It’s that time of year again. The greatest players in the world battle it out on the world’s most iconic course. Our friends who usually have no interest in golf actually join us to watch and we get to see a few legends of the past tee it up alongside the legends of present. The only thing that could make things more exciting is by raising the stakes and putting some of your hard earned cash on a few of your favourite players! By a process of elimination Halcyon Golf Travel have narrowed down the field to 15 possible winners, further narrowing them down to our top 3 bets judged on value for money. We’ve identified the most important characteristics of a player’s game to conquer Augusta as well as 10 year trends in Masters Champions; this is a particularly useful method for betting on The Masters since it’s always played on the same course.
This doesn‘t need much discussion. Amateurs don’t win majors, although if they were to win one this major has the weakest field. But back to the original point, Amateurs DON’T win majors; the Bobby Jones era has long gone.
Improbable past champions
Let’s be honest, apart from the obligatory Freddie couples charge in the second round, none of these lads has the length to compete round this newly lengthened 7,435 yard golf course. Not to mention the fairways that have been “mowed towards the tee” to decrease roll out. Inviting past champions is a fantastic tradition of The Masters and I’m sure these chaps love reminiscing of past wins whilst walking the course and signing yellow flags for fans. Sadly, their memories are about as close as they are going to get to winning The Masters again.
Jose Maria Olazabal
First time attendees:
The only time a player has won on their Master’s debut is Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 (not counting Horton Smith who won the first Masters in 1934 and Gene Sarazen in 1935). Everyone yaks on about Augusta being a course that takes years to learn and rightly so. The greens and run offs are unlike anything most of the players will have competed on before, not to mention “it’s hillier than it looks on tv”.
Players that have never made the cut at Augusta:
Players that have won the Masters having never made the cut before: Fuzzy Zoeller 1979, Horton Smith 1934, Gene Sarazen 1935. Rather than discuss this point further let’s accept that those who have never made the cut are not much better off than first timers.
Short hitters (outside top 135 in driving distance for respective tour):
Some people will tell you that because Zach Johnson won the Masters distance doesn’t matter. Those people are wrong. Johnson won the Masters in absolutely heinous weather where most of the par 5s were not reachable for the large majority of the field, removing length as an advantage and playing into the hands of Zach’s lay up strategy. The newly lengthened course demands strong driving; approaching greens that require you to aim at minuscule targets to leave uphill putts is hard enough, never mind when you’re coming in with a hybrid or a 3 wood! I’m not saying these guys aren’t capable of winning (Fitzpatrick was only hitting the ball about 260 when he won the US Amateur at Brookline on a 7200 yard par 70 course), but they are at a serious disadvantage.
Players who have never finished higher than T38:
All of the last 10 winners have previously finished in the top 38 at Augusta.
Patrick Cantlay - (best finish 47th (low amateur), MC as a professional)
Xander Schauffele (best finish T50)
No top 10 finish in 2019:
Current form is usually pretty helpful, unsurprisingly. All of the last 10 Masters champions had at least one top 10 that season. Lets remove players who haven’t had a single top 10 in 2019.
Not in World top 30:
9 of the last 10 Masters champions have been ranked in the top 30 in the world when they won. Although some surprising names are in here, the current cream always rises to the top in major championships.
Charles Howell III
Weak Red Zone players (175-225 yards approach):
Augusta may be known for its greens but because of this approach play quality is actually the more important statistic. 9 of the last 11 winners have hit at least 49 greens in regulation and Patrick Reed last year only hit one less with 48. Not only is it par 5 scoring that is incredibly important, but it is actually par 4 scoring that is the deciding factor when it comes to winning The Masters. The large majority of par 4’s are lengthy and serious two shotters, making this “red zone” yardage vitally important.
Rafa Cabrera Bello
We have some additional trends that you could base your betting on, although one could perhaps argue they are due to correlation rather than causation. All 10 of the last 10 champions were…
Some other interesting observations:
This leaves us with 15 players that can potentially win The Masters. Unsurprisingly the large majority have some of the shortest odds in the field (who’d have thought bookies would use their brains eh?). You could almost say that the 5+ minutes you have wasted reading this has really taught you nothing you didn’t already know.
So here they are, the top of the field and my "best value bets"
John Rahm – Picture of him found in the dictionary under petulant.
Justin Rose – About as charismatic as a tee peg.
Justin Thomas - Quite good at golf.
Rickie Fowler – The real Slick Rick.
Tommy Fleetwood – Scouse Jesus, severe allergy to weekends.
Gary Woodland – Probably wishes he’d gone down the pro basketball route.
Bryson Dechambeau – Thinks a C in high school Physics makes him a scientist.
Brooks Koepka – Keyboard warrior.
Marc Leishman – Top bloke.
Tiger Woods – Goat.
Dustin Johnson – Terrified of stairs.
Rory McIlroy (favourite) (7/1 Betfair, paying 6 places E/W at 1/5th odds)
After such an unbelievable start to the year and quite rightly being the bookies favourite we ought to devote some time to talk about Rory. He’s not finished outside the top 10 so far this year and could have quite easily secured more than just his one win at Sawgrass. His game definitely suits the course, he’s finished in the top 10 the last 5 years running and the relevant stats back this up. Unfortunately however he is handicapped by the demons inevitably looming in his head from the unmentionable events of 2011. Going into the week as the Players champion and outright favourite will mean the spotlight will be on him, and if he plays himself into contention people WILL be talking about what happened in 2011 A LOT. Having said that, he had the gonads to bounce back from the 2011 fiasco with an astounding win at the US Open and has proved throughout his career that he can overcome immense pressure. I wouldn’t blame anyone for piling money onto Rory this year, but I think there are other players that present much better value…
*Best Value Each Way Bets*
Hideki Matsuyama (35/1 BETVICTOR, 25/1 PaddyPower paying 10 places E/W)
Matsuyama is a sneaky long hitter averaging 308 yards off the tee this season which will go a long way on this recently lengthened course. PGA Tour stats indicate weakness on the greens (29.42 putts per round, 164th on tour) however this can be a misleading statistic as players who hit more greens in regulation (Matsuyama is one of these players) have a greater average proximity to the hole when putting, hence why they take more putts on average per round. He has had a steady year so far with 3 top 10’s from 8 starts and has a reasonable track record with 4t op 20’s in his past 4 starts at Augusta.
Bubba Watson (40/1 UNIBET, 30/1 PaddyPower paying 10 places E/W)
Bubba’s had 2 top 10’s so far this year, although this is nothing to brag about it does show that his game is very nearly there. Bubba nearly got chopped from the list for his relatively poor red-zone play (t80th) so far this season but his length off the tee, superb imagination and positive memories from previous wins at Augusta more than make up for this.
Sergio Garcia (50/1 Bet365, 40/1 PaddyPower paying 10 places E/W)
In his last 14 starts the Spaniard has managed 10 top 10’s, so it looks like he’s finally found some consistency after missing more cuts in 2018 than in the 5 previous years combined. Garcia obviously knows how to get it done round Augusta with a win and a handful of top 10’s throughout his career, however he’s had enough MC’s next to his name for people to start mistaking him for a rap artist. At least the prestige and condition of the course should prevent him from making some quick modifications to the putting surface or tearing the head off an Azalea and getting himself disqualified!