The sweet sights and sounds of spring at Augusta National are second to none. Everything is in bloom and the sunshine is starting to warm the earth again after the cold and…
Wait. It’s November? And it’s the Masters? What?!
COVID-19 has turned 2020 into the weirdest year of our lifetimes and it will certainly take some getting used to in order to process the fact that the Masters will be played November 12-15 at Augusta National. With any luck, it will be played again in April 2021.
Defending champion Tiger Woods will either don another green jacket or put one on another player when all is said and done on what we hope is a Sunday finish. With Daylight Savings Time a couple weeks prior, we’ll hope that the final groups can win the race against the darkness on Sunday.
Many would call this the premier event of the year for the PGA Tour and it will be a different kind of feeling with no fans and the different environmental conditions. With all of golf’s best on hand, it is usually a tricky handicap to pick a winner, but there are a few more unknowns this year than in year’s past. Let’s just hope we get as much of a full field as possible and we don’t more COVID withdrawals like what we’ve already seen with Sergio Garcia.
We’ll take a look at the Masters with some odds from William Hill Sportsbook in the analysis portion of the article. Be on the lookout for a lot of sportsbook promotions from around the industry for the Masters. There will be a lot of them.
While Tiger is the defending champ and there are a ton of excellent players in the field, all eyes are on Bryson DeChambeau (+800) this week. DeChambeau, who has been trying to perfect hitting a golf ball 9,000 yards off of the tee, reportedly had an eye-popping practice round at Augusta recently in which he was hitting 7 iron into the par 5 8th and 9 iron into the par 5 15th. He hasn’t played a PGA Tour round since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open a month or so ago, but he’s been playing and playing a lot to practice for Augusta National.
We all already know that Dustin Johnson (+900) is a contender with his shot shape on this course. DJ has four straight top-10 finishes here and probably would have had one in 2017 had he not slipped and fallen down the stairs just before the tournament. DJ was second last week at the Houston Open in his last tune-up for the Masters and in his return from COVID-19, but keep in mind that a different course was used last week than what we usually see the week before Augusta.
Five additional players – Jon Rahm (+1000), Justin Thomas (+1200), Rory McIlroy (+1400), Xander Schauffele (+1400), Brooks Koepka (+1600) – all have pretty short prices and compelling cases. Koepka usually saves his best performances for majors, although the U.S. Open has been kinder to him than the Masters and he’s been in and out of the field with an injury. He was the co-runner-up last year with Schauffele and DJ. Rahm has finished ninth and fourth the last two years.
The unfortunate thing about a world-class field like this is that taking long shots is ill-advised because you need a long price to play better for 72 holes than the game’s absolute best. It would be hard to go longer than a guy like Bubba Watson (+2800), who is in good form and fits Augusta perfectly because of his shot shape. After all, Watson has won this event twice and has been 12th and fifth the last two years.
Jason Day (+3300) might be a medium-range price to go with. Day, who has four top-10 finishes here since 2011 and has finished in the top 25 all but one year, was seventh last week at the Houston Open and looked really good. His health is always a question, but his shot shape and iron play are really nice fits at Augusta National.
If you really want to go down the board, Rickie Fowler (+6600) has that monkey on his back of never having won a major, but this has consistently been his best chance with five top-15 finishes in six years, including a ninth and a second the last two years. Fowler is not in great form, but maybe that will help given the pressure of playing in these events without a major win. He can simply focus on trying to play well. If nothing else, a surprise top-10 finish shouldn’t be a surprise to you and you can bet props like that at William Hill.
Another consideration at a very long shot price is Ian Poulter (+10000). Poulter, who has finished 12th, fifth, and sixth in his last three events, has three top-10 finishes at Augusta National since 2010 and finished 12th last year. His ball striking could hold him back in a field of elite ball strikers, but his putting is almost always on point at Augusta National.
The course is going to play a little longer. The grass is thicker and the weather forecast looks very rainy, so players are not going to get much roll in the fairways. Distance will matter more this year than most. The greens will play like they usually do, but may be a little more receptive with the rain.
With that in mind, here are the players we’d go with this week:
Justin Thomas +1200 – Justin Thomas has improved each of the four years he’s played Augusta. He’s in good form and has talked at various points this season about how courses have benefited players that hit a draw. It’s something he seems to be making a concerted effort to work on and it could benefit him here. He’s a great all-around player and doesn’t have the same risk of ruin some guys have on this tough track.
Bubba Watson +2800 – Bubba has back-to-back top-10 finishes heading into this year’s Masters. He seems to have his head in the right place and he’s played extremely well here the last two years. We’re seeing paying a premium on his price with his past successes here, but with the way the course will play, he should be at an advantage while others could be at a disadvantage.
Jason Day +3300 – Jason Day has had a ton of success here and he seems to be a factor more often than not. Day is one of the better putters among the players in the upper echelon. The back is always a concern, but he’s had a lot of time off here and there throughout the pandemic and there are a lot of positive signs for him coming out of Houston and with his Augusta track record.
For more on the Masters, check out Brian Blessing’s picks on our ATS YouTube page.