The US Masters is the first of Golf’s four major tournaments on the calender, and with just a few weeks left until it begins, we’re looking for some early value among the players to follow. The tournament will be played from the 9th to the 12th of April at the world-famous Augusta National Golf Club, and all the talk in the build-up is of whether Rory McIlroy can win his third Major in a row, or whether last year’s victor, Bubba Watson, can lift back-to-back titles.
Rory McIlroy is the clear favourite to win the tournament, and after winning the last two Majors of 2014, we could be witnessing the start of an era of dominance from the young player. He uncharacteristically missed the cut for the Honda Classic earlier this year, but showed signs of a return to form recently when he Tied 9th in the WGC Cadillac Championship. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if he goes on to win those odds will look silly when we look back, but apart from leading the field for the first three days of 2011, he has a patchy record on this very unique course. That could be rather harsh on McIlroy, but this is a course which favours it’s specialists to more of a degree than many other courses, and at the odds, he’s worth opposing.
The second favourite for the tournament could definitely be described as a course specialist. Bubba Watson took the green jacket for the second time in his career last season, having previously won it in 2012. He’s got the proven course form and is also in good recent form finishing third in the WGC Cadillac Championship, just two strokes off the winner, Dustin Johnson. However, history tells us that it’s very difficult to win back-to-back Masters, with only Jack Niklaus (1965 & 1966) , Nick Faldo (1989 & 1990), and Tiger Woods (2001 & 2002) able to retain their titles the year after winning them. Watson finished tied 50 in the 2013 Masters when he defended his title for the first time, and that leaves a nagging doubt about his chances this time.
Bubba Watson – +1200 with 888Sport
We were happy enough with the result when we backed Henrik Stenson in the WGC Cadillac Championship at +3300 each-way, and he returned a nice profit finishing tied 4th. So we’re looking at a couple of players at bigger odds who both have a good course pedigree and can give us a good run for our money.
Phil Mickelson has had a glittering career in golf, spending over 700 weeks in the top ten players in the world and winning five Majors. Tellingly, three of those have been Masters tournaments, with his victories coming in 2004, 2006, and 2010. He absolutely loves this course and has a superb record at Augusta down the years. He was left stunned last year when a poor round saw him miss the cut for the competition for the first time in 17 years. He said at the time that it would be his ‘punishment’ to sit and watch the tournament over that weekend, and he returns this year with something to prove. His recent form has been steady if not spectacular, but has finished in the top five of this tournament a credible ten times in his career, and he can raise his game at his favourite golf club. Six of the last twelve tournaments have been won by left-handers, and that’s a big pointer in favour of both Mickelson and Watson. At the prices, Mickelson is certainly worth a dabble.
Adam Scott – +2000 with Coral
Another player with a great pedigree at Augusta is Adam Scott, who of course, became the first Australian to win the Masters when he took the green jacket in 2013. The world number four is a consistent player, and has a good record at this course over the last four years, finishing tied 2nd in 2011, tied 8th in 2012, and managing to tie 14th last year when defending his title. He’s in good recent form having tied 4th in the WGC Cadillac Championship, and comes to the tournament with a great chance. He’s generally there or thereabouts in Majors and is another who can give us a good run for our money at a decent price.
Another player to look out for at a similar price is Scott’s fellow Australian Jason Day, who capped a remarkable debut at the Masters three years ago by finishing runner-up, and followed it up with a third place finish in 2013. He’s trading at the same odds as Scott of +1600 so check out our other Masters tips article if you want to look at Day’s chances in more detail.
To win the US Masters – 9th-12th April 2015
Adam Scott – E/W – +2000 with Coral
Once or twice per month we will provide you with the latest sports tips and keep you updated about the biggest events.