Masters 2013

By Lewis Pacelli + Andy Taylor

Before we start just a quick mention to check out our Masters preview on Oddschecker as one half of DownThe18th joins the punditry team at Sport Authority.  Click on The Masters and enjoy!

Well here we are, The Masters is upon us. The best 4 days on the golfing calendar and arguably the sporting calendar!  All the golfers that tee it off on Thursday will be dreaming of donning that famous green jacket and putting their names in the history books.

Played at Augusta National Golf Club, the Masters is the 1st of 4 Major Tournaments in the year, and the best if we’re honest. The par 72 will be playing all of 7,435 yards this week and is one of the hardest courses around. Narrow, long and not very forgiving! If one facet of your game is off this week, you will barely make the top 25. Not to mention the putting surfaces, 2 putt your way around here and you’ve done well. The greens won’t be easy to find this week either, expect to see a lot of scrambling.  If you had to pinpoint where to excel, very accurate iron play + driving, scrambling and holing lots of putts will be absolutely crucial.

Masters 2013 is here

Masters 2013 is here

If you haven’t already seen over the last couple of weeks, at DownThe18th we’ve managed to piece together various trends of previous winners that have helped us pick who we fancy this week. And here they are:

  • Each of the past 13 winners made the cut at The Masters the year before
  • The past 15 major winners had a previous top-10 in the same year
  • Past 5 winners were in the top 60 for driving distance on Tour and averaging 290 yards throughout the season
  • Past 6 winners have been inside the top 63 for scoring average on Tour
  • 7 of the past 8 winners finished in the top-25 at the previous years PGA Championship
  • Changes were made in 2008 to combat a certain Tiger and since then every winner hit GIR of at least 68% during the 4 days. We therefore are factoring in GIR of around 60% on Tour for the season
  • The last 5 winners had driving accuracy of at least 58%, so we feel around 55% accuracy of the tee is required
  • 9 of the last 11 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 75 in putting stats.
  • The most crucial holes where you need to find birdies are the par 5’s. The past 5 winners have hit a combined under par average, so around top 75 on par 5 scoring average and par 5 birdies or better % – The last 4 winners have played their combined 64 Par 5 holes in –38
  • There’s been only one first-time PGA Tour winner at the Masters since 1948: Bernhard Langer in 1985.
  • 69% or 24 of 35 players of the Top 3 finishers from 2004 through 2012 at Augusta were residents in the Southern United States
  • The average age of the green jacket bearer is 32
  • The average attempts before a first win is 6
  • 9 of the last 11 winners were inside the top 20 for putting average during the tournament, so we are looking at around the top 75 in putting stats.

So obviously, anyone who fits all of those categories is in for a great chance this week.

The beauty of this tournament is that you can make cases for a large majority of the field. Even more exciting is how everyone is coming into some sort of form. Who can forget how well Tiger is playing, Rory Mcilroy is looking ominous once again after a 2nd in Texas whilst 3-time winner Phil Mickelson already has a PGA title to his name this year. Let alone all the other people who have titles to their name in 2013. We are certainly in for 4 outstanding days.

Finally, over the previous month our minds have swayed from one player to the next. Our initial ‘4 week plan’ changed considerably to our ‘2 week plan’ (Both available in the ‘Masters 2013 Preview’ tab) and then eventually we ended up with our final few players.

We have a great week in store

We have a great week in store

If you do feel Tiger Woods is just too hard to back against, then there is a without Woods market with some very good odds available. Considering the form he is in, it could be a very popular route. Paddy Power, SportingBet and 888Sport are also paying 6 places on e/w bets this week, so bet wisely!

JUSTIN ROSE – (20/1 PaddyPower + w/o Woods 14/1 PaddyPower)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
8 11 20 36 5
Rose is ready for his 1st Major

Rose is ready for his 1st Major

Justin Rose has been in superb form this season, finishing in the top 25 in each of his previous 13 tournaments and it looks like his irons are back to what his amateur days had promised.  And they promised so much.  That T4 at The Open as an amateur was incredible, but turning professional the day after was certainly too soon, missing 21 cuts in a row and having to regain his card through European qualifying school 2 years on the trot.  Fast-forward a decade and the much lauded Englishman is now number 3 in the world going into the first major of the year with EVERY chance of winning it.  Last year he led both the PGA and European GIR % and won the WGC Cadillac Championship by a stroke from Bubba Watson.  From tee to green he is the perfect golfer, able to hit it long and accurate, whilst his putting is improving by the week.  The putts on the final 3 holes against Phil Mickelson at The Ryder Cup last year showed not only his capability but also his bottle.  He has long been considered a ‘flop’ when it comes to the crunch and that is a fair assumption, but this is a new man. Even big Phil turned round at the time and could only mutter one word – “Wow”. He has been first round leader twice at Augusta (2007 + 2008) and failed to assert himself come Sunday but he seems to have an aura of calmness now and why wouldn’t he?

