Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Masters 2020 Preview

Masters 2020 Preview

Tiger Woods receives teh Green Jacket at the 2019 Masters

Damien Kayat takes an in-depth look at what will be an eerily quiet Masters, with no fans allowed at Augusta because of Covid-19.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

US PGA Tour
Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
12th-15th November 

This is going to be strange on so many levels. Firstly, let’s look at the political situation. Golf is a traditional bastion of right-wing conservatism, with Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus himself endorsing Trump a few days before the election. Joe Biden’s victory in last week’s presidential election actually saw Georgia turn blue. So, there’s that. Furthermore: it’s November! The riot of spring colour will be replaced by more subdued, autumnal tones. The Covid crisis ensures that no matter what happens, everyone will remember who wins this Green Jacket. The lack of fans- sorry, patrons- will make for an eerie sensation in these hallowed surrounds. Augusta National was founded at the start of the Great Depression and the first incarnation of this event was staged in 1934. 

The exquisite Augusta National Golf Course was the brainchild of golfing wunderkind Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. Co-designed by Jones and Alister Mackenzie, the course was famously built over the site of an old nursery (hence the distinctly horticultural naming of the holes). The Bermuda greens were changed to bentgrass and Tom Fazio oversaw a radical redesign in 2002. The holes were tightened and the course now plays incredibly long. The Bermuda grass fairways will be slightly thicker, making chipping around the greens slightly trickier. The course will play even longer this year, with slower conditions expected from tee to green. While tree-lined, Augusta isn’t especially punitive for errant drivers. So, it seems that distance trumps accuracy. But it really boils down to what happens around these greens. Short game magicians such as Woods, Mickelson and Watson reveal the deepest secret to success around Augusta: get up and down. 

Much of the pre-tournament hoopla has centred around the gargantuan driving efforts of current US PGA Champion: Bryson DeChambeau. This guy is brilliant at cultivating his own mystique, with many feverishly anticipating how he aims to take down Augusta. This course would appear to suit his gung-ho style. Having said that, he has a relatively poor Augusta record and will need to take down a host of course specialists. Tiger Woods will aim to defend his championship despite a run of poor form. Rory McIlroy could also benefit from the seasonal shift. DeChambeau isn’t the only man in the field with prodigious length off the tee. He will once again be aiming to secure the career Grand Slam despite poor post-lockdown form. 

Tyrell Hatton has been in sensational form and deserves some respect in the markets. Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm have been hyper consistent of late while Justin Thomas isn’t too far behind. The likes of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele look primed for a Major breakthrough at some point while former Masters Champions Reed and Garcia have both looked dangerous of late. There are just so many fascinating narratives to consider this week. 

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Past Winners
2019: Tiger Woods (-13)
2018: Patrick Reed (-15)
2017: Sergio Garcia (-9) *playoff
2016: Danny Willett (-5)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-18)

To Win Outright:
Bryson DeChambeau 8/1 | Dustin Johnson 17/2 | Jon Rahm 9/1 | Justin Thomas 11/1 | Rory McIlroy 28/1

Value Bets

Bubba Watson: To Win 30/1 | To Place 6/1
Three of the last five Masters winners have ranked 1st for the week for Strokes: Gained Approach. This is a clear indication of the importance of crafting your iron play. Augusta is also a course that rewards familiarity. Look no further than Bubba Watson- the proverbial ‘horses for courses’ master- to tick both those boxes. The former two-time Masters champion raked 9th for SG: Approach at the US Open and 2nd for SG: Approach at the CJ Cup. So that seems to be trending in the right direction. He also has two top 7 finishes in his last three starts. Aside from his two victories here he has a tie for 5th in 2018 and a tie for 12th last year. 

Ian Poulter: To Win 125/1 | To Place 25/1
Ok, so it’s a stretch to suggest that veteran Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter could win this thing. But I like his chances in the place markets following some excellent recent form. He followed consecutive top 10 finishes in Europe with a 12th place finish in Las Vegas. His sublime short game currently has him ranked 6th in SG: Around the Green. That is what makes him such a consistent presence at Augusta. He has accumulated nine top 25’s and three top 10’s at Augusta. He has taking extra time to get some on-course practice; which can only be a good thing as we lead up to this epic event. 

The Man to Beat: Brooks Koepka To Win 16/1 | To Place 32/10
Koepka’s comeback from injury has hardly been electric. But he struck the ball beautifully at the CJ Cup, not reflected in his top 30 finish. A top 5 at last week’s Houston Open was an encouraging harbinger for the burly American.  But look at his results in the last ten Major Championships. His figures read 1, T6, T13, 1, T39, 1, T2, 1, T4, T29. That is borderline ridiculous. He has finished 1st or 2nd at every Major over the past two years. Koepka is sneaking under the radar and should benefit from the colder, slower conditions. 

Top Continental European Victor Perez 11/1
Jon Rahm’s odds in this category stand at 9/20. Given his penchant for occasionally choking in Major Championships, I think there’s some value in this niche market. Yes, this may be Perez’s debut at Augusta. But his recent runner-up finish at the BMW PGA Championship suggests that there is plenty to come from the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Champion. 

Written by Damien Kayat.

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