Maybank Malaysian Open 2014

Prize Fund: $2,750,000

After an exhilarating end to The Masters, the European Tour kicks in again as we move to Malaysia for the 9th Maybank Malaysian Open.  Many people put heart over head and backed Lee Westwood at Augusta and his tee to green performance was outstanding but that old tale of him with the short stick proved to be his downfall once again.

The Englishman will be teeing it up over in Asia this week for his first crack at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.  Whatever he managed to do in his tie for 7th, it does not mean he should at single figures with some bookmakers.  That is absolutely criminal, especially when you think Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero will be there as well.

The Umbrellas may be out again this week!

The Umbrellas may be out again this week!

The course itself is a 6,967 yard par 72 and although on the short side, the undulating fairways, parkland style, abundance of bunkers and water make it imperative to be an iron god.

The greens can be tricky at times, but on the whole it is quite open from the tee so even though it’s a short track, you can look at longer hitters to chance their arms because if they find good positions, then it will be a simple wedge into the greens.

There are 3 reachable par 4s and 5 par 5s that could make the difference between 1st and 2nd, so whether it be bombing it or tactical genius, you got to find those birdies.

Obviously, the weather last year was absolutely horrendous and Kiradech Aphibarnrat won after only 3 rounds and it is going to be a whole lot different in 2014.  Four days play, four days rain (even some thunderstorms.)

Keep up to date with all the forecast movements, because it could be an important factor to the outcome here!

Grégory Bourdy (50/1 Bet365)

Enjoying his champagne... Courtesy of GettyImages

More champagne?
Courtesy of GettyImages

Grégory Bourdy hasn’t played since the Trophée Hassan II, mainly because the European Tour has seen hardly any action itself.  This is the case for a lot of the field who haven’t jumped the ship to America in recent weeks, but before the break the Frenchman was starting to find some encouraging form.

Firstly, he is yet to miss a cut in 2014 and he has been shooting scores below 70 more regularly, which is something he will need to do this week without doubt.

He has made some impressive displays in KL before, in 2011 he came 2nd, 1 shot behind Manassero and even with a final round -5, he double bogeyed the par 3 11th, which turned out to be the difference.  Llast year he finished T11 but should have arguably done better, going into the delayed 3rd round final day in 2nd place.  He was just 2 shots behind Aphibarnrat but the ridiculous weather that ensued played havoc with a lot of players and his +1 score diminished his title opportunities.

His GIR and driving accuracy that week were superb throughout the 3 days and that is something he has been showing again lately.

11th in GIR on Tour, 5th in driving accuracy and even 7th for putts per GIR.  That sort of solid tee to green made Bourdy unbelievably appealing to us, especially at 50s, so someone that could definitely add to his 4 European titles.

Hennie Otto (50/1 PaddyPower)

Always calculating everything when it comes to all his shots.

Always calculating everything when it comes to all his shots.

Hennie Otto is playing some outrageously consistent golf this year.  He is yet to finish higher than 37th and in the 9 outings he’s had, he has recorded 5 top 20s, including 3 top 10s.

His last performance on the European Tour resulted in a marvellous T5 at the Tshwane Open.  His final 3 rounds in the 60s were all based around an outstanding tee to green game, missing very few fairways or greens.  This could be his lethal weapon this week.

He will be coming onto a course that he has only played once a couple of years ago, but he did manage to finish in a tie for 7th.  He shot a 64 in the 2nd round to go into the weekend 1 behind Oosthuizen but two mediocre rounds at the weekend meant he didn’t manage to get a place and he must feel like there is unfinished business around here.

26th in driving accuracy, 20th in GIR and 44th for driving distance.  To say that is a dangerous combination is beyond an understatement and the idea that if his game comes together he could be straight, long and accurate means he is the perfect fit for this course.

You Gotto believe it.

Tommy Fleetwood (80/1 Ladbrokes)

Tommy Fleetwood is one of a number of young talents coming through on the European Tour at the moment.  At just 23 years of age, he has already won his first title at the Johnnie Walker Championship last year and he seems like he’s continued that sort of form, all be it inconsistently, into the 2014 season.