Just look at his stats and Masters form, he likes the course and is clearly a perfect fit – we are trying our hardest not to be sentimental, but this could be the year England have their first major winner since Sir Nick Faldo back in 1996. It could be a very rosy week for Justin…

 Recent Form –

Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Qatar Masters Abu Dhabi Golf Champs
2 T8 T4 T17 T16 T2

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
London and Orlando 301 y (8th) 57.14% (121st) 65.74% (94th) 68.675 (2nd) 4.38 (2nd) 57.50% (8th) 106th 25th 2nd 7 +20

Note bold indicates where they match the trends of past winners

ADAM SCOTT – (28/1 Various + w/o Woods 25/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
8 2 18 MC 25 27
Time for Scott to fulfill his potential

Time for Scott to fulfill his potential

Back in 2002 a 22-year old Australian showed signs he would be challenging for majors every year, winning the Scottish PGA Championship by 10 clear shots and recording a top 10 in his first ever appearance at The Masters.  He has always been earmarked as being one of the best and this could be the breakthrough year.  Firstly, lets be honest, he should have won The Open last year, leading by 4 going into the last day before a final round +5 let Ernie Els sneak in to win another major.  It was a shock to see, as he has always oozed calmness and authority – it was certainly a shock for everyone in the game.  Since then he has recorded 9 top 20s and cut down his schedule in 2013 in a bid to attack the majors this year. His T3 at The WGC was a joy to watch, shooting –8 on the Sunday is no mean feat and was great to see him enjoying his game, however at Tampa Bay his putting was uncharacteristically poor and he has gone on to work hard in time for Augusta.  He simply ticks every box of recent Masters winners and his game is tailor-made for the challenge. He is the right age, experienced, drives it long, accurate and can attack pins – the all round package. Plus with Steve Williams, Tiger Woods ex-caddie on the bag, he will have a professional and experienced voice in his ear throughout the week and he could prove to be a big difference between winning and a top 10. He will have grown and matured from that collapse last year, he is NOT the sort of player to do that again.  And when the great Arnold Palmer agrees, you know its true

“Adam Scott has performed like Usain Bolt at Augusta the last two years, starting sluggishly before finishing like an express train. If he can get out of the blocks a little quicker this time, he will take all the beating. Expect Scott to be focused, eager to avenge his collapse at [the British Open] last year, and look for him to overpower the Cathedral in the Pines.”

Recent Form –

Tampa Bay Champs WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open
T30 T3 T33 T10

 Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Switzerland 302.9 (5th) 54.88% (152nd) 62.9% (149th) 69.239 (2nd)   70.45% (1st) 73rd 3rd 11 +26

KEEGAN BRADLEY – (30/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 22/1 PaddyPower)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
T27
Great talent and a great opportunity

Great talent and a great opportunity

Keegan has kept impressing us at DownThe18th, not just with his golfing ability but with the way he conducts himself on and off the course. He’s a very likeable character and someone who is freshening up the game.  Has he got what it takes to win around here? Of course he has! 4 top 10’s in his last 4 tournaments, including a 4th at the Honda Classic and a 3rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, both very similar layouts to Augusta. So he’s in fabulous form. One thing that could put people off is that he only made his debut here last year, but finished a very respectable 27th. And who can forget his 1st ever Major appearance, a stunning victory in the PGA Championship. So if anyone with little experience around here can win this, it will be the American. Another big factor for picking Bradley is his love for big occasions. Who can forget his antics with Mickelson at last year’s Ryder Cup, fist pumping practically every shot. He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve, which we love! Statistically as you can see, Bradley looks very, very promising and if we’re honest is very unlucky to only get slot number 3 in our Masters picks this week. He’s also a connoisseur of the controversial belly putter, so it would be very ironic if someone who putts that way won this week, considering the hype surrounding them right now. Can easily win this week.

Recent Form –

Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open
T10 T3 7 T4 T33 T16

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Jupiter, Florida 298 y (16th) 61.12% (79th) 67.6% (59th) 69.671 (8th) 4.40 (4th) 57.61% (7th) 49th 78th 3rd 1 +27

SERGIO GARCIA – (45/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 35/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
12 35 45 38 MC MC
Sergio is back to his best

Sergio is back to his best

We’ll start this one by saying it’s the 30th anniversary of a certain Spaniard’s 2nd Masters title, Mr Seve Ballesteros. If you are one for superstitions, wouldn’t it be fitting if Sergio Garcia won here this week?

The Spaniard after completely losing his game for a couple of years is back, we can tell you that. We have watched a lot of him this year, and we have been very impressed. Sergio this year has managed 5 top 20’s from 7 starts including a 2nd, 3rd and 7th place. That elusive win still evades him this year and what better place to get it? And talking of elusive wins, Garcia somehow has yet to win a Major, which is a travesty for someone with his talents! He has recorded three 2nd places, a two 3rd places, a 4th and two 5th places in Majors so far. So he certainly knows how to perform in majors! Interestingly, when Sergio was at the peak of his game 10 years ago, he recorded an 8th and 4th at Augusta in 3 years. Again, his pedigree around here cannot be questioned. Last year, with his game ever improving, he finished tied 38th. But Sergio is a different animal now. If you do look through the betting market, Garcia is arguably the best player at those sort of odds, 45/1 for a player of his calibre needs to be taken advantage of. Again he is a massive shout for at least a place here, and could quite easily win this.

