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Finally. The top golf talent in the world is uniting in Augusta, Georgia this week for the highly anticipated first major championship of the season. The iconic 7,545 yard track plays to a par 72 & will welcome 88 of the best players in the world. Scottie Scheffler (+700), looks to become the first player to defend a green jacket since Tiger Woods did it over 20 years ago. Woods is also in the field at 80-1 to pull off the unthinkable. Rory McIlroy (+700) will look to get his first green jacket and complete the career grand slam. Dustin Johnson (+2500) and Cameron Smith (+2800) will be the favorites among the LIV golfers in the field, looking to represent their new tour. Other top contenders by listed odds are Jon Rahm (+950), Jordan Spieth (+1700), Patrick Cantlay (+1800) and Justin Thomas (+2100).
Scottie Scheffler (+700) – I wish I could say I had a more “exciting” favorite play this week.. but that’s not the case. Scottie has been on a run for the ages since securing his first career win at Bay Hill last year. That win led to an avalanche of victories, including the green jacket in 2022. After a dominant victory at TPC Sawgrass a few weeks ago, Scheffler’s confidence will be just as high as it was a year ago. The combination of precision, creativity and experience has me confident Scheffler will defend at Augusta.
Jordan Spieth (+1700) – Spieth has yet to win this season, but has been in contention a handful of times. He’s spoken often about how complete his game feels at the moment and how long it’s been since he’s put it all together. He missed the cut a year ago, but it’s one of the few blemishes on his resume at Augusta. At 21 years old, Spieth won his first (and only, for now) green jacket by 4 shots in 2015. A Sunday breakdown in the following year resulted in a T2 finish. He’s also stacked up a T11 finish, a T3 and solo 3rd finish. There is no question Spieth loves ANGC, and he should be in contention on Sunday.
Will Zalatoris (+4500) – In just two appearances at Augusta, Zalatoris resume is pretty solid as well. As a rookie in 2021, Zalatoris finished solo 2nd and just 1 shot behind Hideki Matsuyama en route to his rookie of the year award. He followed that up in 2022 with an impressive T6 finish. Zalatoris only has one win in the books and has dealt with some injuries lately, but there is no doubt his game fits well at Augusta. A Masters win for Will could lead to a Scottie like run in the coming weeks. In terms of price, there is no better value on the board than Zalatoris.
Sahith Theegala (+12000) – Yeah, I mean listen… Do I think Theegala is going to win? No. But for some odd reason I think Theegala’s game will fit very well at Augusta National. His game is very similar to Jordan Spieth in a lot of ways, at least in terms of the ups & downs that come with an outright ticket on them. Cam Smith said earlier this week in regards to the course “you just have to be creative and you have to have big balls”. Experience is so important at Augusta, and Theegala doesn’t have any (first appearance at ANGC). But, creativity and taking risks pretty much sums up Sahith’s game.
Top 5 Finishes
Cameron Smith (+360) – I really miss betting on Cam Smith. Seeing all of the LIV guys on the betting board this week is the first time I’ve really noticed how much I miss a select few of these guys on the PGA Tour. Smith, the current Champion Golfer of the Year after his victory at St. Andrews, also has an impressive resume in his Masters appearances. 3 Top 5’s and a Top 10 since 2018. Smith has said his game isn’t great at the moment, but realizes the importance of playing well this week due to the “chatter” in regards to the lack of field strength on the LIV Tour.
Xander Schauffele (+440) – In last year’s 4 major championships, 3 of the winners were first-time major champions. Xander will look to continue that trend and build on his solid Augusta resume as well. Schauffele has had success in his career, but even his peers will tell you he’s better than his career resume. Hasn’t been “elite” this year, but he does have two Top 5’s at ANGC and has a good price to do it again this year.
Sungjae Im (+600) – Sungjae is 2/3 in cuts made in his 3 Masters appearances, but has taken advantage of opportunities when playing the weekend. In 2020, he finished T2 as a Masters rookie before missing the cut in his 2nd appearance in 2021. Another T8 finish last year shows he has all the tools necessary for success at Augusta. There is no question regarding his ball-striking, but if the putter can get hot for Sungjae, a Top 5 finish should be in the cards.
Will Zalatoris (+650) – The resume speaks for itself and the price is too good to pass up on. The recent injuries and lack of form has me slightly worried, but I have enough faith in Zalatoris that this won’t be the last time you see him.
Top 10 Finishes
Will Zalatoris (+290) – Told you. At almost 3-1 to finish in the Top 10, which Zalatoris has done in both of his Augusta appearances so far, Zalatoris earns a 3 unit max play here.
Sungjae Im (+290) – This is getting repetitive, but Im again has 2 Top 10’s in his 3 starts. The last of my 2 max plays this week.
Justin Rose (+440) – Surprisingly, Rose isn’t a popular play this week. Seemingly past his prime, Rose has found some rhythm this season & even got in the winners circle at Pebble Beach. Rose has a solo 2nd and T2 finish on his resume at Augusta, and obviously plenty of experience on the track. With new found form and confidence, I anticipate Rose showing flashes of what he once was yet again this week.
Adam Scott (+750) – Scott won the Masters in 2013 in a playoff, but has yet to win a major since. Despite creeping into his elder years, Scott has said he’s confident he can win one more major before he calls it quits. He only has one Top 20 finish in his last 5 starts at Augusta, but is consistently making cuts and playing the weekend. With fine margins between making a cut and being in contention at The Masters, +750 is a very fair price.
Top 20 Finishes
Joaquin Niemann (+200) – Many golf fans were devastated when the young Chilean announced his departure to LIV, myself included. He won at Riviera just months before leaving the PGA Tour, and was even grouped with Tiger Woods in his return to golf at Augusta in 2022. He debuted in 2018 as an amateur and missed the cut, but has two Top 40 finishes in the last two years. Niemann spoke about the importance and competitive tension for the LIV guys that are playing this week, so I think he’ll make the cut and make a run at a Top 20 finish.
Bryson Dechambeau (+350) – Bryson debuted at Augusta in 2016 as an amateur and it was his best finish to date at T21. The success obviously hasn’t been there for Bryson at ANGC, but he’s only missed 1 cut. He’s been piss poor on LIV, but why not this week? He certainly has something to prove so we’ll see what he can do in his first major championship since his LIV departure.
Gordon Sargent (+600) – The current NCAA Champion and No. 1 amateur in the world received a special invite to the Masters. He’s the first amateur to receive a special invitation in over 20 years. So yes, I’m taking the bait. Reports came out yesterday that Sargent was consistently outdriving both Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka in a practice round. The talent is there and 6-1 is worth rooting for the 19 year old in my book.