Covid-19 forced the PGA TOUR to postpone The Masters until November. Now we have Masters weekend combined with Week 10 of the NFL, making it a bettors paradise.
This week there will be 92 players in the field, and a new cut rule will see only the top-50 plus ties make it to the weekend. A lot fewer golfers will tee it up on Saturday and Sunday this year, which may be a good thing considering the weather forecast. The course was hit with rain on Tuesday and is expected to continue to get soaked on Wednesday. There is substantial rain in the forecast on Thursday and Friday with things clearing up a bit over the weekend. However, there is still a chance for a few showers in the closing days.
The rain will make Augusta National play even longer than it already is (≈7,500 yards, depending on setup). Augusta has a lot of change of elevation and prior knowledge of the course may be more important here than any other track on tour. Augusta demands players to be strong off the tee and deadly accurate with their irons because missing in the wrong spot can lead to disaster. Each of the last eight winners has had at least one top-15 in the weeks leading up to the Masters.
Justin Rose – Outright Winner (+6000)
Rose doesn't come in with the finest form, having missed the cut in five of his last 10 tournaments. 2020 was Rose's worst season in a decade, but Augusta National is a place that he's had a lot of success. Rose does not have a green jacket but has two runner-up finishes and three top-10s in his last five trips to the Masters. He isn't sharp, but his track record at Augusta makes him a terrific value bet at +6000. Rose is not a favourite, but the weather should level the playing field, and the Englishman should be used to a rainy fall forecast.
Dustin Johnson – Top 5 Finish (+200)
Johnson comes into Masters week as the hottest player on tour. Johnson returned from Covid-19 at the Houston Open last week and finished T2, then went 66-66-65 in the final three rounds after shaking off the rust in Round 1. Johnson has six straight top-6 finishes, including two wins and three runner-ups. He has never won a green jacket but has finished in the top-10 in four consecutive Masters tournaments. He has a lot of competition to win and doesn't have great value at +850, but he should top-5 and triple your money.
Xander Schauffele (-110) over Rory McIlroy
The only player with better form than Schauffele is Johnson. Schauffele has five top-10s in his last seven starts, including three top-5s in his last four. In just his second career Masters start, Schauffele finished T2 to Tiger Woods, and he seems poised to contend this week. McIlroy has also had some success at Augusta National but hasn't been playing his best golf recently. McIlroy should easily top-20 this week, but Schauffele is one of the favourites coming in and is a great bet as the underdog in this head-to-head.
Justin Rose (-115) over Jordan Spieth
Rose is a long shot to win the tournament, but he should have no issues beating Spieth. Sure, Spieth is one of the greatest players in Augusta's storied history, but his game is far from reliable right now. He's lost strokes off of the tee in 2019 and 2020, and his once steady putter is now inconsistent. He could rediscover some glory at his favourite course, but there's an equal chance that he misses the cut and hands Rose an easy victory in this matchup.
Francesco Molinari (-115) over Phil Mickelson
Molinari had a historic run last year before a monumental back-9 collapse handed Tiger the win. He hasn't been seen on the PGA TOUR much in 2020 but he had a strong showing at the Houston Open last weekend and will be looking to exorcise some demons this week. Making the cut should be enough to win this matchup. Mickelson has missed the cut in three of his last five PGA TOUR starts and has lost strokes off of the tee in six straight events. Mickelson is struggling too much to trust this weekend, especially against a player with a T20 and T5 in his last two Masters starts.
-- by Tommy Bits