As a golfer, he is worthy of enormous respect. As a betting proposition, he makes less appeal than most, especially having sidestepped top-class competition since September. Since arriving on the PGA Tour in , Thomas has climbed the ladder to now establish himself as the leading iron player in the sport, statistically speaking.
Indisputably, he's inside the top handful and his progression is nicely summed up by his annual strokes-gained approach rankings: 35th, 20th, sixth, fourth, second, first. There are few more reliable regardless of the range, for all his improved wedge play is probably the main reason for an impressive rise, and it's this aspect of his game which I expect will one day make him a Masters champion. Form figures of here suggest he has a little more to do, but they've been underpinned by a long-game which says he's already mastered Augusta — at least from tee-to-green.
Thomas has ranked 11th, sixth, second and third in greens hit over the last four years, and for someone who was not in the shake-up behind Tiger Woods last April, one line in his post-round interview stuck with me: "I played well enough to win this golf tournament by quite a few. To make that claim just as Woods is fighting off Koepka and Johnson is really quite something and it speaks to how confident Thomas is at the course, one which fundamentally plays to his strengths: long driving, quality approach play, and taking advantage of the scoring holes.
If anything, he says he needs to be a little more aggressive, and that realisation could be key to winning his second major championship, three years on from his first. One way or another, this platform he's built, by hitting greens, seems a big pointer. No fewer than 12 of the last 20 winners of the Masters had marked our cards with a high top 15 GIR ranking the year before, and Thomas has done it in , , , and Thomas's preparation has been excellent.
I really like that he managed a top finish at the US Open despite being nowhere near his best, as that's not always looked like something he's willing or able to do, and it's an area of improvement he had been targeting. Defeat to Patrick Cantlay in the Zozo was of course an opportunity missed, but it looked an ideal prep run in every other way while perhaps keeping him from being the man to beat.
Co-runner-up Jon Rahm spoke of how the sidehill lies at Sherwood were similar in some way to Augusta, and that's certainly true of Muirfield Village, where Thomas had his pocket picked by Collin Morikawa back in June, for all he made that possible with his own clumsy finish. Remember though, Thomas bounced back from that play-off defeat to win two starts later, and his victory in the PGA Championship came on his second major start after he'd failed to convert from the final group in the US Open.
A determined, model professional with a love of golf and its history through his PGA professional father, he has turned frustration into achievement on more than one occasion already and is nothing if not capable of learning from his mistakes and missteps. One of the world's form players with a game which is so well suited to Augusta, Thomas is worth backing with a degree of confidence. He's won 14 times including 11 in the last four years and yet so often plays second-fiddle in terms of coverage, even expectation, among the media and pundits.
Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and more Tour pros told us what their favorite and least favorite hole at Augusta is. Despite a rule change meaning just the top 50 and ties will make the weekend, this is still the easiest cut to make all year, especially now that as well as the veterans in the field we have some players who qualified on the strength of play and are currently out of sorts.
That's why I'm inclined to take two from the top portion of the market, and wouldn't put anyone off taking more than that. Clearly, Rahm's form credentials are stronger. He's won twice since June, both under difficult conditions, and in doing so has reached the summit of the game. A permanent feature among the top five drivers on the circuit, his approach play has improved and with it he's added the top-grade PGA Tour titles which had been absent since that raucous breakthrough at Torrey Pines back in With the best scoring average in the field of those to have played 12 or more rounds here, and having been statistically the best driver at Augusta over the last three years, the Spaniard holds an excellent chance.
That he tied second with Thomas last time means I like his preparation, and it's only the fact he's started to show some strange frailties on the greens which has tipped me in favour of McIlroy. Truth be told, as a win-only proposition, McIlroy probably isn't a big enough price to take on board the fact his form has dipped massively since sport, like most things, was forced into lockdown.
Before it, he had returned to the top of the world rankings with four wins in 24 starts dating back to the PLAYERS, and his worst finish in four starts to open up was a share of fifth place. But with these bumper place terms, quibbles over a point or two are worth setting aside for one week only as we instead focus on what I believe could be the perfect set of circumstances for this fabulous player to cement his status as an all-time great.
