The gaze of the sporting world is falling on Augusta, so here it is… the Golf Insider’s US Masters tips and full preview.
In some respects this week can be seen as “just another golf tournament” and backing the winner will be like any other success. But the added drama and excitement of landing a winner at Augusta, even without the crowds this year, always adds a little extra to the pot!
Of course it was great to back a winner last week, as Robert MacIntyre gave us a nice payout in Cyprus. But for a few new faces who’ve joined us this week, the adventure starts here – and it’ll be a profitable one, provided you stick with it. So let’s kick it off with the big one – US Masters tips and preview from The Golf Insider.
Usually the first of the four golf Majors held each year, the US Masters is the only one of the quartet to be held at the same venue each year – which is the Augusta National. The tournament was first held in 1934 and has become famous for its various unique traditions like the Green Jacket given to each winner (which started in 1948), the pre-tournament Champions Dinner (first held back in 1952), the curtain-raising Par-3 event played on the eve of the Masters (staged for the first time in 1960), and the ongoing practice of all the caddies wearing identical white “overalls” with the name of their golfer on the back (players have only been able to bring their own caddies to Augusta since 1983).
Unlike the other Majors the field here is classed as an entirely invitational line-up, with no pre-qualification, and the numbers are limited to less than 100 players – the exact number varies slightly depending on how many former champions and exempt players attend. There have been 83 winners to date: 61 from the USA, five each from Spain & South Africa, four from England, two from Germany and one from each of Scotland, Wales, Fiji, Canada, Argentina & Australia. Jack Nicklaus leads the way with 6 career wins, Tiger Woods has 5 wins after his success last year, and Arnold Palmer (4) comes next on the list.
The permanent base for the US Masters is Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Founded back in the 1930s, the course was built on the site of a nursery (hence all the holes are named after a flower, tree or shrub). The original design was by Rees Jones but the layout has been tinkered with over the years – mainly in terms of length – with the latest by Tom Fazio in 2002. The 18 holes now stretch out to 7,435 yards with a host of signature holes and areas (e.g. Amen Corner), water hazards (e.g. Rae’s Creek) and strategically placed bunkers. The set-up of the course year-on-year tends to put more emphasis on driving distance than accuracy off the tee, but what is tested on every hole is the ability of the players on their approach to, and their play around, the lightning fast greens – good putting and scrambling are key ingredients to success at Augusta, and that’ll be reflected in my US Masters tips.
270: Tiger Woods (1997) & Jordan Spieth (2015).
63: Nick Price (1986) & Greg Norman (1996)
Recent winners (and top five)
2019: Tiger Woods – Johnson, Koepka, Schauffele – Day, Finau, Molinari, Simpson
2018: Patrick Reed – Fowler – Spieth – Rahm – McIlroy, Stenson, Smith, Watson
2017: Sergio Garcia – Rose – Schwartzel – Kuchar, Pieters
2016: Danny Willett – Spieth, Westwood – Casey, Holmes, Johnson
2015: Jordan Spieth – Mickelson, Rose – McIlroy – Matsuyama
2014: Bubba Watson – Blixt, Spieth – Jiminez – Fowler, Kuchar
2013: Adam Scott – Cabrera – Day – Leishman, Woods
2012: Bubba Watson – Oosthuizen – Hanson, Kuchar, Mickelson, Westwood
2011: Charl Schwartzel – Day, Scott – Donald, Ogilvy, Woods
2010: Phil Mickelson – Westwood – Kim – Choi, Woods
A standard field for the US Masters which means around 90 players will go to post. Bryson DeChambeau is the $8.25 market leader with TopSport, though we’ll be looking a little wider for our US Masters tips.
Now we see why the Masters is played in April! The chance of rain on the four days reads 80% – 40% – 50% – 40%. Of these it’s Thursday which looks by far the worst, with patchy rain for most of the day. The other three days are more hit-and-miss. The good news is that temperatures will be seasonally good, reaching the low-to-mid 70s (F), and the wind will be barely a factor at sub-10mph all week. So some rain aside (which will soften up the greens), perfectly fine for this time of year.
US Masters tips (each-way)
Brooks Koepka (currently $18 with TopSport)
Typically at the Masters, the cream rises to the top. Good players with good course form feature time and time again. So unlike most other tournaments, and given the smaller and less-competitive field at this Major, and the way the bookmakers frame the market, concentrating towards the top of the lists is the sensible play. There are not too many surprises at Augusta! And you could easily make a case out for almost all the markets leaders. The beefed-up DeChambeau could make mincemeat of the course, Johnson played well last week, Rahm is a Major winner-in-waiting, Thomas is rock-solid, McIlroy is coming back into form. They’re all decent US Masters tips.
My preference, at the price, is Koepka. Simply put, he’s a multiple Major champion, has an ever-improving Masters record (4 starts, 33-21-11-2) and proved his tournament fitness with closing rounds of 65 and 65 in Houston last week to finish tied for fifth. He’s a single-minded competitor, and his recent Major record is the pick of the field. He won a Major in 2017, two in 2018, and one last year. Possibly his form in 2020 hasn’t been at that same stellar level, but he has been injured. Any of the names mentioned above could easily put on the Green Jacket on Sunday. But in terms of value in the win market, Koepka ticks more boxes than most. I see no reason why last year’s runner-up can’t go one better this year.
Bubba Watson (currently $31 with TopSport)
We’re backing our good old friend Bubba again, but this time at Bubba’s playground! I know I’ve told you a million times already this season, but Bubba is playing some of the best tee-to-green golf of his life right now, he’s just not putting well enough to capitalise. This week he returns to Augusta where he has won twice, and finished 12th and 5th the last two years. Watson loves this place because it helps to shape the ball both ways and play with imagination. His length off the tee is also a big factor in his success. I’d argue that this year he comes here in as good a form as he ever has in the past.
Watson has finished 7th and 4th on his last two starts. He’s gained an unbelievable 30 strokes from tee-to-green on the field from his last three starts. He’s hitting the ball as well as ever, and now he returns to a place which he loves. And where he knows the greens like the back of his hand. I’ve said in the past that Watson often plays well at the same courses, and has multiple wins in the same events. Because he either loves a track or hates it… and boy does he love this one! Simply put, there are no negatives for Bubba this week. Apart from the fact he’s up against the best in the world! He’s playing the golf of his life and is about to play on the course he loves the most. I’d kick myself if he was lifting the trophy and we hadn’t backed him. So at the price he’s another player who easily makes the staking plan for our US Masters tips.
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