A T3 at the Volvo Champions to start, showed his capabilities amongst the best from 2013, although he was in a great position to win the trophy.

Although a couple of missed cuts did follow, he got back to some sort of form at the Trophée Hassan II where he finished T23.

He will be going onto a course where he has proven it suits him, after shooting a 66 in round 2 last year, before falling victim to the weather and not playing the conditions particularly well.  Finishing T11 is a solid return though and there is no reason he couldn’t do something similar now.

We all know what he can do from tee to green when his game is on and although the overall stats suggest he is pretty poor, just look at his outrageous GIR and driving accuracy in Morocco a few weeks ago.  He never ventured outside the top 15 all week.   Plus averaging it 285 will come in handy.

Emiliano Grillo (50/1 SkyBet)

Emiliano Grillo has come under the spotlight this season because he is another one of these prodigious young talents but he has had two opportunities to get a maiden European Tour trophy, although in two very different circumstances, failed both times.

You can only say that he will learn so much from the experiences, because they were both so unique.  The first came after a T2 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where he finished 1 shot behind Stephen Gallacher, but he was miles back going into the final 9.  He knew that on the par 5 18th, he had to get eagle and duly delivered, giving himself every chance, but Gallacher birdied 16 and 17 to guarantee a win.

But at the Africa Open he squandered a 2-shot lead going into Sunday, having played a majestic 62 in the 3rd round.  This would have haunted him for a week or so, but we are very confident this mess will be behind him because he is such a confident young player.

He will always attack pins and when scoring will be important, you cannot ask for much more.  Tee to green he is outstanding – 12th driving accuracy and 11th GIR.  If he can get his short stick moving properly then he will have every chance of etching his name into the record books.

Mikko Ilonen (50/1 SkyBet)

Mikko Ilonen with his Nordea Masters trophy.  He tried to tell his kid that wearing a cap like Jesper Parnevik is not the Finish thing to do...

Mikko Ilonen with his Nordea Masters trophy. He tried to tell his kid that wearing a cap like Jesper Parnevik is not the Finish thing to do… Photo Courtesy of Jonas Elkstromer

What an absolute honour it is to be backing Mikko Ilonen this week.  When he won big for us at the Nordea Masters last year, we were treated to a masterclass in how to use your irons.  He just kept knocking them next to the pin, time and time again and although he understandably went off the boil afterwards – bear in mind he qualified for 3 majors and a WGC after the superb season he was having – he is now showing those signs he means business again.

Watching him fight back with a 66 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters to force a playoff with Sergio Garcia had us jumping out our seats.  He eventually lost the resulting duel, but followed it with an impressive T5 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.  To come back after a tantalising defeat shows the sort of character the Fin has and it cemented him firmly in our heads for the sort of tournament that would suit his game.

So, when we find ourselves looking at this week, Ilonen seemed like a cracking choice at 50s, especially after a T17 last year, showing he understands the course.

Like Fleetwood, he doesn’t read particularly well tee to green on the season’s stats, but those two top 5s, he never left the top 20 for GIR or driving accuracy.  His putter has been on fire of late as well – 31st in putts per round.

We are so confident that Mikko can FINish off what form he has started with a victory.

RBC Heritage 2014

RBC2Prize Money: $5,800,000

Winner’s Share: $1,044,000

What way to cure the post-Masters hangover than another quality-filled four days of golf. Last week at Augusta we saw a fine display of attacking golf from Bubba Watson whilst Jordan Spieth properly announced himself on the world stage. It was some week but we’re expecting another exciting tournament this week with a great field lined up. Spieth, Kuchar, Day, Z.Johnson, Snedeker and McDowell, just to name a few, are all teeing it up in South Carolina.