McIlroy, who needs the Masters to complete a career grand slam, can first be excused the performances he produced from June to September. It emerged during the BMW Championship that he was soon to become a father and his daughter arrived safely a few days later, prior to the final event of the season.
Everyone deals with life events like this differently, and I can see why McIlroy's form dipped. Here is a player whose return to the top coincided with a desire to understand more about himself, about what motivates him, and about the power of the mind and meditation and even juggling. He is thoughtful and introspective, and has made no secret of the fact that while fiercely competitive, this is just golf.
Family matters more. It's perhaps no coincidence then that from the moment he revealed his secret to the media, his play improved with 12th place in the BMW, then seventh hole scoring in the TOUR Championship just after his wife, Erica, gave birth. From there he's been eighth in the US Open, his best finish since winning that event in , followed by 21st and 17th across the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, a fortnight in which nobody made more birdies.
Leading the field in driving at both the CJ Cup and the US Open before it, McIlroy has made big strides in that department and the putter has also started to warm up. What remains is to dial in his approaches and so clear has that weakness been that I expect he's spent the last fortnight focused on it, in turn improving his prospects of cutting out the ruinous mistakes which held him back on the west coast. Crucially, his approach play took a step forward in the Zozo, and I anticipate another here, at a course where there are likely to be fewer wedges struck than just about anywhere else in That matters, because McIlroy remains one of the best iron players in the sport in spite of, rather than because of, what he does with wedges.
When it comes to anything from a four to an eight-iron, I'm not sure there are many, if any, who are better. The other key factor in his favour is the rain that has been around in the run-up to the event, and is set to return during it. We all know by now that McIlroy is at his best when soft conditions exaggerate his advantage off the tee and with those mid-to-long irons and while the sub-air system will help, these greens should be receptive, and the fairways ought not to run out — they never do, really, which is one of the many reasons McIlroy has been so effective here.
And then we come to the elephant in the room: his grand slam bid. It's now six years since McIlroy won a major, and he's had five goes at winning this to complete the set. To some, that says he's been crushed by the weight of pressure, and yet his three best Masters finishes — fourth in , fifth in , seventh in — have all come since.
I don't for a second deny that his failure to produce from the final group when Patrick Reed won had something to do with the enormity of the situation, but it's not like it has held him back in general terms. It won't be an excuse for playing poorly, something he hasn't really done here since , a year on from his Augusta nightmare. Nevertheless I find it somewhat interesting that McIlroy's best performances here have coincided with his worst world rankings and at fifth now, he is less talked about than has been the case previously, not least because of the shadow cast by the muscle man in sixth.
That plus the switch to November, and an edition which will take place without crowds, are small but potentially decisive factors which are surely in his favour, and so is the fact that he'll have his family with him again.
And after getting home each day, it's such a nice thing to be able to get your mind off of golf. If I let something consume me too much then I start overthinking it. It's just not a good thing. It has been a good distraction that way. I'm looking forward to getting myself ready to play some good golf. It's going to be a different tournament, a different Augusta.
Spoke to McIlroyRory who welcomes a different Masters Back in the spring, McIlroy alluded to the fact that Augusta will play long as another advantage and he's been working backwards from this date, especially so given his personal circumstances in the interim. In the hope and expectation that the arrival of this long-awaited Masters doesn't overwhelm him, and with enough in his play since becoming a father to believe he's close to where he was at the start of , he's up there with Thomas as one of two standout bets at the front of the market.
Victories for Danny Willett, Reed, Spieth, Garcia and even Woods have rather undermined the idea that Augusta — extended closer to 7, yards last year — is all about power. As touched upon, approach play has been the key statistical category, although it's also true that one way or another, and with the odd exception, most champions here arrive with months' worth of quality driving behind them, too.
This year, it's possible that power becomes a bigger part of the conversation once more, indeed it certainly will be should DeChambeau contend. There can be no doubt that despite higher-than-feared temperatures and even the threat of thunderstorms, the rain which has fallen and will continue to fall will play into the hands of the longer hitters, who are best placed to do what is traditionally needed and score on the four par-fives. There is always a chance that a long, soft slog in fact turns into a battle of the wedges, as was the case when Zach Johnson won in , but the game has changed a lot since then.
