Our golf experts’ best bets for Augusta

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Steve Rawlings goes in-depth to bring you the best betting angles in the most comprehensive and insightful Masters general preview out there…

Steve says: “Other than the first two winners of the event, Fuzzy Zoeller (in 1979) is still the only debutant to win the US Masters and most winners have been around Augusta National enough times to get to know its unique nuisances.

“On average, first time winners have played the event six times and I loved the way Ernie Els highlighted how much of a knowledge bank gets collected over the years when he said after round one five years ago that conditions had reminded him of the third round in 2000!

“Hideki Matsuyama’s victory 12 months ago came on his 10th visit to Augusta. Although plenty of experience is a big plus and the average age of the winners is 32, age had been a bit of a barrier until 2019. Prior to Tiger’s win at the age of 43, Mark O’Meara, who took the title at the age of 41 back in 1998, had been the last man to win in his 40s…

Dustin Johnson is an attractive price at almost 20/1. He’s not the first to miss the cut when defending and he won’t be the last and if we ignore that, his recent form at Augusta is superb.

“Horton Smith, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson all won their second Green Jacket two years after their first and DJ comes into the week in very decent form.”

“He reached the last four at the WGC-Matchplay last time out and he finished a very encouraging ninth in the Players last month. DJ has a largely poor record in Florida, with just one win in 34 starts and a top-ten % of only 17.6% so that was an eye-catching effort.”

Steve’s bet: Back Dustin Johnson @ 19.5

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 Augusta National champions to try and find this year’s Masters winner…

Dave says: “Winning back-to-back green jackets is incredibly hard. Only the greats – Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods – have managed it. Woods was the last in 2002 which means there hasn’t been a successful defence in the last 10 years. Bad news for Hideki.

Defending champion = 0pts
Not the defending champion = 10pts

“It’s almost essential to take on Augusta National with some sort of current form although it doesn’t need to be a victory. A look at the last 10 winners shows that all 10 had finished in the top 30 in at least one of their two starts before arriving at Augusta National.

“But we can get even more specific as nine of the last 10 had a top 15 in a strokeplay event in the same month of the US Masters or the previous month. That’s usually March/April although in the delayed 2020 edition it was October/November.”

Dave’s bet: Back Rory McIlroy @ 22.021/1

It’s 13 years since a big outsider last won the Masters and Steve Rawlings has picked three who could upset the odds this year.

Steve says: “The 2018 winner, Patrick Reed, can’t possibly be described as in-form but he’s definitely playing far better than he was at the start of the year when he missed three cuts in-a-row after finishing only 38th in Saudi Arabia.

“Reed failed to get out of the group at the WGC Matchplay last time out but after losing his first tie on the 18th green to Cameron Young he signed off there with an impressive 3&2 victory over Jon Rahm and he played quite nicely in his penultimate start when finished 26th at the Players Championship, where he putted superbly.

Patrick reed at Augusta.JPG

“Since his victory here, he’s finished 36th, 10th and 8th and another high finish is perfectly possible.”

Steve’s bet: Back Patrick Reed @ 120.0119/1

Dave Tindall has three each-way tips for the showdown at Augusta National starting with one with a brilliant record in Georgia…

Dave says: “Schauffele is one of those who took to the majors like a duck to water. He was tied fifth in his very first one (the 2017 US Open) and has now racked up nine top 10s in 18 appearances. Six of those are top fives.

“Specifically at the US Masters, he was joint runner-up on his second appearance in 2019, tied 17th in 2020 and tied third last year.

“Three years ago, he was tied for the lead when walking off the 16th green before Tiger came past him and last time he made four four birdies on the spin from 12-15 to get to within two of runaway leader Matsuyama before finding water at 16.

“In other words, he’s tasted the heat of battle on the back nine of a Masters Sunday. Those experiences can only help him going forward.”

Dave’s bet: Back Xander Schauffele @ 28.027/1

A first time Masters winner is short odds on the Betfair Exchange, so will we see a new player slipping on the green jacket?

Matt Cooper says: “Shane Lowry may have struggled in those quiet majors of 2020, but last year he landed a career-best at Augusta, followed it with that top five at Kiawah Island and, after a slow start at Royal St George’s on defence of the Claret Jug, he played excellent golf for T12th.

“He had early problems with the Masters examination, missing three cuts in his first four visits. But in finishing T25th and T21st the last two years he has recorded comfortably his best Greens in Regulation stats and last year his best putting numbers (even if we only have old fashioned stats to go by).

His form is also superb. He’s not finished outside the top 25 in his last seven strokeplay starts and six times in that run he ended the week in the top 15 (and never outside the top 20 for Strokes Gained Approach or Tee to Green in that stretch).

“But for an outrageously good finish by Sepp Straka (and an ill-timed downpour) he would probably have won the Honda Classic.”

Matt’s bet: Back Shane Lowry each-way @ 34.033/1

Dave Tindall has three picks to be First-Round leader at Augusta National starting with an Aussie who has made a strong start there before…

Dave says: “Marc Leishman shot 6-under 66 to be first-round leader in 2013 and went on to finish fourth. And twice in the last four Masters he’s posted a lap of 5-under 67.

Also fifth after 18 holes in 2014, he’s got off to other decent starts and has been in the top 25 after round one in four of the last five Masters. He’s a real course horse after finishes of 5-13-49-9 in the last four years and this season he ranks 16th for first-round scoring on the PGA Tour.

