Winner’s Share – $1,620,000
Course – Augusta National (7,450 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Jason Day – T20, Sergio Garcia – MC, Dustin Johnson – MC, Hunter Mahan– T26, Bill Haas– T20, Graham DeLaet – MC, Fred Couples T20, Bernhard Langer – T8
So then, here we are. The week has finally arrived and excitement is beyond palpable. One of the biggest, most exhilarating and awe-inspiring tournaments in sport is upon us.
It’s time for The Masters.
For those that don’t know, we have produced two pre-previews over the past couple of weeks, so please do check them out.
The 2nd preview – We produced a table of over 50 names, detailing all their relevant stats and results that need to fit the mould of a Masters winner. Clearly shows who you should be looking at. There’s a brief description on several top players and what the stats mean.
Now, after these two previews that give our over-riding feeling and non-concrete DT18 opinion, this 3rd piece will be finally showing our exact thoughts and where we’re placing our money this year!
But before we get to that, a little bit about the relatively unknown course – Augusta National.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for all things Masters!
Measuring in at 7,450 yards, this par 72 is infamous for catching out every player at any moment. Whether it be the infamous tree-lined fairways, the luscious second cut, ridiculous tornado-like wind on the par 3 12th (Bubba Watson shot 10 on this hole a couple of years ago….), anywhere on Amen Corner and of course the crazy, sloping and rapid greens.
As we’ve already stated, it’s imperative to be 100% on your game tee-to-green and those that drive the ball well, will be constantly setting themselves perfectly for birdie challenges. And if you are hot with your putter, then anything is possible, because these greens are generally known as some of the most difficult in the game.
Finally, before we run through our picks, we just want to quickly talk about that man and the field itself.
Tiger announced he’ll be playing which will be welcome news to Rory McIlroy, because some of the pre-tournament heat has suddenly been taken off him.
Many people think he won’t stand a chance and we’re pretty much in the same position. You can get him at EVENS to miss the cut, if that’s a bet you fancy. There’s also an interesting market that BetVictor have produced – Missed Cut Insurance Bet. Tiger is at 35’s here, so if you’re a fan of the guy and don’t want to bet on him to be awful, you’ll have the insurance here of that likely scenario where he doesn’t make the weekend.
As for the field itself, we have to say that the odds are some of the most inconsistent and disappointing we’ve seen in any Major.
There isn’t a great deal of value from the top boys to be honest and a big reason for that is because so many are playing some outrageous golf at the moment.
Rory McIlroy 13/2 – It’s Rory, we know what he’s about
Jordan Spieth 11/1 – 3-time winner this season and on course to go close this week.
Bubba Watson 12/1 – 2-time winner here and won the WGC HSBC this season
Jason Day 14/1 – Actually coming into one of his favourite Masters with a win this season
Dustin Johnson 18/1 – Outrageous winning return (WGC Cadillac) from a long layoff
Henrik Stenson 20/1 – 4 top 10’s and won the DP World Tour Championship at the end of last year
Adam Scott 20/1 – Winner here and 4 top 5 finishes this season
Phil Mickelson 22/1 – Awful season, but loves it here and shown a slight return to form this week
Jimmy Walker 25/1 – 2-time winner in 2015 and has Butch Harmon in his ear-hole.
Then there’s a break to Matt Kuchar, but it’s madness to see 9 players at 25’s and below. All of which are in very decent form. Plus, it’s not as if the low to mid-rangers are in bad form either.
Basically, what we’re trying to say – this is by far one of the hardest Masters to call in recent history. So many could win and the bookies are likely to make a lot of money.
It makes everything really exciting, but we are sure we have names that should be in and around come Sunday and we’re absolutely buzzing.
Everything we have written about so far still has the upmost importance, Augusta is one of the toughest courses you will play and that will never change. But looking at the weather forecast for all 4 days, we certainly have to look at things again. Here’s the forecast –
So what does this tell us? It’s going to be soggy, miserable and filled with plenty of delays – a Monday finish is certainly not out of the question. A wet track at over 7,400 yards immediately points at the bigger hitters gaining the upper edge, namely Rory, Bubba and DJ. But then we look back to 2007, the last real weather-hit Masters. Zach Johnson, notorious short hitter, won at +1. The score in particular is something we need to take not of – In recent times we’ve seen Watson (-10), Schwartzel (-12), Mickelson (-14) and Cabrera (-12) all reach double figures. Johnson’s over par total was over 10 shots lower than the average winning score. It tells us when the weather gets tough players need to GRIND.
