Mastering Golf: Shots & Long Shots for the Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament in November.

That still sounds weird, but at least we’re getting it in, during this strangest of all years. When Covid-19 shut down the world, it was just two weeks before the Masters was to start, during the second week of April, as the traditional first major of the golf season. But that was then, and this is now.

The weather in November will certainly be markedly different than it is in April, when the azaleas are in full bloom. For this tournament, we’re likely to see leaves blowing across the fairways and Georgia pine needles thicker when you miss those fairways. That will affect every player, and give an advantage to none.

It seems like eons ago that Tiger Woods strode down the 18th fairway at Augusta National, ready to claim his 15th major (Woods is now only three short of the record set by Jack Nicklaus). His performance since that date, however, has been nothing short of abysmal. His last victory was at the Zozo Championship in October 2019, and his highest finish in the few tournaments he’s played since was at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, when he tied for ninth. He’s missed the cut in three of the last six majors, and his highest finish was a tie for 21st at the 2019 U.S. Open.

But it’s Tiger, and it’s Augusta. He’s won the Masters five times. His 2019 win was the most improbable, since his record before and after that has been so bad. Are we in for another impossibility? It’ll cost you 28-1 odds. For someone with Tiger’s awful record and absence from the tour, the odds should be much higher.

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So who really has a chance to win? Since any golfer has to tailor his game to the course, good bets always include previous winners, one of the reasons there still will be plenty of money on Tiger. So let’s consider the winners over the past 10 years.

  • Patrick Reed (2018) has been playing great golf leading up to this event and is a bargain at 30-1.
  • Jordan Spieth (2015) has not, but as Woods demonstrated last year, the Masters can wake up good golfers at any time. Spieth is a real longshot at 50-1.
  • Sergio Garcia won in 2017 and recently won an event in Mississippi, and he’s an even longer shot at 55-1.
  • Bubba Watson has won twice (2012, 2014) in the past 10 years and he’s also been playing well lately, so 35-1 seems fair.

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But how about some of the players who haven’t won a Masters yet, but have all the ability in the world? You only have to look at Tiger’s 2019 runners-up to see who might break through:

  • Dustin Johnson is the number-one player in the world, and he’s 12-1, same as Xander Schauffele.
  • Brooks Koepka is 20-1.
  • Rory McElroy renews his quest for the career grand slam—the Masters is the only major he has yet to win. He’s 10-1.
  • Bryson DeChambeau has been off the tour except for one lackluster appearance in a tournament in Vegas, but he’s the favorite at 8-1.
  • Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas both are 12-1.

Once every few years, an international player pops up to win the Masters. In the last decade, Charl Schwartzel (250-1), Adam Scott (45-1), Danny Willett and Sergio have won. This year it could be Rahm, Tyrell Hatton (35-1), Hideki Matsuyama (45-1), Tommy Fleetwood (45-1) or Justin Rose (50-1).

So let’s talk real longshots:

  • Scottie Scheffler has clearly been the rookie of the year on the PGA Tour, and you can get him at 85-1.
  • Or how about Cameron Champ, who has also had a very good year, at 100-1.
  • Former winner Zach Johnson (2007) has played relatively well lately, and can be had for 175-1.
  • Finally, Lucas Glover has had some success this year, and you get him for 350-1.

So whether it’s Tiger or Glover, get your bets down and enjoy the Masters, even if it is being played in the wrong season. A win will make it all right again.

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