The 2014 Masters

The four greatest days of the golf calendar begin on Thursday morning when Stewart Cink and Tim Clark tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET to open up the 2014 Masters. The weather looks absolutely spectacular in Augusta, GA for the duration of the tournament, which will make for great viewing, fast greens, and another legendary tournament from one of golf’s most beautiful settings.

This year’s tournament lost a bit of intrigue when Tiger Woods pulled out of the field with a pinched nerve. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are the co-favorites at Bovada.lv with Phil Mickelson (12/1), Jason Day (14/1) and Matt Kuchar (18/1) rounding out the top five. Adam Scott is trying to become the first back-to-back winner of the Masters since Tiger Woods in 2001-02. Only two others have accomplished that feat, Jack Nicklaus in 1965-66 and Nick Faldo in 1989-90.

There seem to be a lot of Adam Scott supporters, which makes sense given his recent run of success at Majors. Over the last eight Majors (Masters, British Open, US Open, PGA Championship), Scott has been the only player to make every cut and average under par at -4. In his last five tournaments, Scott has posted an average score of -6.8, including three top 10 finishes. Scott should be a factor into Sunday.

Rory McIlroy has the potential to win this tournament, as he appears to have put his disastrous 2013 season behind him. In his three stroke play tournaments this season, McIlroy has a runner-up finish and a seventh-place finish. McIlroy has been a boom or bust player at Augusta National in his career with five rounds of 76 or higher to go along with four rounds in the 60s. Despite being listed as a co-favorite, there’s just too much inconsistency in McIlroy’s game to expect him to play four days of quality golf to be in the hunt at those odds.

Phil Mickelson will definitely get some love in the betting market and some support on the course as the third favorite. His health is a bit of a concern as he withdrew from the Texas Open midway through his third round on March 29 with an injury. He showed no ill effects in the Shell Open last week, but Augusta’s narrow fairways make for some difficult shots in thick cuts, which could exacerbate Lefty’s injury. Mickelson is aiming to be the fourth player in PGA history to wear the Green Jacket four times.

Some other things of note:

In the last 29 years, the 18-hole leader has won the tournament just once. That player was Trevor Immelman, a 100/1 shot, in 2008. Immelman held a share of the day one lead. The last player to hold the outright day one lead and win was Ben Crenshaw in 1984. In other words, don’t go rushing to bet a live future on the clubhouse leader on Thursday night.

Similarly, the 36-hole leader has won just twice in the last 14 years. The 2008 champ Trevor Immelman is one and lefty Mike Weir in 2003 is the other.

If you are looking for a live future midway through the tournament, take a look at players who are near the top. Nineteen of the last 23 Masters championships have played in the final pairing on Sunday, even though each of the last three, Charl Schwartzel, Bubba Watson, and Adam Scott are three of the four that have not.

Three candidates to win:

If you want to go the futures route in this tournament, the best course of action is likely to take somewhat of a long shot and hope that he’s in the hunt on Sunday to open up hedging possibilities or to hit the jackpot. Here are a few long shots that could be in the hunt. (Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv)

1. Hunter Mahan (40/1) – Hunter Mahan missed the Masters cut last year, but has finished in the top 12 in three of the last five tournaments and all three times that he made the cut. Mahan is in the top 60 in driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation, and is in the top 20 in putting.

Even though Mahan did miss the Masters cut, he took home top 10 finishes in the US Open and The Open Championship last season, proving that he can play well in Majors. He has four top 10 finishes out of eight events in the 2014 season, meaning that he enters the tournament playing pretty consistently and the flatstick will be a weapon for him against the field with the sun-baked greens this week.

2. Patrick Reed (50/1) – Soon-to-be household name Patrick Reed will be in the Masters field for the first time in his young career. He’s already secured two first-place finishes since the calendar turned to 2014 and he ranks in the top 40 in driving distance, greens in regulation, and is in the top 25 in putting.

Reed has a unique advantage in this tournament that may help offset his PGA Tour inexperience. Reed attended Augusta State University in Augusta, GA, so he does have plenty of familiarity and an interesting comfort level with the course at Augusta National. There’s also a pretty good chance that he’ll have some crowd support as well. He may crumble on Sunday if he’s in the running, but holding a 50/1 spot opens up a lot of possibilities.

