GOLF - PGA TOUR - Sep 20
Even the very best putters will be made to look a bit daft at times and players that are often considered poor or perhaps ordinary putters can actually thrive here. Anyone that follows the PGA Tour closely will know that last year's playoff protagonists, Garcia and Justin Rose, are often let down by their putting. Justin Rose ended the season ranking th for Strokes Gained Putting and Garcia ranked only th!
I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to find a poor putter but it's perhaps a bit of myth that only the best putters win here. Those front three fell away badly. The first two eventually finishing tied for 22nd and Westwood finished tied 18th guess who backed the Hoff for a top finish! The two playoff protagonists ended the first round six off the lead but tied for fourth and only one of the first eight home Schwartzel in third was more than seven behind the leader and tied for 12th or better.
Augusta National is NOT a catch-up course and a fast start is imperative. No year advertises that better than , when Hunter Mahan, who finished tied 8th, was the only player to finish in the top places that hadn't been within two shots off Fred Couples' first round lead. He'd sat tied for 22nd and five back after round one. Willett sat tied ninth and four adrift after day one two years ago but 12 months earlier, Spieth and Rose sat first and second after the opening round and that's how they finished the tournament, with Spieth winning wire-to-wire.
Bubba took a very typical route to the title in when he sat in a tie for second, just one off the lead, after opening the event with a three-under par 69 and he was three clear at halfway after a second round A slightly sticky 74 in round three saw him lose his outright advantage before he kicked three clear with a closing Adam Scott's journey to victory in also followed a very typical route - he was never more than three off the lead but he wasn't in front too early.
The ideal scenario, as was the case again last year, is to be up with the pace but not in front too soon. Spieth and Immelman are the only first round leaders to win since Ben Crenshaw in and they're the only wire-to-wire winners since Seve Ballesteros achieved the feat in You can also look to , when the first four names on the day one leaderboard - Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Peter Hanson and Bubba - were all in the first six places at the finish.
Tiger and Phil repeatedly buck the trends at Augusta and they're the only two men to win the event having finished day one outside of the top since Mark O'Meara won from tied 25th and five off the pace 20 years ago. And finally, make sure you lay back some profit if your pick looks like winning and goes odds-on. Rose hit a low of [1. It's almost an annual occurrence! Spieth was five clear at the turn on Sunday two years ago and he was matched at a low of [1.
Jason Day hit [1. In , Oosthuizen was a heavy odds-on shot when Bubba found the trees before that famous miracle recovery shot at the second play-off hole and there were all sorts of shenanigans in Rory McIlroy began the final day four clear and a [1.
Mickelson cruised to an emotional third victory in but a year earlier two players traded at odds-on before losing in a play-off. Kenny Perry, who bogeyed the last two holes, was matched at just [1. Augusta is famous for it's drama on the back-nine on Sunday and laying back some profit at odds-on is definitely the sensible thing to do if you get the chance.
Having been matched at a high of [ He'd been lost on the greens for a while but a three hour chat with Brad Faxon just before the off at the Arnold Palmer worked the oracle and he topped the stats with an average of 1.
This will be Rory's ninth appearance at Augusta and although he's finished inside the top-ten in each of his last four visits, he's only once finished inside the top-six places. He famously blew a four stroke hole lead in , when he shot 80 in round four, and he only trailed by a stroke at halfway two years ago but lost his way with a 77 in round three. This is the major he needs to complete the Grand Slam and there must be a slight chance that completing the full set is a proving a bit of a mental barrier.
I'd be more concerned about whether his performance at Bay Hill was a flash in the pan and whether he'll make too many mistakes. He would have done so if he'd have reached the final of the WGC-Match Play final two weeks ago but he admitted after his loss to Bubba Watson in the semi-final that moving to the top of the rankings was constantly on his mind.
That's one concern, and so is his poor Augusta record. In two starts he's only finished 39th and 22nd and he's never shot a round in the 70s.
It's only a matter of time before he performs well here though and he could well be the man to beat. Having won three tournaments in-a-row, Dustin Johnson was a warm favourite here 12 months ago before he was forced to withdraw when he fell down the stairs.
He's not in the same sort of form this time around but he does have improving course form with figures reading MC He was hopeless when defending his match play title last time out but that wouldn't put me off. His win aside, he has a very poor record in the event and he just looked uninterested. More worrying for DJ backers is the number of mistakes he usually makes here.
He enjoys the par fives and he made a record-breaking three eagles in round two back in , but to counter that, there were far too many errors for him to contend seriously for the title.
He made three bogeys in round one and six more over the next three days, which was damaging enough, but he also double-bogeyed a hole on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that wiped out completely the shots gained by his three eagles on Friday. And there were a similar amount of errors in - nine bogeys and three double-bogeys ruined any chance he may have had and fourth was a great effort considering.
Tiger Woods ' return to form following back surgery has been quite incredible and he's contended in each of his last two starts. At 42, age is against him now though and the fact that he hasn't won a major in ten years, a US Masters in 13, or a PGA Tour event in five years is off-putting.
He's understandably a shorter price than he perhaps should be and he's definitely not for me. Jordan Spieth is a fascinating contender. His course form record is sensational and in three of the four years he's played here he's traded at odds-on.
His first three visits produced form figures reading and he was bang in-contention through 54 holes 12 months ago, despite opening up the tournament with a Spieth's recent putting woes have been well documented but with a round to go in Houston he was ranking first for Greens In Regulation and Strokes Gained Tee to Green so his long game is in tip-top order and it would be no surprise at all to see him contend again at a venue he clearly loves.
Justin Rose was a little underwhelming in Houston, eventually finishing tied 52nd but he's been in decent from for most of the year to date and he's been putting well too. His form figures here read an impressive and his first round finishing position figures are even better, reading He was a very unlucky loser last year and you'd do really well to find anyone that world begrudge him redemption this time around.
He's one of the nicest characters in the world of sport, let alone golf, and he has a fabulous chance but it's all there to be seen and his price is bang on. I backed Jordan Spieth last week at [ I'm a big fan of course form at this event and after a decent week in Houston he looks nicely primed to perform well here again. He's edged his way back towards the head of the market and rightfully so.
He's a multiple major winner with an iron will to win and he's the man to beat. He's a mercurial character but if he starts well on Thursday he'll be a force to be reckoned with.
I'm obviously more than happy to be on at 50's but he still looks a fair price at anything bigger than [ I didn't want to go in to the event without a leftfield pick, so I've thrown a few pounds at Kyle Stanley at a huge price. Stanley missed the cut here on debut back in so that's a negative, as he hasn't been back since, but he was a winner on Tour last year, at the Quicken Loans National, and he's in fair form at present, having finished 25th in Mexico, 14th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and having reached the last eight at the WGC-Match Play two weeks ago.
He's an extremely accurate player and a notoriously poor putter but his putting improves considerably on really fast greens.
OK, I get it. Sergio Garcia - last year's winner of the US Masters. Join today View market. Tournament History One of the most eagerly awaited majors that I can remember is now just a few days away. Augusta National Golf Club. The site is widely considered to be amongst the best golf courses in the world, and is ranked as the number one course in the United States.
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