The opening round of The Masters is in the book and it was a very strange round of golf with players only really getting one over the golf course towards the end of the first day. We saw some excellent golf in the first round and some bizarre stuff too but at the end of it we are left with a classy leaderboard and someone who is no stranger to leading on top of the pile.
Round 1 recap
Jordan Spieth heads the way after a fine 66 which could have been even better for the 2015 winner and with him out early on Friday he has the chance to lay it down to the field. He leads by two from American duo Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar. There is a decent bunch on three under par that includes our outright pick Adam Hadwin as well as Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Charlie Hoffman and Haotong Li. Phil Mickelson is two under.
It was not such a good day for the defending champion Sergio Garcia. He carded a 13 on the par 5 15th hole and his tournament ended as a competitive entity there and then. Others to have struggled on the opening day included Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, all of whom shot over par rounds and need something significant on Friday to get back into contention.
We had one winner from our three bets on Thursday with Justin Thomas coming through for us. Sadly Si Woo Kim didn’t have his putting boots with him while two bad holes cost Dylan Frittelli who annoying lost out to Jose Maria Olazabal rather than Kevin Chappell.
Jordan Spieth has now claimed the position of favourite for the tournament as you would expect. He is 15/8 with Rory McIlroy now into 11/2 to complete the Grand Slam. Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar are both 16/1 to go on and win the event from the position they are in with Henrik Stenson at 18/1 the only other man who is shorter than 20/1 in the betting. Tony Finau is a 33/1 shot despite sitting in a tie for second.
With Spieth dominating the second round leader market and having the chance to put significant distance between himself and the pack my betting on Friday will come from the three ball markets rather than the second round one.
Friday 3 Balls
The same groups go out onto the golf course on Friday that were there on Thursday which has given us a day to assess them and work out where the value lies and I’m going to take three bets, one of which came in for us on Thursday, plus two others.
Cameron Smith/Chez Reavie/Billy Horschel
Match tees off at 13.30 BST
The honour of opening the second round will go to the trio of Cameron Smith, Chez Reavie and Billy Horschel. The Australian won this group on the opening day when his one under par was five shots too good for the American pair.
I’m expecting Smith to be too good for them on Friday too. Putting it simply, Reavie is not long enough to get stuck into this course and I’m not convinced his putting stands up to these sorts of tasks while Horschel has offered little in the way of form for a while and could also lack the required length.
Smith has no such problems. He’s long enough to get round here and his short game and putting is perfectly adequate and barring anything unforeseen I’m expecting the Australian to come through this group again.
Russell Henley/Shubhankar Sharma/Larry Mize
Match tees off at 14.25 BST
Russell Henley was one of our outright picks and I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t take him on the opening day three balls too as his one over par saw him beat Mize by three shots and Sharma by four.
I like him on Friday because Henley showed excellent resolve on Thursday. He was four over at the turn but came firing back and was level par going up the last when a missed green cost him dearly but we saw enough in that back nine to show that he can shoot under par on Friday which should be enough to land this group for a second day in a row.
Aside from the two gimme birdie par 5s on the back nine, Sharma and Mize only managed one birdie between them on Friday and unless one of them significantly ups their game last year’s Houston Open champion should be too good for them again.
Justin Thomas/Sergio Garcia/Doc Redman
Match tees off at 18.38 BST
Our one winner on the opening day came when Justin Thomas saw off Sergio Garcia and Doc Redman. I didn’t expect Thomas to shoot two over the card but it was enough to comfortably see off his playing partners and I expect him to do the same again on Friday.
It remains to be seen what sort of mindset Garcia is in after his meltdown on 15 on Thursday while I don’t expect Redman to be as much of a hurdle as he proved to be on the opening day. Putting it simply I expect Thomas to shoot an under par round on Friday and I’m not convinced his playing partners will so the world number two looks a good play once again.
Back C.Smith to beat C.Reavie & B.Horschel for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with LeoVegas
WON – Back R.Henley to beat S.Sharma & L.Mize for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with Ladbrokes
Back J.Thomas to beat S.Garcia & D.Redman for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Coral