Here’s the thing about betting on the Masters: it is, by a long way, the most popular golf tournament anywhere for betting, it has the smallest field of any Major and once you eliminate many of the past champions who are there essentially on a ceremonial basis, the amateurs (despite Augusta’s huge support of the amateur game, only professionals have ever won the Masters), the debutants (since the first two Masters tournaments in 1934 and 1935, only Fuzzy Zoeller in 1973 has won on his debut) and a fair few other long shots you are left with about a maximum of 40 players who realistically could win the tournament. Owing to all of that, value can be quite hard to find. But we shall endeavour to do so anyway!
Four favourites (less than 20/1)
Rory McIlroy (6/1)
Masters form: T20, MC, T15, T40, T25, T8, 4th, T10, T7, T5.
Until Rory McIlroy does eventually win The Masters – and there are no guarantees that he will – the pre-tournament talk of him completing a career grand slam will continue. And this year that talk is probably the loudest it’s ever been. McIlroy has played seven times so far in 2019. He has racked up six top-six finishes and capped those with a win at the Players Championship to silence the seemingly constant doubters.
Take away the obvious thoughts of his collapse on the back nine in 2011 and McIlroy’s Masters form is seriously impressive. Four top-10s in the last four years show how consistently well he plays a course which almost seems to be built for his game. His flat-calm temperament in winning at Sawgrass and the maturity and improved patience which he has spoken about since all sound like even more strings to the bow of a readymade Masters champion. The numbers do nothing to dispel that idea either with McIlroy streets ahead in the all-important total strokes gained statistic on the PGA Tour this season as well as strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained tee-to-green, while his putting has also improved.
Looking at it completely objectively this year’s tournament looks more than ever like the perfect fit for McIlroy to finally complete that grand slam. But until it happens, questions will remain of just how much scar tissue that 2011 collapse has left.
Justin Rose (11/1)
Masters form: T39, T22, T5, T36, T20, T11, T8, T25, T14, T2, T10, 2nd, T12.
Look at Justin Rose’s form around Augusta and you can see where he truly joined the elite class of the game. Since his tied-11th in 2011, Rose has finished outside the top-14 places just once at Augusta and even that was in 2013 when he would go on a couple of months later to win the US Open.
The Englishman has become a constant contender at the first Major of the year - and, indeed, at pretty much every big tournament - and he comes into this week as world number one and with a win already under his belt this season at Torrey Pines back in February. Go back two years and, as he stood over that four-foot birdie putt on the 13th on Sunday with Sergio Garcia struggling to make his par, meaning Rose had the chance to open up a four-shot lead, few would have bet against the Englishman emerging the victor. As it happened, Rose missed, Garcia saved par and the rest is history.
Some questions do remain over his ability to close out - even last year he squandered victory at the BMW Championship towards the end of the season - and it also should be remembered that he has only won one Major championship.
If he’s not up there and challenging come Sunday it would be a bit of a surprise. Whether he wins or not is far from such a certainty.
Jordan Spieth (18/1)
Masters form: T2, Win, T2, T11, 3rd.
Spieth’s Masters form is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It’s hard to think of any other player suited so well to a certain course as Spieth is to Augusta. Admittedly his form has been pretty poor for some time now causing him to slip to 33rd in the world golf rankings and 170th in the current FedEx Cup standings.
The Texan was never the best putter in the world – even when he was seemingly holing everything in 2015 when he won the Masters and the US Open – he simply made more long range putts than anyone else. His cross-handed grip and tendency to look at the hole from close range points to some putting issues in the past and they have seemingly flared up again in recent times. However, very few can claim to putt these Augusta greens better than Spieth.
Last year he came into the tournament in very average form as well but produced a scintillating run on Sunday which resulted in a 64 and, were it not for a branch on the 18th hole, could have seen him become the first man ever to post a 62 at Augusta and force a playoff with Patrick Reed.
Last week’s consecutive 68s to begin the Valero Texas Open offered some hope and Spieth has spoken rather bullishly recently about how he feels his putting is back to where it was around 2015 thanks to a slight adjustment in how he lines up to the ball. He’s been speaking very confidently about this week and, with a record like his, who could blame him? Still at the age of just 25, you could back him every year at the Masters for the next 20 years and make a pretty healthy profit.
Francesco Molinari (18/1)
Masters form: T30, MC, T19, MC, 50th, T33, T20.
What a player Francesco Molinari has become. Last year he was the hottest player on the planet heading into the Open Championship and justified that tag by winning his first Major at Carnoustie.
And the Italian showed how comfortable he is at the top of the game by maintaining that form for the rest of the season to win five out of five matches at the Ryder Cup and take the Race to Dubai title. But even then there has been no let-up. A stunning 64 on the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill racked up another win last month and, were it not for a very uncharacteristically poor round in the semi-final of the WGC Matchplay a fortnight ago, he looked well set to go on and take that title as well.
The Italian is a model of consistency, seemingly never missing a fairway or a green and the improvement in his putting since the start of last season has been very noticeable. He doesn’t possess a stellar record at Augusta but, before last year, he didn’t really possess a stellar record anywhere. This is the new age of Molinari and a green jacket would not look out of place.
