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Masters Preview

Masters Preview

Masters Preview
By Alf Musketa

Yes, once again the greatest sporting event of the year is upon us, and also one of the best opportunities to cash props, future bets and matchup tickets. You will find at your sportsbook five times the normal PGA Tour matchups available with round by round matchups and also look for "Tiger Woods Props."

Of course Tiger is the favorite after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but I recommend that you find other ways to bet on Tiger throughout the Masters. If he has the lead after round two or three he's money in the bank. You could have gotten +310 on Tiger to win at Bay Hill. He was five shots back of Sean O'Hair, and the key was that Tiger was paired with O'Hair the leader in the final group.

We are blessed in a time of our lives to witness the best golfer ever and we have a chance to make money betting on him. I suggest we all do that and not bet against him.

Much talk this year about the Masters is how tough the golf course has become, how long it is and possible cool temps/rain/wind weather will make the best players on the planet look foolish. I'm tired of the pros crying, but it's the media that doesn't like when Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson or Mike Weir wins the Masters laying up on the par fives. Control of your golf ball from tee to green and control on the greens wins the green jacket.

There are basically no changes to Augusta National worth mentioning for handicapping purposes this year.

The Masters is an invitational event and it's a small field of only 96, minus 10 former Champions that no longer participate. The cut of 44 (plus those within 10 shots of the lead) is the smallest of all pro tournaments, having your player make the cut is the key to winning matchups here. First time contestants struggle at the Masters. In 2008 only five of 15, in 2007 eight of 16 and in 2006 only four of 15 first-time starters made the cut.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the Contenders, Pretenders and Sleepers to win the 2009 Masters:


Tiger Woods 2/1

Tiger seems to be getting better the more he plays since coming back from knee surgery eight months ago. I saw him up close at the WGC Matchplay, his first tournament back he looked very loose on the range, on the course and the short game sharp. Since then he has tightened up his swing and makes the putts he needs to. He's baaaaack and the guy to beat bar none.

Phil Mickelson 8/1

Throw out his poor effort last week at the Shell Houston Open. He caught the worst of the weather in round one, played 10 holes (+5) and then the Tour decided to cancel play for the day. If the weather at Augusta is damp and you need to carry the ball a long way, Phil is driving it better than ever and he has the short game to win again.

Geoff Ogilvy 12/1

Ogilvy has won twice already this year and leads the Fed Ex Cup Points Standings. He has been as consistent as any player on Tour. His fluid putter is the difference and practices on super fast greens at his home course of Whisper Rock.

Padraig Harrington 20/1

The Paddy Slam? The knock on Paddy is he didn't win either of his majors last year with Tiger in the field. He'll have a chance to win if the weather is ugly.

Retief Goosen 30/1

Now at 40, the Goose finally broke through and won a PGA Tour event (Transitions) his first in 3 1/2 years. He is a solid wind player and one of the best fast greens putters in the game. (2 US Open wins)

Zach Johnson 45/1

Zach has been stripping it off the tee and has his approach shots working well. Don't be surprised if he wins again this year. He stopped in Sea Pines, GA this past week to get seriously ready for Augusta.

Rory McIllroy 50/1

This 19 year old prodigy will win a green jacket. Write it down. I saw him in Arizona and could not believe my eyes. Text book swing, hits it a mile with a high ball flight and a draw, perfect for Augusta. If he takes to the ultra fast greens, then watch out!


Fred Couples 120/1

Couples played 54 holes over the past two days (Sat & Sun) in the wind and tough conditions at the Shell Houston Open. He says he's dead tired, his back feels like "I'm standing on nails" and with cool temperatures expected his back will not be relaxed. Also, Couples' streak of 25 consecutive cuts made at the Masters ended last year.

Paul Casey 60/1

Yes, Casey just won the Shell Houston Open, his first ever win on the PGA Tour. You would think he'd be one of the players to beat this week with a good Masters record to boot. But, I know this guy. He's a party animal. Earlier this year he won the Abu Dhabi Championship, the next week on a similar track at the Qatar Masters he shot an opening round of 76 and missed the cut. Winning a million dollars does that.

Vijay Singh 40/1

Vijay has had knee surgery and now has back issues. He withdrew from the Honda Classic. Now we know that's not the Vijay that plays 30 plus events and practices seven days a week. His best finish is a T53 in the past 2.5 months.