My inclination is to lean heavily towards those with excess power at their fingertips, and away from the likes of Webb Simpson, Tyrrell Hatton, Collin Morikawa and the otherwise-tempting Matt Fitzpatrick, who have to make do without it.
Hand on heart, does Matsuyama really deserve to be the same price as Cantlay, who beat an elite field last time? Probably not, especially having gone more than three years without a win, during which time Cantlay has managed three, including at two of the courses which appear to correlate best with Augusta. However, we're back to those place terms again and of all the players in the world's top 30 — a window which covers most Masters winners — it's Matsuyama who I believe could take the most from an injection of confidence.
That was my overriding thought while watching the final round of the Houston Open, this quiet character having really got himself into the mix and firmly in the zone, and it could set him up perfectly for Augusta. At his best, Matsuyama is superior to Cantlay and Finau in that key approach-play department and he also has bags more Augusta experience.
He's never been closer than Cantlay was last year, when a bogey-bogey-par finish cost him a chance after he'd hit the front, but the Japanese has made seven cuts in eight and has been close to the places even when starting badly in , or when arriving out of sorts in The tournament is the only major that does not change its setting every year. Augusta National has always been the only course to host the Masters, meaning players who have a good track record at the venue are much more reliable.
There have been some changes to Augusta over the years, but the course has played essentially the same since the s. One of the most lucrative props is to bet on a specific player to either make or miss the cut. If Player A is getting set to tee it up at Augusta National for the seventh straight year and you can get odds on him to miss the cut in plus money, that seems like a wise wager. For more up-to-date golf information, visit our PGA Tour page. From props to futures and head-to-heads, there are several ways to bet on the action at Augusta National Golf Club!
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Bryson DeChambeau heads the market and he could very well overpower this golf course but I have a niggling issue about his previous putting performances at Augusta which is enough to make me look elsewhere. It will make for different conditions than the players are used to at Augusta National. A slightly softer course will play into the longer hitters and the longest of them all, Bryson Dechambeau, will be a popular pick from The Masters betting odds.
It will play long because the grass is cut in the direction of tee to green and so even if you miss the fairway you have chances to get up and down. It looks set to be a fascinating four days. This year we lost The Open Championship from the calendar so The Masters becomes the third and final major of It is usally the first and played in April. There are a lot of bookies offering enhanced places for the Masters but that, in turn, will usually mean the odds are lower for the selections.
The bookies advised for each bet are the ones where we think the best value is for that player. For me, Dustin Johnson is the best golfer on the planet at the moment and his recent form is second to none. In his last seven starts his worst finish is Tied 6th which shows the level of golf he is currently playing at. He also won the FedEx Cup which is key as we all know winning breads winning in this game. He really caught the eye last week looking very rusty on day one before getting better and better as the week went on.
He drove the ball very well on the weekend which is key around Augusta and he holed his fair share of footage on the greens on his way to a 2nd place finish. That will give him plenty of confidence heading to Augusta this week, especially the putting display. His game is perfect for Augusta and he can go one better than his 2nd place in the addition here. Strong fancy. Best Bookies — William Hill. Koepka is a man who loves to peak for the majors and he always seems to have a chance come Sunday.
He has a history of getting it done with the only disappointing Sunday coming in the PGA Championship this year where he seemed to be fighting his game all week to me. Last week, he really caught the eye like DJ.
He was all over the place off the tee on the first 2 days and somehow scrambled to make the cut. He then went back to his old driver for the weekend which resulted in him hitting more fairways, playing better golf and ended up challenging for the title from the cut line. That will have gave him so much confidence going into this week and he can kick on again here. The course suits his game down to a tee and he has won at this time of year before.
Day has the perfect game for Augusta with his draw shot shape and high ball flight. This is backed up by his previous results here and he arguable should already have a green jacket to his name. He was stellar for three rounds last week in Houston but sadly struggled on the final day. Visit Sports Review.
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