With the Masters starting this Thursday, HotShotGolf takes a look at who the main contenders are likely to be as the best in the World strut their stuff on the hallowed turf at Augusta National Golf Course.
Since 1934 the Masters has been a staple on every golfer’s calendar with Augusta National a constant presence on an ever changing tour schedule. At 7,435 yards, it is not in the same league (in terms of length) as many of the courses on the PGA or European Tours. What it lacks in length, it makes up for with hidden undulations, wicked fast greens and water being very much in play on a number of key holes.
Undoubtedly this year, the headline coming into the Masters is the return of the king – Tiger Woods. Despite poor form and injury issues Tiger still managed a T17 (-5) in 2015 when Jordan Spieth triumphed for his maiden major victory.
This is a course that Tiger (along with many of the other players on tour) adore. One thing that all of the players will need to claim glory at Augusta is ball striking and accuracy in their approach shots. The player trying on his new green jacket on Sunday evening tends to be the player who has managed his way around the course without encountering any danger in their approach shots to the green. Whilst it is a tight course, there is definitely room for the odd errant tee shot, but with small, protected greens as quick as glass, the real danger comes when players miss the greens. On the assumption that greens are missed another key skill to look for in a Masters champion is scrambling. How a player deals with an unlucky break or poorly hit shot around the green can end up defining the scorecard. The official stats show that previous winners tend to rank inside the top 10 in terms of GIR % and scrambling come the end of the week.
Another thing to bear in mind when making picks for the Masters is that form tends to play a role with each of the past four winners having had at least one win on tour in the months before their Masters glory.
See below for the HotShotGolf team’s picks ahead of play getting underway on Thursday.
Fraser – HotShotGolf Founder and Editor in Chief
Tiger Woods – 11/1
Yes, I’ve been taken in by the hype and I’m happy to admit that but I would not be at all surprised to see the big cat pulling on another green jacket come Sunday. A 4 time previous winner with 9 other top 10 finishes to his name Augusta is one of those special places where Tiger becomes a magician.
Jordan Spieth – 10/1
Previous champion and poor early season form with the putter seems to be behind him (172nd in shots gained putting on tour this year). A strong showing at the Houston Open this week shows that he can still compete with the best.
Charley Hoffman – 70/1
One of the best ball strikers on tour with fantastic approach play. Good early season form and always a challenger at Augusta.
Matt Kuchar – 40/1
4 top 8 finishes here in the last 6 years – he knows his way around this course and should be riding high with four top 10 finishes already this year.
Jack – HotShotGolf Director of Chipping
Bubba Watson – 14/1
Bubba Watson comes into this week on the back of an absolute masterclass at the WGC Matchplay in Houston, his 2nd win on tour this season. Last time he won at Augusta he had 4 consecutive top 10 finishes including a win. Has a track record of carrying forward early season form into the Masters.
Phil Mickelson – 16/1
Another leftie in excellent form (1 win and 6 top 6 finishes so far this season). Phil always seems to perform at Augusta. If big Phil wins this week then he will become the oldest Masters champion at 47.
Justin Rose – 12/1
One of the finest irons players on tour, Rose has an amazing record at the Masters. His 2nd place finish in 2015 and score of -14 would have been enough to win 15 of the past 17 Masters. Finishing runner up again to Sergio last year, I expect Rose to go one better this year.
Brian Harman – 125/1
The final man in my trio of left-handed picks. I’m convinced that Augusta favours a left handed player and with so many lefties in such good form, it makes sense that they will score well here this week. Accuracy off the tee and from the fairway will makes up for Harman’s lack of length.
Jack’s bonus bet – SkyBet are offering odds of 25/1 for 3 or more left handed players to place in the top 10 this week.
Ryan – HotShotGolf Director of Distance
Justin Rose – 12/1
Last season Rose was 14th in Strokes Gained Off The Tee and 9th in Strokes Gained Tee To Green. At Augusta, where the currency of champions is birdies and eagles, Rose’s 8th in birdies average stands him in good stead to be cashing in this week.
Branden Grace – 80/1
Unlucky to come up against a rampaging Bubba on day 1 at the WGC Matchplay, Branden is in good form (ending up 13 under par for the holes played at the Matchplay). Has only made the cut twice at Augusta, but this could be his year.
Paul Casey – 20/1
Sergio last year, Casey this year. Overdue a major win and in the form of his life having already won over $2m this season.
Bryson DeChambeau – 60/1
T21 on his debut as an amateur in 2016. The 18th hole was somewhat of a nemesis for Bryson in 2016 (+4 for the week), if he can sort out the 18th and rekindle some of his previous Augusta form then he will be around the sharp end come Sunday. Air density makes a big difference from one hole to the next around Augusta National and Bryson has the brain to deal with that added challenge.
HotShotGolf – Wildcard (s)Quad
Fred Couples – 250/1
Previous winner who always seems to play well at Augusta. Only 1 start this year on the Champions Tour but managed T6.
Angel Cabrera – 400/1
It has been 9 years since Angel won his green jacket and there is no telling which Angel Cabrera will show up to the Masters. In the past 5 years has missed the cut twice, had two top 25 finishes along with a 2nd place in 2013.
Subhankar Sharma -125/1
New kid on the block from India. Incredible early season form on the European Tour sees him leading the Race to Dubai standings. First time at Augusta, but 125/1 seems like too good a price to ignore considering his accuracy off the tee.
Hideki Matsuyama – 28/1
Has had a quiet start to 2018 but three top 12 Masters finishes in the last 3 years suggest that it would be foolish to omit Hideki from our picks.
Don’t forget the traditional par 3 tournament takes place on Wednesday afternoon (evening in the UK) and is well worth a watch with 9 (yes – NINE!!) hole in ones made during the 2016 par 3 tournament.
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All odds taken from skybet.com on 1 April 2018