Course: Augusta National Golf Club
Location: Augusta, Georgia
Yardage: 7,435 yards
Architect: Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie
Defending champion: Adam Scott
In the eyes of many, The Masters lost a bit of its luster and a lot of its allure recently when reports surfaced that Tiger Woods would miss the season’s first major championship due to back surgery. The news came as a blow to both the casual fan - who tunes in on Sunday when Woods is in contention - and CBS - who will no doubt suffer a hit in the ratings thanks to the absence of golf’s biggest draw.
But for the avid golf fans and gamblers, the lack of a Tiger Watch this spring at Augusta National is nothing more than a bump in the road. The course will be in splendid condition, the rest of the world’s top golfers will still be in attendance and Sunday will no doubt feature some captivating television as the leaders enter Amen Corner.
Let’s begin with the fact that it takes a very low number to win at Augusta National. With the exception of Zach Johnson’s win here in 2007 (+1, 289), each of the last 23 Masters Champions has fired a 7-under, 281 or better to win the tournament. At the U.S. Open, it’s about making par. At The Masters, it’s about making birdie or better.
In addition, winning The Masters requires a fast start, as each of the last six champions have opened play on Thursday with a 3-under, 69 or better.
I’ll be posting my favorite matchup plays on Twitter (@JoeFortenbaugh) as we get closer to the start of the tournament, but for now, here’s a look at five futures plays I intend to bet immediately.
Brian Blessing also breaks down The Masters field in the video below.
TO WIN (odds courtesy of the LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas)
Jason Day (10/1): The price tag offers little value, but it’s hard to pass on J-Day considering the way he’s gone big-game hunting in the marquee tournaments over the last few years. The Aussie has four Top-3 finishes over his last eleven Majors appearances, which includes a T2 at Augusta in 2012 and a solo third at The Masters last year. Last season, Day was knocking on the door at The Masters, United States Open and PGA Championship. He’ll break through soon enough.
Matt Kuchar (20/1): Kuchar has been on an absolute tear since the calendar flipped to 2014, recording four top-10s in just seven tournaments so far this season entering the Shell Houston Open. In addition, the 35-year-old knows what it’s like to be in contention at Augusta, as Kuchar finished T3 at The Masters in 2012 and T8 last year. Has never finished worse than T27 in four starts at this tournament, with nine of 16 career rounds coming in under par.
Jordan Spieth (25/1): 2014 marks the 20-year-old’s first visit to The Masters, so don’t be shocked if the moment overwhelms Spieth a bit early in the tournament. Just note that not only is this kid working hard on the mental aspect of his game, but he’s also posted four Top-10s in just nine events this season. The upside here is that Spieth can go real low at any moment, as evidenced by the fact that he’s shot 67 or better seven times already this season.
Lee Westwood (50/1): His game has fallen off a bit over the last year or so, but 50/1 is an awfully enticing price tag for a golfer who has finished 11th or better in five of his last six trips to Augusta. Noteworthy is the fact that during said stretch, Westy posted a solo second at The Masters in 2010 and T3 in 2012.
Fred Couples (100/1): The 1992 Masters Champion, “Boom Boom” has made a habit of making noise at this event in each of the past four years. Couples’ schedule revolves around Augusta, where he finished sixth in 2010, T15 in 2011, T12 in 2012 and T13 last year. Just watch. At some point during the tournament, Couples’ name will be near the top of the leaderboard. But at 54 years of age, endurance is the big question mark.
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