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)
Before 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
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
Sergio Garcia (20/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Jason Day (16/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Dustin Johnson (25/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Hunter Mahan (50/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Graham DeLaet (80/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Bill Haas (80/1 Ladbrokes)
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
Fred Couples (100/1 Ladbrokes) & Bernhard Langer (500/1 Ladbrokes) (33/1 TOP 10 Ladbrokes)
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
Senior Tour stats 2014