Masters Predictions: Golf Betting Free Picks
by Alan Matthews - 4/6/2011
It’s the best four days of the year to most golf fans and certainly bettors of the sport: The Masters is here and there are about a Super Bowl-level of prop options on golf’s most prestigious tournament (it actually doesn’t even have the best field compared to other majors many times because of its unique qualification requirements).
For the first time since he won his first green jacket in 1997, Tiger Woods isn’t actually the dominant storyline this week. He has been surpassed, in both popularity and in terms of quality of game, by Phil Mickelson, the defending champion who was an unbelievable 12-under on the par 5s at Augusta last year. Yet even on most early futures odds for this tournament Woods was the betting favorite. That’s no longer the case. After Mickelson was brilliant in shooting 20-under (16-under on the weekend) to win last week in Houston, Lefty has emerged as the overwhelming betting favorite -- +450 on WagerWeb.
Mickelson’s win last week shot him up to No. 3 in the world to pass Tiger (No. 7) in the rankings for the first time in 14 years. If either of them wins here they will take over the world’s top spot from Germany’s Martin Kaymer (as can a couple of other guys). Tiger (+750) hasn’t won here since 2005, the longest drought at Augusta in his career. And, of course, he hasn’t won anywhere since November 2009 when his life changed forever late that month. Lefty has won twice since Tiger did last at this tournament, and can join Woods and Arnold Palmer with his fourth green jacket – only Jack Nicklaus with six has won more. Tiger always contends though – his worst finish since his last win here is sixth.
Despite being the world No. 1 Kaymer is just the fourth favorite this week at +1100. That’s because he has missed the cut in his previous three Masters. Kaymer himself admitted something had to change to turn around is fate at Augusta so he “unlearned” some things this week.
“I think my problem was always that I was not sharp enough in my short game. I missed a lot of short putts the last few years. I didn’t make a lot of up-and-downs,” he said.
Kaymer also took the previous two weeks off but did arrive in southeast Georgia early last week to get in some play at nearby courses and get used to the conditions in the area. The humble German, however, admits he’s not among the favorites – Luke Donald (+1800) is the one to beat says Kaymer. Donald beat Kaymer in the WGC-Match Play earlier this year and is one of the premiere short game players in the world, which is a must to win this tournament. Donald finished third in his first Masters in 2005, but hasn’t approached that since – last year he missed the cut after rounds of 75-74. In fact, he hasn’t shot a round in the 60s at Augusta since ’05.
I think Nick Watney (+1000) has a great shot to win his first major this week, according to the handicapping I have done for my Masters predictions. He has a win and five Top-10 finishes in six starts on the PGA Tour this season and is first on the Tour in all-around ranking and second in putting average. And last year at the Masters, he closed with a final-round 7-under-par 65, which tied for the low round of the day with Anthony Kim. It moved Watney from a tie for 16th place after three rounds into a solo seventh-place finish. The only reason he didn’t win was a second-round 76. That one bad round has tended to be his undoing in his three Masters but he still has yet to finish worse than 19th.
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