Masters Predictions and Free Picks: Group Betting Props
by Alan Matthews - 4/5/2011
We continue our preview of this week’s Masters with a look at five group betting options offered by WagerWeb and your best bet, according to my Masters predictions, for each. For these group betting props, you pick the player you think will tally the best finish amongst the group members.
Group B on the site features American Dustin Johnson as the +225 favorite among five players, followed by youngster Rory McIlroy (+230), Paul Casey (+250), Justin Rose (+285) and Bubba Watson (+330). With his length, Johnson seems a lock to win at Augusta some day. But it will be interesting to see how he fares in this major. Remember that he led the U.S. Open through 54 holes last year but blew up on Sunday. Then he had a chance to win the PGA Championship on the 72nd hole but grounded his club in a bunker and that cost him a chance to compete in a playoff. But I’m not sure he deserves to be the favorite of this group considering he has played two Masters so far in his career and hasn’t finished better than 30th. Plus Johnson enters off a missed cut two weeks ago at Bay Hill. Watson actually hits it a shade longer than Johnson, but he has yet to even have a round in the 60s in two previous Masters appearances. The best bet here is Rose at +285. He has a best finish of T5 in five Masters appearances, and enters off back-to-back Top 5 finishes in Florida (Transitions and Arnold Palmer Invitational).
The Group C prop is headed by Luke Donald at +185 followed by Hunter Mahan (+225), Matt Kuchar (+260), Graeme McDowell (+305) and Steve Stricker (+305). I’m a bit surprised Donald is such a heavy favorite. He does have a T3 finish in his six Masters starts, but he also has missed the cut in two of the past three Masters. In fact, he has missed the cut in two of his past four majors overall. McDowell and Kuchar have also struggled at Augusta. The best bet here is Mahan, who has had Top 10-finishes the past two years at Augusta. And Mahan played well last week, finishing T8 in Houston.
Group D is co-headed by Anthony Kim and Ian Poulter (+240), followed by Padraig Harrington (+250), Aaron Baddeley (+285) and K.J. Choi (+300). Poulter has made a bit of news already this week, saying Tiger Woods wouldn’t finish in the Top 5 this week. And I like Poulter among this group. He held a share of the lead after two rounds at Augusta last year, but he fell away over the weekend to finish T10. But his result has improved at this tournament in each of the past three years.
Group E is led by Sergio Garcia and Geoff Ogilvy at +240 followed by Ryan Moore and Retief Goosen at +270 and Ernie Els at +285. At first glance you might find it surprising that Els is the longest shot since he’s the most accomplished player of this group. But the Big Easy has struggled of late at Augusta. Prior to last year’s T18 finish he had missed the cut the previous three years and hasn’t really contended anywhere yet in 2011. Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open winner, has been struggling this year. In fact, he just took out the putter than he used to win those two Opens, but it didn’t help in Houston where he was T60. I like Ogilvy among this group. The Aussie and 2006 U.S. Open champ has made the cut in his five previous starts at Augusta. His best finish is a T-15 in 2009.
Finally, in Group F, Bill Haas is the +250 favorite followed by David Toms, Stewart Cink and Robert Allenby at +260 and Steve Marino at +270. This is rather the lousy group with Cink the only major winner among them. He had back-to-back Top-12 finishes to close the Florida Swing, but has missed the cut at Augusta the past two years. Haas started the year very strong but has struggled mightily of late, missing back-to-back cuts. Go with Toms, who finished third at Bay Hill a few weeks ago and has four Top-15 Masters finishes, including last year.
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