By Steven Clark

EVEN without a rejuvenated Tiger Woods v the young pretender Rory McIlroy, the US Masters would be one of the highlights of the sporting year.

Thursday marks the start of the 76th Masters and I'm hoping to give you some pointers from a betting direction.

Firstly, I'm having a quick run through those the bookies reckon are the five main contenders for the famous Green Jacket.

Firms had Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy pretty much neck and neck in the run-up but Tiger's stunning five shot victory at Bay Hill last week has seen his price slashed to a best 5-1 (various).

McIlroy opted to take a few weeks away from competitive play and is tucked in as second favourite, best priced at 9-1 (William Hill).

Watching Woods storm down the 18th at Bay Hill en route to lifting the trophy was a throwback to a decade ago.

Massive crowds flocking behind him on the fairway as he cut a fearsome figure in the unmistakable final-day attire of red polo shirt and black trousers and looking somewhat like the Tiger of old.

There are still question marks over his fitness and more so the short game. Even with the victory there have been some glaring misses on the greens in recent weeks which he’d have holed with his eyes shut in days gone.

There is no disputing he’s well on track but I still wouldn’t be too thrilled at such a short price. Paddy Power will return all losing outright bets up to £100 if Woods wins. Wow!

Last week's results also meant the odds drifting slightly for another Masters stalwart Phil Mickelson.

The California native’s record at Augusta is simply staggering – finishing outside the top 10 only twice since 1999.

In addition to his three previous victories this run includes two third-place finishes and another two fifth-place spots. Something about the course seems to click with Mickelson and he absolutely loves playing Augusta.

A lot of people see him as the biggest challenger to Tiger, even ahead of McIlroy, but the young Ulsterman’s scintillating performance at last year's US Open means he gets the nod from the bookmakers while my man Mickelson is 12-1 at William Hill, Ladbrokes and others.

Making up the rest of the top five are two Englishmen in the form of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. There has been little between these two in recent years in terms of rankings.

Both have been consistent and going neck and neck for the coveted world No.1 spot. The bookies make Donald 16-1 (various) while Westwood is 22-1 with William Hill, bet365 and others.

Donald represents better value of the two in my opinion as he has the superior short game. Even if he does miss a target, which is inevitable at some stage with the tricky pin positions, he has the touch and craft around the greens to recover which is cemented by the fact he had both the best putting statistics in last year's Masters itself (finishing fourth) and also the lowest putting average of anyone on the PGA Tour for season 2011.

Tee to green Westwood is as good as anyone in the field and although his chipping has improved remarkably over the last two or three seasons I still think putting lets him down ever so slightly at the really crucial times.

Recommendation

Mickelson

(12-1, various)

Watch out for my look at each-way hopefuls coming soon

28 Comments
  1. Alan 9 years ago

    Hi Paul

    My win single for the masters is

    Luke Donald at 16 / 1 with Ladbrokes

    My each way is

    K J Choi at 70 / 1 with Corals

  2. Hamish 9 years ago

    Lads,

    I’m backing Hunter Mahan @ 29 / 1, however also really like Webb Simpson @ 60 / 1. Simpson’s first Masters but he is still putting well this year although he hasn’t experienced the success he had last year. I reckon 60 / 1 is awesome value for a bloke who is really good player…..

  3. Peter brown 9 years ago

    Alan am doing exactly same as you! I always bsck choi and really fancy donald this year also! Good luck lads!

  4. steven 9 years ago

    im on donald @ 14/1 with paddy power there refunding all losing bets if tiger wins(which he could). u need a solid if not acceptional short game to get round augusta. and in my opinion donald has the best short game in the world, he is world number 1 is well so 14/1 is a great each way shout. good luck

  5. Willie McGuire 9 years ago

    My 3 E/w stabs are

    Bo Van Pelt 90s
    Hunter Mahan 30s
    Ricky Fowler 100s
    Jason Day 35/1

    And a win for L Donald 16s

    All PP prices and your stake is returned if Tiger wins.

    • Willie McGuire 9 years ago

      Make that 4 E/W !!

  6. Willie McGuire 9 years ago

    I think Paul Lawrie e/w @ 200/1 is an obvious small punt for us Scots also!!

  7. Marc Currie 9 years ago

    To finish in the top 10 is the market I’ll be concentrating on. Will also have a few speculative punts on a few EW shots.

    Tiger is ridiculously short priced. His putting left him years ago and he’ll never get it back. Can’t help but think PP‘s ‘generous’ MBS is a nice little trap to tempt folk who don’t watch the sport regularly or only watch the majors into thinking that they actually have a chance of getting their cash back if their own bet doesn’t win.

    • Willie McGuire 9 years ago

      Marc

      Watching Tiger last week, he looked as if he will be a real threat this week. He’s got the know how round Augusta and if he gets in front, will be hard to catch in my opinion.

      I agree that he’s terribly short priced though, so wont be backing him!!

  8. Nobby 9 years ago

    How about some mythical bets Paul. Get an accumulator out of them. Or some tournament match play accumulators, paddy power has both of these.

    • Mr Fixit 9 years ago

      Nobby, there are countless markets I could cover but have to draw line at how many I do. I do research for as many games as possible and it takes up a helluva lot of time. Adding in other markets at the moment is difficult but you or any punter is welcome to highlight bets they look and up some tips for them.

  9. Aarom mccormack 9 years ago

    All over luke ! Got him at 16/1
    Bubba watson is a good bet @40/1

    And Its hard not to take past major winner kaymer at 70/1

  10. Nobby 9 years ago

    Kaymer has never made the cut in five attempts. He hates Augusta

  11. Steven Clark 9 years ago

    Aaron,

    Augusta has the indian sign over Kaymer; he has a horiffic record there.

