2015 Masters Picks: Odds and Expert Golf Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/8/2015
To casual golf fans or those stuck in the still-lousy weather up in the American north, the golf season truly begins with the first major of the season, the Masters. Nothing like seeing all the azaleas blooming and sunny skies when you are stuck in Michigan or Maine wherever still shoveling out snow. Before I touch on the Masters, as usual I will recap my success (or lack thereof) the previous week.
Last week at the Houston Open, J.B. Holmes beat scorching-hot Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff. Holmes began Sunday six shots back of the leading Spieth, but Holmes shot a final-round 64, the low round of the day (he had to wait for 11 groups to finish; Wagner and Spieth were two back when Holmes finished). Holmes was looking like he might shoot a 59 for a while after a birdie on nine of his first 12 holes. Holmes won on the second playoff hole for a fourth career PGA Tour victory. Pretty good result for the struggling Wagner considering he was only in the event through a sponsor's exemption. Wagner got into the playoff by sinking a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Alas, he came up just short of earning a Masters invite. Spieth had to make a 12-foot par putt on No. 18 to get into the playoff.
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I leaned Holmes to win an earlier tournament this year but not in Houston. My value pick was Sergio Garcia at +2500. He might have had at least a Top 10 but shot a final-round 74 to finish T37. For Top-10 results, I did get Holmes at +185 and Spieth at -170. I hit on Phil Mickelson at +110 for a Top 20 as well as a playoff as the winning margin at +250. I took Aaron Baddeley as the top Aussie and not a single one made the cut. Thought Lee Westwood would have a good tournament and be the top Englishman, but he also missed the cut. Head-to-head, I hit on Holmes at -115 over Ryan Moore, Patrick Reed at -120 over a struggling Matt Kuchar, Mickelson at -110 over Rickie Fowler, and Keegan Bradley (-115) over Bill Haas, so I didn't miss a single one. Good way to enter the Masters.
I looked at Tiger Woods props for the Masters already here at Doc's, so I won't touch a lot on him. He opened at 40/1 to win in Las Vegas, the longest-shot odds of his career as a pro at Augusta, but is down to 25/1 at Bovada. The money is clearly flowing in on him following reports he has looked very strong in practice rounds (front-nine 30 the other day).
Overall, 54 of the world's Top 60 are in the 98-man field, which is pretty big for a Masters. If Tiger is contending Sunday, we could see record TV ratings. Otherwise the two major stories are world No. 1 Rory McIlroy trying to win his third straight major championship and complete the career Grand Slam and Bubba Watson looking to be the first repeat winner since Tiger in 2001-02. Watson also could join a select group by winning his third green jacket overall (in four years, no less).
I'll tell you right now I'm not picking a first-time Masters entrant to win. The last to do so was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. In the last 68 years, just two players have won the tournament in one of their first two Masters starts: Zoeller and Charl Schwartzel in 2011. That could be bad news for Spieth. Each of the last 17 champions made the cut in the prior year's Masters. If that trend continues, forget about Tiger, Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. A European hasn't won since 1999. In addition, the past 16 winners have been under 40 years of age.
Golf Odds: Masters Favorites
McIlroy is the 13/2 Bovada favorite. He should have won a few years ago before collapsing and finished a career-best T8 last year. McIlroy has broken 70 in just one of 10 rounds in three PGA Tour events this year.
Spieth is the 9/1 second favorite and he's playing better than anyone. He has finished no worse than second in his past three starts, including a win at the Valspar Championship. He played in the final group in all three events. Spieth was T2 last year in his pro Masters debut.
Watson (11/1), Johnson (14/1) and Jason Day (14/1) round out the favorites. This course suits Bubba to a tee, but I simply can't recommend a repeat winner. He does have only one round over 71 this season, with no result worse than T14. For some reason the long-hitting Johnson struggles here with no Top 10s yet. His best finish was T13 in 2014. He missed the cut last year. Day was T2 here in 2011 and third in 2013 before last year's T20. He's always in the mix in a major.
Golf Odds: Masters Picks
A gazillion props to analyze, but I'll stick to the usual ones I do. You can get Top-5, Top-10 or Top-20 finishes for all players. I am taking Rory (2/7), Spieth (4/11), Watson (4/9), Day (1/2), Mickelson (8/13) and Sergio (6/5) for Top 20s. You can get “make the cut” props on all those guys, and obviously I would say yes. I might throw a few dollars on Johnson at +400 to miss. Ditto a struggling Fowler at +275 despite his excellent records in majors last year.
For "over/under" finishing position, go under 13.5 for McIlroy, 16.5 for Watson, 15.5 for Spieth and 17.5 for Day. Over 17.5 for Johnson, 18.5 for Henrik Stenson and 24.5 for Fowler. Under 27.5 for Tiger. I do like the Big 4 of McIlroy, Spieth, Watson and Day at +165 against the field (-220).
Head-to-head, go with Watson at +110 vs. McIlroy (-140), Day at -120 over Johnson (-110), Scott at -125 over Stenson (-105), Mickelson (-120) over Jimmy Walker (-110), Reed (-120) over Justin Rose (-110), and Sergio (-120) over Brandt Snedeker (-110).
My pick to win is Day. He fits all of the categories above, the Masters is the tournament he wants the most and he's way overdue for a major title.
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