Three early picks for the Masters Tournament
We are little more than a month away from the most iconic golf tournament of the season. The Masters at pristine Augusta National is right around the (Amen) corner, and to whet the appetite, here are four key trends to inform your betting, and three players who tick all the boxes.
Only the best will prevail
The cream rises to the top at Augusta, and the world rankings are a key indicator ahead of the Masters. In the last decade, seven of the 10 winners were in the top 12. The other three were 16th, 24th, and 29th. This is a tournament where the very best players excel.
Length off the tee
There’s no doubt your short game needs to be on point at Augusta, but players who can drive it long and high can make hay on the three crucial par 5s. If you can reach those greens in two shots, you have a serious advantage. Five of the last 10 winners were in the top 20 for "distance to apex," so being brave and going long is important.
Birdies win majors
The par 5s are important, but this tournament will be won or lost on the par 4s. Of the last six winners, five of them were in the top seven in "par 4 birdie or better" stats on the PGA Tour. The only exception was Tiger Woods last year, and he was 11th.
Getting out of trouble
When you end up in trouble, the key is getting out of it! The top three players in scrambling at last year’s Masters all finished in the top five (Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, and Tony Finau). Augusta’s infamous Amen Corner can eat players alive, so staying cool when in a spot of bother and scrambling success is key.
McIlroy is a worthy favorite
It may seem uninspiring, but it’s hard to get away from the favorite Rory McIlroy. The world No. 1 ticks all the right boxes. He ranks third on the Tour for driving distance, 18th in par 4 birdies or better, and he ranks No. 1 in scrambling. Nobody gets out of trouble as well as McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman has had his issues at Augusta. Nobody will forget his final-round collapse in 2011, but nine years on, McIlroy is in the perfect position to right that wrong.
In his last six Masters appearances, he has posted five top 10 finishes, and he has three top five finishes in three tournaments since the turn of the year.
DeChambeau peaking at the right time
Bryson DeChambeau is another golfer who meets the trends to excel at Augusta. The Californian is ranked fourth on Tour for driving distance, 20th for scrambling, and 23rd for par 4 birdies or better.
The world No. 14 has made three appearances in the Masters. He has made the cut every time and has two top 30 finishes. This could be the tournament where he steps up another notch.
DeChambeau is peaking at the right moment, as well. He finished fifth in the Genesis Open in February, then finishing runner-up to Patrick Reed in the WGC-Mexico Championship. He had a two-shot lead going into the final four holes of the final round, so hopefully that doesn’t knock his confidence too much.
Matsuyama could make history
Hideki Matsuyama could become the first Japanese golfer to win the Masters. The 19th-ranked golfer in the world is also in the top 40 for all our key metrics and has four top 20 finishes in his last five appearances at Augusta. He has finished in the top 16 in his three tournaments in February and could be a great each-way play in the Masters.
Rory McIlroy: +700
Bryson DeChambeau: +2800
Hideki Matsuyama: +3300