We absolutely love tight little tracks like this as it brings out the best in people’s short game. This week is not about how far you can hit it off the tee but where can you put yourself in the fairway. Pete Dye’s Harbour Town Golf Links is playing 7,101 yards and is one of the shortest tracks on the PGA Tour. Accuracy off the tee has never been more important whilst the small greens means accuracy with the irons is also needed! McDowell, Weekley and Furyk have all won here and we all know what their middle names are – accuracy. With the greens so small, everyone will be missing them at some point, so scrambling and bunker play needs to be firing on all cylinders. And let us not forget wedge play with so many approaches coming from between 75-125 yards.

Courtesy of RBC Heritage

Courtesy of RBC Heritage

As the usual post-Masters event, RBC Heritage’s winners have notoriously not really featured at the top end of the leaderboard, most either not playing or missing the cut. So we have kept this in mind. The weather is also expected to play a part, with rain and thunder predicted but the winds of 2013 are not expected to blow as hard. It’s going to be a tough yet interesting week.

Zach Johnson (25/1 Ladbrokes)

He wants more silverware

He wants more silverware

Zach will be well aware that this course suits him more than pretty much every other player in the field. He has made a living out of picking apart longer tracks but this week the ball will be in his court and his game will need no adapting. Things didn’t go to plan at Augusta with an opening round of 78. His 72 on day 2 was not enough to make the cut but still showed his game was there. And he only missed 6 fairways over those two days. But the fact he didn’t figure is a positive for this week and will have had an extra couple of days to prepare.

His best finish here was a 2nd place in 2012 where Carl Pettersson comfortably won by 5 shots. Whilst he came 6th in 2007 off the back of his victory at the Masters.

His late 2013 and early 2014 form must not be forgotten either. He was the hottest player on the planet. Back-to-back wins at the World Challenge and Tournament of Champions were accompanied by a T8 and T3 at the Sony Open and Humana Challenge respectively. After a month away from the game, Zach has slowly been building back up to his early season form.

And finally his statistics. They make for incredible viewing. 6th driving accuracy, 15th GIR%, 20th ball striking, 13th scrambling, 11th approaches from 50-125 yards, 12th proximity to hole and 52nd strokes gained-putting.

Luke Donald (22/1 Paddy Power)  

Time for some success from the Englishman

Time for some success from the Englishman

Another person who is renowned for being a short-hitting genius is the Englishman. His accuracy with all clubs is something that will give him a huge advantage around the Harbour Town track. Since 2009, Luke has had somewhat of a love affair with the course, finishing outside the top 3 only once, in 2012.

It has been a steady decline now for Donald over the past couple of years since he reached number 1 in the rankings. 2011 and 2012 brought him 7 wins and propelled him into the golfing elite. He has struggled for form ever since but in recent months we have been very impressed with how he has played. He has only missed one cut (last week at Augusta) and finished in the top 10 twice in his last 5 starts. And as we say, his course form and game means he is a very mean prospect.

Last week he ranked 1st in putting stats on arguably the toughest greens in golf indicating his short game is working fine. He also shot a -2 round of 70 on day 2, so he will take lots of confidence from that. 7th strokes gained-putting, 3rd scrambling and 31st sand saves makes for impressive reading. Just needs the irons to start firing on a course he knows intimately.

Billy Horschel (66/1 Ladbrokes)

Loves a selfie

Loves a selfie

After really asserting himself in the world of golf in 2013, picking up a victory and contending on a regular basis, 2014 has been somewhat of a disappointment. But we see the strong signs that he is back. He ranked 2nd behind Jordan Spieth in GIR% last week at Augusta and was 29th in driving accuracy. His putting let him down but it is understandable on those greens. His win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2013 was also on a Pete Dye track and his courses are notorious for having the same golfers do well on them.

His recent form has not been scintillating but Billy’s game has been there, it just needs that bit of consistency and a few putts to drop. A solid four rounds at Augusta on his first attempt will give him lots of confidence.

He’s ranking 16th driving accuracy and GIR%, 8th total driving and 3rd ball striking. His short game will need to improve if he is to win but after finishing 9th last year on his maiden time around the course, he knows what it takes around here.

Stewart Cink (110/1 BetVictor)  

Should have no such problems with the sun this week...