Trevor Immelman 65/1

The defending Masters Champion has had one Top 10 finish since winning the green jacket. He ranks 131st in Putts Per Round. Enough said.


Ryuji Imada 100/1

Yes, this is Imada's first Masters. But, he has performed brilliantly this season making 8 of 9 cuts and four Top 20 finishes. He has been sneaking away to practice at Augusta National every two weeks this year.

Miguel Angel Jimenez 120/1

"The Mechanic" placed 8th last year, 44th in '07, 11th in '06 and 31st in '05. He works the ball well both ways off the tee and is calm under pressure.

Danny Lee Field 25/1

If we can bet Lee separate from the field in the 200/1 range it's a bet. After Tiger won three US Amateur's in a row from 1994-1996, only two US Amateur winners have won a PGA Tour event. Can you name them? Matt Kuchar, he has won twice and David Gossett. Lee will turn pro after the Masters at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. I haven't seen him in person, but what I have noticed on the tube is the talent, guts and determination to be the best. He won the Johnnie Walker Euro Tour event earlier this season as an Amateur and beat a stellar field that included Anthony Kim and Camillo Villegas.

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Re: Masters Preview

Tiger and Phil on a collision course at Masters
April 7, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -He was on the practice range at first light, only his coach and caddie at his side. Then it was off to the putting green, where he kept pressing an Augusta National official for permission to start his practice round before the course was open.
It's a familiar story for Tiger Woods each year at the Masters.

But on this frigid Tuesday morning, the routine belonged to Phil Mickelson.

They have kept different schedules this week - Mickelson playing early, Woods the late arrival with his most limited practice in his Masters career. They were one group apart Sunday afternoon when both arrived at Augusta and played the front nine.

``Tiger and Phil are out there playing,'' one of the club members said before adding with a smile, ``Not together, obviously.''

They are not particularly close, except in the world ranking.

The top two players in golf - and the best rivalry of their generation - could be on a collision course at the first major of the year.

Woods returned from an eight-month break after knee surgery to win at Bay Hill two weeks ago when he rallied from a five-shot deficit to beat Sean O'Hair with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in the dark. It was type of putt Woods always seems to make, one summed up perfectly by Geoff Ogilvy: ``Everyone is impressed, but no one is surprised.''

Mickelson already has won twice this year, repeating at Riviera and winning at Doral for his first World Golf Championship.

``I feel like right now I'm playing some of the best golf that I've ever played,'' Mickelson said.

They have not gone head-to-head at the Masters since 2001, when they played in the final group and Woods won by two shots to become the only pro to capture four consecutive majors.

Mickelson has won the Masters twice, and while the first one is the most memorable - remember that leap? - it was equally gratifying in 2006 to have Woods, the defending champion, help him into the green jacket.

``I do have a picture of him sliding that jacket on me,'' Mickelson said with a smile. ``That felt good.''

They are considered the top two contenders at the Masters, which starts Thursday, even in a year when there is no shortage of story lines, from Padraig Harrington going for a third straight major to Greg Norman returning to a major he loves, but has received no love back.

Mickelson could go to No. 1 in the world for the first time in an otherwise stellar career if he were to win the Masters and Woods finished out of the top five.

``It would be an incredible feat, given who is currently No. 1,'' Mickelson said.

That would be Woods, who intends to stay there.

``The No. 1 ranking takes care of itself, just by winning golf tournaments,'' Woods said. ``That's the only way you can really get it. You just have to continue to win.''

The last time Mickelson was so prominently featured at a major was three years ago in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when he had a one-shot lead on the 18th hole with a chance to join Woods (who had missed the cut) and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three straight majors. Mickelson made double bogey to lose by one, and he has not contended in a major since.

Now that opportunity belongs to Harrington, who won the British Open and PGA Championship last year with Woods on the mend. That would seem to make the Irishman a natural rival to Woods, only he doesn't see it that way.

``I would have to say I can't be a rival, because in the end I'm always fighting with myself,'' Harrington said. ``I'm always competing with myself. I'm trying to better myself all the time. So I don't really have a rival in that sense. I'm totally focused on trying to get the best performance out of me, and trying to improve my performance.''

Woods has had a revolving door of rivals throughout his career - Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh, Mickelson - but no other rivalry carries as much energy as the rivalry with Lefty, even though it has been one-sided.

