The Masters - Favorites and Long Shots

Golf:  Masters 2009 Future Wagering

The first Major of the year and the biggest golf tournament on the PGA Tour, the Masters, starts this Thursday.  Held at Augusta National Golf Club in August, GA, the Masters kicks off the “real” season of golf.

All of the Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia.

Because the Augusta National Golf Club is such a specific course, it makes sense for betting fans to concentrate on players that have done well at Augusta before.

Let’s analyze the chances of the top four contenders in the 2009 Masters as well as the top two long shots.

Top Contender:  Tiger Woods

BetUS Future Book Odds:  +175

Masters Victories:  1997, 2001, 2002, 2005

Analysis:  Tiger is king at Augusta for the simple fact that the Masters’ course was lengthened to 7445 yards in 2006.  True, Tiger hasn’t won a Masters’ since 2006 but he was the runner-up in both 2007 and 2008.  Because Tiger excels on longer courses, the Masters is prefect for his game.  He should be virtually unbeatable after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago.  Tiger is ready to roar and the Augusta National Course is perfect for him.  He’s the best bet based not only on history but also on the way the course is designed.  That makes him a solid choice.

Contenders

Phil Mickelson

BetUS Future Book Odds:  +600

Masters Victories:  2004, 2006

Analysis:  Phil has an edge on Tiger in the sense that he’s won on the course since it was lengthened.  That cannot be emphasized enough as Mickelson has also won two tournaments already in 2009 and will be looking to add his third green jacket to his wardrobe this Sunday.  If Mickelson is on top of his game, then Tiger could be in for a long fight.  Lefty is terrific off the tee and he can hit the fairways almost as well as Tiger.  When it comes to the short game, there’s a question on which golfer is better.  Because Tiger still hasn’t fully recovered from his injury, some golfing enthusiasts might say that Phil has the better short game right now.  Bettors cannot forget that Mickelson didn’t tee-off in Tiger’s win in the Arnold Palmer.  Mickelson is set and ready to pick up another green jacket.  Woods had better be ready for him.

Padriag Harrington:  +1500

Masters Victories:  None

Analysis:  Padraig hasn’t won a masters but his victory in the 2008 British Open and PGA Championship means that he has what it takes to win a Masters.  Not only that but Harrington did finish in the Top 5 in the 2008 Masters.  His long game is well suited to the course, which he proved with two straight victories in the British Open which is usually played on par 5 heavy courses.  Harrington can play with Tiger and Lefty.  His ability to putt as well as they do is where things might fall apart for him.  The odds are very generous and he’s the best counter bet if you don’t like either Mickelson or Woods.

Geoff Ogilvy:  +2000

Masters Victories:  None

Analysis:  Ogilvy is actually a long shot at 20 to 1 in this but he has to be considered for a wager because he’s already won two tournaments this year including the WGC-CA.  Ogilvy isn’t known for his long game, but in 2008 he didn’t finish worse than 16th in any single tournament.  The biggest issue with Ogilvy is that his lowest round at August has been a 70 whereas the highest round he’s ever shot has been an 81.  A 70 isn’t going to cut it against Phil and Tiger, but Ogilvy is consistent and he might get lucky enough to get to his short game without giving up too much on the fairways.  If Tiger and Phil can’t take advantage of the par 4s and par 5s in this tournament, then Ogilvy can win it.  He’s got what some gamblers might refer to as a  “puncher’s chance”.

Best Long Shots

Retief Goosen:  +2000

Masters Victories:  None

Analysis:  Goosen has been playing in the Masters since 1998.  In that time he has finished in the top three 4 four times and in the top 25 7 times.  Why is Goosen a good bet this year to finally pick up his first green jacket?  In 2007, Goosen lost in the Masters by only 2 strokes to Zach Johnson.  That means the lengthened course shouldn’t hurt him.  In 2009 he has already won a tournament, the Transitions Championship, and finished tied for 3rd in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.  Goosen is playing well enough to put in a serious run for the victory.  If he can approach his best lowest round of 67 at Augusta for all four days, he should be right there at the end.

Paul Casey:  +3500

Masters Victories:  None

Analysis:  Casey is ready to explode into a top five golfer.  There’s just no other way to describe it.  Not only will Paul Casey tee-off at Augusta fresh off a victory at the Shell Houston Open, but he will tee-off as an 11th place finisher at Augusta in 2007 and a 10th place finisher at Augusta in 2008.  Paul Casey is a serious contender for the green jacket because he’s been playing well this year and Augusta appears to be a course that he really likes.  At 35 to 1, gamblers should be thinking about betting Paul Casey.