know you’re in for a long day when over 35 percent of players go bogey or worse on the first hole over an entire tournament. That’s what happened last year at Augusta National on #1. The par 5s are mostly manageable, but accuracy off of the tee is so important because the greens feature a lot of tough pin locations and greenside hazards that will punish off-target approaches. Consistently shooting par on the par 4s and birdies on the par 5s is the way to win at Augusta. A little bit of luck with some of the sloping fairways doesn’t hurt.
The favorite at DSI Sportsbook this week is Dustin Johnson at +575. The only Johnson to win the Masters is Zach back in 2007. DJ is getting closer, though. After never finishing in the top 10 at Augusta, Johnson was sixth in 2015 and fourth in 2016. He got the major monkey off of his back last year at the US Open with a final-round 69. He’s finished second in two majors, the US Open and the Open Championship, but fourth is his best finish here. It’s hard to find a player in better form than Johnson. He’s won each of last three events that he has entered with wins at the WGC-Dell Match Play, WGC-Mexico Championship, and Genesis Open. He played so poorly at Pebble Beach that he finished third. The value isn’t there on this price, but he’s got a great shot to win at Augusta this weekend.
The second favorite is Rory McIlroy at +785. We haven’t heard much from Rory this season, who has battled some injuries once again. He’s played four events between the PGA Tour and the European Tour this season. He’s finished in the top seven in all of them, with the most recent being the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in mid-March. Rory showed some signs of rust with a 74-71 to barely make the cut, but he shot 65-69 over the weekend to finish fourth. He’s never won the Masters, but he’s won four major championships and has three straight top-10 finishes at Augusta. His most notable Augusta moment is his epic collapse back in 2011 when he went from first to 15th in the blink of an eye, but he’s played well the last three years and could be a factor this year. Given the rust factor, it might be tough to play him, but he’s got the skill set to win.
Jordan Spieth has a Masters win and two second-place finishes over the last three years, so his price tag at +865 makes a lot of sense. Augusta National just seems to fit Spieth’s game. He’s not the longest hitter, but he’s very accurate and technically sound with his iron play. Spieth is coming off of a brutal performance at the Shell Houston Open and he’s been pretty mediocre since his win at Pebble Beach, but he rides into this tournament with a lot of confidence, despite last year’s collapse that opened the door for Danny Willett. If you’re going to play one of the Big Three, he’s the one.
Let’s bounce around the board a little bit and look for some value because there’s going to be a lot of it. With three big favorites, a lot of exceptional players are in the +2000 to +3000 range. Guys like Henrik Stenson at +2800 and Adam Scott at +3400 are definitely worth some additional investigation. Stenson has never finished in the top 10 at Augusta, so this has been the weakest of the majors for him. Adam Scott’s only major win came at Augusta in 2013. He hasn’t played all that well there since, but he’s a world-class player.
Paul Casey might be the best bet in the 30-40 range. Casey is +3750 at DSI. He tied for fourth last year and tied for sixth the year before that. Players from England haven’t won a whole lot of titles, but they always find themselves near the top of this leaderboard. Danny Willett’s win last season shows that it is certainly possible. It hadn’t been done since 1996 when Nick Faldo won his third, but those Englishmen always find a way into the top five and top 10.
It’s been a long time since Lee Westwood has won a tournament, but he could be worth a look this week. He’s +8050 to win the tournament, but a top-10 prop seems very reasonable. Westwood was a fairly distant second last year, seventh in 2014, and eighth in 2013. He seems to save his best golf for this tournament. You can say the same about another guy in that price range in Matt Kuchar at +8050. Kuchar hasn’t played all that well the last two years, but he rattled off three straight top-10 finishes from 2012-14.
Thomas Pieters is at Augusta for the first time in his young career. The long-limbed 25-year-old really seems to be on the verge of a breakout. Pieters was fifth at the WGC-Mexico event, which was a good test for him in a field with the world’s best. He was terrific for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup, so pressure doesn’t really seem to faze him. Pieters is a massive hitter that can shorten some of these holes, but we’ll have to see how he does with the intricate elements at Augusta. At +10250, he’s certainly worth a shot.
Coverage of this year’s Masters will be on ESPN Thursday through Sunday.
Odds as of April 3, 2017
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