The 2011 Masters is upon us, and here at Bang the Book, we are leaving no stone unturned about how some of the biggest names in the sport are going to do at Augusta National. There has been a lot of chalk in this event since 2001, as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have combined to win this event six times. However, this won't be the year that either one is wearing the coveted green jacket come Sunday.
It seems awfully obvious to think that Tiger Woods is going to struggle in this one. Woods just hasn't had his mojo in years, and it really does seem like his divorce has ruined his career. Tiger hasn't putted well, he hasn't driven the ball nearly as far as he once did, and he just hasn't looked like... well... Tiger... We know that Woods was playing even worse golf last year at this time than he is now, and we know that he was right there on Sunday thanks to a great weekend. He finished fourth in that event.
However, the bottom line with Woods is that he hasn't actually won the Masters since 2005, and no matter which way you slice it, you just don't have yourself a man that is worthy of being, at worst, 10 to 1 to win this event. Many sportsbooks have odds of 6 to 1 or worse on Woods, and there is just no justification for it.
Mickelson is one of the hottest golfers on the PGA Tour right now, and there is no doubt that he has deserved to be called the favorite to win the Masters. Lefty had one of the best weekends of golf that any man has had this entire year last week at the Shell Houston Open, shooting a -9 and -7 in back to back rounds to finish up at -20 and a country mile ahead of the mass majority of the field.
Still, we're not all that sure that Lefty is the right one to take in this event either. Sure, if we were getting 15 to 1 or 20 to 1 on him, we'd be chomping at the bit. However, this win last week at the Shell Houston was his first win since the Masters last year. It's hard to win this event once. It's really, really hard to win it three times. Only the names of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Woods were able to win it more than three times, and only Nicklaus, Woods, and Nick Faldo ever went back to back.
Instead, this is a year in which someone is likely to come from off of the beaten path to win against the Masters lines. It's not like we haven't seen that before with Angel Cabrera in 2009, Trevor Immelman in 2008, and Zach Johnson in 2007. Names like Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler are certainly names to watch out for that are coming in at anywhere from 30 to 1 on Kuchar to 100 to 1 on Fowler.
Kuchar is the final name in the Top 10 on the official World Golf Rankings, and both Woods (7th) and Mickelson (3rd) are on here as well. Graeme McDowell is getting absolutely no respect after a few disastrous rounds of golf of late, but at as high as 50 to 1, he has some fantastic odds. Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, and Paul Casey are all carrying the torch for England, which has only had one previous winner of this event (though the aforementioned Nick Faldo did it three times). Don't forget about Steve Stricker, who is one of the top American golfers on tour that hasn't hit the big time as of yet.
Regardless of how you slice it, this is going to be a very interesting week of golf, and here at Bang the Book, we're just getting started in your coverage of the 2011 Masters odds.