The Masters: Bookies' verdict
We get the layers thoughts on this week's Masters tournament at Augusta, including their best bets for the event.
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Tiger Woods is already out and there have been fitness and form concerns around several of the other favourites like Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. Who are you looking to take on?
John Rhodes, Sky Bet: Mickelson and Day seem to be OK now, with Day saying he is 100%. Personally, I think McIlroy is a good lay this week; he shot a best-of-the-day 65 on Sunday in the Shell Houston Open, but the soft conditions favoured him there, and in five attempts at Augusta has yet to post a top-10 finish and obviously is well known for his final-round meltdown in 2011 when holding the lead on the 10th tee in round four. Zach Johnson is another one I'm happy to take on. If you take out his victory at Augusta in 2007 when the winning score was around 10 shots higher than the average winning score due to the firm and fast conditions, he has yet to break the top 20 in eight other starts, and I think he is too short at 33/1.
Tom O'Hare, Coral: At the current prices Rory McIlroy looks the most vulnerable favourite. Despite a strong finish over the weekend in Texas he still hasn't got full control over his scoring irons. The Masters is the ultimate second-shot golf course and his fragile putting stroke will have to improve dramatically to contend on Sunday.
Brad Barry, Ladbrokes: The market over-reacted to Tiger's withdrawal as he could quite easily have been going off at 16/1 or bigger. It should be one of the most open and competitive renewals in recent years, and you have to take on the field, they can't all win.
Rupert Adams, William Hill: We are happy to take on the majority of the front runners in the field.
Jack Milner, BetVictor: We are very keen to take on Rory. He is yet to post a top-10 finish at Augusta, including his infamous blow-up in 2011 and his final-round 80 that saw him squande the biggest lead in a major since Jean Van De Velde's debacle at The Open. We will take him on whilst keeping former winners Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson on-side.
Europe had a great run at Augusta in the 80s and 90s but it's now 15 years since a European won the Masters. How likely is a European winner this year? And if this side of the Atlantic is to triumph, who do you feel can do the business?
John Rhodes, Sky Bet: A European winner is a 2/1 chance, and an English winner is an 11/1 shot. The 'home' contingent is led by Justin Rose and the 2013 US Open champion seems to have the best credentials for landing another Major, rather than the major-less trio of (Luke) Donald, (Lee) Westwood and (Ian) Poulter.
Tom O'Hare, Coral: European golf has made a slow start to the PGA Tour season and is without a win since Henrik Stenson's victory in the season-ending Tour Championship. However, with it being a Ryder Cup year, look to a European powerhouse like Poulter or Stenson to end the 15-year wait for a European Masters champion.
Brad Barry, Ladbrokes: Patriotic punters always have faith in Westwood and he's heavily backed to finally get over his Major duck. Yes, the stats and odds suggest a European winner is unlikely, but the rules are there to be broken and 2014 could well be the year.
Rupert Adams, William Hill: It's definitely a possibility. Lee Westwood has a good chance to win the event. Last week in Houston was his first good showing under his new coach and he does have a lot of good finishes and experience at Augusta. If it's not LW then McIlroy, Rose or (Sergio) Garcia could go very close.
Jack Milner, BetVictor: If there is to be a European winner, in particular an English winner, it looks down to US Open champion Justin Rose. BetVictor are 11/1 that there is an English winner, which would become just a second ever after Sir Nick Faldo's trio of green jackets. Rose is best priced of the English at 28/1 and the 7/4 favourite to best of this countrymen with Lee Westwood and Luke Donald 10/3 joint second favourites respectively.
How much do you look at previous Augusta form when considering the outcome here?
John Rhodes, Sky Bet: Most definitely (it's looked at a lot). The number of players who come back and perform well each year at Augusta and, conversely, players who can't seem to get their head around the course is very prominent, and it's a very important factor we base our prices upon. Someone like Argentine Angel Cabrera is a prime example of Augusta form. He can arrive with little or no current form of note and produce his best results of the year at Augusta National. In the last eight years he has won once, and had three other top-eights, so this is a prime example of a horses-for-courses type of player. Jason Day in his last two completed Masters has come second and third, and had an exceptional chance of winning both events at the business end of the tournament.
