The annual trip down Magnolia Lane has been delayed from April to November but 92 men will do exactly that this week when The Masters is finally played out. It has been a tough year scheduling wise but thankfully the greatest tournament there is does go ahead and while it will be different, it should be no less captivating.
One of the reasons for that is because Tiger Woods will defend the title and go in search of another Green Jacket to add to his collection. There are a number of fascinating stories this year though so the final major of the year should be a cracker.
2019 – Tiger Woods
2018 – Patrick Reed
2017 – Sergio Garcia
2016 – Danny Willett
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Bubba Watson
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Bubba Watson
2011 – Charl Schwartzel
2010 – Phil Mickelson
We all know about Augusta National but what we don’t know is how it plays in November as opposed to April. For anyone who may not be familiar with the track it is a par 72 which stretches to 7,475 yards and with rain in the area this week it is expected to play to a full yardage. The fairways are wide here and the rough never really too penal particularly with the greens being soft which they will be even allowing for the sub air system to dry them out a bit. The green are the feature of this course. They are big and have large slopes on them.
This has become a course for the bigger hitters and in the heavier November air that is only going to be the case even more this week. If you are a statistics man then approach shots is the way forward but those previous statistics are largely based on getting roll off the fairways which brings the slightly shorter hitters into the game. There won’t be any of that this week so you either need long hitters or extremely smart iron players.
There were four withdrawals earlier in the week to take the field down to 92 and they include the defending champion Tiger Woods. World number one Dustin Johnson and the US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is here. USPGA winner Collin Morikawa is one of a number of debutants in the field this week along with the likes of Matthew Wolff, Cameron Champ and Sungjae Im who will all be teeing it up at Augusta for the first time.
There are a number of high profile regulars in the field this week as well including Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Xander Schaufffele, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Cantlay while a number of former champions are also teeing it up. They include Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Danny Willett, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott. Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Webb Simpson, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton will be looking for their first Green Jacket this week.
The US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is the 8/1 favourite to follow up his effort at Winged Foot with a win here at Augusta. He has only been seen in tournament play once since he won the US Open which was at the Shriners where he opened with a 62 and finished in the top 10. If you are a golf enthusiast you won’t have been able to avoid the talk about DeChambeau and his length and there is a chance he could overpower this course. He looks a worthy favourite to me.
Dustin Johnson is still searching for his first US Masters title and he is the 9/1 second favourite to pick it up this week. He has shortened a lot since the weekend when he flew home to almost grab the Houston Open title and as warm ups go for a major that looked to be the perfect one. He has all the tools to go well here as he is very long and straight and much better with the scoring irons than he used to be. If his putter cooperates he shouldn’t be far away either.
Jon Rahm is 10/1 to win his first major title this week and if you follow his social media accounts you will know that he had a hole in one in a practice round earlier in the week so there is no doubt he is hitting the golf ball nicely. He probably should have won the Zozo Championship recently but stalled on the final day to allow Patrick Cantlay to come through and that is a slight concern but he comes in here with finishes of T4 and T9 in the last two years and with all the length you need the Spaniard has to be considered a big danger.
Justin Thomas completes the market leaders in terms of the favourites. He is 12/1 to win this tournament for the first time. He is getting better here. This will be his fifth attempt to win this title and so far he has had finishes of T39-T22-T17-T12 but he hasn’t had a top five in a major since he won the USPGA title in 2017 and that is a concern. While he isn’t short, he isn’t as long as a lot in this field and he has shown a little too much of a tendency to weaken on a Sunday in 2020 which in this company isn’t good. He isn’t for me. It is 14/1 bar this quartet.
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Regular readers will know I am not one for betting short prices in a golf tournament but I just don’t see Bryson DeChambeau being out of the frame this week. I’m not a fan of the term each way bet to nothing but with nine places and at 8/1 if one does exist he pretty much is it. We’ve all heard the talk about his length and what he could do to this course but we mostly want to ignore it because it is DeChambeau and nobody likes him. What DeChambeau is doing right now is akin to what Tiger Woods was going 15-20 years ago and he wasn’t going off for The Masters at 8/1. If DeChambeau was popular he would be no bigger than 3/1 with his skill set here. To win this tournament you have to take care of the par 5s and they are not only all reachable for him but he’s going to be hitting short irons into the greens. With no crowds DeChambeau doesn’t even need the driver to be all that straight as we saw at Winged Foot last month. The softer this course gets the bigger the advantage DeChambeau has with his length. He looks the most likely winner to me but with the place terms available he looks a fantastic each way option.
The other main bet for me this week is Bubba Watson, a man who loves it around here and who is trending in the right direction nicely for a huge tilt at a third Masters title. Watson won here in 2012 and 2014 and the one thing we know about Bubba is he is a creature of habit. It isn’t like he’s been a nobody here recently either as he has finished T5-T12 in the last two years. Initially I thought the no crowds would be a detriment to him but he seems to have got used to that and comes in here off the back of top 10s in the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship which both had strong fields. He was in the mix at halfway in the US Open too on a course which shouldn’t have suited. This one does. He is long, accurate with his irons and he’s putting well. He should go close again here.
I’ll plump for three outsiders as well this week in the hope of picking up some of the place money that is on offer. The first of those is a man whose record here in recent times without winning the tournament stands up to most in Paul Casey. He comes in here with five-year form of T6-T4-6-T15-MC so Augusta treats him very well. You could argue his form is a little mixed at the minute but he was runner-up in the USPGA earlier in the year and made the top 20 on a Winged Foot course that should have been too long for him in the US Open. Casey has shown the big tournaments get his juices going and with his record here he looks overpriced at 70/1.
My last two outrights are both debutants at big prices but who both have a chance of showcasing their talents on this stage. Lanto Griffin has already won on the PGA Tour when he landed the Houston Open last season and he wasn’t a million miles away from winning the Zozo Championship recently when he led with 20 holes to go and was in the final group that week. He didn’t go on and win but he bounced back from a few indifferent holes well. He is long enough off the tee but his iron play and putting is very good and he could be a sleeper for the tournament this week.
Regular readers will know I’m a massive fan of Victor Perez and while a tournament of this stature might come too soon for him at the prices on offer I’m happy to invest and see if that is the case. There was a fear that would be the case in the BMW PGA Championship recently but that was unfounded when he finished second to Tyrrell Hatton. Perez is a very strong driver of the ball but has no weakness on the greens either. If the November event takes away his inexperience disadvantage there is no reason at all why the Frenchman can’t go well this week.
Back B.DeChambeau to win The Masters (e/w) for a 3.5/10 stake at 9.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-9)
Back B.Watson to win The Masters (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 31.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-9)
Back them here:
Back P.Casey to win The Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 71.00 with Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Back L.Griffin to win The Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 176.00 with Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Back V.Perez to win The Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 251.00 with Bet365 (1/5 1-8)