I am not seeking to focus on the head of the market where all the attention is. So we all know that Tiger is on the way back, that Bubba has been backed into 16/1, that Justin Thomas has been firing all season and is on the verge of world number one and in general terms there is a big split in the betting market with the top 15 33-1 or shorter and then the rest
In terms of the event We know what sort of criteria we are looking for:
- It’s tough to win as a debutant.
Fuzzy Zoeller 1979 and that’s it
- Good form
Since 2011 form players that season have won the Masters
• Sergio Garcia 2017 pre-masters 1 win, 1 Top 10
• Danny Willett 2016 pre-Masters: 1 Win, 1 Top 10
• Jordan Spieth 2015: 1 Win, 6 Top 10s
• Bubba Watson 2014: 1 Win, 3 Top 10s
• Adam Scott 2013: 1 Top 10
• Bubba Watson 2012: 3 Top 10s
• Charl Schwartzel 2011: 1 Win, 3 Top 10s.
Specifically a Betfair preview tells me that 8 of the last ten winners have finished in the top thirty in at least one of their two starts before the Masters
- A Long hitter.
Since the course was changed nine years ago every winner has been in the top third in terms of power hitting stats using Distance to Apex (Distance in yards from the Tee to the Apex on Par 4 and Par 5 tee shots) as a proxy.
Augusta is a 7,435 yard Par 72. All fairways are mown towards the tee to minimise run (and it effectively plays around 7,800 yards) so obviously length in the air off the tee is a factor
Making the real difference at Augusta is the ability to reach as many of the par-5s as possible in two shots. You don’t need to confine a short-list to Dustin or Bubba but your selection has to be long enough to be competitive.
- Preferably shape it both ways
A number of Augusta’s holes are right-to-left doglegs so players who can shape the ball around the corner off the tee will be sought. You’ll hear a lot about being needing to be able to draw the ball to win.
“You don’t have to draw the ball as much as people think,” said Paul Casey. “You’ve got to be able to work the ball a bit right to left, but you don’t need a big hook. You need a high ball flight, just to land it softly on some of those greens.”
Dustin Johnson said: “I think you’ve got to curve it both ways. I don’t think it’s imperative to have a draw. You have to have every aspect of your game on here, control of spin, distance control, trajectory”.
- Short game
Putting well is a huge advantage, the greens (unless the course comes up soft after bad weather) will be fast and creativity around the greens in the chipping game can help you save shots too
Other tenets that I regard as “just one of those things” are the poor record of world number ones at Augusta, and the rarity of defending a title. It’s the factors above that help me form a short-list.
I was researching away and wanted to revisit a player we have backed in this column for majors before:
This player is ranked 16th in the OWGR but is outside the top 20in the betting and has:
• Six top twenty and four top ten finishes in majors (Tied 4th in the Masters in 2013 and losing in the play-off at the 2015 St Andrews Open included) including as recently at the Open last year. (T6) and the PGA (T13).
• He has four top tens this year in ten events and tied seventh in the Arnold Palmer Invitational two starts ago, also finishing T7 at the Tournament of Champions and T8 at Torrey Pines. Has only one missed cut.
• Top 15% (ranked 30th out of 213) in Driving distance to Apex year to date on the US Tour.
There are some 10 places around the industry as you probably would have heard, albeit at the expense of an inflated over-round and skinnier place terms and whilst all the extra places are important here for this particular player we can get 8 places 1/5 at 55/1 with Bet365 but are asked to take 45 or 40-1 for ten places with Skybet or Coral.
I think Marc Leishman, in betting terms, flies under the radar quite consistently.
Marc Leishman 2018 Masters 55/1 Bet365 (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) 50/1 William Hill (seven places) 55/1 Betfred (5 places)