It starts on Thursday 6th April and the best golfers in the World tackle arguably the most beautiful course in the World for the Green Jacket and first Major of the season…
We’ve got you covered with a preview of the action to keep you in the mix all the way until Sunday night….
The Big 3
If it’s short term form you’re looking for then there’s surely only one selection for you this year. Dustin Johnson has swept all before him and is currently on the sort of run that Tiger used to show up with for this the first major of the year.
While DJ is in the form of his life and can certainly lay claim to the title of best player in the World, at 6/1 the price looks about right we will look further down the list for our selections.
If not the World’s No. 1 player then who?
Jordan Spieth has a bone to pick with this place after squandering a 5 shot lead last year to let Danny Willett steal the green jacket. Nothing Willett has done since last April suggests it was nothing other than he was the right man in the right place when Spieth collapsed on the 12th hole.
There are 2 ways of looking at Spieth chances….. He has demons to conquer and they will take a while to be fully erased from the memory bank or that it was just a one off major blip. I would tend to suggest the latter and would have no problem siding with him but 8/1 is a short enough price to pay to find out.
Rory McIlroy had his own meltdown here back in 2011 but it’s safe to say he’s come through the other side. He has held his form pretty well over the last year or so and this season started with a runner up finish in South Africa. While an untimely rib injury may have altered his early season preparation, he started very well in Mexico on his comeback and finished very well in Bay Hill. What’s missing at the moment is 4 solid rounds and while an extended run in the recent match-play would have been welcome he looks like he’s ready to peak for this event and complete his grand slam. There is a chance he may be slightly undercooked with the interrupted preparation but of the front 3 in the market his are the chances I like the most.
Other Main Contenders
Jason Day – Following his announcement about his mother’s health, a victory for Day would be the most popular but potential injuries look to be more of obstacle than any fragile mental state and his form for an extended period has been average.
Hideki Matsuyama – Hideki some very good course form to his name and having started the year in blinding style his price contracted considerably from the turn of the year.
However his play has fallen away drastically since retaining his title in Phoenix and while he’s too good to be away for long he’s plenty short enough at the odds this week.
Henrik Stenson – It can be argued his form since his epic performance in the British Open has not dropped off significantly enough to justify his current price. A couple of very poor warm-up tournaments temper confidence but his current price more than compensates for that and he wouldn’t be the first golfer to pop up having shown mediocre current form.
Jon Rahm – While no debutant has won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, enough have gone close over the last few years to maybe park that stat when looking for the potential winner.
His overall play since coming on tour has been of the highest standard and it would come as no surprise if he gets into contention though he may be one to consider for in-running especially if he were a few shots back on Sunday when the pressure will be off.
Rickie Fowler – 4 solid but un-spectacular rounds from Rickie would be very welcome but it appears to be feast or famine at the moment; perfectly illustrated by his performance last week in Houston. His driving appears to be a weakness currently but he’s a superb scrambler and very positive on the greens. He should be considered a genuine threat to all if his driving holds up.
Phil Mickelson – A true legend around this place and his performance at Troon last July shows he’s no back number when it comes to potentially winning majors even at the age of 46. Providing he can keep the ball somewhat in play his experience make him worthy of consideration.
Justin Rose – Not prolific in the win column, he’s one of each way backer’s best friends. He possesses a decent enough Augusta record that will make sure he’s a threat if he’s in the mix on Sunday night especially after having a better warm-up than most in last week’s Houston Open.
Sergio Garcia – Not convinced this course offers him the best chance to make his major breakthrough but he’s a potential winner if he can keep his emotions in check. A nervy looking putting stroke will put some people off but there’s no doubting his talent tee to green and perhaps he can follow Danny Willetts lead from last year and win in Dubai before triumphing here.
Paul Casey – Had a stellar year last year without winning and with only 1 PGA tour win he’s developing a bit of a reputation of a nearly man. Started a little slowly this season but rounding into form at the right time. Beware his putting at the best of times can only be described as average.
Daniel Berger – A talented player but one who needs to develop more consistency to take his game to the next level. In decent current form and coupled with an excellent debut performance here last year makes him a serious contender.
3 Outsiders to consider
Shane Lowry – His season has being a little slow to get going this year with the addition of his first child but his 2 best performances have both come after breaks so being fresh may offer him the best chance to get involved. A sublime short game should help if his long game is not totally clicking and no forlorn hope to be involved in the shake-up.
Kevin Kisner – With only 1 win and some near misses on his resume, some would question his fortitude but those reverses are all genuinely explainable. May be handicapped from the tee box because of a lack of length, however his excellent iron play and tidy short game more than compensates.
Emiliano Grillo – Finished inside the top 20 on his debut last season and followed that with a further brace of top 20’s in the Major’s showing a player on the improve. After a sluggish start to the season he posted his first Top 10 (with a 78 included) in his last stroke-play event and while it’s probably hard to see him winning he remains one to bear in mind for the Top Rest of the World market where there are question marks about the form of the favourites.
1pt win Rory McIlroy
0.5pt ew Daniel Berger
0.5pt ew Shane Lowry
Top Rest of the World
1pt ew Emiliano Grillo
0.5 ew Jhonattan Vegas
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.