The Masters Tournament Preview and Picks
Dates: April 7th-10th, 2011
Course: Augusta National Golf Club Augusta, GA
by Evergreen, PGA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Its that time of year again, time for the flowers to bloom, the grass to grow and time to take the trip to Augusta for The Masters. Few other events can match the history and pageantry of The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club is arguably the most recognizable course in the U.S. and maybe even the world. Phil Mickelson will defend his 2010 title and look for his fourth green jacket against a superior field that includes the best players from every tour around the world as well as the best amateurs. Tiger Woods is a four time Masters champion and looks to regain the form that saw him win those titles in a place where he is likely more at home than any other course. Lee Westwood leads a field of Euro stars looking to prove their merit on the world stage and players like Fred Couples are here to give it one more run at glory. ESPN has the early round coverage with CBS picking up the weekend finish.
Augusta National is a crown jewel of American golf and the course itself is a celebrity. For years, only certain holes were allowed to be televised and 2011 marks the first time that you can play Augusta on a video game. Everyone knows the ins and outs of how the course has changed over the years and yet the famous bridges, creeks and magnolias always seem to mean more than the cards that read: 7,435 yards par-72. Just about every type of player has seen success at Augusta, but the fact remains that the par-5s represent the best scoring opportunities and how a player fares on those holes alone can seal their fate one way or another. The rough is more of a penalty than in years past, but the bombers can still let loose and hack their way on to the greens but thats certainly not all there is to scoring here. The greens are lightning fast and getting up and down to save par is never easy on any hole. Hit it long, find the surface, take advantage of the par-5s and pray everywhere else.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think can win it all. We give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a few head to head matches that you can find at any golf sportsbook. Here are our picks for the 2011 Masters Tournament with odds and matches courtesy of the board at Bodog Sportsbook.
Short Favorite: Dustin Johnson (20 to 1 odds to win)
DJ doesnt have a ton of Masters success with just a T30 as his best finish, but he certainly has the game to attack and conquer the course. Dustin ranks 3rd in driving distance and 20th in greens, so it should be no problem getting birdie looks and his 35th ranked putting average has led to the 2nd best birdie average in 2011 play. If Johnson can handle the rest of the course, he should be able to eat up the par-5s and stay in contention into the weekend.
Middle of the Road: Luke Donald (22 to 1 odds to win)
Luke hasnt played much in the U.S. this year, but his four starts have produced a win at the Accenture Match Play and two other top-10s. He ran T3 at Augusta in 2005 and has the right mix to be successful here again. Donald currently has the 2nd best birdie or better percentage on the par-5s and is 5th in scrambling. If he keeps up with those kind of numbers against the field this week, he shouldnt have to look up at too many names come Sunday.
Longshot: Hunter Mahan (33 to 1 odds to win)
There is a lot to like about Hunter heading into this week. He hasnt missed a cut in nine starts this year and has five top-10 finishes. He is looking for his third top-10 Masters finish in a row after T8 and T10 runs in 2008 and 2009 and the game is there to do it. Mahan is 25th in total driving, 27th in greens hit and 30th in putting which makes him a factor at any course. All that has him 6th in the all around and he has converted the 8th most total birdies on Tour so far. Hunter probably wont surge out in the early going, but a steady start should have him in position come the weekend.
Head to Head Matches (our pick to win) * listed matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.
Aaron Baddeley (-115) v. Geoff Ogilvy (-115) (Baddeley)
It has been nice to see Badds return to the form that had him one of the up and coming stars on Tour and he looks to be the pick in this match. Coming off a T4 at the Shell is a nice start and the advantage in birdie average, scoring average and ballstriking over his competitor seals it. Ogilvy is a gamer but he seems to be struggling just a bit and Augusta is not really a place to work things out.
Stewart Cink (-115) v. Robert Allenby (-115) (Allenby)
When picking a winner in an Allenby match, you have to look at who is the better putter. Now, Allenby wont outrank too many players but when the disparity is small, you should usually side with Robert. Cink ranks 81st in putting average to Allenbys 122nd but Allenby still outscores Cink so the putting isnt really factoring in to a large degree when these two match up.