Should have no such problems with the sun this week…

A previous champion of this tournament and a man who we are very confident in. His victory in 2004 and the fact he has only missed two cuts in 11 years shows he knows the course very well. In recent months we have seen a new Stewart Cink, glimpses of the form that saw him win The Open and finish at least 3rd in all three other majors. His Open win shows his prowess on tough, links tracks.

Cink finished T14 at the Masters last week which was very respectable. Even more impressive was his 68 that he shot on the final day which was only one shot off round of the week. Other than the 2013 Father Son Challenge, Cink has not put any silverware in his cabinet since the 2009 Open where he famously beat a 59-year-old Tom Watson in a play-off. So he will be itching to do well.

In 2014 he ranks 13th GIR%, 25th ball striking, 55th approaches from 50-125 yards and 10th proximity to the hole. He also ranked 6th in GIR% at Augusta last week. One worry is his accuracy off the tee but his iron play at the moment is more than capable of making up for it.

Justin Hicks (110/1 Bet365)

The 39-year-old American is someone who consistently gets branded around in the DownThe18th boardroom and on the face of it, it is a strange one. He is most noted for being leader of the 2008 US Open after the first round. But when you look at his statistics you cannot deny how well he is playing in 2014. And even more interesting is how these statistics suit this track down to a tee.

Hicks

Hicks with his Cink-esque hairline

He ranks 7th driving accuracy, 3rd GIR%, 53rd strokes gained-putting, 3rd ball striking, 33rd approaches from 100-125 yards and 40th proximity to the hole. Combine this with 2nd driving accuracy and 13th GIR% at the Shell Houston Open a couple of weeks back, we have a genuine outside shot on our hands.

18th in 2013 will give him a lot of confidence and he is someone you should definitely put a few spare coins on.

Quick Mention:

He didn’t quite make our final 5 but Kevin Streelman (66/1 BetVictor) is someone who will more than likely go well around this track. His game is based on accuracy and has finished 3rd and 17th in his last two starts at Harbour Town. His name featured sporadically at the top of the leaderboard at Augusta last week and ranked 18th in driving accuracy. Claimed his first win on the tour at a similar course last year and there is no reason why he can’t bag number 2 this week.

David Lynn and his Masters Chances from the view of his Junior Club

At DownThe18th, we occasionally freelance for a news website StaffsLive.  During the week of The Masters we were asked to find a local piece on the prestigious event and there was only one option – David Lynn!

Along with freelancer Jack Longstaff, one half of DownThe18th went down to Trentham Golf Club – the home of David Lynn throughout his amateur career – to see what he got up to as a junior and if they fancied his chances.

How Many Quality Players missed the cut at The Masters?!

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What an incredible and emotional start to the years first Major it has been.  2012 champion Bubba Watson leads the pack by 3 after an outrageous back 9 performance and when you look at the leaderboard you do think it is an eclectic mix of bizarreness.

But it is when you see the guys who have missed out on the weekend’s activities that you get dumbfounded.  Take a look at some of the notable absentees from the top 25 in the world who missed the cut this year -

Phil Mickelson +5 (No.5 in the world) – Not gone home before the weekend in 16 years.  That says it all.

Sergio Garcia +5 (No.6) – Many peoples favourite for the jacket (including ours) so an absolute shock to see him miss by 1 shot.  Great season, great record here and yet he churns out a pretty shocking 2 days of golf.  2 bogeys on the final 2 holes ruined it for the Spaniard.

Zach Johnson +6 (No.10) – A former winner here and having an unbelievable season, so in all honesty, a poor performance, after a first day 78.

Dustin Johnson +7 (No.11) – One of our big picks this week.  Simply all over the place.  On the plus side, gets to go home to the misses quicker!

Graeme McDowell +6 (No.14) – Not hugely suited to the course and without a great record here, so understandably struggled.  Still, another world top 20 player though…

Jason Dufner +10 (No.16) – The last major champion in golf started with an 80.  That is pretty much unrecoverable, but got to say showed glimpses of brilliance when he had nothing to lose yesterday.

