The greatest week in golf is here, I can practically smell those azaleas through my screen. It’s a fun time for the golfing punter, considering the Masters is the only major that stays at the same venue, so the theme is to go with players with a proven Augusta track record. This year’s event is an intriguing one, with the 18 LIV breakaways joining the field. We’ll see how their game stands up after switching from 4 to 3 rounds, but the likes of Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed could well be in the mix come Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler is rightly the hot favourite, but no one has defended their Masters title since Tiger Woods in 2002. Rory McIlroy is playing well and is definitely primed in chasing that Grand Slam when Augusta comes around, but it’s always painful to back a golfer at the start of an event with single figure odds. The same goes for Jon Rahm, and while a highly ranked golfer usually does win the Masters, it usually is someone sitting below the outright favourites, so looking down a peg for more value is appealing. Stats-wise, approach play and scrambling is the key to win a green jacket.
Jordan Spieth at 16/1 EW with BoyleSports
A very obvious choice, but one that appeals a lot considering he is double the odds of Scheffler, McIlroy and Rahm. Spieth has a brilliant record at Augusta, with 4 top 3 finishes behind his win. He really should have 2 green jackets instead of 1, but he’s got a brilliant opportunity to put those 2016 ghosts to bed this year with the burgeoning form he’s in. He could’ve won a couple of times this season already at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship had it not been for a couple of wayward drives and faltering putter on the final holes. Some may see that as a warning sign, but Spieth is made of stern stuff, and is back to winning ways in the past two seasons since snapping his four year trophy drought.
There have been 17 multiple Masters champions, and Spieth will most likely join that group one day, so here’s hoping it’s this weekend. He’s been solid enough with his approach play this season, ranking 42nd, but his scrambling stands out, and is a key asset needed for Augusta. For example, he is ranked 6th in scrambling from 20-30 yards on the PGA tour this season. There aren’t many better stats to be ranked highly at when you think of Augusta’s undulating slopes around the greens. Spieth has been a great scrambler for years, and his form and love of Augusta makes him a strong candidate.
Jason Day at 28/1 EW with BetUK
Day is another in-form player with a brilliant Augusta record. The affable Aussie is showing glimpses of his 2015 self, with 6 top 10s in 13 events on the PGA Tour this season. Combine this with 3 top 5s at Augusta, and he is another, like Spieth, that has to be considered. The one concern is that he hasn’t backed up that form with a win this season, but he looked brilliant at the WGC Matchplay last month, taking out Collin Morikawa and topping his group, before eventually losing a close quarter final to the world number one Scheffler.
Day has incredible scrambling stats this season, ranking 2nd overall on the tour, and first in scrambling from the fringe, and from 10-20 yards. These are the attributes to combat Augusta’s slopes around the greens, where every player inevitably ends up in their rounds, so the thought of backing him is very similar to Spieth.
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Hideki Matsuyama at 45/1 EW with Unibet
Injury concern is a worry considering Matsuyama’s pulled out of 2 PGA Tour events this year, including the recent WGC Matchplay, with a neck injury. But he has won here before in 2021, and the 5th place finish at the Players Championship, coinciding with a promising T15th at last week’s Texas Valero Open, gives credence to back a past champion in good form at a generous price. He’s being slept upon in the market considering he’s always had a soft spot for Augusta, with 7 top 25s overall, and only one missed cut all the way back in 2014.
He is 27th in strokes gained this PGA Tour season, and has been nailing his approaches from 50-125 yards. His scrambling has also been excellent within 10-20 yards, ranking third. Considering good approach play and scrambling decide a Masters winner, Hideki looks like a good bet.
Justin Rose at 60/1 EW with Unibet
Justin Rose’s extensive knowledge and fondness for Augusta, where he has finished runner-up twice, will serve him well when he tees it up round there for the 18th time. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am back in February, and is currently ranked 36th in the world. Although that event contained a weaker field, he showed he can still compete with the highest level at the Players Championship with a 6th place finish. Combine this with a US Open victory, multiple WGC wins and electrifying moments at the Ryder Cup (which is another added motivation this year), means Rose has the experience, mentality and form to win the Masters. He would’ve won this event in 2017 if it wasn’t for an inspired Sergio Garcia.
Rose has been a great scrambler this season, ranking 2nd in putting from 20-25 feet, and 4th in sand save percentage on the PGA Tour. The expected rain and delays could help the Englishman out, considering he grew up in those conditions and won the rain-delayed event at Pebble Beach in February.