Betting on Golf: The Masters

Betting on Golf: The Masters

This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.

Masters Betting Strategy

The best week of the year is here. It's Masters week! 

After going a full calendar year without any major championships, we've been making up for lost time, and the first of the two Masters tournaments that will be played in the next six months is finally upon us. It's hard to forget the memorable performance Tiger Woods put on in April of 2019 en route to his fifth green jacket, when he emerged late in the final round at Augusta National to win by a single stroke over Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. Will the low scores we saw in 2019 – a record 11 players finished 10-under-par or better – continue this year?

The Masters is the only major that doesn't rotate host courses, and for that reason Augusta National is typically the course golf fans know. So, what differences can we expect from a November setup and what type of player excels best here? For starters, the statistical leader in Strokes Gained: Approach won the tournament three times in the last five years, so iron play is bound to be a key factor. The conditions are expected to be windy with some rain, which may neutralize some of the advantage the longer hitters have in a typical April setup. We also can't ignore the importance of course history and experience at the Masters due to the complex green structures.

All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

A Quality Approach

The following five players gained the most strokes per round on approach – with a minimum of 12 rounds played – in major tournaments since 2019:

Koepka's run of four straight majors in which he finished no worse than second came to an end at this year's PGA Championship, where he stumbled in the final round to finish tied for 29th. He still managed to finish seventh for the week in SG: Approach and has been better with his irons than any other player in major championships since 2019. The only player on this list lacking a top-5 result in a major since 2019 is the third ranked player in the world, Justin Thomas. Thomas (12-1 odds) has lost strokes to the field on the greens during that stretch, but he's likely to find himself in contention if he's able to have even a solid week on the putting surface.

They Know Their Way Around

The following five players finished the lowest under par – with a minimum of three appearances – in the Masters since 2016:

Spieth is one of the most interesting players in the field this week, due to the stark contrast between his stellar history at Augusta and his current level of play. He missed the cut in his last four full-field events, and his best finish since the restart of play in June was a tie for 10th in the first event back. Dustin Johnson – the third betting choice at 10-1 odds – is the only player to make both lists, as he's been elite with his approach play in majors and finished top-10 in each of his last four appearances at the Masters. Johnson made his first start since the U.S. Open at last week's Houston Open and finished runner-up – his sixth straight top-10 result. All signs point to a great week for DJ.

Long Live The Streak

When Bryson DeChambeau took home the U.S. Open title at Winged Foot in September, he became the fourth consecutive first-time major winner. That streak will have to end at some point, but consider that of the top 10 betting favorites entering this week's tournament, five of them are still searching for their maiden major championship. 

Let's look at some options who could extend the first-time-winner streak to five:

Patrick Cantlay (22-1)

Cantlay was one of three players (Rahm, Schauffele) to rank inside the top 60 in every strokes-gained category last season, and having a well-rounded game is essential at Augusta. Cantlay impressively shot 12-under in the final two rounds of the Masters last year – the best of any player in the tournament. Coming off a win in his last appearance at The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, he provides plenty of betting value after the top-tier favorites.

Tony Finau (25-1)

Finau is my choice if I'm only picking one golfer. After dislocating his ankle the day before the Masters in 2018, Finau was still able to record a top-10 finish in his debut. He followed it up in 2019 by playing in the final group Sunday and eventually settling for a share of fifth. Finau is trending in the right direction, with top-25 results in each of his last five starts, including two top-10s in that stretch.

Matthew Wolff (33-1)

Wolff is emerging as one of the best players on Tour and is underpriced as the 16th betting choice on the board, likely because he will be playing in his first Masters this year, and a first-timer has not won since 1979. That's the only downside, as Wolff finished top-5 in his first two major starts while gaining a remarkable 1.81 strokes per round on approach.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (60-1)

Fitzpatrick has a lot of history at the Masters for someone his age, and he has made the cut in four straight appearances, with one top-10 result, since missing the cut as an amateur in 2014. He's been in good form since August, with four top-10s, and he played well in two recent Tour appearances in Las Vegas.

Talk Of The Tournament

Nobody is garnering more attention this week than the betting favorite, Bryson DeChambeau. With minimal rough and few hazards off the tee at Augusta, he'll likely have a short iron in his hands on just about every hole, including the par-5s. Although the narrative in his U.S. Open victory was about how he overpowered the course, DeChambeau quietly led the field in SG: Approach. He's admitted he's not as sharp as he'd like to be with his iron/wedge play, but if he's able to duplicate his recent performance, the golf course is not going to have much of a defense for him.

Tiger Defends His Throne

Tiger Woods is the defending champion and will be looking for his sixth Masters victory. Tiger has played only six events since June, and his results have left much to be desired, with a best finish of T37 at the PGA Championship. The oddsmakers have certainly taken this into account, as he's listed as the 14th betting choice on the board at 30-1. Given Woods' experience at Augusta, if there's ever a course and a tournament for him to break out of a slump, this is it. However, it's hard to confidently bet on him to win given how he has looked lately.

Don't Sleep On 'Em

Cameron Smith (100-1)

The young Australian has made three visits to Augusta National and finished tied for fifth in 2018. He also finished in a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open in 2015, so he's shown the ability to elevate his game in major championships. Smith picked up his first PGA Tour victory this year and is coming off a top-5 result in his last start. A well-rounded player who hasn't missed a cut since July, Smith is worth throwing a few bucks at and is also a great low-cost option in DFS contests.

Lee Westwood (100-1)

It's easy to forget about Westwood since he plays primarily on the European Tour and rarely plays stateside outside of the majors. With that said, he is another player who plays his best on the big stage, posting top-15 results in his last two major appearances. He has also played extremely well at the Masters, with five top-10 results in his last eight trips. Westwood is a good dark horse option for top-5 wagers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Pohle
Ryan Pohle breaks down golf bets for RotoWire.
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