The Masters Predictions
Dates: April 9-12, 2015
Course: Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, GA
by Evergreen, Golf Betting Analyst, Predictem.com
Spring is finally here folks and all is right in the sports world. Duke Basketball has hoisted another championship trophy, the MLB season has kicked off whether the Cubs were ready for it or not and it is Masters Week.
The Masters is truly one of most unique events in any sport, carrying all of the tradition and history of a Wimbledon or Daytona 500 while incorporating standout elements that makes this event and this course a jewel on the PGA Tour schedule. Augusta National is a treasure in American golf and probably the biggest star of every Masters and the reverence for this former nursery plot is truly amazing. You know you are steeped in history and sports mysticism when you hear things like Raes Creek, Ikes Pond and Amen Corner. Given that this course has never been officially rated by and sanctioning body, there is little use comparing it to any other course in the world and to be honest, Augusta National loves that fact.
The 7,435 yard, par-72 course isnt overtly difficult like a U.S. Open or subject to the elements like British Open courses are so Augusta can be attacked on paper yet she always defends herself well. Players face demanding tee shots on some holes, tough approaches on others and nearly every green at Augusta features lightning-quick surfaces and closely mown run-offs that gobble up errant shots. There are many greens that can be hit easily enough but most require a shot be placed in an extremely small area to get anywhere near the hole so precision is a key over and above the generic accuracy to simply hit a green. Scoring opportunities exist, especially on the par-5s, and really anyone can come out of this field to win as there are many ways to get around Augusta National with success. Power players like Tiger and Phil have won here but grinders like Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera have also won a Green Jacket so a diverse cast of characters can take center stage. The winning totals over the last decade have ranged from 1-over par to 16-under par so there is always a little mystery attached to just how The Masters scoring pace will trend year to year. It should be mentioned that significant rain is in the forecast which takes some of the teeth out the course and therefore a double digit under par total is looking more likely than anything.
There are 98 players taking on Augusta this week but so much of the news surrounds Tiger Woods. Big surprise, I know. Im not getting caught up in Tiger-mania, even if I am among the observers that would like to see him return to championship form. The Masters is not the place to be if you are not on top of your game, especially if Tiger still has his D-level short game as many suggest. Augusta has the potential to chew him up and spit him out and Vegas doesnt have high hopes for him either, tagging him with 33 to 1 odds to win. If you think there is a miracle about to happen, bet Tiger all you want, he has clearly proved he can dominate The Masters field on multiple occasions. Smart money shouldnt be thrown his way however and the prop bet action has Tiger making the cut at about 50-50. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his chances. One prop I do like is Tigers first hole score on Thursday. Bovada lists him at +1000 to birdie his first hole with a par at -200 and bogey or worse at +150. I do not feel that Tiger can put four days together but I do think he can turn back the clock and put two shots together and birdie the first hole. That +1000 is enough to tempt me into that prop, at least for a little throw-away action.
Speaking of prop bets, The Masters really brings out the creativity from the bookmakers and here are some bets that Im looking at.
Big 4 versus the Field
Bovada Sportsbook (Our link gets you a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE!) has three different Big 4 props this week and I actually like all of them given the odds.
A winner from the group of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Jason Day is listed at +150 and I like this bet based on Bubba Watson alone. This is his course for the time-being and adding three more favorites has the making of a very safe bet.
If Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson or Jimmy Walker can win, that will get you +400. Scott is a recent Masters champ and he is joined by a hot Walker and the new second ranked player in the world in Stenson. Johnson certainly has the ability to attack this course and he really rounds out this foursome well in terms of style of play. I think the +400 is actually a very good value bet considering the talent in this Big 4.
The last Big 4 lists Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar at +600. It certainly has the most potential bang for your buck and this group could easily produce a winner, especially if Lefty can work some more Augusta magic. Reed is pushing the top-tier of the Tour with his talent alone with Fowler and Kuchar capable if not exactly exciting options. I think Im laying modest action on all three of these props as it most effectively groups the consensus top-12 in the field and they have a good chance of at least providing some hedge protection from some other bets.
There are only a handful of notable debutants in this years Masters field but I think Cameron Tringale at 14 to 1 has a good chance to be the best finisher of that group. Cam has been on Tour long enough to have seen how to get things done yet he still has the youthful enthusiasm to perhaps ignore the echoes throughout this course. Tringale is a scorer and has several very low rounds in just a few years as a pro so maybe he hits one early and can hang on to become the top 1sttime player.
There is something about aces at The Masters and Vegas knows about it. The generic yes/no prop for a hole-in-one at the tournament has NO at even money and YES at -130 so the expectation is that someone will jar one at some point. The par-3s at Augusta are not long by Tour standards and the funneling nature of the greens, especially at 16, promote multiple close-calls every year. Bovada has about 20 players you can bet for an individual hole-in-one prop that pays +10,000 if you can tab a player that records an ace. Its a pick-one-out-of-a-hat kind of bet, but I will be laying a little fun money on a player or two at those odds.
Picks to Win
We make a few picks to win each week, so here are our picks to win for The Masters.
