PUNTERS have lumped on Phil Mickelson to make sure he starts hot favourite to win a fourth Green Jacket.

The US Masters, the first Major of the season, tees off on Thursday and last week's Shell Houston Open champion is a best 7-1 with Ladbrokes.

Woods is his biggest starting price for a Major in more than a decade at 12-1 with the likes of Ladbrokes and Betfred.

While Mickelson, 8-15 with Paddy Power to be in the top 10, showed a return to form in Houston, Woods has given backers nothing but his past form at Augusta and I can't see him being a threat.

If it's not Mickelson, who has an amazing eight top-five finishes in the last 10 years, it could be another American in the shape of Nick Watney collecting the trophy.

Doral winner Watney has developed into a Major contender and is joint third favourite with Lee Westwood at 16-1 with McBookie, Ladbrokes and Hills.

Watney has finished 11th, 19th and seventh in the last three Masters so he can certainly play the course. He's definitely worth an each-way punt.

Westwood is one of many Europeans struggling form and doesn't look great value.

The biggest European threat could come from world No.1 Martin Kaymer who is 22-1 at McBookie, Paddy Power and Hills.

Kaymer proved he had the temperament to win a Major at the US PGA and has the mentality required for handling ups and downs on a tough layout.

It really is a wide open tournament and others to consider include Hunter Mahan (28-1, McBookie, totesport), Rory McIlroy (33-1, Ladbrokes) and Justin Rose (33-1, Ladbrokes).

Europe boasts five of the top six players in the world and Paddy Power offer 15-8 for a European win.

Paddy Power go Woods and Mickelson at 7-2 against 1-6 the field.

Scotland's Martin Laird won the Arnold Palmer Invitational a fortnight ago and is 5-1 with Rickie Fowler to be top debutant.

I'd favour Fowler but don't rule out Transitions Championship winner Gary Woodland at 8-1.

Mr Fixit's top six

  1. Nick Watney
  2. Martin Kaymer
  3. Phil Mickelson
  4. Hunter Mahan
  5. Rory McIlroy
  6. Gary Woodland

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