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Best Bets - The Masters
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The Masters
Augusta National Golf Club – Par 72 – 7,475 yards

The first official Major of 2019 has finally arrived, and Masters week is always a special one for golf fans and bettors alike. It's a tournament steeped in history and tradition (both good and bad), and with the small field and numerous past champions who are well past their prime teeing it up here, it's an event that always looks to blend the past, present, and future of the game into one single week.

Last year the Masters treated me pretty well as Patrick Reed was able to go the distance and cash a nice ticket as one of the couple of winners I had on the entire year. Hopefully this year's tournament can bring similar results for the golfers I'll be getting to in a minute, as it's a loaded field yes, but a small one, and many of the things I honed in on a year ago still apply regarding the course and golfer selection.

Staying away from the senior past champions is a must, and even though Tony Finau managed a Top 10 in his debutant Masters appearance last year – on a dislocated ankle - debutant guys are not ones I'm looking to back. There are 17 first-timers in the field this year when you include the amateurs, and while there are some names in that mix entering with some solid form – Keith Mitchell, Matt Wallace, Lucas Bjerregarrd etc – the nuances that Augusta's greens, and course in general shows guys can be too much for these debutants to handle.

In terms of scoring statistics, Par 4 Birdie or Better numbers have been a great indicator of past champions here as you typically want to come into the event in the Top 10 or so in that category, and being able to hone in your ball striking is always going to be a plus. Par 4 scoring is what tends to separate guys at Augusta, so it's paramount that guys make up strokes there overall.

Scrambling and putting can separate the Top 5 guys though, and as hard as that is to predict, it is something to keep in mind if you are considering some live wagering as the tournament goes on. Which, on that note, you typically want to back guys within four or five shots of the lead after Thursday as an overall general rule.

Finally, recent form can't be ignored either, as each of the last seven winners have had at least a 3rd place finish or better in that calendar year, and with so many big names in this field already hoisting trophies in 2019, there are plenty of great golfers that fit that mold. Also, the last four Green Jacket winners all earned their first career Major victory here, so it's not always the worst idea to settle on guys looking for that illustrious first Major victory.

With that in mind, this year's Master's selections are all guys who are looking to earn that first career Major, fit numerous other key categories, and have experience at Augusta to help them thrive in the thick pressure of Sunday afternoon. And with the goal of going back-to-back with winners at the Masters, I've stretched out the names to four this week.

Odds per -

Golfers to Watch

Rickie Fowler (+1800) – Fowler is probably the biggest name left on Tour in terms of “guys who've never won a Major”, and after a 2018 season that was not up to his standards, we've already seen him get back into the winner's circle in 2019 – Fitting that Top 3 or better trend in calendar year.

Fowler was the runner-up at the Masters a year ago, and while the biggest knock on Fowler may be that previous Masters runner-up's have only won this tournament the following year one time since 1985 (Jordan Spieth in 2015), that's some history I'm willing to buck with Fowler at this price.

Rickie does enter the week 3rd on Tour in the Par 4 Birdie or Better statistic, and with four Top 12 finishes here in the past five years, he's got to feel like he's on the cusp of a major breakthrough at this event. With that much needed win out of the way after claiming the Phoenix Open, some of the pressure to perform is off his shoulders – there will still be that “no Majors tag” pressure though – but with his talent and course history here, Fowler could be the fifth straight golfer to make the Masters his first career Major.

Hideki Matsuyama (+3300) – Matsuyama is another young phenom on Tour that's yet to claim the “big one” and while his form on the greens this year has not been great at all, He's still managed to have three Top 10 finishes in his last seven starts, including a 3rd in Dubai at the end of January.

Matsuyama has not finished worth than 19th here in each of the past four years, and while those finishes have been progressively getting worse (19th, 11th, 7, and 5th from 2018-2015 respectively), the average finishing position the year prior to winning for the last nine Masters winners has been around 30th. To have that kind of consistency at this tournament is something that should put him in the hunt again this year, as long as he can start scoring again on Par 4's.

Hideki can dial in his irons in a heartbeat though, and if the flatstick gets hot for him and he posts a very low number on a day like he's known to do, +3300 is somewhat of a steal for a guy of this talent.

Patrick Cantlay (+6600) – Cantlay was a guy I was on a year ago, but a missed cut after rounds of 75 and 76 had him watching the weekend from his couch. It was Cantlay's first Masters appearance since playing as an amateur in 2012, and that long layoff between seeing what Augusta National had to offer proved to be detrimental.

