What are the bets bets for the 2016 Masters?
The greatest Masters ever? That’s a recurring theme as we head into the first golfing Major of the year and it’s easy to see why as all the big guns are bowling up with solid recent form under their belt, which offers up the promise of a shootout.
Most Majors these days are won by the world’s elite – nine of the last 13 have gone to players ranked in the top eight in the world (the others were ranked 12, 21, 25 & 28) – and this particular Major has not produced a real shock winner since Angel Cabrera in 2009, though he wasn’t too difficult to find based on his previous course form.
So, it makes total sense to start with the current top eight in the world and this reads: 1) Jason Day, 2) Jordan Spieth, 3) Rory McIlroy, 4) Bubba Watson, 5) Rickie Fowler, 6) Henrik Stenson, 7) Adam Scott, 8) Dustin Johnson.
Of the octet, Stenson is perhaps the easiest to rule out given he’s never done better than tied-14th in ten attempts, while Dustin Johnson has far too many Sunday wobbles in Majors on his CV for my liking and he’s even starting to look vulnerable under pressure in run-of-the-mill events with his winless run stretching back over a year. He’s got plenty to prove now.
Fowler’s bottle is much harder to fault and he appears to be getting the hang of Augusta now as evidenced by his last two finishes of tied-5th and tied-12th. Even so, his current price of 16/1 looks plenty tight enough for a player who is looking for his first Major and with so many of his peers bringing their A-game into the week.
Rory is looking to complete a career Grand Slam this week and, having added some control to his putting by switching to a left-over-right grip, he now has all the tools required to conquer Augusta and its lightning fast greens. But I just wonder whether he wants this one too much and given that doubt the 8/1 on offer is easy to pass up.
The same goes for the 10/1 on Spieth. Since his runaway victory at Kapalua first-time-out back in January, any consistency has gone out of his game and his final round before the Masters – five under par after seven holes to get within one of the lead, before a quick retreat with three bogeys – prompted more questions than it answered. He’s looking increasingly frustrated with his game and his patience will be tested to the full this week.
You can probably see where this is going and Jason Day, the new world number one who has won six of his last 13 starts and is going for back-to-back Majors, has to be a worthy favourite. He’s already gone close here a couple of times – tied-2nd in 2011 & third in 2013 – and it’s surely a question of time before he dons the green jacket. The 13/2 on offer at Boylesports, who are refunding stakes on the second and third (including ties) as a free bet (up to £25), is very hard to resist, if only as a saver.
But the bulk of my money at least is going on Bubba Watson and Adam Scott – the enhanced place terms on offer make them an each-way steal. They’ve won three of the last four Masters between them after all and both arrive here at the top of their game: Bubba followed up his win at Riviera (Scott tied-2nd) with a runner-up spot at Doral behind Scott, who was winning back-to-back after success at the Honda Classic and has seamlessly reverted back to an old-style putter after a ban on the long-handled version, with which he used to land the 2013 Masters. Need I say any more?
With some bookmakers offering six, seven (Paddy Power, albeit at one fifth the odds) and even eight places (Sky Bet), there is plenty of incentive to add a couple more players to the portfolio and Patrick Reed makes plenty of appeal at 40/1. The current world no. 10 bowls up here on the back of three straight top-10 finishes and this natural drawer of the ball undoubtedly has the game to do well here, with his putting in particular looking in excellent shape during a final round 67 in Houston on Sunday.
For the final pick, it was a choice between Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel and Paul Casey. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing any of that quartet but the best value surely lies with Casey at 66/1. The Englishman has his game back after a year of illness – two top 10s in his last three starts – and has finished in the top-12 four times here, including a tied-6th last year. That’s more than enough to suggest he can make the frame this time around.
Bubba Watson each-way @ 12/1 BetVictor (¼ odds, six places)
Adam Scott each-way @ 12/1 Sky Bet (¼ odds, eight places)
Jason Day (saver) @ 13/2 Boylesports (money back if 2nd or 3rd inc. ties)
Patrick Reed each-way @ 40/1 Sky Bet (¼ odds, eight places)
Paul Casey each-way @ 66/1 Sky Bet (¼ odds, eight places)