Masters Betting Preview
April 7, 2019
By Dan Daly
Editor's Note: Be sure to follow @_DanDaly on Twitter for his off-the-cuff remarks and entertaining commentary!
The azaleas are in full bloom, JD is set up in the Hooter’s parking lot on Washington Ave., and the most beautiful 365 acres on the planet are on full display this week. We return to the place where idiots screaming MASHED POTATOES after every shot are replaced with Patrons, cell phones must be checked at the door, pimento cheese sandwiches are a delicacy and of course with the help of their sponsors, Augusta National and CBS will continue to bring us 56 minutes of every hour of golf coverage. In other words, Hello Friends, and welcome to the greatest week of the calendar year.
So what’s on tap for 2019?
Well, last year was the most hyped-up Masters I can remember in a very long time (if not ever) and of course like most things in that scenario it was a monumental let down…unless your last name is Reed…actually even half of them were pissed off too. So the fact that this year’s Masters has gone very under the radar thus far makes me believe we are in for a very special week. All the names are the same as last year but I think this time they deliver for one of the most epic Masters in years.
With a few exceptions I think you will get an incredibly stacked leaderboard come Saturday night and Sunday will either be “one for the ages” or a complete and total letdown. Here’s hoping for the former.
I will break down the players to avoid and more importantly the players to ride this week.
(As always, odds are at the time this was written and will probably change throughout the week)
The biggest names to avoid or short this week:
Patrick Reed 40/1 – Let’s start with the defending champ, because let’s face it, Patrick Reed will be putting on the Green Jacket Sunday afternoon, it will just be on someone else. When your swing sucks so bad that your wife is secretly calling golf swing instructors behind your back you know it’s bad. Although I guess that’s better than what Lucas Glover’s wife would have done to him by now. How he went from Masters Champion to not recording a Top-10 of any kind this calendar year is beyond me, but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Karma’s a bitch Mr. and Mrs. Reed.
Sergio Garcia 45/1 – While he does have the Major monkey off his back, and at Augusta no less, there is no way this guy goes from throwing a 5-year-old temper tantrum at ACC to winning, or even contending, at Augusta in less than two weeks. Just not happening. He has a better chance of making another 13 on a hole this year than he does of winning. The only real question is how big of a sense of humor do the jackets at ANGC have to pair him with Kuchar the first two days? I mean unless you think that video they posted together the following day was sincere…in which case I have some Ocean Front Property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.
Bubba Watson 35/1 – Let’s just get all the terrible people out of the way early. I will admit, a two time champion who finished 5th last year at 35-to-1 odds in theory seems like a great value…but only in theory. The fact of the matter is that in 10 starts at Augusta he has finished 20th or worst seven of the 10 times. I’m going with percentages here and think it’s much more likely that he finishes worse than 20th.
Phil Mickelson 30/1 – Phil’s last three finishes at Augusta, 36th, 22nd, MC. The magic he once had around this place has been missing for a few years now. Can he get it back? Of course. Will he get it back this week? Very unlikely. Couple his recent skid at Augusta with the fact that he hasn’t finished higher than 37th since his Pebble win two and a half months ago and things don’t look great for the three time winner here this week. But hey, apparently if you get drunk at a wedding and tell FIGJAM how much he sucks he will give you a $100 bill and tell you to go f**k yourself. He did win 90,000 of them. So there’s that.
Jason Day 30/1 – He could win or take his family to an Atlanta Braves game on Friday afternoon because he had to WD. I honestly don’t have the slightest clue but I don’t bet on people that spend more time in a doctor’s office than the doctors themselves.
Louis Oosthuizen 40/1 – The perception is that Louis plays Augusta really well. The reality is that outside of his playoff loss to Bubba Watson way back in 2012 the guy doesn’t have a single other top-10. That trend continues in 2019.
Kevin Kisner 80/1 – Until the Masters becomes a match play tournament or allows players to ride in carts with an 18-pack in the cooler I’ll have to pass. But hey, if the latter ever happens I will definitely pay $29.99 for that pay-per-view round.
Tony Finau 30/1 – This dude basically broke his ankle on Wednesday last year and finished tied for 10th. Still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in a golf tournament. Even with two healthy ankles this year I just don’t see how someone in their sophomore Masters who hasn’t recorded a single top-10 in any tournament this year suddenly plays well this week. His story on Feherty was incredible, but this doesn’t have the feel good Hallmark movie of the week ending.