Recent Form – 

Arnold Palmer Invitational Tampa Bay Champs WGC Cadillac WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open Dubai Desert Classic
W/D T7 T3 T17 T13 T17

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Borriol, Spain 292.1 (41st) 61.17% (76th) 69.2% (31st) 69.276 (4th) 51.79% (31st) 31st 2nd 14 + 12th 34

HENRIK STENSON – (66/1 StanJames + w/o Woods 55/1 Bet Victor)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
40 MC MC 38 17 17
In form and just sneaked into Augusta

In form and just sneaked into Augusta

Henrik is someone we expect a lot of people to be backing this week and it was hard for us to stay away from him. He was never in our plans 4 weeks ago, but has certainly earned his place in our picks this week. He is a player that feeds off confidence and someone who needs to be jumped on when he hits form. The big hitting Swede came to everyone’s attention 2 weeks ago with a great 2nd place at the Shell Houston Open (which gave us a much appreciated e/w return) that followed a T8 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Those 2 performances came after some pretty average golf by his standards, 39th, MC, 64th were his finishes in the tournaments prior to 3 weeks ago. So the confidence and form is there for all to see right now. Stenson in years gone by has often been known as a ‘big hitter’ and perhaps lacks skill with his irons. But that is certainly not the case anymore! Henrik ranks 1st in quite a few iron statistics on the PGA Tour now but is still averaging nearly 300yards off the tee. That is a pretty lethal combination. And in his 2nd place two weeks ago, the putting looked great too.

During the Swede’s best years in 08/09, he managed two 17th place finishes at Augusta which is more than acceptable round here! He also managed a T3, T4, T6 and 9th in the other 3 majors during those 2 years. He enjoys the Majors shall we say! But at 66/1, Henrik is a great outside bet and has a great opportunity for at least a place with the kind of form he’s in right now. Interestingly, Stenson’s 2nd place a couple of weeks ago sneaked him into the World top 50 Rankings, without that he wouldn’t be here this week! So it would be very interesting if he went close after leaving it so late to qualify.

Recent Form –

Shell Houston Open Arnold Palmer Invitational Puerto Rico Open Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Dubai Desert Classic
T2 T8 T39 MC T33 T26

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Orlando, Florida 285.5 (95th)(298 on European Tour) 74.29% (1st) 76.6% (1st) 70.440 (31st) 50.00% (40th) 173rd 8th 7 + 46

PETER HANSON – (80/1 PaddyPower + w/o Woods 66/1 Coral)

Previous Masters Form –

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
3 MC
Our outsider this week. Can he better his 3rd last year?

Our outsider this week. Can he better his 3rd last year?

Peter Hanson is our outside shot because he has impressed us over the last year or so.  A T3 at Augusta last year showed the world he has the game to really compete at the highest level and he could have challenged for the win had he not shot +2 on the second day. The –7 on the Saturday was simply outstanding and the best round in the field.  He also won twice at the end of 2012 at the BMW Masters and KLM open destroying both fields with ease. And his form has not stopped there, he has continued into 2013 with confidence, barring the blip at the Northern Trust Open, he has finished no lower than 22nd in any tournament. All this culminated in a superb final day last Sunday in Texas where he shot –6 to climb back up to T22.  His round included 7 birdies and an eagle on a long par 5 which will fill him with the self-belief that he can attack the dreaded par 5s at Augusta. Averaging the ball over the needed 290 yards and having a trusted putter by his side, Hanson is a real prospect at such high odds.  In fact, he has 3 top 10s in his last 8 majors which is certainly better than a lot of players in the field. In Hanson we trust.

Recent Form –

Valero Texas Open WGC Cadillac Honda Classic WGC Matchplay Northern Trust Open Qatar Masters
T22 T8 T13 T17 78 T22

Statistics –

Residence Driving Distance Driving Accuracy GIR % Scoring av. Par 5 Scoring av. Par 5 Birdie + Strokes Gained Putting Putts Per Round Best Finish 2013 Attempts + Average Finish
Trelleborg, Sweden 292.8 (38th) 53.90% (156th) 59.60% (175th) 70.179 (19th) 54.55% (12th) 27th 8th 2 +36.5

It is also worth looking at several other markets, which the bookmakers offer during the 4 majors.  Top Scandinavian, Top English and Top South African are particularly appealing, but Top Debutant is the stand out special market for us.  We would have said Thorbjorn Olesen all day long, but he was in a car crash last week (how dare you Thorbjorn) and has not practiced for 10 days, for your first time at Augusta, it is worse preparation than the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  And that is saying something. Side Note – Fredrick Jacobson has odds at 125/1 (StanJames) and it is far too intriguing not to spare some saved up change on a Swede who is one of the best putters in the world. When you are 4th for strokes gained putting, 6th for putts per round, 3rd for scoring average and 25th for par 5 birdie + you have a real outside chance at Augusta. As we said, any change you can spare, it would be rude not to have a dabble.

So look out for the big hitting Nicolas Colsaerts (11/2), Russell Henley (8/1) and an in-form Richard Sterne (8/1)

Good luck and enjoy the Masters!

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