We’ve finally made it. After a seven-month delay, the Masters begins on Thursday. In what is the usual first major of the year, a commencement of sorts to the golf season, The Masters will be played in November for the first time in history.
The Masters usually carries a different type of anticipation. It almost feels like golf coming out of hibernation. Many courses around the world begin to open, and it unofficially kicks off the PGA season. Not this year.
The trip to Augusta this year plays as a closer, and the golf world is ready.
Most of the buzz this week is surrounding two players: Tiger Woods and Bryson Dechambeau. I want no part of the hype as I will be fading both of these players this week.
Tiger, the reigning champion here at Augusta, is in very different form compared to how he was playing leading up to the 2019 Masters. Before that win in 2019, Tiger had four solid finishes placing 30th, 10th, 15th and 20th. He was consistently gaining strokes across the board and that just isn’t the case with his current game.
In Tiger’s last four starts he has failed to gain strokes in all of them. He’s placed 72nd, 51st, 58th and a missed cut at the US Open. At the Zozo Championship he lost 3.6 strokes off the tee and another 4.4 strokes in approach. His game is not where he wants it to be and I will not be wagering any of my money on him. You can find him to miss the cut at +200.
Now let’s look at Bryson, who is expected to overpower Augusta National with ease and is coming off his first major win where he overpowered Winged Foot just over a month ago. That performance was the best of his career and was so by a decent margin; he gained 22.3 strokes at the US Open, with his previous high being 15.5. Now he is priced at +800 like it is a certainty that the best version of Bryson will show up.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Bryson is a fantastic player and he will likely have a decent weekend with the advantage he gives himself off the tee. One Bryson bet I have this weekend is anytime Eagle at -154. I think it’s a very strong play if you can find it but it isn’t a common betting market. I am staying away from his outright win at +800 which is banking on Bryson’s irons to be the best in the field again.
The Masters Best Bets and Masters Prop Bets
Let’s take a look at some of the bets I’m on this weekend:
Outright Winner – Justin Thomas +1100
If Justin Thomas putts, he is going to contend. He is currently leading the field in strokes gained in both approach and around the green. That’s a recipe for success at Augusta National. Three of the last five winners of the Masters were the best approach player that week (Spieth, Willett, and Woods).
Thomas has improved in every Masters start and I expect that to continue this year. He has finished 39th, 22nd, 17th, and 12th last year.
He isn’t struggling with his putter like he sometimes does. In two of his last three events he’s gained 5 strokes putting which is huge. Those putting performances resulted in an 8th at the US Open and a 2nd at the Zozo two weeks ago.
Justin Thomas is very live to capture his second major this weekend.
Outright Winner – Brooks Koepka +1600
Brooks is a big game hunter. He’s stated it, and his results in majors compared to regular tour events speaks for itself. Brooks backing out of the US Open was a shock to many. He was looking to recapture he title after back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018 (and a 2nd in 2019) but his knee prevented that. His knee, and a November Masters to prepare for.
After taking two months off, Brooks has returned with two encouraging performances. He played decent at the CJ Cup with a 28th finish but he struggled with his driver. Then last week at the Houston Open he brought out a driver from a few years ago and absolutely crushed it.
He gained strokes off the tee in every round last weekend and he’s been talking all week about his confidence rising. That confidence continued on the greens where he gained 6.4 strokes. In the last three starts where Brooks gained more strokes putting than that, he finished 1st, 3rd and 4th.
That’s bad news for Koepka’s competitors. He seemingly healthy and the confidence is rising in areas he’s been struggling. The approach game has been there all along. I think Brooks puts in a real bid this weekend to capture his third of the four majors.
Top Debutant – Jason Kokrak +900
In a field that is headlined by the likes of Morikawa, Wolff, Scheffler and Sungjae, there lies a few veterans that are also making their debut at Augusta.
I think being a 35-year old veteran of the PGA will help Kokrak in a field like this. Augusta National is a very daunting place and in a market filled with golfers in their early 20s, Kokrak has a much more viable path to beating out the other debutants.
Kokrak ranks 12th in driving distance off the tee which will be extremely important this weekend. In his seven starts since August, he has only finished outside of the top-17 once. One of those starts was the first victory of his career so his confidence is running high right now.
Although the Masters is very rarely won by a debutant, Kokrak’s outright win is sitting at +6600 and looking a bit too juicy to not have a small play on.
Best Top 10 Finish Bet at the Masters
Top 10 finish – Tony Finau +250
Tony’s game suits Augusta National perfectly, and his results have reflected that with a 10th and a 5th in two starts here. The 5th place finish last year was played on a recently dislocated ankle that saw him begin Sunday in the final group with Tiger Woods.
His game is in good form currently. He hasn’t gained less than 5.5 strokes in his last three starts finishing 24th, 11th and 8th. In the field he ranks 6th in driving distance and 14th in approach. And his putter has been consistent lately, gaining strokes on the green in 8 of his last 10 events.
There seems to be a mental block with Finau when it comes to closing out golf tournaments. Finau may very well be the best Thursday-Saturday golfer on the tour. That is why I’m just sticking with the top-10 here. I think he’ll be contending on Sunday but his history makes it hard to bet his outright win at +2500.