I had to come out of golf gambling blog retirement for the best tournament of the year. It was also my most profitable last year (+17.68), so it’d feel like a missed opportunity.
Let’s all try to get laid.
Picks: Individual Finishes
Rory McIlroy (Top 5: +180 / Win: +850)
If it’s possible for Rory to go under the radar, it seems like he has the last couple times here. This year, the focus seems to be on DJ and Spieth. Last year, it was Spieth and Jason day. Rory has finished in the top 7 of has last two stroke play events. He needs the Masters win for his career slam and it seems inevitable to happen. He hasn’t missed a cut here since 2010 and has three straight top 10 finishes. The conditions aren’t supposed to be perfect with the rain coming down Wednesday, which plays right into Rory’s hands.
Hideki Matsuyama (Top 5: +450 / Win: +2200)
For a stretch there last fall and winter, Hideki was playing like the best in the world. He’s since cooled off quite a bit lately, but he hasn’t really ripped up the tournaments before the Masters either of the last two years and he’s still notched back-to-back top 10 finishes here at Augusta. For a guy who hits it long, plays well at the course, and has shown his peak is as good as anyone, this is a very enticing price, regardless of his form heading in.
Justin Rose (Top 5: +600 / Win: +3000)
Let’s copy and paste from last year:
He’s played the Masters ten times and never missed the weekend. He’s finished in the top-25 eight times, including two top-5s. Last year he finished a career best second. He’s won a major before. His last four stroke play events on tour have resulted in the top-17. His game fits the course well.
He finished T10 last year. His form is about the same heading into this one.
Paul Casey (Top 5: +850 / Win: +4000)
How about another copy and paste job?
Casey’s made the weekend six times in nine tries at the Masters, including three top-10s. One of those was last year when he finished T-6 even after a rough Saturday (69-68-74-68). His last two stroke play events have resulted in top-10s. He’s not a great scrambler, but that’s okay because he’s top-10 on Tour in GIR.
He finished T4 last year. Form isn’t quite as sharp heading in this year, but it’s certainly not bad.
Lee Westwood (Top 10: +725 / Top 5: +1800)
I’ll save the C&P’s here and just tell you that I think you’re certifiably insane not to have money on Lee Westwood in some form or fashion when he rolls into Augusta National. I don’t care that he got cut in Houston. He did last year, too.
Bill Haas (Top 10: +800 / Top 5: +1800)
Billy has been like Westwood-lite at the Masters. He hasn’t finished in the top 10, but he’s Steady Eddy with seven straight cuts made, including four straight top 25’s. He’s also much less experienced on the course and is due to have a big weekend here one of these years. He hasn’t missed a cut on tour this year and recently finished third at the match play event.
J.B. Holmes (Top 10: +1000 / Top 5: +2500)
I’ll buy low on J.B. He’s only played here three times, making the cut twice, but he finished T4 here last year. I’ll be honest, no top 10’s for J.B. this year after having six of those bad boys last season. But I’m still gonna take him. Although he doesn’t have those banner top 10’s, it’s not like he’s playing terrible golf. He MC’d in Houston, but he’s gone top 35 in his other seven stroke play events with a couple top 12’s in there. He’s a long-ball hitter and the weaknesses in his game (approaches, putting) have seen an uptick this year, despite that not really showing up in improved finishes.
Charley Hoffman (Top 20: +400 / Top 10: +1050)
The resumes obviously get a little weaker down here, but Charley is 3-for-3 making the weekend here with a top 10 finish in 2015 to his name. Quite frankly, his stats for the year aren’t the most encouraging, but he’s a guy with four career tour wins and he’s played well lately. His last four stroke play events: T2, MC, T4 and a T29 last weekend in Houston when he did most of his damage on the weekend.
Soren Kjeldsen (Top 20: +500 / Top 10: +1400)
You might remember Soren from last year as the guy Twitter was making fun of because it looks like he has a fake blonde wig popping out of the top of his visor. He then dunked on everyone by finishing T7. It’s his first year with a tour card. Things didn’t start off hot in 2017 with four straight MC’s. However, he went T37, T32, and T27 in stroke play events since then and then made the quarters of match play, including a win over Rory.
Brendan Steele (Top 20: +650 / Top 10: +1700)
Not much course experience with his only appearance coming in 2012 when he missed the cut. However, he’s a great player from tee-to-green and is in really good form for the price. He hasn’t missed a cut all year, won a tournament, and has three top 10’s and six top 20’s. It’d be a stunner if he was in real contention Sunday, but his consistency this year makes him a good bet to at least make the weekend.
Winning Margin: Playoff (+300)
I’ll play it every year until they day I die. The only reason to root against a playoff is if you bought a ticket on the clubhouse leader to win, otherwise you have a big dump in your pants. It’s happened five times in the past 14 years.
Hole in One Round 4 (+200)
Last year I played the Hole in One on Hole 16 at +175. It’s +125 this year, likely due to the fact that three guys aced it last year. So why the Sunday play this year? Because all three of those hole-outs on 16 last year happened on Sunday.
Top Senior Player: Fred Couples (+275)
There’s nine of them, but only four are probably really in the running for this one. The favorite is Steve Stricker at +150. The other two would be Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh. I despise those two so they’re already out. If you’d like something more scientific, do your own damn research.
Freddy got cut at Augusta last year, but he rattled off five straight top 20s before that. His year on the Champions tour so far this year: 2, T6, Win, T4. Stricker has had a good year as well, but he hasn’t been quite as good as Couples at the Masters, recently or historically.
Top Australasian Player: Marc Leishman (+400)
Six guys, only three real contenders. The other two: Jason Day (even) and Adam Scott (+175). Obviously both of those guys are very good at golf. It’s difficult knowing what to expect from Day. He’s had his mother’s health issues to worry about off the course. Thankfully that appears to be in a better place now, but I don’t know that it’s instantly going to help his game out in a big way. He has just one top 10 this year.
Scott’s had a pretty solid season so far, but he just missed the cut in Houston and since winning the Masters in 2013, he’s gradually dropped each year in the standings and has only broken 70 twice.
Leishman doesn’t have a ton of success at Augusta, going 1 for 4 in making the cut, but that one was a T4 in 2013. He’s having a great year, though. He’s played nine events, made eight cuts, and finished top 25 in seven of those, including a win a couple weeks ago. He’s third in strokes gained: putting, a great scrambler, and hits it plenty long enough for the course (31st in driving distance).
Top Debutant: Tyrrell Hatton (+500)
Quite a few options here. Jon Rahm is the obvious favorite, but Hatton has been very consistent for months now. He’s finished in the top 25 in his last 11 events. Pretty good, imo.
Spieth (+110) over D. Johnson
As I’m writing this, it’s still available and the news about DJ’s back has already broken. Probably would’ve taken it either way. Spieth is great here.
Jason Day (even) over Jon Rahm
I’ve explained my doubts about Day, but he’s still one of the best players in the world. Jon Rahm is hot in the streets these days, but it’s his first time. There have been guys that have torn it up in their first outing at Augusta (Day is one of them), but I’ll bet on the experienced guy who also happens to still be the better golfer when they’re at their best.