So here it is, back in its signature springtime spot, the first major and arguably the most prestigious tournament golf has to offer is finally upon us. The Masters at the iconic and stunning Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia.
It doesn’t seem like long ago Dustin Johnson was being fitted into his first green jacket, he’s hardly had time to take it off and here we go again to the joy of not just golf fans but every sporting enthusiast around the globe.
Having waited 19 months for the 84th edition of The Masters after Tiger Woods ever so popular victory in 2019, the 85th renewal starts this Thursday 8th April just five months after the world No.1 Dustin Johnson won this event with arguably some of the finest golf ever witnessed on his way to a record breaking 20 under par victory back in November.
One thing for sure is that betting on The Masters is a complex affair but that’s not to say throw the form book out the window. In fact quite the opposite as the stats and figures don’t lie here at Augusta National. It’s an event that can easily separate the men from the boys .
If history has anything to do with it then it’s pretty certain whoever will be walking up the 18th hole come Sunday evening on his way to becoming Masters Champion 2021 will be someone with some recent form and also be inside the world's Top 50 ranked players.
If that’s not enough for any ranked outsider to digest then they should not pay attention to the fact that the last 11 Masters Champions have went the way of a golfer inside the worlds Top 30 ranked players.
This simply has to be one of the most exciting, nerve-racking, entertaining and spectacular sporting events on everyone’s sporting calendar and it’s going to keep us gripped from start to finish. Just what we all need, an injection of absolute sporting indulgence to get us through the weekend on a high.
How to Watch the Masters
This Masters will have its own channel this year on Sky Sports. Global broadcast restrictions mean that for the first two days coverage will begin from 7.30pm, while Saturdays coverage will begin at 8pm and Sundays final round at 7.30pm all GMT.
However there will be live featured groups throughout from start to finish and bonus coverage with the exciting pre-tournament warm ups to look forward to including the famous par 3 tournament.
The field of 88 will all be competing on this par 72 course for the $11.5million purse with the winner collecting an impressive $2.07million.
The weather was forecast to be rain free but this changes by the minute with now a 50% chance of showers which would almost certainly have some significance. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 70s with winds not expected to exceed 10mph. This should be ideal conditions for scoring.
So let’s get on with picking the winner and come up with some selections. I’ve had to totally rethink this process since yesterday and the reason for this is Jordan Speith 12/1 EW Betfair.
As most of you will be aware Speith won his first long awaited title in almost 4 years at the weekend, winning the Valero Texas Open with some sublime golf. I’ve seen this Jordan Speith before and if it’s the same Speith I’m witnessing then he is simpy irresistible and unstoppable.
He just seems to be rejuvenated and has burst back on the scene in impressive style. It’s been a rich vein of form recently for the young 27 year old American and he couldn’t have hit it at a better time. What a comeback!
Let’s not forget Jordan is a previous Masters champion when he won here as a 21 year old back in 2015 , he seemed to win everything back then. It’s as if he just vanished of the radar for a few years but believe you me, he’s back with a bang and means business.
Just incase you’ve forgot, let me refresh your memory, the former world No.1 has already bagged 3 majors to his name; The Masters 2015, US Open Champion 2015 and in 2017 at Royal Birkdale he added the 146th Open Championship where I was privileged to follow him on the final round.
He has claimed another 11 top ranking tournament victories and far too many runner-up, top 5s and top 10s to mention but what had caught my eye of late, is his recent form;
Winner at Valero Texas Open at the weekend
- 9th WGC Dell Matchplay
- 4th Arnold Palmer Invitational
- 15th Thd Genesis Invitational
- 3rd AT&T Pebble Beach
- 4th Waste Management Phoenix Open
His victory at the weekend was no fluke, he’s been knocking on the door at all these tournaments in the past few weeks.
There’s no doubt about it, Jordan Speith is back and if you want my honest opinion, he’s playing better than he ever has. I just cannot oppose the young talented American in this kind of form.
I feel he will come here even more full of confidence after his latest victory and he will produce quality strike after strike and attack these pins with perfection.
I can already picture Speith walking up the 18th on Sunday evening with a few shots to spare over the field on his way to that second green jacket with another US Masters victory.
For my next selection I’m going to advise the defending champion and World No.1 Dustin Johnson 11/1 Betfair.
Listen, I could easily look further up the field for a bigger price and some value but I’m being realistic and if history plays it’s part then the winner will be a player who knows what it takes to win around this challenging track.
DJ made it look absolutely effortless winning his first green jacket less than 6 months ago and he will be looking to do what not many have done, defend his title and I just think he will be up to the challenge.
20 under par is a winning scorecard I don’t think will ever be repeated at Augusta but that won’t stop DJ from trying to emulate that and go one better.
It’s as simple as this, if anyone can then DJ is your man. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he did go on to defend his crown whilst beating that record breaking scorecard in November.
To be fair the big humble fans favourite American hasn’t played in many tournaments since winning The Masters less than 6 months ago but in the six that he has played in, he won the Saudi International, was 8th at the Genesis Invitational and 11th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
The 36 year old will be aiming to collect his third Major title and with history telling us that five of the previous seven winners have won a tournament in their previous five events prior to The Masters then DJ fits this criteria with his victory coming exactly five tournaments ago back in February.
Dustin Johnson is currently 6th on the PGA Tour in shots gained tee to green, 11th with his approach play and 10th in shots gained around the greens, all key attributes to success here over the weekend.
DJ could have Augusta National rocking come Sunday evening and I can only see him contending yet again while not giving up his title without a fight.
For my next pick I’m going to suggest (and I know some may think I’m crazy here) but I’m sticking with Rory McIlroy 20/1 EW Bet365.
I’m fully aware Rory has been inconsistent lately and also that he’s been spending time with another coach Pete Cowan, one of the best coaches in the business I may add, to make adjustments to improve his speed and distance.
It may be too much to soon, however the Irishman is still one of the best golfers playing the game and if he can just make they adjustments pay off this week then he will be a contender.
Maybe I’m letting my heart rule my head here but here’s hoping Rory can can go on and claim his major grand slam to the joy of everyone this side of the big pond.
It’s been 17 months and counting since McIlroy last tasted a victory but let’s not forget he is still the 11th ranked best golfer in this field and that he finished 5th here back in November.
In the eight tournaments the 31 years old Irishman has played since then he has finished inside the top 20 on no less than five occasions with three of them inside the top 10. It’s certainly not form that suggests we should totally write off Rory's chances like many have already.
If anyone can bounce back in dramatic style at the worlds most prestigious Major then it’s him. I’ll be roaring on Rory to find some magic at just the right time and silence the critics on his way to finally claiming that green jacket that eludes him while going down in history as a Major Grand Slam Champion.
Cameron Smith v Webb Simpson
For my final selection I’m going to go for the customary 72-hole match bet and I’m going to advise a player who shot every round in the 60s back here in November. Cameron Smith to get the better of Webb Simpson 10/11 Nap Bet365.