Guys on the outside looking in:
Brooks Koepka 14/1 – This guy is like Angel Cabrera on steroids. He simply doesn’t care about non-majors. He can say otherwise but it’s really just that simple. Look, the guy has won three of his last six starts in a major. That’s Jack and Tiger good. My only issue with Koepka this week is that the Masters is the one Major he has yet to record a Top-10. I’m sure that will change at some point, maybe even this year, but until he proves he can play Augusta as well as the other three majors I’m staying away from him this week.
Rickie Fowler 16/1 – I’m sure Rickie will hang around for a while but inevitably he will fade over the weekend. Rickie’s lone win this year was a gift from the gods. I mean this guy tried everything in his power to go full Rickie on the last day and for reasons I still can’t figure out was somehow still able to win. If he gets into contention on the weekend it will happen again…it always does, only this time he will get lapped by the best in the world. I have no doubt Rickie will be at the Green jacket ceremony it will just be once again in the role he always plays…supportive friend.
Bryson DeChambeau 16/1 – A guy that has played eight professional rounds here and yet to break 70 in any of them with a 38th and 21st place finish is only 16/1?!?!? Ummm, hard pass. Yes, he won five times between June 2018 and February 2019 and looked like an evil genius but reality called and Bryson answered. Since his last win in February he has fallen back to earth without a top-10 in his last five starts. That trend will continue this week.
Francesco Molinari 20/1 – With a win at Bay Hill, an impressive showing at The Match Play tournament and a Major under his belt in the last year he certainly has the pedigree to win this week, but his record at Augusta, quite frankly, sucks. He has one sub-70 round in 24 tries and hasn’t ever placed better than 20th. I think a top-20 is well within reason but I’m afraid that’s the ceiling this week for the Ryder Cup hero.
Justin Thomas 16/1 – I love me some JT (both the singer and the golfer actually), so leaving him out of the top-10 was a tough call this week. His record at the Masters isn’t that great, which is surprising for someone with his level of iron play, but he has slowly shown improvement at Augusta (39th, 22nd and 17th last year). I think that trend continues this week even though his recent play hasn’t been that great and he manages to finish somewhere between 11th and 17th. JT will figure this course out sooner than later and will probably own a green jacket before it’s all said and done, I just think he needs another year or two.
Really Dark horse
Ian Poulter 100/1 – Do I think Poulter will or even can win this week? Probably not, but if you are the kind of person that only likes really big paydays then I would say Poulter is your best bet at 100/1. He has made the cut in 12 of his 13 trips to Augusta including a few late weekend tee times and three top-10’s. Throw in a stretch recently where he had four straight top-6 finishes and there are much worse ways to blow your money than Poulter at 100/1.
Hideki Matsuyama 40/1 – It’s been almost two years since Matsuyama has won. He’s too good of a player to not break through sooner than later. The issue with Matsuyama has and continues to be his putting. Obviously that is a big issue, but the rest of his game lately has been on point. He is second on tour this year in strokes gained approach to the green and tee to green. If, and that is a very big IF, he can somehow figure out a way to putt well for four days it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him win this week. Putting issues aside I think his ball striking alone will cement him a spot in the top-10 at week’s end.
Rest of the Top 10
Jordan Spieth 20/1 – Jordan in the single biggest wildcard this week, and it isn’t even close. The guy could win, shoot a pair of 80’s or finish somewhere in-between and none of those would surprise me. Here’s what I know. In 2017 Spieth won three times, including the British Open, and had nine other top-10’s to go with it. In December 2017 Jordan Spieth got engaged. In 2018 he had as many missed cuts as top-10’s (5 each). Thus far in 2019 he has three miss cuts and ONE top-25. Does one have to do with the other? I don’t have the first clue, but either way his golf game since Christmas of 2017 has been abysmal. With that said there is something about Jordan and Augusta. The dude has finished second, first, second, 11th and third so far with a scoring average of 70.05 which is the best in this field. Oh, and he has been in first place after nine of his 20 competitive rounds played. That’s pretty good I think? The driver is the entire key to Spieth contending this week. Augusta is incredibly forgiving off the tee so he just needs to keep it on the planet as he plays that course better than anyone from the second shot in. That was never more evident than last year on Sunday's 18th when basically a terrible tee shot ruined his otherwise perfect round. Personally I think he gets real comfortable this week and plays well but the driver is just too much to overcome. He adds a fourth top-10 at Augusta this week but not a fourth major.
Matt Kuchar 40/1 – This guy went from being a fan favorite to public enemy #1 faster than Kevin Na gets a two-footer out of the hole. Do I think he can win this week? No. But I love taking Kuchar in a top-10 bet this week. The guy practically invented the term backdoor top-10. He has four top-10’s in his last seven starts at Augusta and ranks in the top-10 in strokes gained approach on tour this year which I think is a key stat when playing at Augusta.