Bubba Watson (10 to 1 to win)
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are ahead of Bubba at most online betting sites but that is a flat mistake by the bookmakers. Watson has won two of the last three Green Jackets and he has come into his own as far as knowing what he can and cant do on the golf course. I will go on record that Bubba might be the worst pick to win a U.S. or British Open but he is the very best candidate to win at Augusta for the next few years. Watsons style of play just meshes so well here and his strengths really give him an A+ attack plan. He hasnt missed the cut in any of his six Masters appearances and he has been under par in 11-of-24 career rounds. His ability to dominate the layout with his length and carve approaches into these tricky greens is unparalleled right now. Watson also has a win at the 2015 HSBC event and a second at the WGC-Cadillac so he isnt shying away from beating up the best players in the world. The odds arent going to bring a huge payday but if Bubba has his way and is reasonably sharp, he is one of the best bets this week.
Adam Scott (20 to 1)
It is hard to believe but Scott will be competing in his fourteenth Masters this week and he has made the cut in eleven of those starts. He won in 2013 and his worst finish in the last five years was a T18. Scott is also no stranger to success against the best fields and he netted a T4 at the WGC-Cadillac even while his play was a bit off from his normal high level. He is one of the best combination drivers on Tour, and he can use both his length and accuracy of the tee to set himself up to score at Augusta. Scott has struggled a bit with the putter of late but there is something about very tricky greens that actually makes experienced players better rather than worse so look for Adam to have a better week on greens that he is also very familiar with.
Keegan Bradley (66 to 1)
Although Bradley has made two of his three Masters cuts in his career, he hasnt done much other than take the walk so far with a T27 as his best finish. He is coming off his best finish of the year, a T5 at the Shell, and that course is gaining a reputation as being great prep for the Masters so Bradley should have plenty of confidence in his game overall. Like Scott, Bradley is a fantastic driver of the ball and should be able to be in the right places to make the most out of the few true scoring opportunities here. Keegan is also struggling with the change to a conventional putter but he rolled it well last week on similar greens and his Masters experience is entering that space where you would expect him to start taking advantage of previous lessons.
Gary Woodland (80 to 1)
Augusta is not the little 6,900 yard track that it was when Tiger tore it down in 1997 but she often plays shorter than the true yardage and long players can take advantage of the par-5s to get a massive advantage on the field. Woodland is 10thin driving distance and even better when all drives are measured as he averages 293 yards when all tee shots are taken into account. Gary has made all three of his previous Masters cuts with T24 and T26 finishes to build on. If he can make a few strokes up on the greens, he should improve on his Masters record as he is among the better players in this field in terms of tee to green performance.
Steve Stricker (150 to 1)Welcome back Steve. The former #4 player in the world makes his first start since December after disc surgery put him on the shelf. Im not really putting a lot of stock in his ability to win this week but unlike Tiger, Strickers game should never really leave him as he plays such a simple style and has reliable short game results. This will be Steves 15thtrip to Augusta and hes made the cut in the last six years. I really doubt that one of the best putters in the world will have a lot of rust, at least on the greens, so truth be told, Id rather bet Stricker at 150 to 1 than Tiger at 33 to 1. Just sayin.
Fred Couples (200 to 1)
There should be no surprise that the 1992 Masters champion is listed as a 2 to 1 favorite to win the top Senior PGA finisher prop bet and I think that bet, while light on value, is one of surest on the board. Couples will be making his 31stMasters start and he has made the cut in 28 of the previous 30. It was in 2008 and 2009 that Freddie missed the weekend here but his 2010-2014 finishes are all in the top-20 with a T6 thrown in there as his best. No one in this field is more capable to feel his way around Augusta and I fully expect Couples to not only make the cut this week but to also show up on the front page at some point. His career Masters record includes a sub-par scoring average of 71.91 with 54-of-116 total rounds under par.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on all four rounds. Check with your favorite online sportsbook for single round matches and daily props.
Note: For reasons I touched on above, I would take Bubba Watson against McIlroy, Spieth or anyone else listed above him in a heads-up match both daily and for the full event. I never really like betting big favorites in head to heads as the value is muted but you can find Watson listed as an underdog or at even money with some players and that is a bet I would not be afraid to make.
Jason Day v. Dustin Johnson (pick to win: Day)
Johnson is going to see an advantage over the field with his driving distance but he doesnt have an appreciable edge over Day in that category and Day has been quite a bit better in hitting greens so far. The scoring numbers are pretty even here so DJ has been able to spin good rounds out of some shoddy ballstriking but Augusta will not be as friendly as the regular Tour stops and Johnson has not been a good scrambler either. Day is 7thon Tour in getting up-and-down and has about a stroke and a half advantage on Johnson in Masters scoring average. Jason has a second and third place finish here while DJs best is T13. Both men can tackle this course head on but Day is the better in a heads up.
Phil Mickelson v. Jimmy Walker (pick to win: Walker)
I bet against Lefty last week and it burned me as Rickie Fowler finished last among the players making the cut. That lost bet was more about Fowlers uninspired play than anything as Mickelson finished a pedestrian T17 at the Shell and shot 75/71 on the weekend. Despite a very impressive Masters record that includes three wins, Lefty appears to be in a serious backslide and he is up against a very game opponent. Walker is coming off a Valero Texas Open win and is looking to build off his T8 Masters finish from his rookie appearance. Walker is currently longer than Phil, hitting more greens and owns a better putter so the edge for Mickelson is solely with experience. Lefty will be making his 23rdMasters start and while he has an impressive 71.2 scoring average at Augusta, it is hard for me to imagine him pushing the pace while he is playing this way. Jimmy enters the week leading the Tour in birdie average and you dont get the lead in that stat by having weaknesses in your game.