2013 Masters Picks: Golf Odds and Predictions with Props
by Alan Matthews - 4/10/2013
Did you know that pretty much every year betting action on the Masters is more than the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship combined (occasionally you have to take the U.S. Open out of there)?
There are a few reasons for this in my opinion. From a pure betting perspective, football is still a long ways off and college basketball just ended. The NBA's final weeks of the regular season are mostly meaningless. Certainly the Masters is the Super Bowl of golf and the most storied tournament in this country -- you can't say worldwide because the British Open gets that honor. It's also the first major of the year and essentially the true start to the golf season for the casual fans and bettors.
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For those in cold-weather states it's a sign that spring has finally arrived (partly why the Masters tops all golf TV ratings). Finally, no tournament gets more hype nowadays from the hype machine that is ESPN. Pretty sure I saw commercials touting the Masters back in December. By Sunday of Masters weekend, I am about ready to nearly puke if I hear that Masters instrumental tune and Jim Nantz's over-the-top reverence of the tournament.
But there's no doubt this is the most anticipated Masters in years, and it's all because of Tiger Woods. He appears back to his pre-scandal form with three very impressive wins already this year. I don't want to say Tiger doesn't care about those victories ... but Tiger doesn't care about those victories. His focus has always been majors and breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 overall titles and six green jackets. It's hard to believe that Tiger hasn't won at Augusta since taking his fourth green jacket eight years ago. It’s even harder to believe Woods hasn't won any major since taking the 2008 U.S. Open.
There are certainly some great signs for Tiger this week. He has dominated at three courses in which he usually does (like Augusta): Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill. Augusta is all about putting, and Woods has found his stroke on the greens, leading the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting: 1.48 strokes per round on the field. Tiger also is dominating the par 5s this year, another key to winning the Masters. A year ago, Woods was only 1 under on the par 5s at Augusta, his worst score ever there. No wonder he finished T40, his worst Masters finish as a professional.
Yes, there are other story lines this week. Phil Mickelson is looking to join Woods in that exclusive four green jacket club. All three of Lefty's victories have come since Tiger's last. Americans used to dominate this event but have won just two of the past five. USA players have dominated on Tour this year, winning all but one event (last week). Bubba Watson became a household name with his win last year. No one has repeated at Augusta not named Tiger Woods since Nick Faldo in 1989-90. Watson hasn't won since this tournament.
How about Rory McIlroy? The former world No. 1 claims he got a major confidence boost by finishing runner-up last week at the Valero Texas Open, a tournament he entered late because of his 2013 struggles. Can McIlroy put his final-round collapse at the 2011 Masters behind him with his third major title and re-establish that he can be a true rival to Woods? Can Lee Westwood, who seems to always finish in the Top 5 of majors, finally win his first? What's with the European drought? No player from Europe has donned the green jacket since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.
It should be great theater.
Golf Odds: Masters Favorites
Woods is the 7/2 favorite at Bovada. Prior to last year's disappointment, Tiger hadn't finished worse than T6 since his 2005 win. He has a whopping 12 Top-10 finishes at Augusta overall. My concern is that he hasn't played since winning Bay Hill, and it's just so hard to win in back-to-back starts, even if they are spread out. Woods also looked impressive in winning Bay Hill last year and then struggled at Augusta. It also should be noted that Tiger seemed to choke a bit on the weekend in the four majors last year. He was a combined 15 over on the weekend in the four and didn't have a single round under par.
Mickelson is 12/1 with McIlroy. Lefty is just so unpredictable. He was apparently upset that the Shell Houston Open wasn't the lead-in tournament to Augusta this year, but Lefty did get a shot of confidence there with weekend rounds of 67-68 after missing the cut at Bay Hill. Mickelson actually has a better overall average finish at the Masters than Woods, albeit just 15.1 to 15.2. Lefty was T3 last year and has finished outside the Top 10 just twice since his first win in 2004.
McIlroy dominated the 2011 event before imploding on the back-nine Sunday. He shot 80, tying for the worst final-round score by a 54-hole leader. McIlroy finished T40 a year ago. He still doesn't look right.
Justin Rose is 20/1, and Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley 22/1 to round out the favorites. I'm a big Rose fan, and he hasn't finished worse than T8 in three PGA Tour stroke-play events this year, including a runner-up at Bay Hill. He was T11 in 2011 at Augusta and T8 a year ago. DJ has the length to tame this course but hasn't finished better than T30 in three starts at Augusta (missed last year). Bradley was T27 in his first Masters start a year ago but enters with four straight Top-10 finishes in 2013.
2013 Masters Picks
On the yes-only Top-10 props, I do like Tiger (-350), Mickelson (-120), Rose (+150) and Westwood (+200). Head-to-head, I love Tiger (-185) over McIlroy (+145), Westwood (-120) over Johnson (-110) and Matt Kuchar (-115) over Watson (-115).
I'd also jump on “yes” there will be a hole in one during tournament at -115, and it's almost assuredly going to come at No. 16 (two last year). I would lean that the winner doesn't come from the Sunday final pairing (+200). Yes, the winner has in 19 of the past 22 tournaments, but those three exceptions are in the past six years, including last year when Watson and Louis Oosthuizen were in the second-to-last pairing.
I am so tempted to choose Westwood at 25/1 to win because he's so overdue and hasn't finished worse than T11 the past three years. I don't love how he's playing so far in 2013, however. Kuchar, from Georgia, also is tempting at 33/1. He finished third last and has never missed a cut at the Masters. But the choice is Mickelson, who probably would have been the winner last year if not for two triple bogeys -- the one on No. 4 Sunday really was a killer, but he still made a run and finished T3.
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