Charl Schwartzel +5 (No.17) – The 2011 champion has been inconsistent this year, but there is no doubting he will be absolutely gutted to have missed out by one.  Never really got going.

Keegan Bradley +9 (No.18) – Horrendous second day 78.  Not having the greatest season and that shone through this week.

Victor Dubuisson +5 (No.21) – First time here so you cannot say this was a bad effort.  The young Frenchman will be challenging in the future, this would have been an amazing experience.

Patrick Reed +8 (No.23) – Well, well, well.  Should be compared to Tiger Woods? One of the games elite? No, you tosser, you missed the cut at the very first major since your outlandish remarks.  A name many, many, many people will love to have seen packing their bags.

Webb Simpson +5 (No.25) – A former US Open champion missing the Masters is a shock at the end of the day.  Started like a train in round 1, shooting to -3 after 3 but double bogeys on the 5th and 16th, pushed him right back.  Friday saw just 6 holes with a par, which tells the inconsistent story!

DownThe18th LIVE Masters Commentary

Masters logoFor this special week at Augusta, we are putting our thoughts on the day’s events, live on air. From 8pm (UK) till approx 11pm, join DownThe18th for live commentary of the Masters. It will be our light-hearted slant on what is going to be a great day’s viewing. We really hope you can join us! Any interaction while we are live either through social media or on the hosting website would be superb. See you all… DownThe18th.

DownThe18th Masters Day 2 Commentary 

Starts: 8pm (UK) 3pm (US)

(Commentators: Lewis Pacelli and Andy Taylor)

MMO Golf

MMOMMO Golf have kindly donated $25 worth of vouchers to one of our readers this week. They have some outstanding items that will be well worth a purchase, even if you don’t win the competition!

Website - www.mmogolf.com

Facebookwww.facebook.com/mmogolfinc

What are they about?

“MMO Golf is a Golf Majors Tournament shopping service. We specialize in purchasing merchandise from golf’s major tournaments. Masters merchandise is only sold to the public for 7 days a year during the tournament dates and only on the grounds of Augusta National”

Well – MMO sell every day, all year round!

What items have they got for us?

augusta-national-brand-masters-green-golf-shirt-52014-masters-embroidered-golf-pin-flag-3724-oz-masters-tumbler-with-lid-102014-masters-green-caddy-hat-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMPETITION 

To enter, all you need to do is follow us on Twitter @DownThe18th (don’t worry if you already follow us!) and tweet us who you think will shoot the lowest round of the week with the hashtag #DT18thComp) – Closest will get the prize.

Masters 2014 FINAL PREVIEW

Ladbrokes bottom Banner

Money back if a European wins the Masters! The opening Major of the season is almost upon us and the luscious fairways and greens of the infamous Augusta await the world’s best. Tiger Woods’ absence adds more fervour to the European charge led by Rory McIlroy and we will give you money back if a European wins the Masters! T&Cs Apply

Money back if a European wins the Masters!
The opening Major of the season is almost upon us and the luscious fairways and greens of the infamous Augusta await the world’s best. Tiger Woods’ absence adds more fervour to the European charge led by Rory McIlroy and we will give you money back if a European wins the Masters! T&Cs Apply

DownThe18th LIVE Commentary of ALL FOUR days at the Masters.

Please join us for a banter-filled commentary of every shot at Augusta, or at least the ones we can see on TV… It should be a laugh and it would be great to have our followers listening in!

Friday: 8pm (UK) 3pm (US)

DownThe18th Masters Day 2 Commentary

 

COMPETITION!

MMOBefore you read our preview, for one week only we are giving away $25 WORTH of vouchers for the Masters Merchandise website (www.mmogolf.com). To enter, all you need to do is follow us on Twitter @DownThe18th (don’t worry if you already follow us!) and tweet us who you think will shoot the lowest round of the week with the hashtag #DT18thComp) – Closest will get the prize.

