We have reached the halfway stage of The Masters with 36 holes to go in the opening major of the year and there is a stellar leaderboard set to entertain us over what should be a wonderful weekend at Augusta National.
Patrick Reed is out in front but the chasing pack are of the highest quality so not only are we set for a fascinating weekend but a super Saturday is in store for us on what is traditionally known as ‘Moving Day’.
Reed was almost flawless in his round on Friday notching the lead up to nine under par after overnight leader Jordan Spieth made a hash of the start and brought everyone else back into the tournament. Such was the start the former winner made it is now Marc Leishman who is Reed’s closest challenger albeit two back.
Henrik Stenson is on his own in third on five under with major champions Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth on four under. The major champions keep coming in the group on three under and they include the world number one Dustin Johnson and the man immediately behind him in the rankings in Justin Thomas.
It was not such a good day for the likes of Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods. Both men made the cut but at five over and four over respectively they need snookers if they are going to make any impression on the tournament.
We had two winners from our three bets on Friday. Cameron Smith sadly couldn’t hold on to an early advantage but another excellent back nine from Russell Henley saw him win his group and Justin Thomas slaughtered his two playing partners to get us back closer to level for the week.
Patrick Reed has now taken on the role of being the favourite for the tournament. He can be backed at 4/1 and he is 6/5 to convert his two shot lead into the 54 hole lead but Marc Leishman should relish the tougher conditions on Saturday and cannot be discounted for the third round lead at 4/1.
Conditions are expected to be a lot tougher on Saturday with rain forecast and some really strong winds so this tournament could be blown wide open over the course of the day depending on just how bad they are. That could offer some value in the third round leader market but there are just too many unknowns to bet with safety so I’ll head for the two ball markets.
Saturday 2 Balls
Those who made the cut have been put into two balls for Saturday’s action which I always think gives any tournament a better feel. The last group out onto the course are Reed and Leishman and they go off at 19.30 BST. The pairing before that sees Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy out together and before them are Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
Other good looking groups include Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen while Justin Rose and Bubba Watson also partner each other on Saturday. Much earlier in the day Phil Mickelson goes out alongside Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter is an interesting partner for Tiger Woods. It is another pairing that I like from a betting point of view.
Hideki Matsuyama vs Zach Johnson
Match tees off at 18.00 BST
Hideki Matsuyama is still in search of his first major title and at even par he will be hoping for a decent Saturday to move his way into contention and he is out alongside a man who has already won around a wet Augusta in Zach Johnson.
If we thought Johnson could no longer get around here with a lack of length we saw on Thursday that we were wrong and the tougher the conditions get the better you would think his control and his putting prowess would come into its own.
I’m not saying Matsuyama can’t play in tough conditions but his better form has tended to come in much calmer surroundings and given that he is still getting back to full form after an injury tough conditions on what was already a tough track might not suit. At the prices I think Zach is an ounce of value here.
Back Z.Johnson to beat H.Matsuyama for a 3/10 stake at 2.63 with William Hill