The Masters | Thursday 09 April - Sunday 12 April | Augusta National
As can be expected the golfing world can speak of nothing but Augusta, Rory McIlroy’s chances and whether or not Tiger Woods will make the cut in this historic event. As usual the Masters and first Major of the year will be hosted at Augusta National, a course infamous for its lightning fast greens, thick rough and dense trees. The course that challenges every aspect of a players game and the first step in winning will be keeping the ball on the fairway. Players who find themselves in the second cut will struggle to get out and those who venture further from the fairways and into the trees will have little chance of finding it. That’s not all though as tight approaches and ridiculously difficult greens make accurate iron play and putting a must.
Hitting the green will not be enough as often the ball has a real chance of simply running off; controlling those approaches and keeping them close to the pin will be the only way to come close to victory. The final step will be making putts on what are arguably the most difficult greens this field will play all year. It’s been said that your average weekend golfer wouldn’t be able to four putt on these greens and over the years we’ve seen enough to make this statement believable. Missed putts from one foot out and some running off the back of the green and down slopes into the rough are commonplace so make sure whoever you think about backing this week is no slouch with the short stick. Overall this weekend promises to be one for the history books so make sure you get your bets on early.
Rory McIlroy 6/1
Bubba Watson 11/1
Jordan Spieth 11/1
Jason Day 14/1
Dustin Johnson 16/1
Martin Kaymer (75/1 a win, 13/1 a place)
When it comes to competing in the Majors there is no greater asset than experience and Martin Kaymer is a player who has more than most at this level. Over the years he would have come to realise that keeping calm in high pressure situations is key to performing well and time and time again the level-headed German has impressed at the highest level due to his unflappable temperament. Last year’s win in the US Open was nothing short of incredible as he systematically took the course and field apart and when he won the PGA Championship in 2010 he did so in similar fashion. It’s amazing to see him available at such long odds considering his ability to play well in these marquee events so get on while you can. Each way is the bet for me.
Dustin Johnson (16/1 a win, 29/10 a place)
It’s difficult to imagine what Dustin Johnson went through during his six month hiatus last year and yet despite not competing at all during that time he has come out guns blazing this season and somehow finds himself as one of the favourites in what is promising to be a hotly contested affair. Having come close in his first few starts since his return, he finally got the win he deserved at Doral in tough conditions against stiff competition and it was there that he proved to the golfing world that he would be a serious contender at Augusta this year. Dustin Johnson cannot be ignored this week, I’m backing him each way.
Henrik Stenson (20/1 a win, 36/10 a place)
Backing Henrik Stenson this week is risky because despite his Major form and the fact that he can really turn it on when the pressure is on, Augusta has never been the happiest hunting ground for the Swede. He does arrive here this week in incredible form though and after securing three Top 5s in the past few weeks on some tough courses, it does look like this year he could overcome his Augusta blues. With a bit of rain forecast for the week the greens may play a bit slower than usual and if that is the case you can rest assured that the Swede will have no difficulty on the greens. Each way on Stenson is my bet.
Jimmy Walker (25/1 a win, 9/2 a place)
After seeing how well Jimmy Walker was striking the ball last week in Texas it comes as no surprise that everyone is giving him a chance this week and after reading about his preparation for the Masters he seems like he may have a chance of picking up his first Major title. Over the past few months he’s been spending a lot of time at Augusta, studying the greens and getting a feel for the layout of the course and if the rumours are to be believed then he didn’t stop to enjoy Sunday’s victory, opting rather to head straight to Augusta to get himself mentally prepared. With the form he is in at the moment he looks like he may be tough to beat, especially when you consider how well he putted on the tough San Antonio greens which many liken to those found at Augusta. Each way on Walker is the best bet of the week for me, the favourites are a little too short for my liking and this bet looks to offer a lot of value.