The first round of The Masters is always a much relished day for golf fans and punters alike and after 362 days of waiting it is finally here as the 87 men in the field will tee it up competitively at Augusta National for the first time this week.
Everyone starting out will have the same ambition – to position themselves nicely for a tilt at the first major of the season and to do that a low score will be needed. There is much for us to bet on as well as enjoy on the opening day.
First Round Leader
As ever with a major championship the first market to bet on is the first round leader one and with no wind of any real note at any point in the day there is no weather bias. The tee times are pretty bunched around here so it is just a case of backing whoever we like, although most of the first round leaders in previous years have teed off after 10.30am local time so we’ll cut out anyone before then.
Jordan Spieth has actually led after 18 holes three times in just five tilts around here and he’s also one of few players bigger in the first round leader market than the outright one which doesn’t make much sense given how he is struggling to put four rounds together at present. He was talking up his game after last week and I’ve learnt in the past when he does that we should listen. At 22/1, even though he’s the last man off the first tee, I’ll take him here.
Charley Hoffman has a first, second and a fourth in the last four years in terms of his position on the leaderboard at the end of the first round and given he ran hot in San Antonio last week it makes sense to get on him here at 40/1 as well. Hoffman knows this track really well and is certainly no stranger to a quick start here. Even when he wasn’t in the mix after day one he shot 71 so was under par. He’s out at 10.42 which is late enough to contend here.
Thursday 3 Balls
For the first two days the groups are out in threes off the first tee. Unlike most of the majors the bigger and better groups are saved for the very last here because the TV coverage is so limited timewise that they want the better players in the coverage. That means Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey will be last off at 19.00 BST with the heavyweight group of Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas off 11 minutes before them. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau make up the third last group. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are off early on so that they form the coverage late on over Friday. I’ll take two on Thursday.
Keith Mitchell/Kevin Tway/Ian Woosnam
Match tees off at 13.41 BST
One of the beauties of this tournament is with the former champions and amateurs making up a fair number of the field we get three balls where we can dump a selection and turn it into a two ball and the second group out onto the course is very much one of those as Keith Mitchell is out alongside Kevin Tway and Ian Woosnam.
Woosnam had his best day around here in 1991 but time waits for no man and it has passed him by. This should be between The Honda Classic winner Keith Mitchell and Safeway Open champ Kevin Tway and my preference is for the former. Tway has gone very quiet in 2019 and has missed his last six cuts. Mitchell won in Florida just a month or so ago and hasn’t done much wrong since then. He fits this course nicely and looks a penalty kick here at 4/5.
Bernhard Langer/Alvaro Ortiz/Matt Wallace
Match tees off at 17.10 BST
The two-time champion Bernhard Langer is out alongside the first Mexican to play here since 1979 in the amateur Alvaro Ortiz and the debutant Matt Wallace, who will be buzzing having won the par 3 contest on Wednesday afternoon.
You know it is The Masters because Langer comes up in conversations and while he can still go ok around here this course is gradually getting too long for him and I’m not completely convinced he’ll go as well as others think he might. I can’t be having the amateur Ortiz on this stage so I’m left with Wallace. He was clever over the weekend as he got Nick Faldo to show him the course and how to play it and if he needed any convincing about how much inspiration he took from that we got it in the par 3 contest.
For all that Langer is talked up around this time, you have to go back to 2013 for the last time he broke par in the opening round, the only time since 2010 that he has done it, so this looks like Wallace’s to do what he likes with. Solid play and taking advantage of the par 5s should see him to glory here.
Back J.Spieth First Round Leader (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with William Hill (1/4 1-5)
Back C.Hoffman First Round Leader (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with William Hill (1/4 1-5)
Back them here:
DEAD HEAT – Back K.Mitchell to beat K.Tway & I.Woosnam for a 5/10 stake at 1.80 with Betfred
Back him here:
Back M.Wallace to beat B.Langer & A.Ortiz for a 4/10 stake at 1.95 with 888sport