Who plays well in bad weather? One trend that is always talked about is the European golfer fairing much better in poorer conditions. Now it’s not an exact science but you only have to look at the last 2 rain-affected majors (2013 US Open and 2014 PGA) where British pair Rose and McIlroy came out on top. The only way to properly show who performs well is by looking through the last couple of years at events that we know were affected by weather.
WGC Match Play 2013 – Leaderboard
US Open 2013 – Leaderboard
Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2014 – Leaderboard
WGC Cadillac 2014 – Leaderboard
FedEx St. Jude Classic 2014 – Leaderboard
PGA Championship 2014 – Leaderboard
Honda Classic 2015 – Leaderboard
And… The Masters 2007 – Leaderboard
Now these leaderboards make for some very interesting reading and without going into too much detail, here are the names who regularly perform in poor conditions:
Hunter Mahan (100/1), Phil Mickelson (25/1), Jimmy Walker (25/1), Matt Kuchar (40/1), Paul Casey (80/1), Ian Poulter (80/1), Jason Day (16/1), Luke Donald (125/1), Padraig Harrington (150/1), Patrick Reed (33/1).
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Here’s our troops:
Jason Day (16/1 Ladbrokes)
World Number 5
“Everyone knows that you just don’t get anywhere in life without working hard and putting in the dedication to the profession that you love. I feel like I should be winning more. But it’s a process and I’m just really happy with how things have started this year. Everything’s trending in the right direction for the majors.”
We went with Jason Day last year and it didn’t go too well. He simply didn’t get going till too late in the week. Fast forward one year and our feelings about the Australian have not differed, only grown much stronger.
Yes, he added the WGC Match Play last year, but he didn’t play a great deal in strokeplay events. This year he has finally added another PGA title, claiming the Farmers Insurance Open a couple of months back.
He has added a few more competitions to his schedule and we just have that feeling about him once again. No denying that 14s is incredibly short and we admittedly did question whether it was too low. However, so many boxes are ticked with Day and we would just feel horrendous if he was up there and we hadn’t backed him.
As you can see in our 2nd preview, he fits all the stats barring driving accuracy, which proves how set up he is for this course. He hits it a long way, has the ability to draw the ball and can be devastating with his irons. Some cracking outings at Augusta in recent years and (he ended only 7 shots behind last year after that poor start…) a new lease of injury-free life, means Day has every chance to don that green jacket come Sunday.
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||WGC Cadillac||AT&T Pebble Beach||Farmers Insurance Open||Sony Open||Hyundai Tourn. Of Champs|
Patrick Reed (40/1 Stan James)
World Number 15
“I’m very comfortable out here. I like playing a little draw, so it sets up really well for the golf course as well as I’ve worked really hard on being able to hit a controlled cut, as well. So in case you need that, because you do need that on a couple holes out here.”
Talented. Controversial. Confident.
Probably the three words you would use to describe the nature of Patrick Reed. He is one of these young guns who has catapulted himself into the limelight recently. Many of the youngsters have become favourites for majors and Reed is definitely one of them.
His form this season has been ridiculously impressive. A win that kick-started 2015 at the Hyundai, whilst 5 top 10’s and no missed cuts is pretty damn good.
He may have only played The Masters once, missing the cut in the process, but when you look a bit deeper at his background, you can’t help but think he has a big chance. He went into the turn leading during the first round, even beginning Amen Corner at the top, however 3 bogeys on the trot really set him back and he, admitting it afterwards, never recovered.
Then, you realise he was a graduate of Augusta State University. He has played here several times as an amateur and has some experience. We then think that these past 12-15 months have been such a meteoric rise, his standing in the game is completely different, even to the moment he teed it up at Augusta last year.
He has the perfect all-round game and on his day can be so consistent tee-to-green. His scrambling is up there with the best we’ve seen this year, he simply finds a miraculous way to get the ball back in play and close to the pin. He only missed out in 2 trends as well, so he does tick most boxes. Another risk at 33s, but you can see the reasons behind this bet!
It’s also good to note he excels in poorer conditions but did suffer a slight knee injury throughout the Shell Houston last week.
|Shell Houston Open||Valspar Champs||WGC Cadillac||Honda Classic||AT&T Pebble Beach||Waste Management|
Matt Kuchar (40/1 BetFred)
World Number 16
Kuuuch is a late addition to the line-up having been considered throughout the build-up but failing to 100% convince us. But then we heard about the weather. Matt Kuchar donning a beanie is like Lewis Hamilton donning a crash helmet, you know they’re going to produce something.