Four mid-rangers (20/1 - 80/1)
Louis Oosthuizen (30/1)
Masters form: MC, MC, MC, 2nd, MC, 25th, T19, T15, T41, T12.
The ultimate bridesmaid. It’s been nine years now since Oosthuizen claimed his one and only Major victory at the Open Championship and since then he has completed the career grand slam of second places, coming up just short in all four Majors on different occasions.
His second place here in 2012 (losing in a playoff to Bubba Watson) was very on-brand for the South African as it came after three consecutive missed cuts and was followed by another weekend off the following year. At times he can be frustratingly inconsistent but those second place finishes in all four Majors show that he does turn up for the big events and seems to enjoy the tougher courses and the biggest stages – indeed his single Major win came on perhaps the biggest stage of all St Andrews in 2010.
Already this season he has notched up a victory in the South African Open before Christmas, finished fourth behind Shane Lowry in Abu Dhabi in January, tied-second behind Paul Casey at the Valspar Championship three weeks ago and got to the quarter-finals of the WGC Matchplay the following week in Austin.
His short game has been exemplary this season – ranking fourth in strokes gained around the green – and that key attribute around Augusta could well see the man from Mossel Bay claim a fifth green jacket for South Africa.
Matt Kuchar (33/1)
Masters form: T21, T50, MC, T24, T27, T3, T8, T5, T46, T24, T4, T28.
It’s been an eventful year so far for Kuchar, to say the least. The debacle of under-paying his caddie which ran for weeks at the start of the year was followed two weeks ago by the controversy during his match against Sergio Garcia at the WGC Matchplay. What a few months it would be if he could cap it off with a win at Augusta.
Kuchar has had a strong affinity with the Masters since winning the low amateur title in 1998 and four of his considerable number of career top-10s have come at the first Major. Indeed 11 of those top-10s have come in Majors with four in the last two years. While the Florida native’s game of short fades off the tee shouldn’t really suit the ever-lengthening Augusta, he has found a way to make it work consistently not just here but at plenty of other Major venues as well.
With two wins already racked up this season – at Mayakoba and the Sony Open in Hawaii – an appearance in the final of the WGC Matchplay two weeks ago and a tied-seventh at last week’s Valero Texas Open, the early-season controversies don’t seem to have hampered him at all. Indeed, it could be argued that he’s in the best form of his life.
Xander Schauffele (35/1)
Masters form: T50.
Granted, this is only Schauffele’s second appearance at the Masters but the American has already shown himself to be of world class ability. At the age of just 25 he has already won four times on the PGA Tour – including a World Golf Championship and the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake.
Last year he finished tied-second at the Open and tied-sixth at the US Open to add to a tied-fifth finish at the same tournament a year previous. That makes it three top-six finishes in seven Major championships for the Californian, showing him to be comfortable on the biggest of occasions.
Couple that with a win already this season – at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii – and an all-round game which has him ranked fourth in total strokes gained for the season behind only McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, and it's easy to see why someone on just their second ever appearance at the event is priced so short.
Brandt Snedeker (70/1)
Masters form: T41, T3, MC, T15, T19, T6, T37, MC, T10, T27.
Like Kuchar, Snedeker is not blessed with length but what he is blessed with is a magic putting touch. That trait won’t lead you far wrong at Augusta and so it has proven for Snedeker who has finished in the top-10 here three times.
Tied-fifth at the Players last month showed that he is in some good form after recently going back to his old coach and a return to Augusta after missing last year could prove to be the extra spark he needs. At fifth in strokes gained putting and 11th in strokes gained around the green there is no doubting that the strong points of his game are firing and, while it is difficult to see him being helped into a green jacket by Patrick Reed on Sunday night, he could well pull in an each-way payout.
Two long shots (more than 80/1)
Eddie Pepperell (100/1)
Masters form: Debut.
In the nicest possible way, would there be any player less suited to wearing the green jacket of a Masters champion than Eddie Pepperell? The Englishman would say as much himself and, if he wins, he may want to start hitting the delete button on some of his tweets. Imagine what the champions’ dinner would be like next year and much would you pay to be a fly on the wall for it?
While it would be quite the shock if Pepperell was to add the US Masters to the British Masters title he won last year, he does have a game that should suit Augusta nicely. The driver can occasionally act up but his iron play more than makes up for it and a good putting week at Sawgrass last month saw him finish with a 66 to tie third behind Rory McIlroy.
Added to that, his couldn’t care less attitude – he admitted to being hungover during the final round of the Open last year when he shot 67 to finish tied-sixth – could well see him cruise his way into an each way payout.
Charles Howell III (100/1)
Masters form: T29, T28, T13, MC, MC, T30, MC, T19.
A native of Augusta, Howell has not made an appearance at the Masters since 2012. For a long time his desire was questioned as he went a full 11 years without a win on the PGA Tour – while amassing some healthy prize money with consistent finishes along the way – until the RSM Classic last November when he beat Patrick Rodgers in a playoff.
The emotion shown on that occasion proves just how much of a redemption win it was for Howell and it also earned him his invite back to the first Major for this year. Since that win he has notched up a further six top-20 finishes and, for the stats people out there, he sits eighth on the total strokes gained charts for the season so far. Back in his home town at the biggest tournament of them all, who would begrudge him a big finish?