For anyone who has a slight interest in golf, The Masters really is four days when everything else becomes slightly less important. The crowds, the course, the weather, it’s all absolutely first class and what makes this year’s renewal so exciting is that it’s the most open tournament in years.
Our golf tipster is here to preview the four days at Augusta and run his eye over those he thinks could be there come the back nine on Sunday.
The market for this year’s Masters has been somewhat cloudy for a while with the layers struggling to identify a favourite.
Jordan Speith’s slight resurgence in Houston last week in combination with his impressive record around Augusta have him as the 9/1 favourite with Grosvenorsport.com.
If his putter behaves itself then he is most definitely a threat, but he has looked a fair way off his form of years gone by and I’m happy to look elsewhere.
A similar case can be made for Dustin Johnson, who was poor in the WGC-Match Play last time out and doesn’t have a great record around here, having only played the weekend three times in the last six years. He has the game to contend, but his form is a worry and others are preferred.
My first selection, who is the same price as Johnson, is JUSTIN THOMAS. Unlike the other market principles, he is in prime form with a first, second and fourth in his last three events meaning he comes into this brimming with confidence.
He knows how to win a Major Championship having won last year’s USPGA and his FedEx Cup win last year means he has fond memories of Georgia.
His game is very well suited to the demands of Augusta – he hits it miles off the tee and is able to send his irons into orbit.
This is his favourite Major venue and he rates a very solid each-way option at 11/1.
Many experts state that Augusta suits those who are able to shape the ball from right to left and that couldn’t be any truer of my second pick PATRICK REED.
He is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s a fantastic competitor and his game looks to be coming into its own at just the right time.
He loves to draw the ball and I’m struggling to see why he’s 55/1 considering how well he’s been playing in recent weeks.
A second place at the Valspar Championship was followed by a seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a solid showing at the Match Play where he was knocked out by a red-hot Alex Noren.
Granted, his record at The Masters isn’t anything to write home about – his best finish is 22nd in four starts.
This course should suit him down to the ground though and he has experience in the area having starred for Augusta University earlier in his career.
Whatever way you look at it, if you have distance in abundance around Augusta it’s a significant advantage and one man who certainly has is THOMAS PIETERS at 70/1.
I have no doubt that the Belgian Bomber will win his fair share of Majors as his game is more than good enough.
His major problem is that he often follows up a good round with a shocker and he loses his concentration as a result.
When he’s on, he’s a joy to watch and hopefully he is this week. He finished in a tie for fourth last year meaning he clearly likes the course which is always a big plus.
SELECTIONS E/W ¼ 1-2-3-4-5
Justin Thomas 11/1
Patrick Reed 55/1
Thomas Pieters 70/1
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