But 12 months later, and a boost to #21 in the world, should have Cantlay competing on the weekend this time around. Like Fowler, he's among the Tour's leaders in Par 4 Birdie or Better numbers (T6 with Rory McIlory in that category) and his long game checks off all the boxes in terms of finding success. It's been Cantlay's putting that's held him back at times, but he's still improved in that regard since the 2018 Masters, and putting numbers are so fickle that it's hard to put a tremendous amount of stock in weighing them with your selections.

It just takes a few holes for guys to catch fire with that club, and with three Top 15's in his last six starts, I'm willing to back Cantlay will be in feast-mode this week at Augusta.

JB Holmes (+12500) – It never hurts to back a few long shots in any golf tournament over the course of the season, and that's clearly where JB Holmes fits this week.

Holmes has missed the cut in five of his last seven starts on Tour (along with not getting out of the group stage in the Match Play), but he's also won an event in that span too. Talk about feast or famine, Holmes is a guy that if you catch him on a good week you can cash some big money plays with him, and with a 4th place finish at Augusta in 2016 on his resume, it's not like he hasn't had past success at the Masters either.

Yet, even with all of those missed cuts lately, Holmes still ranks 9th on Tour in the Par 4 Birdie or Better stat, and his length will have all four Par 5's begging for his mercy. If he can put it all together for four days, Holmes could be that American dark horse that nobody sees coming in this event. And while taking him in a Top 20 or Top 10 wager is probably the smartest way to go, this guy's got a winning pedigree on Tour and those odds are very appealing.

Odds to win The Masters -
Rory McIlroy 7/1
Dustin Johnson 10/1
Justin Rose 14/1
Tiger Woods 14/1
Jon Rahm 18/1
Justin Thomas 18/1
Rickie Fowler 18/1
Brooks Koepka 20/1
Jordan Spieth 20/1
Francesco Molinari 22/1
Tommy Fleetwood 22/1
Bryson DeChambeau 25/1
Paul Casey 25/1
Jason Day 28/1
Bubba Watson 33/1
Hideki Matsuyama 33/1
Phil Mickelson 33/1
Sergio Garcia 33/1
Tony Finau 33/1
Adam Scott 40/1
Louis Oosthuizen 40/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Xander Schauffele 40/1
Henrik Stenson 50/1
Marc Leishman 50/1
Patrick Reed 50/1
Gary Woodland 66/1
Kevin Kisner 66/1
Patrick Cantlay 66/1
Alex Noren 80/1
Brandt Snedeker 80/1
Cameron Smith 80/1
Charley Hoffman 80/1
Ian Poulter 80/1
Keegan Bradley 80/1
Si-Woo Kim 80/1
Webb Simpson 80/1
Haotong Li 100/1
Matt Wallace 100/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 100/1
Billy Horschel 125/1
Branden Grace 125/1
Charl Schwartzel 125/1
Charles Howell III 125/1
Eddie Pepperrell 125/1
J.B. Holmes 125/1
Rafa Cabrera Bello 125/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 125/1
Tyrrell Hatton 125/1
Zach Johnson 125/1
Corey Conners 150/1
Danny Willett 150/1
Emiliano Grillo 150/1
Keith Mitchell 150/1
Lucas Bjerregaard 150/1
Shane Lowry 150/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 175/1
Martin Kaymer 175/1
Aaron Wise 200/1
Jimmy Walker 200/1
Kevin Na 200/1
Justin Harding 250/1
Kevin Tway 250/1
Kyle Stanley 250/1
Andrew Landry 300/1
Fred Couples 300/1
Patton Kizzire 300/1
Stewart Cink 300/1
Bernhard Langer 400/1
Shugo Imahara 400/1
Vijay Singh 400/1
Adam Long 500/1
Angel Cabrera 500/1
Jovan Rebula 500/1
Michael Kim 500/1
Satoshi Kodaira 500/1
Takumi Kanaya 500/1
Viktor Hovland 500/1
Alvaro Ortiz 750/1
Devon Bling 750/1
Trevor Immelman 750/1
Kevin O'Connell 1000/1
Jose Maria Olazabal 1500/1
Mike Weir 1500/1
Sandy Lyle 1500/1
Ian Woosnam 2000/1
Larry Mize 2500/1

Odds Subject to Change

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