  12. Aarom mccormack 9 years ago

    Suppose so ! But past major winner at 70/1 and still young is worth a bet ! Even a few quid

    Whats your thoughts on kuchar ??

    • Mr Fixit 9 years ago

      Aaron, Steven’s each-way tips will be posted shortly. Personally I don’t think Kuchar will be too far away but it’s McIlroy for me at 9-1 with Hills.

  13. Marc Currie 9 years ago

    Willie I watched him last week and while he looked good, I’ve also watched him play poorly since his return. If Tiger is there or thereabouts on day 4, i think the fear of him is gone. I would love to see him win another major but I honestly can’t see it happening.

  14. David moore 9 years ago

    Tiger Is 5/1 for a reason. Bookies know his whole play from his return has been built up to this major. him and mcclroy will nver be over 10s again in any open/major they play in. There 2 good. But like every game off sport anything can happing.

  15. Nobby 9 years ago

    11/10 for hole in one to be got lads. Paddy power. Surely has a shout

    • Mr Fixit 9 years ago

      Nobby, always has a chance. I remember the good old days when it was 50-1 and bookies got a caning.

  16. Bruce Robertson 9 years ago

    To win Rory McIlroy
    To win Luke Donald

    Eacw way Brandt Snedeker
    Each way Bo Van Pelt
    Each way Webb Simpson

    First Round leader Justin Rose

  17. Daryl Cruickshank 9 years ago

    Looking forward to this. Done my bets last night

    Gone with Rose,Watney,Schwartzel,Snedeker,Haas and Ogilvy.

  18. Marc Currie 9 years ago

    Picking a winner at Augusta is fraught with difficulty. A quick look at four winners in the past five years include Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman and Zach Johnson. Hands up if you predicted any of these? Each way winners in the same period include big priced names like Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Chad Campbell, Kenny Perry, Shingo Katayama and Rory Sabbatini. Again not many folk’s first choices I bet. This shows it’s definitely worth a few EW punts as there is a real chance of catching something decent. It’s also quite fun and certainly worth it if you’re planning on watching most of the action.

    Looking at the favourites, I am personally discounting Tiger. The main reason is consistency. Simply he hasn’t shown any. I know he has won four times at Augusta but his last success came back in 2005. He’s just had a good win at Bay Hill but there is nothing to suggest he’s capable of two in a row. I’ve been swaying between McIlroy and Mickelson for weeks. Usually when you can’t come to a decision it’s logical to take the higher price ie. Mickelson but the sheer fact McIlroy has had twelve top 5 finishes in his last thirteen says it all really. I’ll be on him. Lefty loves Augusta and he’s 8/11 for a top 10 finish. I know thats odds on and too short for some punters but I like it and believe it to be too high. It’s partially driven by the fact everyone is so concerned about Woods and McIlroy.

    Looking at the middle of the market, I like Steve Stricker at 50s and Jason Day at 40s. Stricker has been around for years and is so experienced. He went off the boil for a while but had a tremendous last year and is now world number 5. Good value here I reckon. Day is also proving the critics wronnf who labelled him a one year wonder. He played exceptionally well here last year and is worth a look again.

    Looking at the lower end of the market there is plenty of value to be had. I like the look of Bo Van Pelt at 80s, Geoff Ogilvy at 90s and Angel Cabrera at 100. Van Pelt seems to be everyones cup of tea at the moment. His price has come right down at is still falling. Theres a reson for this, he can hit the ball a fair distance and also has a good short game. Exactly what is required at Augusta. Ogilvy, a former US open wiiner, finished 4th here last year and has made 6 cuts from 6. He seems to be a little overpriced. Finally with Cabrera you never know what you’re going to get. He may be inconsistent but he’s a former winner here, has been around the course numerous times and just missed an EW place last year by one shot. Got to be worth a few quid each way.

    A couple of other markets that have caught my eye the mythical 2 balls and the winner from each country/continent. I like Donald at 6/4 to beat Woods on the day 1 mythical 2 ball. I like Garcia at even money with PP to be the top Spainaird. He’s 8/11 with others and he hasn’t got much competiton. I also like Day, who is the 2nd fav to be the top Australasian at 15/8 in behind Adam Scott. Could perhaps double up on Garcia/Day.

    • Mr Fixit 9 years ago

      Marc, well said. You should get a £10 bet for longest comment!

  19. Nobby 9 years ago

    6 out of last 7 years hole in one has happened

  20. Steven Clark 9 years ago

    Great write up Marc.

    Still wouldnt touch Garcia with a barge pole with his putting, its better than it was mind you, but still ropey IMO.

    Your right about Ogilviy though, definetely on the upward march after an out of sorts couple of seasons.

  21. Marc Currie 9 years ago

    Haha didn’t realise it would be that long Paul. I was about to also go into a Donald v Westwood debate but I kept it ‘short’.

    Cheers Stephen I know I was wary of mentioning Garcia as his putting is garbage but that’s why I mentioned it about the bigger price with PP but mainly due to lack of competition from his fellow Spanairds. There are only 5 in the field and realistically only Jimenez and Quiros can pip him. Even money in this market seems decent to me. I’d never back him in another market though!!

  22. Tommo 9 years ago

    Great post Marc, made for an interesting read mate.

    My picks are

    Bradley 35/1
    Schwartzel 45/1
    Snedeker 80/1
    Yang 150/1

    …and a few others, all bets each-way of course!

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