The first major of the year is upon us and it’s quite a competitive betting market with the cream rising to the top of those markets.
From a betting perspective, it’s working out what you prefer – a price or the places. Sky Bet & Coral are going 10 places while Ladbrokes are the best price for most players but paying the conventional five places.
Here are the player I’m backing and some that made the shortlist.
Paul Casey (22/1) – Won the Valspar Championship a few weeks ago showing his game is in good shape. In his last three visitors to Augusta he has finished T6, T4, and 6th, so he does enjoy playing this course. He’s one to back in the T10 or T20 finish markets because his price is too short given his realistic chance of winning compared to the place.
Hideki Matsuyama (33/1) – The Japanese star has struggled in recent weeks with a wrist injury and hasn’t played too much golf, so that is the worry with him. Like Casey, his last three goes around here have seen finishes of 5th, T7, and T11, so we could see him overcoming those wrist troubles but it might take him a bit of time to get his eye in.
Matt Kuchar (50/1) – Arrives here in Georgia in solid form after T9 & T8 finishes in his last couple of events. His best finish here came in 2012 when T3 but did manage to finish T4 last year.
Adam Scott (66/1) – He is a former Masters winner, who might be arriving here under the radar, after T13 in the Honda Classic and T16 at the Valspar Championship. His form has been much better in recent weeks and he does play well around here – a win, a second and last year T9. His odds could prove to be on the big side if he starts to get into a groove.
Thomas Pieters (70/1) – The young Belgian has played in seven tournaments this year and made the cut in them all. His best finish was T5 in the Abu Dhabi Championship but he’s been playing steady, solid golf. He’s practiced alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, so he’ll have learned a lot about the course from them, so if using that to his advantage then he could build on his T4 effort here last year when on debut.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (125/1) – In the two recent WGC events he’s finished T5 on both occasions and his game is solid enough to tame Augusta. His only Masters came in 2016 when finishing T15, so coped with the course and its layout but players always benefit from the experience. He’s one that might be worth chancing or even backing in a T20 finish market.
Webb Simpson (175/1) – This former US Open champion can be hit and miss but in recent weeks has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of. T5 in the Honda Classic and a T8 in the Valspar Championship are him returning to form and he comes out well in certain stats. He’s second in scrambling (69.8%), behind Jordan Spieth, and he’s got 67% for Greens in Regulation, which gives him those scoring opportunities. He might not like the Augusta layout and would be a flyer!
Prices on these players are all best price!
Justin Rose (14/1) – I backed him last year when runner-up losing in the play-off to Sergio Garcia despite looking to have it sealed but he’s especially solid around here and has started the season in excellent form. He was 3rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T5 in the Valspar Championship and T8 in the Farmers Insurance Open, so arrives in good form with his solid swing.
He’s made the cut in all 12 appearances around here and after last year can go once better if getting the putter red-hot to make those putts that could seal it for him.
Marc Leishman (60/1) – The Aussie has finished in the top-20 of each of the four majors but has yet gone on to win one but this could be his time. Like Rose, he’s had a sound start to the season with T7 (x2) and a T8 to his finishes already.
He’s Greens in Regulation at 66% is solid enough but scrambling may need improving if missing the green. Pars are vital around here if failing to score, so his short game and putting will need to be strong – the latter of which isn’t bad!
There’s enough to suggest the 34-year-old can compete and he did finish T4 here in 2013 but his last three visits have been underwhelming, however, he arrives in much better shape.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (100/1) – One of the more solid players on the tour and he finished T4 in last year’s Open Championship, as he went in search of his first major.
He missed the cut in the Houston Open last week, which wasn’t ideal preparation but he’s got a good swing, which generally gets his results. He’s 9th this season for Greens in Regulation at 71.4% and usually, a player that hits those numbers over the four rounds gives themselves a great chance of winning.
If you can avoid mistakes and making bogeys then that gives you a decent shout and the Spaniard comes out well in the ‘Bogey Avoidance’ stat sitting 25th in that proving his putting holds up under pressure, so with that in mind he’s one to have on side at a three-figure price.
Prices all best price!
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