We always say the Masters is wide open, but this year there’s no overwhelming favorite and just about every single top player in the world is playing well coming into Augusta.
The Masters has a much smaller field than the other majors, hovering around 90 this year compared to the 156 players at the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. Within that 90-player set, a handful of old-timers, rookies, and amateurs can be immediately eliminated. You might be able to whittle it down to a group of, say, 15 players you think have a very good chance to win.
The value of betting on the actual favorites is not going to be worth it. Sure, Tiger Woods was the dominant face of the game and you might pick him to win, but betting him at 3/1 to win was not good value. Pegging this Masters seems especially difficult because all the top players, both those who are the famous faces and at the top of the world rankings, have played well through the first quarter of the year. Rory McIlroy is the only player in the top six of the Official World Golf Rankings without a win, but he hasn’t exactly hacked it up all year either. In the past, it was easy enough to weed out those favorites as just a renowned name that the public might unknowingly back. There’s not really any example of that this year.
The slight favorite at the top of Masters week is Jason Day at 7/1. His “Big Three” compatriots, defending champ Jordan Spieth and McIlroy, are 8/1, per Jeff Sherman of the Las Vegas SuperBook and GolfOdds.com. Day comes to the Masters having regained the world No. 1 ranking after two straight wins against deep fields at some of the Tour’s premier events. It makes sense that he would be the favorite. He’s got all the advantages that work at Augusta — embarrassingly long off the tee and a hot putter. That’s an advantage everywhere, but it can be extra helpful at the season’s first major. Day has second- and third-place finishes in just a five-year Masters career. He’s a sensible pick to win, but as I noted above, the 7/1 line given all the talent around him is not good value.
The better values rest a little further down the list somewhere from 25/1 to 60/1. Charl Schwartzel and Patrick Reed at 40/1 are enticing and Louis Oosthuizen at 30/1 will be everyone’s trendy pick by Thursday morning. Only three rookies have ever won at Augusta, the last being Fuzzy Zoeller wayyy back in 1979. But if you’re looking way down the odds for a longshot, the rookies, some of whom have been the best players in the world over the past year, are ones to tab. Players like Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman, Kevin Kisner and even Andy Sullivan have long odds but it would not surprise those who follow closely to see them on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday. It’s easy to fall in love with the new guys and “young talent” but if you want good longshots, go that direction.
Here are your odds for the entire field as Masters week begins. There may be some slight movement based on what happens during the practice days, but don’t expect much (via Jeff Sherman):
|Player||Odds to Win|
|Byeong Hun An||150/1|
|Rafael Cabrera Bello||200/1|
|Davis Love III||500/1|