US Masters Tips
Who’s going to wear the 2014 Green Jacket?
When looking at this major and deciding on my US Masters tips, I usually ignore my rankings and go with a bit more of a gut feel; the winner will presumably be from the top part of the market as you don’t usually get a big priced outsider winning this one although there have actually been some good mid-range priced winners in recent times – the emphasis is on experience and often previous tour (and major) winners usually but there has been a sea-change in recent years with many long time tour players finally getting a win, and a lot of the young guns showing they can do it too – probably due to Tiger no longer being the constant force but there is definitely a new belief these days (see Patrick Reed for example) which means more chance of a long-shot perhaps hanging in there. 24 debutants this year too which is the most.
The link to the official site is here
and it is a terrific site full of info, stats and news
Being a major you would expect to see an unusual name up near the top of the leaderboard on day 1 (Justin Rose has however managed to be top after 1st round 3 times) but they usually fade and by Sunday the bigger names appear – definitely a case of ‘you can’t win it on Thursday & Friday but you can lose it’ – the evergreen pros still do well here so expect to see Couples up near the top at some point – this really isn’t a course /event for debutants or 2nd appearance players to flourish in although Schwartzel, Day and a few others have started to change that stat in recent times
Those who can putt well from distance obviously need checking as do those who can consistently hole out from 5-6 feet as you will get a lot of those par-saver distances here – great putters should benefit from the testing surfaces as they have the technique and confidence although there is always the chance of someone having a hot week with the flat stick. In general though, being a really good putter will be the main determinant in narrowing down your selections
GIR is more important here than accuracy or distance off the tee – you can’t keep missing greens at Augusta and expect to keep getting up and down in so those who do well will be probably top 5 in this statistic. Last year the stats showed the par 4s and par 3s as being some of the hardest (average score wise) so although it’s true you have to score well on the par 5s, you also have to mitigate any disasters on the short and medium holes too so perversely a good accurate par 4 player can do well here (a la Zach Johnson) but you have to have a stellar week with your wedges
Experience counts – it will be unusual for a non-tour winner to succeed here; you will probably have a champion who has won many times on tour and/or majors
* Last year I was strong on Adam Scott so was delighted that he came through to win – also did very well with my top 10 selections and managed to trade for a very good profit too > see Last Year’s Tips *
* Popular picks this year will no doubt be McIlroy, Day, Garcia and Kuchar but none of these for me; Rory has the ability but has blow out here before when primed, Garcia equally has the talent but just hasn’t got the mental strength and Kooch is solid top golfer but I just shy away from him winning this one. Day has been superb in big events and could continue the hot Aussie form but I’ll swerve this time *
Adam SCOTT > hard to repeat at Augusta so that’s a negative; a recent blown 7-shot halfway lead also tempers my enthusiasm a tad – Scott is the premiere golfer at the moment however and is poised to put up a valiant defence of his title. Happy to take him again this year as he looks to repeat that great win; comfortable now with the pressure cauldron of a Sunday in a major as he proved last year how well he dealt with his collapse in the Open 2012. Add in finishes of 2nd, 8th, 1st in the last 3 years and that’s superb Augusta form; he has been prominent in many majors in the last few years and should feature although maybe a top 5 place is the better percentage call for some. 12.5 on BF currently
Zach JOHNSON > another previous winner and someone not mentioned much this week surprisingly; his form has tapered off indeed but he was so hot for a long time – experience and a wise head coupled with a superb all-round game. Ok he’s short off the tee (relatively) but that won’t stop him and plenty of winners here have been tidy, neat players rather than bombers. He will plot his way around and with a 6th last event, is still on song – terrific stats including GIR accuracy scrambling etc – a good week with the putter and he could make a price of 38 BF currently look good value indeed
Phil MICKELSON > I have never really backed Mickelson much; hard to judge the timing with him as he can blow hot and cold unexpectedly – this could well be a chance for him to collect his 6th major. 14 Top 10s here in 21 visits is phenomenal and he won 8 yrs ago, and 4 yrs ago so perhaps?! Not much needs to said about Micko other than he has the happy knack of appearing from nowhere sometimes with his form – he can get on a roll and score so well; as always with him, he needs to cut out the daft holes and the wayward driving can hurt sometimes. Last year he went 3 MC 2 2 MC 1 with the latter win being The Open so average form this year isn’t a concern. A good effort last week should dispel any injury thoughts, 15.5 on BF
Brandt SNEDEKER > remember he was the form player a year or so ago and 2013 was a superb year with 17 cuts made, 9 top 10s and 2 wins – he has had a 3rd, 15th, 19th, 6th in his last 5 visits which isn’t shabby at all. Had some injury concerns but could well be back on song now and sneaking in fairly un-noticed – a great putter and a streaky player at times, he may well shoot a low 9 somewhere this week and be right in the mix – currently 42 on BF
Justin ROSE > used to be a regular Day 1 leader here but now proving to be a consistently good experienced player – I used to avoid backing him as he didn’t have that winning mentality, seemed to be happy to settle for less too often – he had a terrific spell a few years ago when he was clearly the best player on the planet, winning a couple of times on the US Tour. That seemed to propel him on to a new echelon and he now seems confident and settled as a world Top 10 player. 11th, 8th and 25th in last 3 trips here so knows what needs doing. A 4-time winner on the US Tour and 10 times a winner in his career, this could be the time for the South African born Rose to add to his initial major win – he hits greens all day long and should be consistent scoring-wise here but I am wary that he isn’t the best putter and that will stop him clinching the green jacket; I may well be trading out on him if he is contention, or he could be a really solid each way punt for the fixed odds bettors – Betfair 34
Daft but possible pick >
Lee WESTWOOD > this could well be a good place bet, or a top 5/top 10 shout as Westy won’t be found on many people’s radar for the win… but you never know; if he can hang around close enough to the top, then go out early on Sunday and shoot a good score and get in the clubhouse, then the others may falter and he could sneak a long overdue major. Many reasons not to back him but he has been solid here in recent years with 2nd, 11th, 3rd, 8th in the last 4 years being more than respectable. he may well have had his chance and could be destined to finish major-less a la Monty, but there could be a swansong for this top golfer even though everything is telling me not to back him! I’m on him at 65 and I note his price is already down to 50 on BF
These are my 5 for this week, nothing too adventurous here granted but high-priced winners are hard to fond on a normal tour event let alone a major. So my top 10 would be the 5 picks and Westwood! and for the other 4 to make up my TOP 10 then I would consider Matt Every (great form and has a game suited), Jordan Speith (terrific young player and good form), Marc Leishman (backed him at 400/1 last yr and won the OLBG tipping competition thanks to that and the Scott tip!) and Thorbjorn Olesen (great player and pips Dubuisson for me)
Every year I make a point of mentioning Couples, Choi and Cabrera as they always do well here and usually pop up at some point – with a field of just 96 there is a better chance for the outsiders to be involved so don’t be surprised to see them or Toms/ Olazabal or Immelman on the leaderboard through the 4 days
Trading-wise > makes sense to pick someone in decent nick, with some reasonably good recent performances and possibly a good effort here previously at a decent high price if you can find them! Or look after 2 rounds and see who is playing well but maybe hasn’t got the putts dropping and is due a 66 or so and could make a good move up the leaderboard. The trick is to spot a player who should play better than their price suggests – they may not win but you are trading on the price drop not the potential win likelihood.
Stallings 370, Blixt 430 and Jiminez 260 are my early traders so we will see how they go (managed to trade Couples at 10 x lower last year so would be very pleased to see these guys get off to flyers)