Hear his thoughts on the week (Courtesy of Golf Channel):
His first ‘big’ win came at the 2013 WGC Championship in some really tough conditions. Quite simply, he’s one of the best grinders in the game. He has a taste for the tougher tracks too when you look at his career wins – Honda Classic, Players, Barclays, Memorial and RBC Heritage.
His recent form over the past couple of months has been questionable but all preparation will have been for this week and his T15 in Texas showed all of his game was firing. And just look at his last 3 years around Augusta…
|Shell Houston Open||Valero Texas Open||Valspar Champs||WGC Cadillac||Waste Management||Humana Classic|
Paul Casey (70/1 BetFred)
World Number 48
You know, I feel like I’ve got the shots to get around Augusta. I’ve clearly played some very good rounds of golf around there. I love the golf course. I think it sets up beautifully for my game. I think I’ve got a way of getting around it. I’ve put myself in a good position probably a couple of times back in 2004. You know, for me, I didn’t have enough experience. It was great playing with Langer in the final round in the penultimate group. I just didn’t have it to sort of get up there and challenge Phil and Ernie coming down the stretch.
Playing really well again this week, used to America again and cracking tee to green game. Has 3 finishes inside the top 11 here as well, when he was in his heyday. Fit quite a few stats as well. He led in 2007 FIVE holes into the final round…. He called a penalty shot on himself at the 6th after the ball moved slightly when he went to putt it – cleeeeeearly affected him.
When you also factor in Paul’s ability in tough conditions, especially off the tee, we REALLY like the Englishman.
|Shell Houston Open||Arnold Palmer Invitational||WGC Cadillac||Honda Classic||Northern Trust Open||Farmers Insurance|
Louis Oosthuizen (50/1 Paddy Power)
World Number 34
He’s an incredible talent and has that unflappable temperament that you need to win big tournaments. I believe he will win more majors in his career. Ernie Els, 2012
The South African has unfinished business with Augusta. Just take a look at the image below to see what Bubba had to do to beat him in 2012…
Louis’ swing is up there with the best in the game and it’s that consistency that means he’s never far away from the top of the leaderboard in any event he plays. Question marks have surrounded his health throughout this year but when he has played, look at his results! But his T9 at the Arnold Palmer and 2 more competitive rounds in Houston means fitness-wise he’s back in good shape.
At the Arnold Palmer he ranked T10 GIR, T15 putting and was as good as ever off the tee – top 30 in both driving distance and accuracy stats.
Despite not featuring in our ‘poor weather players’ section, we know he has a game that can adapt to any conditions. Come rain or shine, the South African has a great chance this week.
|Shell Houston Open||Arnold Palmer Invitational||Valspar Champs||WGC Cadillac||Alfred Dunhill Champs||Nedbank Golf Challenge|
A couple more names for you to ponder over:
Lee Westwood (50/1 Stan James)
World Number 30
“But you must understand it means more to me than anyone else; nobody wants it as much as I do. And the fact I’ve come near so often only reinforces to me that it’s within my grasp if I do the right things at the right time.”
The Englishman has featured heavily in all of our research and previews and has forced his way into our staking plan. His recent form combined with his love for Augusta is too good not to have a dabble on. We know he will be as good as anyone tee to green it’s just whether the hard hours he’s put into the short game will pay off. If the weather gets poor, which it’s likely to, Lee will use that good old English grit to fight his way into contention.
|Valspar Champs||WGC Cadillac||Honda Classic||Maybank Malaysian Open||Omega Dubai Desert||Thailand Golf Champs|
Hideki Matsuyama (70/1 BetVictor)
World Number 16
I think you’ve just seen the start, of what’s going to be truly one of your world’s great players over the next 10 or 15 years – Jack Nicklaus on Matsuyama after his win at The Memorial in 2014
Hideki was our first bet for this event over 6 months ago and our feelings are perhaps not as strong given his lack of appearances of late – even so, he knows his body and the schedule he picked will have been with the intention of being in the best possible shape for this event. In just these first couple of years in America, he’s proven what a player he is and will be up there with the Spieth’s and McIlroy’s in years to come, that we are sure of. Statistically speaking, he’s one of the best players in 2015. To be precise, he ranks 3rd in all-round ranking behind Jason Day (1) and Webb Simpson (2).
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||WGC Cadillac||Northern Trust Open||Farmers Insurance Open||Waste Management||Sony Open|
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for all things Masters!
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
Picks and staking plan to follow…