US Masters Tips
Who’s going to wear the 2016 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 we are now blessed with a group of wonderfully talented and confident young players who are more than capable of winning here.
67 0f the top 100 tee it up this year with the top 54 of the official World Golf Rankings on show. The winner of this though does tend to be an experienced tour winner, from the top 50 and really has to be a good putter so that’s the basis for my picks; decent distance off the tee helps although isn’t a dominant factor as ball striking / positioning is key on this undulating course. Augusta in the last few years has been one of the hardest Tour courses although last year was benign and thus the scoring was excellent. Expect this year to return to a frustrating grind and composure will be a hugely important asset.
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 ( I have mentioned Couples many times in previous years!) – this really isn’t a course /event for debutants or 2nd appearance players to flourish in although Schwartzel, Day, Spieth, Blixt and a few others have started to change that stat in recent times with Spieth finishing 2nd and 1st in his two appearances!
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 few winners have been Bubba(2), Scott, Schwartzel, Mickelson, Spieth)
* Popular picks this year will no doubt include McIlroy, Scott, Spieth and Bubba Watson – Micko is also getting some love as he is good form, top of many stats and of course has the experience – and there are plenty of tips for the likes of Leishman, Matsuyama, Rose, Schwartzel and so on. I’m going to discount a few of them for various reasons; McIlroy isn’t at the top of his game and fiddling with his putting puts me off a tad, Bubba could win or MC, has won twice here but defends poorly. Spieth isn’t quite on top of his irons currently so expecting a good round but also some average ones. Mickelson may appear late and be in contention but he’s not strong enough on the greens when it matters for me. Dustin Johnson is another who can overpower the course but he has too many weak spots including his mental strength so I’ll avoid him too. Will go with these for now:
Jason Day > JD has won his last two events so could not be hotter; winning three on the spin is incredibly difficult and being this event too, it’s a huge ask but he is playing so well and is now confident also – just no reason not to back him and he is my pick from the top of the market. Has the confidence now he is a major winner to turn those close things into wins; a top guy and a terrific golfer and one who can firmly establish himself in the absolute elite. A 64 here last year in round 2 showed he can master Augusta (ouch) and his all-round game is just so good if he gets a bit of luck, he will be hard to beat. He has won 6 of his last 13 events and since winning his first major has stepped up mentally to the highest level, a crucial factor. A worthy fav in the market at a shade under 8.0 on BF
Rickie Fowler > another of my picks from last year; a thoroughly talented golfer, Fowler is close to breaking through and this could be his week – probably needs to win a major soon otherwise he may fall into the ‘what could have been’ category. Rare that he posts a bad round, Rickie needs to get right in the mix early on and see if he can handle the Sunday pressure – he has done very well in majors in recent years so I’m happy to back him. 5th and 12th the last two years here, time for a W for Mr Fowler! Scores well on par 5s (vital here) and solid GIR too of course, avoids 3 putts and just needs that bit of magic to triumph. 19 currently on BF
Rafa Cabrera-Bello > I doubt he will win but he’s worth watching for sure; has popped over the pond and attached some great performances to his record (3rd in the WGC Matchplay and 4th last week in Houston) and has the right sort of game for Augusta I feel; 140 is a good price to start with on BF and may well look to get out if he drops enough (could be a good place bet in fixed odds)
Brooks Koepka > will blast it long and could score very well – has kept under the radar a bit this year but performed well at the WGC (losing to eventual winner Day). T33 here last year on debut, he needs a bit of luck and decent weather and he could sneak in there. Has performed well in majors in the last year, 80 is definitely tempting on BF and may be worth trading if he flies low early
Louis Oosthuizen > in very good form, has won all over the globe and has the ability – whether he will be hot enough to beat this superb field I’m not so sure. I often think of him and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel in the same way, capable and gifted players who are worth backing on the right courses when they hit form. Charl has won a green jacket, Louis has come 2nd.. both are decent picks for this event and I would just side with Louis if pushed. Odds of 40 are a bit higher than expected so happy to back him on BF
others who were very close and probable top 10 picks:
Paul Casey > I doubt he will win but he’s a solid each way shout for me; usually does well here with his superb tee-to-green game
Adam Scott > Scotty is almost as hot as his compatriot but perhaps he will just miss out this week; I expect a solid showing however and another top 5 possibly beckons – scores well on par 5s, has won this event, has recent wins.. plenty of positives of course but may just miss out here as may have peaked a bit early this season
Justin Rose > if he can putt well then Justin may be hard to catch; a much stronger player mentally these days and more than capable – I just think he may come close but not quite close enough with the quality and form of the others around these days. A solid top 25 every year it seems, could be worth backing in certain markets
Hideki Matsuyama > potentially very good, Hideki has played here a few times now and should be able to compete; a tour winner too and that’s one of the usual pre-requisites for this event
Marc Leishman > did me a lot of favours a few years back when I backed him at 400! always seems to do well on hard courses and pops up in majors – the value has gone these days but worth watching as ever – another Aussie who may flourish here
There are arguments for so many players but I’ll go with Jason Day to win, with any of the 10 mentioned to make the places, take your pick! I think Fowler and Oosthuizen may be 2nd and 3rd, with Rose and possibly Koepka to make up the top 5 but I will look to trade my picks as I usually do.
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.
My initial picks are Ryan Moore at 180, Kevin Kisner at 210, Kevin Na at 230, Byeong Hun An at 280 and Ernie Els at 610. These are all talented guys with solid games; Ernie looks over-priced to me as he may have conquered his putting woes a bit. Moore is solid, Na a great putter, Byeong has the talent and Kisner is under-rated.
FRL > First Round Leader market is interesting and Bill Haas and Paul Casey are my selections in this market (same as last year!) and have a sneaky for Dustin Johnson, more than capable of shooting a 65 and then a 79 when he’s in the mix! Haas has shot 24 rounds here and only twice been under 70, in the first round in the last two years
Good luck all!