“Speaking on Tuesday, he said: ‘My driving has improved a lot, which I think it had to to contend in these consistently. So I’m driving it, hitting it a little longer and a little straighter, which is always nice. Just all around it’s been good, my putting’s been good. My iron play is sort of the same as how it has been. Yeah, I’m excited about what could potentially happen this week.’

“Leishman goes out in Group 25 at 12:57pm local time.”

Dave’s bet: Back Marc Leishman each-way at 51.050/1

Steve scours the many special bets markets and comes up with a super six wagers at prices ranging from 15/8 to 16/1…

Steve says: “Defending the US Masters title is tough and here’s an interesting set of figures to demonstrate the fact: 50-50-14-38-2-MC-MC-36-38-MC.

“That’s how the last 10 defending champions have fared at Augusta, with only Jordan Spieth threatening to win, and it’s why I’m more than happy to take on this year’s defending champ, Hideki Matsuyama.

“The Japanese star would be opposable given those stats regardless but when we add in the fact that he’s injured and that he arrives with current form figures reading 30-8-39-20-W, he really does look worth taking on.”

Steve’s bet: Back Hideki Matsuyama to miss the cut @ 15/8 (Sportsbook)

Next up Dave arms you with the stats for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets in the US Masters…

Dave says: “No-one has played the Majors better than Koepka in the last five years and that spell of excellence included a second place at the 2019 Masters behind Tiger. His prep this year?

“‘I came out the week of Match Play and played 36 with my dad on Monday, so that was fun just to get to play with him, special just for him to get to play it and get to play it with him. So I’ve seen the changes, and I think they’re good. They always do a pretty good job.’

Brooks Koepka Masters.jpg

“As for why he likes tough major courses, Koepka explained: ‘I think because you can’t miss it in certain spots. You’ve really got to have a good short game number one, but number two you’ve got to understand where to hit it and where to miss it, and I think sometimes, I’ve said it over the last couple weeks, I think the setups are a little too easy, and it brings so many guys in.’

“He’s come back to form in recent starts so Koepka looks an obvious contender.”

Dave’s bet: Back Brooks Koepka for Top 10 @ 3.412/5

The greens at Augusta need to be handled with care, and the outcome of the tournament largely depends on a player’s putting, according to Andy Swales.

Andy says: “Not only is the Augusta National putting surfaces the most treacherous – by some distance – on the PGA Tour, it is a player’s performance on the greens which tends to shape their destiny more than at any other professional tournament.

“There have been plenty of tales of woe regarding the Augusta greens over the decades, and probably the worst of all was that of Tom Weiskopf who three-putted 13 times in 72 holes when finishing second in 1969 – one stroke behind champion George Archer. Weiskopf was runner-up four times at Augusta, never winning the title.

“So who are this season’s Kings of Putting on the PGA Tour? To try and answer this question I looked at four putting categories covering the opening seven months of the 2021-22 season.

Two of the categories were the Strokes Gained: Putting and Putting Average (GiR) tables, which are both fairly generic in nature. I also looked at the more specific categories of putts holed Between five and 10 feet, and Greater than 25 feet. Two categories testing both long and short-to-medium length putting.

Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith, probably not surprisingly, have performed well with the putter this season. Between them they have won five times on the PGA Tour since January 1st.”

Andy’s Player to Watch: Back Scottie Scheffler @ 19.018/1

The minimum bet on the Betfair Exchange has been reduced to £1 so you can get the biggest value with the smallest stakes. Six of our experts have chipped in with £1 bets so here are a couple…

Joe Dyer says: “I am tempted in by Matt Fitzpatrick most years at Augusta, and most years I have lost my money! But at big odds of 70 on the Exchange I will give him another crack at it.

“Already a very capable operator, he looks a player approaching fresh levels of excellence – Matt Cooper points out his good form in his player profiles piece here – and while the win has been elusive on the PGA Tour he has lifted multiples titles on the DP World Tour.”

Joe’s £1 bet: Back Matt Fitzpatrick @ 70.069/1

Mike Norman says: “Given that he’s now officially the world’s best player, he’s the hottest player on the planet form wise, and that he has some excellent Augusta pointers in his favour, then the only surprise to me is that Scottie Scheffler isn’t favourite to win this year’s US Masters.

“The likeable 25-year-old is brimming with confidence following three wins in his last five outings, and he is undoubtedly now a much better player than when recording very respectable top 20 finishes on his first two visits to Augusta.”

Mike’s £1 bet: Back Scottie Scheffler @ 20.019/1

Andy supplies the stats that matter with recent tournament and Majors form for the entire Masters field and selects 10 players that catch the eye going in…

Andy says: “Because of the pandemic, which led to the postponement and re-scheduling of three American majors during 2020 – not to mention the cancellation of The Open Championship – we were treated to seven majors in the space of 347 days.

“And with the golfing calendar starting to resemble normality once again, the major season tees-off in Georgia and the 86th staging of the Masters Tournament at Augusta.

“With no one player seemingly standing out from the crowd right now, the list of potential Green Jacket wearers appears relatively long. The last 11 majors have been shared among 10 players, with only Collin Morikawa winning twice during this period.

Viktor Hovlandis one of the new kids on the block whose confidence levels must be high. The 24-year-old from Oslo was the leading amateur at The Masters in 2019 and he reached No 3 in the world earlier this year.”

Andy’s Eye-catcher: Back Viktor Hovland @ 24.023/1