The first round of The Masters is in the books and it was a day of two halves really with scoring very difficult early on Thursday but despite the wind freshening the later starters brought the course a little more to its knees.
It will be interesting to see if that trend continues on Friday and if it does we could have a very congested leaderboard going into the weekend. Those who started well will be looking to build on that while those who had a poor first round will be keeping an eye on the leader to try and stay within 10 shots of him and make the cut.
Round 1 Recap
At one point on Thursday, nine players shared the lead but birdie blitzes on the back nine saw our pre-tournament pick Brooks Koepka and Dubai winner Bryson DeChambeau move clear of a star-studded leaderboard by one shot on six under. They lead by the odd stroke from Phil Mickelson with Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson a further shot back. Jon Rahm is in a group on three under along with former champion Adam Scott with Tiger Woods carding a two under 70. It was a day to forget for the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey among others. They all finished over par and need low rounds on Friday to make the cut.
Although we ended the day with the joint leader, it was a frustrating one on the betting front although we do have all three side market bets in pole position. Keith Mitchell could only tie Kevin Tway for a dead heat and Matt Wallace was never at the races and as such as never even a contender in his three ball. Work to be done there.
We have the early signs of a second round leader market on the go and there are one or two bits of value to be had there but I generally only like playing this market around here when someone has gone a couple of shots clear and they could falter with those in behind going by. This is not the course where someone from deep is going to leap over a bunch of players, especially of the standard near the top of this leaderboard.
You definitely couldn’t look any further back than the three under par players I wouldn’t think and even then the five above them are so good you would think one of them would come through. I guess the fact he’s only a shot back, Phil Mickelson could be value at 8/1 but could you really trust him? I’m not convinced. I’ll ignore this and hope it is Koepka who leads at halfway.
Friday 3 Balls
The field are out in the same threes that they were sent on their way in for the first round which means that the trio of Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Cameron Smith are the final group out at 19.00 BST. Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Haotong Li are the penultimate group onto the course 11 minutes earlier. Defending champion Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and Viktor Hovland are out at 18.16 while the current leaders go off earlier in the day. Brooks Koepka is out at 16.04 and Bryson DeChambeau is out at 15.42. I’ll go with two bets, one of which comes in that last group.
Corey Conners/Andrew Landry/Adam Long
Match tees off at 16.15 BST
One of the middle groups out on the second day sees last week’s winner Corey Conners out alongside Andrew Landry and Adam Long with all three men looking to shoot a low round to put themselves in a better position in the event.
Conners won this group on Thursday when his two under par total was too good for the others. Landry shot level par while long was +3 so both have work to do if they are to get themselves back in contention over the course of the weekend. This isn’t the easiest course to push it on though. Long finished Thursday by dropping five shots in the last five holes so he can’t be in the best shape mentally heading into Friday. I don’t think this course suits the shorter hitting of Landry so I’m happy to be on Conners here.
Rory McIlroy/Rickie Fowler/Cameron Smith
Match tees off at 19.00 BST
The last group out onto the golf course sees Rory McIlroy looking to get himself back in the mix when he goes out alongside Rickie Fowler and Cameron Smith, who were both three shots better than the Players champion on the opening day.
McIlroy did show flashes of some good stuff on Thursday. Although he carded one over, he did fire in five birdies so he has shown that he can score here. He needs to cut out the elementary errors that dogged him in the opening round but if he does that there is certainly a low one here and with rain on the forecast any softening of the course will suit him even more.
Fowler and Smith are both excellent players who can’t be ruled out from a good score on Friday but I get the feeling that this three ball is about McIlroy. If he keeps mistakes to a minimum then he has the scoring power to beat the other two here.
WON – Back C.Conners to beat A.Landry & A.Long for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Betway
DEAD HEAT – Back R.Mcilroy to beat R.Fowler & C.Smith for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with Betfair
Back him here: