The likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth are all at Augusta National this week to compete in the 83rd Masters Tournament.
Held April 11-14, golf’s first major of the season will host one of the smallest fields in the last two decades of the event. After his win at the Texas Open last weekend, Corey Conners earned the 87th and final slot in the tournament. It will be his second time playing in the Masters.
Ahead of the competition McIlroy is the current favorite at +700. Behind him is Johnson at +900 and Justin Rose (+1200). Tiger Woods, now 43 years old, comes in fourth at +1400, but history indicates it’s unlikely the four-time Masters winner will wear another green jacket.
Age and Experience Matter
A player older than 40 hasn’t won the Masters in more than two decades. The last time it happened was 1998, when Mark O’Meara took home the title at 41. Still, it’s hard to discount seasoned pros such as Rose (age 38) and Phil Mickelson (48), especially considering Mickelson has already won three Masters. Should he take a fourth Sunday, he’ll top Jack Nicklaus, who won his sixth in 1986 at 46, the oldest to ever win the tournament.
Speaking of experience, the winner in each of the previous 12 years had already competed in at least one Masters tournament. In the last four years, the eventual green jacket-bearer took the title for the first time in his career.
McIlroy could be the next in line. Should he win Sunday, he’ll complete a career grand slam. Rory is certainly in good form ahead of the tournament, as he won the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 17 and looked dominant in the WGC Match Play before falling to Woods in the round of 16.
Top 3 is Not the Place to Be
The last time a Masters winner ranked in the top 3 of the World Golf Ranking was 2000, when Mickelson nabbed his third green jacket. On that account McIlroy (No. 3 in the world), Johnson (No. 2) and Rose (No. 1) are out of the running.
Nine of the last 10 Masters champions ranked within the top 30 in the world. The same number also posted a top-30 finish at Augusta in a prior appearance. Of the names who fit the bill in this year’s field is Justin Thomas (+1600), who is ranked fifth and finished in the top 30 at the Masters twice before. Same goes for Jon Rahm, who is ranked eighth and the owner of two top-30 finishes, including a fourth-place result in 2018.
More Categories to Consider
If you’re looking to cash in on a longshot in the Masters, you have quite a tall order. Since 69th-ranked Angel Cabrera donned the green jacket in 2009, no major underdog has taken Augusta.
As for back-to-back victories, the last to accomplish the task was Woods in 2001 and 2002.
In 2017 reigning champ Danny Willett missed the cut at 7-over. The winner in 2017, Sergio Garcia, also missed the cut at 15-over in 2018. Patrick Reed (+5500) has yet to break the top 10 in a tournament this season. His play has seemingly gotten worse in March. He tied for 50th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, tied for 47th at the Players Championship and a missed cut at the Valspar Championship. It’s looking fairly certain 2018’s Masters champ will come up short like his fellow recent champs.
Two final statistics to keep in mind: the last 10 Masters winners posted a top-10 finish earlier in the season and eight of the last 10 opened with 20-1 or higher odds. If those two trends hold true, Brooks Koepka, Francisco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood and Hideki Matsuyama all make for appealing bets.
While you can look at history to try to predict the most likely candidate to win Augusta, anything can happen when it comes to the Masters. A favorite could secure the coveted green garment, or the course could lend itself to a young star looking to solidify his name. It truly is anyone’s guess, and it all can change in a flash, which is exactly what makes the tournament so exciting to watch and a tradition, as they say, unlike any other.
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