Tiger Woods 12/1 – He’s going to contend this week, that much I’m sure of. How seriously? Well, that is the million dollar question. Even though he hasn’t won here in 14 years (which is mind blowing by the way) he also has six top-6 finishes in his last nine starts. The guy didn’t win here four times by accident, he knows his way around this course arguably better than anyone on the planet. Combine his love and knowledge of the course with recent form and you would be a fool to think he isn’t somehow in the mix this week, but he has also showed signs of age or rust or whatever you want to call it recently with mistakes that we just aren’t used to seeing him make back in the day. I’m afraid that’s the case again this week and the little things that he used to do so well are going to be the thing that keeps him from winning this time around.
Paul Casey 30/1 – I have taken Casey to finish top-10 at Augusta for the last four years and he has cashed in three of them. The one exception was last year where finished 15th after starting 74/75 due to some undisclosed issue. The guy went 69/65 on the weekend to post the low 36-hole score. Augusta is perfect for a guy like Casey whose iron play is his strength. Pair that with four top-3 finishes in his last seven starts this season and I think Casey is a lock for another top-10 and has a very real chance for a top-5.
Tommy Fleetwood 25/1 – First of all let me say, the hair/Jesus jokes/puns are old and it’s time to find some new material. We get it, he has long hair and looks like Jesus. Move on. What’s constantly lost in all of those is that the guy can flat out play golf. I mean really well. His two starts at Augusta haven’t been the best with a missed cut and 17th place finish last year but I think the third times the charm. His ball striking is second to few and I just don’t see someone that hits the ball as well as he does struggling on a course that puts such an emphasis on it after several looks. The putter is always the issue with Tommy and will be the one thing that separates a very good week from a Green Jacket.
Dustin Johnson 10/1 – The fact that DJ still has only one Major win on his resume is mind boggling to me. The talent level is off the charts. His resume at Augusta has definitely improved with three top-10 starts in a row (except for that whole, “slip on the stairs” year). With that said, in 30 rounds at Augusta DJ has only shot in the 60’s 6 times. I think that continues again this year but ultimately I think a big Sunday round moves him into the top-5 and he never seriously has a chance to win.
Rory McIlroy 8/1 – Honestly, there is no reason in the world that Rory shouldn’t win this week. Then again there was no reason in the world he shouldn’t have won in 2011, or last year for that matter. And therein lies the problem with me taking Rory this week. Monty never won a Major, Phil hasn’t closed the door at the US Open and Arnie never won a PGA. Sometimes things that you just assume are inevitable…aren’t. Rory may win this year, or next, or at some point before he retires, it certainly wouldn’t shock me, but I think the pressure of closing out the career grand slam and avenging so many close calls there has taken a toll on him. The only person that has kept Rory from winning at Augusta is Rory himself. The guy has five top-10 finishes in a row at the Masters and I have no doubt that will continue again this year. He will be in contention all the way to the end again this week, but somehow, someway, I’m afraid he gets in his own way and finishes with another “disappointing” top-5 this week.
Final Group on Sunday (and to be honest with, I’m betting on both)
Justin Rose 14/1 – I absolutely love everything about Justin Rose this week. He has been about as consistent statistically as anyone on Tour this year and his record at Augusta is about as solid as you will find. Unfortunately for him he seems to have a not so awesome trend of finishing second recently. He should have won two years ago except Sergio blacked out for 90 minutes and forgot he was Sergio. Throw in another second place finish two years before that when no one on the planet was going to beat Jordan Spieth and you see where this is going. The Masters has a weird history of guys winning every other year. Justin Rose may be the guy that sets an even stranger trend this year by finishing second in 2015, 2017 and 2019. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he won this week and I had every intention in the world of picking him this week if not for….
Jon Rahm 18/1 – I can’t stand Jon Rahm, so much so that I’m having to type this while wearing latex gloves and spraying it down with Lysol while I type…but it’s going to happen, so just accept it now and at least make some money on it. The guy shot 75 to open the 2018 Masters…and finished FOURTH. And he hasn’t really slowed down since. He has six top-10’s in his last nine starts, and the only thing missing in there is another win, which is only a matter of time. He should have won the PLAYERS if not for possibly the dumbest decision I have ever seen made by a guy leading a golf tournament. Well, lesson learned, surely there is no way he makes that mistake again. His last three rounds at Augusta were 68, 65 and 69; this course is tailor-made for him and the temper that has cost him in the past seems to at least be in check for the time being. Three Spaniard’s have won at Augusta already, unfortunately come Sunday afternoon Jon Rahm will become the fourth.
No matter what happens or who wins, "Happy Masters to all, and to all a good-week!"
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