|Dustin Johnson To Win||9/1||888Sport|
|Paul Casey Each-Way||40/1||SportNation|
Golf fans are counting down the days until the 2019 season truly kicks into gear. For the players, there are only a few weeks left to hone their swing and sharpen their minds for the Masters, the first major championship of the season.
Let’s take a look at the ante-post market.
Famously Fuzzy Zoeller, back in 1979, was the last debutant to win at Augusta National and, if you need further proof that experience matters, note that nine of the last ten winners were ranked in the world’s top 30 and only Danny Willett did not have a top 30 in the tournament ahead of his win.
|John Rahm||16/1||Paddy Power|
|Justin Thomas||16/1||Mansion Bet|
Currently the head of the market is incredibly crowded and should you so inclined (please don’t be) you could back 11 players at less than 20/1. The obvious starting point is a brief evaluation of their chances.
Dustin Johnson (8/1) has two wins for the year and improving stats at Augusta – he’s ticked three top tens in a row there after failing to make one in his first five visits.
He topped the putting stats in 2015 and had his best ball-striking campaign there last year. Should Justin Rose (12/1) make the top 25 this year it will be a tenth in a row.
He’s a two-time runner-up and is currently the world number one.
Rory McIlroy (8/1) makes no secret of his desire to win this tournament and he has managed five straight top tens, but his last major win was nearly five years ago. His odds were cut from 12/1 to 8/1 after winning the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, but punters should take his joint favourtism with a pinch of salt.
Justin Thomas (16/1) has nine top tens in his last 13 starts, but possessed a poor Masters record. He has just one sub-70 score in 12 tries.
Is Tiger Woods (14/1) still an Augusta specialist? Four wins says yes, no win since 2005 argues otherwise. A win for him would be great for golf, but it would take a fan to back him at the prices.
Jordan Spieth (22/1 with 888Sport) now owns four top three finishes (including victory in 2015) on the course, but he has now twice imploded on the 12th hole and has gone eight starts without a top 30.
Jon Rahm (16/1) closed last year’s tournament 68-65-69 for tied fourth and stitched together six top tens ahead of a tired effort at last week’s Mexico Championship.
Bryson DeChambeau (20/1) finished T21st on his course debut and has five wins in the last year, but his record at the top level is somewhat underwhelming (no top ten in ten majors, no top 25 in three WGC starts).
Rickie Fowler (22/1) was second last year, a fine performance, but he’s fighting the reputation of being a nearly man.
Jason Day (22/1) has quietly collected two top fives this year, and has a second and third in the Masters, but he’s somewhat mercurial for a short price golfer, whilst Brooks Koepka (22/1) has an improving record in the tournament (33-21-11) but has appeared sluggish in 2019.
The best of the above is surely Johnson at a best price of 9/1 with 888Sport, but the second pick comes from elsewhere.
Paul Casey is chugging along nicely this calendar year, recording a second at both the Singapore Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am before a pair of weekend 65s earned him third in the WGC Mexico Championship.
He returned to the European Ryder Cup team last autumn and thrived on the experience, in fact it seems to be fuelling his current success and he seems to have gained perspective and maturity.
He’s always been a strong Masters performer, collecting four top 20 finishes in his first five starts from 2004 to 2009 and then adding another four in a row in the last four tournaments.
What is striking is his recent ability to go low on Sunday – in fact he averages 67.00 in round four since 2015. He’s 40/1 with SportNation.