Neither of them see it that way.

``I think the whole idea is to handle your own business and on Sunday, see where you are,'' Woods said. ``You don't look at it and say, 'I have to beat this one person to win the golf tournament.' Because there are a whole host of people that you have to beat.''

Woods knows that from recent experience at Augusta.

He has been a Masters runner-up the last two years. He couldn't make enough birdies to make a run at Trevor Immelman last year, and he couldn't buy a putt in 2007 when he was trying to track down Zach Johnson. It was the only time he played in the final group at the Masters without winning.

``The last couple of years, my putting has been streaky here,'' Woods said. ``I get on rolls where I made everything, and I get on rolls where I didn't make anything. Consequently, I didn't win the tournament.''

Mickelson believes rivalries are created only in the mind of the media and the public. He won the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston in 2007 while paired with Woods in the final round, but he said he only cared about his own play.

Even so, Mickelson is among the few who relishes a chance to take on Woods, especially in a major.

``Hopefully, we will both play well,'' Mickelson said. ``We have 54 holes where we have to play great golf. I don't think that's a question for him. I think he's playing some great golf, and I think he's going to be there. I think that I've been playing some of the best golf of my career, and I believe I'm going to be there, too.''

On a tough golf course where birdies have become more rare, that might be enough to bring back some roars to the Masters.

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Re: Masters Preview

Mastering the Masters: How to bet golf’s biggest event

Stick with the matchups

You had Trevor Immelman to win last year's Masters, right?

Who didn't?

Four months removed from having a tumor extracted from his diaphragm, Immelman arrived at Augusta last April as a 50-to-1 long shot.

Clearly, he was a lock to hold off Tiger Woods for only his second PGA victory.

And, of course, you had Zach Johnson in 2007.

If you did, congratulations, you successfully wagered money on an absolute fluke.

In the long run, that’s no way to make money betting on golf.

“I never bet on any specific player to win a tournament,” said Covers Experts’ Larry Ness. “Bookmakers are free to disagree, but rarely are bettors given a fair price.  I see little value in trying guess which golfer could be on the verge of the weekend of his life.”

Instead of trying to pinpoint the outright winner, Ness focuses on the individual matchups, where bettors can get a price on one golfer verses another for the tournament. It’s very similar to betting baseball.

Jeff Sherman, the Las Vegas Hilton’s golf odds specialist, uses power ratings to form these individual matchups.

His power ratings are derived from a golfer’s current form and his past history on the course.

“I place more emphasis on current form than I have in the past,” Sherman said. “I used to consider current form around 65 percent and course form around 35 percent, but now it is about 80 percent current (form) and 20 percent course (history), unless there is something that really stands out.

“I also have stopped discounting first timers at Augusta.”

Even with his calculations, Sherman is more wary of the matchups than the odds to win the whole tournament.

“It’s a lot easier to make a mistake with the individual matchups, if you are not careful. Whereas, with the odds to win, only one can win,” he explained. “So even if the odds are offered too high in relation to the market, it is still going to be tough get hurt too badly on the odds-to-win portion.”

The betting public hasn’t caught onto this yet.

Books generally see more action on the odds to win the whole tournament than on the more winnable individual matchups.

Don’t make this mistake. Don’t bet the fluke.

Betting Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has won 25 percent (4 of 12) of his Masters appearances as a professional.

That means at 11-to-5, he’s a bad bet.

“Getting Tiger at 2-to-1 (or thereabouts) hardly makes sense,” said Ness.

However, the lack of value doesn’t stop bettors from loading up on Tiger.

“Tiger will always get his money,” said Sherman. “The key is finding his fair odds that will allow the book to do well, if he wins too.

“Since his odds are generally so low, we can take a good amount of money on Tiger and not get jeopardized. During the majors, we offer a Tiger vs. Field proposition, which allows his odds to fluctuate around a true price.”

You can also bet on Tiger Woods in several individual matchups:

Tiger Woods (-200) vs. Phil Mickelson
Woods (-210) vs. Geoff Ogilvy
Tiger Woods (-250) vs. Padraig Harrington

Larry Ness' five favorite matchups

Tiger Woods (-250) over Padraig Harrington: “Harrington's best finish here at Augusta has been a tie for fifth. He's done it twice, including last year but I love Tiger over Padraig.”

