The US Masters kicks off on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club with bookmakers in Nevada expecting a 20% decline in betting activity due to the absence of Tiger Woods. A number of unheralded players have won on tour this year so we could be in for a surprise winner, however it’s worth noting that since 1986, the US Masters has been won seventeen times by a player ranked in the top 10 – more than any other major. With Tiger Woods absent the winner market is incredibly open, with no golfers listed at single digit odds with most bookmakers.
Augusta is renowned for its lightning-quick putting surfaces and cruel slopes to fend of approaches that don’t hit the Goldilocks areas of the greens. Mental toughness is key because leads can dissipate very quickly on Sunday.
The Main Contenders
Below is a survey of some of the main contenders. Sources are listed at the bottom of the article.
|Player||What’s to Like||What’s Not to Like|
|Rory McIlroy||Has won two Majors. Won the Australian Open in December. Has three top ten finishes this year, including twice runner-up. Fired a 65 in the final round on the Houston Open last week.||Had a disappointing year for most of 2013. Many of his performance stats have been in decline since 2011 (greens in regulation, Strokes gained putting, etc.). Has only played in four tournaments this year. He’s never finished better than 15th at the Masters (although he did lead after the 3rd day in 2011). Four of his last six weekend rounds at Augusta were 76 or worse.|
|Adam Scott||Ranked 2nd in the world with 1st ranked Tiger Woods not participating. Won the Masters and finished in the top 5 in three of the four majors in 2013. He tied for the lowest cumulative score in all four majors in 2013 with Jason Day. Hasn’t finished outside the top 25 this year. Been in the top 10 at five of the last seven tournaments he has played. Finished in the top ten in the last three Masters. Scott is the only player to make the cut in all eight majors in 2012 and 2013.||Blew a lead on the final day of the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational, reminiscent of previous blown wins. Since 1934 only three players have defended their Masters title the following year.|
|Phil Mickelson||Three-time Masters winner (2004, 2006 & 2010). Played well in the Houston Open last week. Boasts fourteen top 10 finishes at Augusta.||Had to withdraw from two tournaments this year with injury. Has failed to record a top 10 finish in 2014.|
|Jason Day||Had three top-ten finishes in the majors in 2013. He tied for the lowest cumulative score in all four majors in 2013 with Adam Scott. Ended tied for 2nd at the Masters in 2011 and finished 3rd in 2013. Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February this year.||Hasn’t played recently due to a thumb injury.|
|Matt Kuchar||Is playing on the back of two consecutive top 5 finishes, including runner-up in the Houston Open last week. He’s had 6 top 10 finishes this year. Finished in the top 10 in his last two Masters. He’s a strong putter, which is important on the fast greens of Augusta.||Has faltered on the final day of his last two tournaments. Known for consistently doing well, but consistently coming up short.|
|Dustin Johnson||Augusta favours long hitters and Dustin is the 2nd longest driver on Tour. He ranks first on the US tour this season in greens-in-regulation, birdie average and scoring average. Has six top 10 finishes in the majors. His worst stroke-play result in 2014 to date is a tie for 6th. He’s been in the top 10 in four of his last five events||Has never finished in the top 10 at the Masters.|
|Bubba Watson||Won the Masters in 2012. Won the 2014 Northern Trust Open and finished runner up in the 2014 Phoenix Open.||Form has dropped off since he won the Masters. Finished 50th at Augusta in 2013. No top 10 finishes in his last seven majors.|
|Lee Westwood||Has finished in the top 10 in at least two majors each year since 2010. Hasn’t finished below 11th at the Masters.||Ranked 37th in the world rankings. Doesn’t have a top 10 finish on the PGA Tour in 2014. Hasn’t won on tour since June 2012.|
|Sergio Garcia||Finished 3rd at the Houston Open last week. Has eighteen top 10 finishes in the majors. Finished tied for 8th last year at the Masters. Won the 2014 Qatar Masters. Improving form sees him ranked 6th in the world.||Has never won a major in 18 years of trying.|
Where’s the Money Going?
Sports Insights have published the percentage of bets taken at CRIS. Punters don’t have their usual favourite this year with Tiger Woods not participating, so the money is widely spread. While there is the expected bias towards American golfers, it’s worth noting the intense interest in Jason Day, who has received more in wagers than any other golfer and twice that of the shorter-priced Adam Scott. In all, the following 11 players have attracted 39.4% of the money at CRIS.
|Golfer||Odds||% of Bets|
Sportingbet have stated that they’re also taking more bets on Jason Day than anyone else, with Day being their worst result from a profit perspective.
With tournament winner markets, Betfair usually offers the best overall value (not to mention the ability to lay players), however Betezy offers the best odds for many selections. Please note that the odds below were taken at the time of writing and may no longer be up to date. You can view and compare the latest US Masters odds in the live odds section.
|Golfer||bet365||Betezy||Betfair (5% Comm)||Bookmaker & Ladbrokes||Centrebet & Sportsbet||IASbet & Sportsbet||Luxbet||Pinnacle Sports|
You can view active bookmaker promotions for other sports in the promotions section.
|Golf – US Masters Bonus
(Expires Fri, 11 Apr 2014)
Place a bet on any player to win the US Masters. If they come 2nd place to an Australian, Betezy will refund your bet up to a maximum of $100. Only applies to bets placed prior to the commencement of the tournament.
|Golf – US Masters Refund
(Expires Fri, 11 Apr 2014)
Have a bet on the Outright Winner market for the US Masters and if your player finishes 2nd or 3rd, Sportingbet will refund your bet up to $100.
Because it’s so difficult to pick the winner my inclination is to go with three to four players who are known for their consistency and then look to lay them at shorter odds over the weekend. Adam Scott, Jason Day and Matt Kuchar are golfers who immediately come to mind for this strategy. Alternatively, you could look towards place or top 10 finish markets.