The Masters Tournament is the best of golf’s four majors on which to bet because it is the only one that takes place on the same course annually and a specialist’s course at that.
That no Masters Tournament debutant has won the Green Jacket since 1979 tells one everything that one needs to know about the important of Augusta National Golf Club course form: it is imperative to have played on the track before and it is important to have played well on the famous layout as well.
Rory McIlroy is the general Masters Tournament favourite but one cannot get excited about the prospect of backing him at odds of 12.00 with several bookmakers, including BetVictor and Coral. McIlroy led the 2011 Masters Tournament by four strokes going into the final round but shot an 80 to finish 10 shots behind Charl Schwartzel. McIlroy’s Masters Tournament finishing positions have been 15th, 20th, 25th, 40th and a missed cut and one would want to see much better figures than that, particularly in a limited-field event, before having a financial investment at favourite odds.
Challenging McIlroy for Masters Tournament favouritism is the defending champion, Adam Scott, who is available at odds of 13.00 with Betfred and Totesport. Scott broke through to clinch his first major championship at last year’s Masters Tournament after a number of near misses, including finishing runner-up to Schwartzel in 2011. Only three golfers have mounted successful Masters Tournament defences – Jack Nicklaus (1965 and 1966), Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990) and Tiger Woods (2001 and 2002) – so Scott would join a very exclusive list if he won back-to-back titles.
But one is not writing off Scott – far from it. Scott has gone to a whole new level since getting the major monkey off his back at the Augusta National Golf Club 12 months ago and he has cut back on his schedule to ensure that he is fresh for his biggest assignments. Scott is a laid-back character who is likely to take being the defending Masters Tournament champion in his stride because he has taken out consecutive editions of events in Australia and Singapore. And there is nothing wrong with both his course and recent form figures.
Usually the cream rises to the top in the Masters Tournament and, with no Woods and injury concerns hanging over Scott’s compatriot, Jason Day, and three-time Green Jacket winner Phil Mickelson, Scott is the clear pick of the favourites. Matt Kuchar has excellent Augusta National Golf Club course form but the American does not win out of turn, so much so that he would have the Timeform squiggle next to his name if he was a thoroughbred horse. Next in the betting order is Sergio Garcia, who has not won a major in his 18 years of trying and, therefore, does not appeal at short odds.
Of the Masters Tournament exotics, the best bet is Angel Cabrera to finish in the top 20 at odds of 3.25 with many bookmakers, including Stan James and Unibet.
Cabrera is one of those golfers who improve out of sight whenever he plays at the Augusta National Golf Club. Winner of the 2009 Masters Tournament, Cabrera has played in the event 12 times for one first, two top fives, five top 10s and seven top 20s, with an average round score of 71.98. Only Mickelson (71.00) has a lower Masters Tournament average round score than Cabrera if one just counts this year’s competitors with at least seven previous starts.
Beaten by Scott on the second hole of the 2013 Masters Tournament play-off, Cabrera warmed up for his favourite event of the year with a 43rd place in the Houston Open. That was Cabrera’s best PGA Tour result of the season.
If one believes in trends then check out which golfer wins the traditional pre-Masters Tournament par-three event. No par-three winner has ever gone on to wear the Green Jacket.