Stewart Cink (-105) over Mike Weir: “Cink always seems to be in the mix at Augusta (as well as any number of big tourneys throughout the year).

“This is a perfect example of why I prefer matchups as opposed to betting on a player to win. Cink won't win this year's Masters, but it's a bargain to get him around even money to finish higher than Weir.”

Geoff Ogilvy (Even) over Padraig Harrington: “Ogilvy owns one of the game's sweetest swings and has already won twice in 2009. I may seem to be ganging up on Padraig, but I like Ogilvy here.”

Justin Rose (-120) over Luke Donald: “Everyone seems to like Luke Donald. He tied for third in the 2005 Masters, but missed the cut last year in only his fourth appearance.

“Rose has yet to break through with a win on the PGA Tour, but this guy has shared the first round on three occasions in just four Masters' appearances. His highest finish was tied for fifth in 2007. At -120, he’s a solid play against Donald.”

Retief Goosen (-120) over Ernie Els: “Goosen has played well outside of the PGA Tour recently. He finished third at Pebble and won the Transitions Championship a few weeks ago in Florida.

“Els has come close at Augusta before (second in 2000 and 2004), but he's no threat anymore.”


It was chilly, rainy and windy early in the week at Augusta.

Conditions improved in the middle of the week, but Friday’s forecast calls for more rain.

The wet conditions will lengthen the already-on 7,435-yard layout at Augusta National and cause problems for some of the shorter hitters in the early rounds.

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Re: Masters Preview

2009 Masters Golf Odds and Predictions
by Matt Severance - 04/07/2009

One of the great things about the Masters, even if you normally don't bet on golf, is the variety of prop bets available. Much like the NFL's Super Bowl, the books trot out plenty of unique options for what is probably golf's Super Bowl.

For example, if you are convinced that Tiger Woods is a mortal lock to win his fifth green jacket, WagerWeb offers other options such as Top U.S. Player other than Woods, Top European Player, Top South African Player and Top Young Gun. I also thoroughly enjoy the tournament matchup betting, where you can wager on a particular two-man matchup - say Lefty vs. Tiger, Sergio vs. Harrington or even 2008 winner Trevor Immelman vs. 1992 winner Fred Couples. And of course, you can just bet on whom you think will win.

Here are a few 2009 Masters golf predictions including odds that I recommend (or don't) and why: Don't fall into the trap of taking the big odds on one of the young stars such as Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim or Camilo Villegas to win this tournament. The average age of first-year winners is 31.56 years, with only 17 winners in tournament history under the age of 30. And don't dare bet on a guy to win in his first Masters, as that's happened just three times (including the first-ever Masters) and not since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

I do like the matchup bet of Padraig Harrington, who goes for his third straight major, against Tiger. I'm not saying either will win, but Paddy is getting +210 against Tiger on WagerWeb, which is the second-highest number of all the tournament matchups on that site (only behind Geoff Ogilvy's +220 against Tiger; Phil Mickelson gets +185 against Woods).

In Harrington's first seven Masters, he finished better than 13th only once (fifth in 2002). But in the past two, he seems to be figuring Augusta out. In 2007 he tied for seventh (two behind Tiger) and then last year shared fifth (three behind Tiger). But the way, only Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Tiger have won three consecutive major championships.

Another bet I like is South African Retief Goosen as the top Rest of the World Player at +595; Goosen is only priced behind Ogilvy, an Aussie. Goosen finished 17th last year but was in the top three in the previous three Masters.

Plus, Goosen's career appears back on track, as he has reworked his swing and got in better shape. It has paid off with seven made cuts in seven events, including a win last month outside Tampa at the Transitions Championship. Goosen also finished third at Pebble Beach in February.

Ogilvy, who has been outstanding on Tour this year, has a best finish of 16th at Augusta in three previous Masters. But you may not want to bet on an Aussie to win at Augusta, as it has never happened (thanks mainly to Greg Norman).

"I think it's a course that I could do OK, and if I play like I have this year, I would hope I would have some sort of chance on Sunday," Ogilvy said.

I would be remiss if I didn't give you a good longshot bet to win this weekend for my 2009 Masters golf predictions, and I think Vijay Singh is just that at +5000. He has finished in the top 15 every year since his victory in 2000, with the exception of 2001 when he tied for 18th. Singh's career scoring average of 72.20 at Augusta is in the top 10 of active players.