For more details on what you can get with your $25, have a look here. There are some outstanding items – MMO Golf and Competition

DownThe18th Ladbrokes Preview

Masters logoThe week is finally here.  All that hype, hysteria and anticipation for the first major of 2014 is over.

Augusta National will be opening its famous doors for the 78th time, as the gladiators of the golfing game descend down Magnolia Lane to fight it out in a 4-day hustle for that silky green jacket.

If you have not read our first 2 previews, then please do check them out.  Our 1st one is an in-depth look at the trends of previous winners and how we can potentially find the victor by cancelling others out

DownThe18th Masters Preview 1 – Trends and Initial Picks

Our 2nd preview contains a detailed look at all the necessary stats from most of the top 60 or so golfers in the world.  If numbers is your game, than this will be a right treat for you…

DownThe18th Masters Preview 2 – Player Statistics Relevant to Augusta

This, our 3rd and final preview is now looking at the course itself and what could be in store come Thursday.

Firstly, the weather has been horrific in Georgia, eventually causing the first practice day to be abandoned earlier – for the first time in 11 years! It is expected to be inconsistent for the next couple of days, but will (touch some sort of wooden surface near you right now) brighten up between Thursday and Sunday.

http://www.cbssports.com/golf/eye-on-golf/24517749/masters-weather-forces-patrons-and-golfers-off-course

If you don’t actually know, the course is a 7,450-yard par 72, with infamous tree-lined fairways – a haunting sight standing at the tee box.  As we stated in our other 2 previews, it is imperative to be 100% on your game from tee to green, before being able to deal with some of the most precarious and crazy-golf-like putts you will ever face.

Courtesy of TaylorMade

Courtesy of TaylorMade

You just can’t help but completely buzz off the whole week, it really is a magical place.

Finally, Tiger.  His withdrawal sent shockwaves across the world, with him missing his first Masters since turning pro.  You can’t really say it opens up the field because his form has been so abysmal recently. What it has done though, is completely ruin odds and pushed all the top boys down the ladder significantly.

So, before we begin talking about the starring men from the DownThe18th narrative, we must stress we backed 6 of our guys two weeks ago.  If you have followed us along the way, you will know about a few of them, so the surprise value will be non-existent.

Enough of our drivel, here’s the Seven Superstars.Ladbrokes bottom Banner

Sergio Garcia (20/1 Ladbrokes)

The last European to win at Augusta was Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999, a good friend and mentor to Sergio Garcia.  What symmetry it would be for Garcia to win in 2014. Photography by Stephen Munday

The last European to win at Augusta was Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999, a good friend and mentor to Sergio Garcia. What symmetry it would be for Garcia to win in 2014.
Photography by Stephen Munday

We find ourselves here once again, backing Sergio at Augusta. It is quite astonishing that a man of his talents has yet to win a major. 18 top 10’s over the past 15 years shows the ability the Spaniard has and he is still only 34, let’s not forget that.

We believe there are two reasons why his major trophy cabinet is empty – his short game and his nerve. Both we feel are in great shape going into this week. Look at where he has ranked in strokes gained-putting stats: ’09 – 119th, ’10 – 159th, ’11 – 144th, ’12 – 26th, ’13 – 8th. The improvement is there for all to see and currently in 2014 he is lying 32nd. With Garcia’s natural talent both from the tee and fairways, a quality short game spells danger for the rest of the field.

Despite his apparent lack of ‘bottle’, Sergio has still managed to rack up 8 PGA and 11 European Tour titles by the age of 34. He knows and believes he is one of the best in the game, he just needs that major title to prove it.

2014 has been a successful one so far, winning the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters back in January on the European Tour. He has since come over to America and not finished outside the top 16 in all of his 6 starts. Best of which came last week at the Shell Houston Open, finishing 3rd. It was the best case scenario for Sergio backers as he played well enough to contend but Kuchar and Jones were just better on the day. He will take confidence from his display and shows he is in perfect shape for this week.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Masters Record

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Jason Day (16/1 Ladbrokes)

Jason Day missed an important birdie putt on the 18th last year.  Things will be different this time... Courtesy of JSonline

Jason Day missed an important birdie putt on the 18th last year. Things will be different this time…
Courtesy of JSonline

The Aussie has been nailed down as one of our picks for this week pretty much since he came 3rd here last year.

