IT'S time for the first Major of the year. Hope your wallets are full and you've got plenty to put on your favourites. My selections are all guys I’ve talked about before – Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Sergioa Garcia, Hunter Mahan and Adam Scott.
First we have Johnson. Let’s forget his first round of 80 last week and look at his stats. Won one, second twice and top five in another two from seven starts.
Ranked first in GIR, birdie average and scoring average, all-round ranking and par breakers, second in driving distance, eagles (per hole) and top-10 finishes. Putting from 10-15 feet he is second yet from 5-10ft he’s 148th! That could be his downfall on slipper surfaces at Augusta but I still back him to win his first Major here this week.
Kuchar blew it again last week for the second time in a row. I tipped the Kooch two weeks ago at the Valero Texas Open when he finished tied fourth after leading. Last week he had three sub-70 rounds and was leading going up the 18th when he landed in the water then lost the play-off to Aussie Matt Jones.
Out of nine tournaments he’s finished in the top 10 six times. His driving accuracy and GIR are in the mid-60s but he's a steady player and that’s what you need in the Masters.
Mahan had a steady four rounds at the Shell Houston Open last week and although he’s not had a stellar start to the season he seems to come alive at the Majors. His stats this season are awful but he might be worth a wee each way. He’s had three top-15 finishes in the last five years and was in the final pairing in two successive Majors last year so his pedigree is good. If he’s recovered from a hip injury sustained at Bay Hill he could be in the running.
Could this be Sergio’s year? The Spaniard is playing his best golf for a few years. Four top-ten finishes from six starts on the PGA Tour and one win and three top-10s from six in Europe.
On both tours his GIR is around 70 per cent but his driving accuracy has never been the best around and is currently 57 per cent. His putting on the PGA Tour is 82 per cent from 3-5ft and on the par fives he no slouch with -19 (averaging 4.66) so if he rips apart the par fives and gets close on these fast Augusta greens he’ll score well.
Can Scott do it again? After blowing a 36-hole seven-shot lead and a three-shot advantage at the beginning of the final round at Bay Hill you would think not. If he is in the winning position on the last day we could see a collapse like in The Open.
His putting wasn’t on song at Bay Hill and I think that was the reason he didn’t win. We can’t write him off because of one round can we?
He’s had three top-10 finishes in five starts with GIR stats of 68 per cent and driving accuracy of 61 per cent. His par-three average is not good (3.21) but par 5s are -41 and 4s -9. The man has a lot of talent and I’m sure he’ll have put Bay Hill behind him so he’s another one to add to my list.
My Bunker’s Bet is Canadian Graham DeLaet. He’s had five top-10 finishes and two second places from nine starts this season. His GIR stat is good (72 per cent) and par five average is 4.59. I think there’s a lot more to come from this young man and he’s worth a small each way wager.
20pt staking plan
Dustin Johnson 4pts ew 28-1 Betfred, Coral
Matt Kuchar 2pts ew 25-1 Betfred
Sergio Garcia 2pts ew 25-1 Betfred, McBookie
Hunter Mahan 0.5pt ew 50-1 Stan James
Adam Scott 1pt ew 12-1 Betfred
Graham DeLaet 0.5pt ew 100-1 Skybet