The reason he is getting such long odds is because he has struggled a bit this year following knee surgery in January. Upon his return, Singh's best finish in five events has been a tie for 17th in the WGC-Match Play. He also missed the cut last week in Houston, but so did Mickelson in lousy conditions.

Sean O'Hair, who has four Top-10 finishes this season and was the victim of Tiger's winning putt at Bay Hill a few weeks ago, is good value at +1025 to be the top American other than Woods. O'Hair finished 14th last season at Augusta.

Hopefully I've given you a few bets to ponder with my 2009 Masters golf predictions … although no doubt a majority of you will just bet on Tiger anyways.

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Re: Masters Preview

Masters Prop Bets Predictions
by T.O. Whenham

The first, and best, major of the golf year is now just a couple of days away. In my view, Tiger Woods has pretty much ruined regular golf betting. He's at 7/4 to win this year, a price that I positively cannot justify as containing even a tiny amount of value. The problem, however, is that he also makes it very hard to justify betting on anyone else. My typical response to that, then, is to look elsewhere for some action to make an already compelling tournament even more compelling. That's where prop bets come in. Here's a look at some of the more interesting props that Bodog has to offer this week:

Tiger's first round score - Woods has played the Masters 13 times as a pro. How many times do you think he has shot below 70 on the first round? If your guess is zero then you are right. That means that betting that he will shoot 69 or less, even if it pays 5/2, isn't very attractive. When he has won his four green jackets he has shot a 70 three times, and a 74 once in the opening rounds. When he hasn't won he has averaged almost a 74. If you think he will win this week then betting he will score 70 or 71 is probably attractive at 21/10. Otherwise, 71 or higher at 1/1 would be the bet.

Highest score by any player on one hole - Whoever has the distinction of the highest hole score is going to have a very bad day. It's heavily favored that the highest score will be nine or higher - that is at just -188. That leaves eight or under at +138. Neither seems like much of a bet, but the optimist in me would say take the under and hope for the nicer payoff. Just don't bet your mortgage on it.

What will the winning score be? - Par is 288. You can bet that it will be 280 or lower for the potential payoff of -138, or 281 or higher at even money. Eighteen of the last 25 tournaments have been won at 280 or lower, so the under would seem to be great value. Not so fast, though - the course has been changed aggressively in recent years and the results are showing on the scorecard. The winning scores the last three years have been 280, 289, and 281. Based on that small sample size the over is at least worth a good look.

How many strokes will the winner win by? - Five of the last 25 tournaments have gone to playoffs. That means that there is no value in betting that this year will end in a playoff at 9/4. The same goes for one stroke - it has happened six of 25 times, but pays just 5/2. A two-stroke margin is where it gets more interesting. That is the most common margin - eight out of 25 times. It pays off at 7/2 if it happens. That means that it would have been quite profitable to bet on that outcome at that price over the years. Last year the margin was three strokes, and it was three two other times over the last 25 years. That makes 9/2 a terrible bet. Our final option is a margin of four or more strokes. That has only happened three times in 25 years, and not since Tiger erupted for a 12-stroke win in 1997 on a course that was far different than it is now. Betting that it will happen again this year at 10/3 would be a very bad idea. If you are interested in betting this then two strokes in the only one that makes sense. That's even more compelling if you look at a smaller time frame - three of the last eight tournaments have been won by two strokes, so this has been wildly profitable over that time.

Where will the winner come from? - Six of the last eight champions have been Americans. Twelve of the Top 15 money winners on tour this year are Americans. An American winner would pay 2/3 on this prop. That's not a great price, but you would have to say that it is at least fair. The most interesting one by far, though, is betting that the winner will be Australasian. It pays 11/1. Geoff Ogilvy alone almost makes that worthwhile - he's leading the money list, and he is at 16/1 in the future odds, so the rest of the guys you get are almost a throw-in. You get some good guys, too. Neither Adam Scott nor Stuart Appleby are in great form right now, but both are on the list of guys who could win a major one day. Vijay Singh has already won a Masters. Michael Campbell won the U.S. Open. K.J. Choi, Ryuji Imada, and Shingo Katayama are more than competent Asian players, and Ryo Ishikawa is supposedly the next big thing. They all come together, along with others, to make 11/1 almost a bargain.

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