It seems Jason has a taste for the bigger events, after only winning 2 PGA Tour titles, one of them being the WGC Accenture Match Play a few weeks back. His consistency on the major stage since 2011 has been unerring for someone who is only in his mid-20’s.

He has amassed five top 10’s including three 2nd places, one of which was at Augusta back in 2011. 2013 saw him take that consistency to a whole new level, achieving the lowest cumulative score across all 4 majors. That’s some effort and very frustrating considering he took none of the major trophies back to Queensland.

We also have to mention the Australian factor currently taking the PGA Tour by storm. 3 of the last 4 PGA Tour events have been won by Aussies (Senden, Bowditch and Jones) whilst Day himself took the first WGC title of 2014. Not to mention the fact we come to Augusta where Adam Scott currently dons the green jacket.

So Day fits the profile of a Masters winner, but how does his game set up for Augusta? Below we have a list of stats that are needed for success around golf’s most famous course, also available in DownThe18th Masters Preview – Player Statistics Relevant to Augusta

As you can see he sets up perfectly for the course. His only doubt going into this week is a recent thumb injury which has kept him out since his WGC victory. Day has come out and said he is at “90%” for the week. We get the impression he will be raring to go none the less and the adrenaline on the first tee will be enough to pull him through. It is his time.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Dustin Johnson (25/1 Ladbrokes)

Dustin Johnson learning from the original big hitter. Boom Boom indeed

Dustin Johnson learning from the original big hitter. Boom Boom indeed

After DJ made it through our stats trends in preview 1, we would have been fools not to be interested in putting our money on him.

We ended up backing him a couple of weeks ago and even with Tiger’s withdrawal, he hasn’t moved in the market at all. Now the word withdrawal has been hanging over DJ in the run up to The Masters and we can completely understand why.

He shot his worst ever front 9 at the Shell Houston last week and after finishing with an 82, eventually decided to withdraw for ‘back pains’. Now, we are in absolutely no way condoning this, it is a disgusting trend that seems to keep reoccurring recently, but when you look at it selfishly, we were not complaining.

What on earth happened to him we don’t know, but he has had more than enough time to recover mentally and ‘physically’ and prepare for this week.

It was so bizarre to see him playing that woefully, because these past few months, he has been in scintillating and more encouragingly, consistent form.

Before Houston, he recorded 4 top 6s in a row in strokeplay competition, his lowest finish being 18th in the 4 tournaments preceding that (including that WGC HSBC Champions win). His tee to green power has been sublime, whilst his putting is getting there slowly. When he holes them, he is one of those that goes on a complete rampage and it seems to spur him on to hit the ball straighter off the tee.

Obviously that is crucial to how he will fare this week, because if he starts spraying it all over the place then the Augusta trees will ridicule and guard their beloved greens.

What does surprise is how he has not managed to find a top 10 at this major in his career. He has played here 4 times and last years finish of T13 is his best result at Augusta. He started like an absolute madman in 2013, finding himself 1 shot behind the lead after the 1st day, but a 2nd day 76 ruined all his hopes of capturing the jacket.

His game is an absolute fit to this course if he is playing to the top of his abilities, so we are hoping the DJ will let his music play come Sunday.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Hunter Mahan (50/1 Ladbrokes)

Hunter strolling with ease down the Augusta fairways. This year, this year

Hunter strolling with ease down the Augusta fairways. This year, this year

Tee to green you will not find many better than Hunter. He is consistently at the top of the total driving statistics and that will go a long way around Augusta. Despite our personal passion for the American, he is someone who is without doubt deserving of a major. Like Garcia, he still has plenty of years in the tank so it’s not Steve Stricker last chance saloon time just yet. 2013 was his most successful year in majors, finishing in the top 10 at both the US Open and the Open Championship. A MC at the 2013 Masters is not too much of a worry, with him striking the ball very nicely in 2014 claiming three top 10’s along the way.