3. Webb Simpson (80/1) – When you talk about Augusta, you have to talk about putting. Webb Simpson has been one of the better putters on tour so far this season and ranks 14th in birdie percentage on par 4s and fourth in birdie percentage on par 5s. Simpson is also in the top 30 in greens in regulation, which means that he’s not only hitting the green, but he’s leaving manageable putts.

He’s a very strong player with his short irons and that’s a big deal at Augusta with a lot of difficult approaches to fast greens. Simpson’s performance has been hit or miss in Majors with several missed cuts, but he was the 2012 US Open Championship. At 80/1, there’s certainly value in taking a talented iron player at a course like this.

Matchups:

Perhaps one of the better ways to bet the Masters Tournament is to look at matchups. Bovada.lv has no shortage of these available for bettors and there are plenty of interesting options. Here are a couple best bets.

Adam Scott over Rory McIlroy (-115) – As mentioned above, Adam Scott has been tremendous in recent Majors. McIlroy has struggled and his ability to have an awful round at Augusta would be a concern in any head-to-head matchup.

Brandt Snedeker over Zach Johnson (Even) – Brandt Snedeker was right in the hunt last year until a final round 75 pushed him into a tie for sixth. Snedeker has made five of the six cuts in his Masters appearances and all five times he has finished in the top 25. Johnson hasn’t had a top-30 finish at the Masters since he won it in 2007.

Rest of the 2014 Masters Odds:

Adam Scott                 10/1

Rory McIlroy              10/1

Phil Mickelson            12/1

Jason Day                    14/1

Matt Kuchar                18/1

Sergio Garcia              20/1

Dustin Johnson           22/1

Bubba Watson            25/1

Henrik Stenson           25/1

Zach Johnson              28/1

Justin Rose                  30/1

Brandt Snedeker         33/1

Charl Schwartzel         33/1

Jordan Spieth              33/1

Keegan Bradley          33/1

Jason Dufner               40/1

Lee Westwood            40/1

Hunter  Mahan            40/1

Angel Cabrera             50/1

Harris English             50/1

Ian Poulter                  50/1

Luke Donald               50/1

Patrick Reed               50/1

Jimmy Walker             55/1

Graeme McDowell      60/1

Graham Delaet            66/1

Louis Oosthuizen        66/1

Rickie Fowler              66/1

Bill Haas                     80/1

Gary Woodland          80/1

Hideki Matsuyama      80/1

Jim Furyk                    80/1

Steve Stricker              80/1

Webb Simpson            80/1

K.J. Choi                     100/1

Marc Leishman           100/1

Ryan Moore                100/1

Victor Dubuisson        100/1

Ernie Els                      125/1

Francesco Molinari      125/1

Fred Couples               125/1

Jamie Donaldson         125/1

Nick Watney               125/1

Peter Hanson               125/1

Russell Henley            125/1

Thorbjorn Olesen        125/1

Billy Horschel             150/1

Martin Kaymer            150/1

Matt Every                  150/1

Matt Jones                   150/1

Matteo Manassero       150/1

Trevor Immelman        150/1

Branden Grace            200/1

Chris Kirk                   200/1

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano   200/1

John Senden                200/1

Kevin Streelman         200/1

Miguel Angel Jimenez200/1

Stephen Gallacher       200/1

Thomas Bjorn              200/1

Bernhard Langer         250/1

Boo Weekley              250/1

Brendon De Jonge      250/1

Jonas Blixt                  250/1

Joost Luiten                250/1

Scott Stallings             250/1

Stewart Cink               250/1

Tim Clark                    250/1

David Lynn                 300/1

John Huh                     300/1

Kevin Stadler              300/1

Roberto Castro            300/1

Sang-Moon Bae          300/1

Thongchai Jaidee        300/1

Vijay Singh                 300/1

Steven Bowditch        400/1

Yong-Eun Yang          400/1

D.A. Points                 500/1

Darren Clarke              500/1

Ken Duke                    500/1

Lucas Glover               500/1

Chang Woo Lee          750/1

Mike Weir                   750/1

Derek Ernst                 1000/1

Jordan Niebrugge        1000/1

Jose Maria Olazabal    1000/1

Mark O’Meara             1000/1

Matthew Fitzpatrick   1000/1

Oliver Goss                 1000/1

Tom Watson                1000/1

Michael McCoy          1500/1

Garrick Porteous         2000/1

Sandy Lyle                  3000/1

Ben Crenshaw             5000/1

Craig Stadler               5000/1

Ian Woosnam              5000/1

Larry Mize                  5000/1

Adam Burke

Adam Burke

Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.

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