Tom O'Hare, Coral: Course form versus recent form is an age-old debate when trying to identify a golf winner but course form is everything for the first major of the year. Three vital components required to contend at the Masters are course management, adjusting to the rapid pace and dramatic undulations of the greens then holding your nerve. However, this year there is a real chance of a first debutant winner since 1979 and form runners like (Harris) English, (Graham) Delaet, (Jimmy) Walker and (Patrick) Reed could upset the market leaders.
Brad Barry, Ladbrokes: The paucity of debutant winners should tell you all you need to know there.
Rupert Adams, William Hill: Course form is an important factor at this major but that's always linked to current form which is more important.
Jack Milner, BetVictor: Augusta form is crucial. Former winners Fred Couples and Angel Cabrera continue to play well at the course despite their advancing years and those who have thrived here have tended to come back and excel in later years. The pair are 10/1 and 33/1 respectively for a top-five finish; both will likely be in the mix once again.
What are the best and worst results in your current book?
John Rhodes, Sky Bet: Bizarrely Ben Crenshaw is our worst result but at 20,000/1 you would expect so with the occasional quid flying here and there. Of the 'serious' runners, Matt Kuchar has been heavily supported in the last two weeks off the back of two good Texan performances, despite not winning, and is now 18/1 from 40/1, and is our worst result by far. Patrick Reed, who has won three times in the last year, has also been popular from an early price of 175/1 and now trades at 50/1.
Tom O'Hare, Coral: The best result for us is Phil Mickelson which is unusual given his record at Augusta and popularity in the majors but his recent injury seems to have put punters off. However, he showed signs of his old self in the warm-up event and has stated the injury is not an issue so there is plenty of time for a move for Lefty. The worst result is Dustin Johnson who has come close in both the US Open and USPGA Championship and led briefly last year at Augusta before a second-round 76 derailed his chances.
Brad Barry, Ladbrokes: Day and Stenson have cornered the ante-post market. Business has been light on McIlroy to date but I'm sure that will change in the coming days.
Rupert Adams, William Hill: First thing Monday, Garcia and the two Johnsons (Dustin and Zach) are the worst losers.
Jack Milner, BetVictor: Jason Day is our biggest loser, having been backed at 40s earlier in the season he's now the 16/1 fourth favourite in the current betting behind the trio of McIlroy, Scott and Mickelson. Lee Westwood is another bad result for the book but fellow Englishmen Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are all winners and those will be the ones we will be cheering on from the offices.
Give us your best bet for the Masters from any of the available markets.
John Rhodes, Sky Bet: A bit boring I know, but I really like the chances of Australian Adam Scott once again. He is vying for favouritism with McIlroy and Mickelson, but his now 'light' schedule will prove fruitful for the Aussie. The Australians have won four times on the PGA Tour this year, with (John) Senden, (Steven) Bowditch and (Matt) Jones all winning in the last four weeks, and I expect Scott to retain his Green Jacket this week.
Tom O'Hare, Coral: Keegan Bradley to win the Masters. One player not afraid of the finishing line, already a major champion and World Golf Championship winner at the age of 27 who plays regular money matches with close friend Phil Mickelson at Augusta. Although he hasn't won yet this season he has been in contention in some of the big events with a second at Bay Hill and two other top-10 finishes.
Brad Barry, Ladbrokes: Trevor Immelman is worth consideration in some of the speciality markets such as 'top South African'.
Rupert Adams, William Hill: A European winner of the event.
Jack Milner, BetVictor: Despite yet to succeed at the Masters, and withdrawing last week, I'd be keen to side with Dustin Johnson. The big-hitting American has the perfect profile for Augusta, long off the tee and excellent with Greens in Regulation. As long as there are no ill-effects of his injury from last week, he looks a cracking price at 25/1.