It does seem to be all or nothing for Hunter in the Masters. When he has made the cut in recent times he has finished 10th (2009), 8th (2010) and 12th (2012). When you look at his statistics it is hard not to be impressed and to be quite honest could be arguably the best value in the field at 50/1.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Graham DeLaet (80/1 Ladbrokes)    

Fear the beard!! Courtesy of thestar.com

Fear the beard!!
Courtesy of thestar.com

We are in the firm belief that DeLaet will be a big stage player. It is astonishing that a man of the Canadian’s talents has not yet won a PGA Tour title. But such is his consistency, he still finds himself teeing it up at Augusta. It will only be his third start in a major and his first at the Masters, so he will be relishing the occasion.

We can’t stress enough how well Augusta is setup for DeLaet’s game. He is Mahan-like off the tee and his irons are nothing short of sublime. One topic that has been heavily discussed surrounding Graham is his short game. We will not deny this is what has held him back from winning PGA titles but his short game of late has been very promising.

The 2013/14 season has been a very successful one, with six top 10’s already to his name. This included back-to-back 2nd places, so the time is just round the corner for him to lift a trophy aloft. His very recent form has seen him finish T8 at the Valspar Championship and T19 last week in Houston. Many people will be talking about English, Reed and Walker as Masters newcomers but you watch this guy come up on the rails.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Bill Haas (80/1 Ladbrokes)

Bill Haas strolling through the greenery of Augusta

Bill Haas strolling through the greenery of Augusta

Yet another pick for the Masters where we are left scratching our heads at how they have not won or at least heavily contended for a major title. Bill has consistently picked up plenty of dollars over the past few years including winning the 2011 Fed Ex Cup and Tour Championship. That is the ultimate prize for consistent play.

So his PGA Tour pedigree is unquestionable, with 5 titles since 2010, but his major form has not been as fruitful. He is yet to achieve a top 10 but at the same time has never missed the cut at Augusta whenever he has played here. And his best finish was last year, a T20. So the signs are promising. He does boast 4 top 10’s in WGC events which shows he can do it on the bigger stages.

He comes into this week off the back of being 18-hole leader in Houston before steadily dropping off through the weekend. His low first round of 65 shows he is nearly at his best and like our other picks, his statistics make for great reading in 2014.

This year he has recorded 3 top 10’s including a T6 most recently at the WGC Cadillac Championship. Bill will regard himself as one of the top players in the game and he will relish the pressure. His high odds of 80/1 reflect his major track record but if you are looking for value, seek no further.

PGA Tour stats 2014

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Fred Couples (100/1 Ladbrokes) & Bernhard Langer (500/1 Ladbrokes) (33/1 TOP 10 Ladbrokes)

Two former Masters champions. Two friends. Two Geniuses. Two stalwarts. Two future major champions? Too ridiculous...

Two former Masters champions. Two friends. Two Geniuses. Two stalwarts. Two future major champions? Too ridiculous…

It is only fair that we talk about these two together. If you are not familiar with the Champions Tour (for over 50’s), then you will need to know that these pair have been tearing it up.

They rank 1st and 2nd respectively in the rankings for the tour and have a title each to their name.  Not for 10 years has Langer recorded a top 10 around Augusta but last year gave us hope that there is life in Langer on the major stage yet. After two rounds of 71 Langer was still in the mix going into the weekend but sadly dropped off and finished with a 76. T25 for a 55 year old is still incredible.

Then we move to Boom Boom Couples. Two years the junior of Langer and someone who defies the perceptions of his age. We would like to see how many 54 year olds out there still drive the ball over 300 yards! That ability off the tee means he is still regarded as a threat for this title. His confidence will come from dominating the Champions Tour and his last four years at Augusta (not finished lower than 15th) have been nothing short of incredible.

Let’s not forget that these two stalwarts of the game have both worn the green jacket…

Fredrick ‘Boom Boom’ Couples

Senior Tour stats 2014

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Bernhard Langer

Senior Tour stats 2014

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