US Masters Tips
Who’s going to wear the 2013 Green Jacket?
When looking at this major and deciding on my 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 – it could happen but the emphasis is on experience and often previous tour (and major) winners
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
Tiger WOODS > 8 years have elapsed now since he donned the green jacket and there has been plenty going on as we all know; this could be time for him to notch another major as it would seem he is in a good place off-course and maybe more relaxed than previously when it seemed he ‘should’ win a major but possibly suffered from the expectancy – he is of course in terrific form with multiple wins this year and although many will say ‘he’s likely to win but I can’t back him at 4/1’, why not?! If you think he will win then back him!
Remember, this is no ordinary player and with his confidence back, his superb tee to green game and his putting seeming to be as good as ever, it’s hard to go against him – unless someone else has an absolute blinder of a week or gets very lucky I expect Tiger to shoot 68-69 average and -14 or so may be hard to beat. He has won here 4 times, been victorious on tour 3 times this year already and is arguably the greatest golfer ever. Ignore the hype and look at the form and experience, currently 5.4 to back on Betfair
I personally have always traded Tiger as a separate entity to the rest of the field and my other bet; this is because of ‘the Tiger Factor’ – the Betfair market behaves differently with him and you can take advantage of this if you know how he plays and how the market perceives his price (I have watched Tiger his whole career and am pretty confident in trading his price separately from the general flow of trading the event)
Adam SCOTT > we all know about his mini meltdown last year in the Open Championship but this is a guy getting very close to winning a major – for some, it never comes despite them having the attributes, for others, it comes from nowhere (Todd Hamilton, Andy Bean, Ben Curtis etc). Scottie is a great player and should have learned from last year’s experience – the pressure of the final 9 in a major is intense and he seemed to be reasonably mature about his performance at Lytham.
Can he become the first Aussie winner of this event? Well, 2nd in 2011 and 8th last year shows he has got what it takes here – he also finished 8th, 15th, 2nd, 11th in majors last year so is poised to grab the W soon I think. Confidence will be key and he will take a lot from last year when he opened with a 75 and still finished in the top 10 – you have to handle the bad breaks here and stay focused so his maturity these days may well help at last – he has always been a nearly player, has the talent and ability but just needs that really big win to perhaps exorcise those demons from last year and justify his standing in the game
Currently priced at 30 on Betfair which is a price I am all over!
Keegan BRADLEY > Already a major winner but only starting here for the 2nd time – 27th on debut last yr when he topped the distance charts off the tee here. A string of recent good efforts (4,3,7,10) have identified him as being in good nick – he hits it long, finds his greens, can hole out well and generally scores really well so he looks to be a standout pick at most times – the lack of experience here is a negative but the fact he is fresh, young and confident and already a major winner tends to counter that strongly. He also showed a lot of confidence in the Ryder Cup and has plenty of ticks in the right boxes this week.
Currently 30 on Betfair which looks reasonable and worth taking
Ian POULTER > turning into an extremely consistent player, making cut after cut and always someone I look for in the big events as he has that happy knack of playing at his peak on the big occasion – 8 cuts made here out of 8 and 5 times in the top 25 (and a 27th!), was 7th last year. Last year saw him finish 7th, 41st, 9th and 3rd in the majors so he had 3 top 10s which is pretty impressive – also won the WGC event at the end of the year too. There won’t be any problem with pressure as he has exemplified the character required to prosper under extreme situations previously many times
Poults is a great scrambler and really solid putter; he won’t take massive advantage of the long holes but he can still score well and with some luck could well be up there on Sunday afternoon – his current price of 55 on Betfair looks generous to me so I’m taking that for usre
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. 20th,11th, 8th in last 3 trips here so on an upward curve
Finishes of 4,8 and 2 on the US Tour this year in stroke-play events following a 2nd in the Tour Championship at the end of last year – 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 stamp his mark on his career. He hits greens all day long and should be consistent scoring-wise here (shouldn’t have too many disaster holes!) 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 – he is 22 now on Betfair
These are my 5 for this week, nothing too adventurous here I must admit but these guys should give you a good run for your money! Plenty of reasons to back other players and it’s really hard to leave out some players like Schwartzel, Kuchar, Dustin J let alone McIlroy and Mickelson. Westwood should have won by now here and cases could be made for many others. Personally, I like the look of Els, Choi and Snedeker although there may be some injury doubts about the latter still) with no doubt Couples making an appearance up at the top too!
So my top 10 would be the 5 picks and the 5 mentioned in bold above > there should be some good trading value in Choi 100, Els 170, Olesen 250, Couples 310, Colsaerts at 130. For those looking at prices of 999/1 then Olazabal may be worth a small dabble!
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.