The Masters Betting News and Notes

The Masters Betting News and Notes

The Masters Preview and Picks
By Matt Fargo
Covers.com

The 2013 golf season kicks in this week for some as the first major of the season is upon us. This is a special week for players, fans and everyone in-between as the anticipation leading up to the Masters is over. This is considered by many as the unofficial start of spring and while avid golf fans live for this weekend, even non-golf enthusiasts know about this epic tournament and what it means. Its beautiful simplicity is what makes it the greatest golf tournament in the world.

Famed Augusta National plays host to its 77th Masters. Back in the day, hitting the ball a mile would be the greatest asset a player could have. And even though the yardage has increased from 6,985 yards in 2001 to 7,435 yards today, bombing it is no longer the edge. Ball striking, hitting greens and putting are the biggest factors in succeeding. Only three times in the last 12 years has the winner finished outside the top 22 in driving accuracy, and only twice have they finished out of the top 10 in greens in regulation.

Unless you have seen Augusta National in person, you cannot appreciate the enormous elevation changes which means getting a flat lie is a rarity. Basically, it is a 'second shot' course which means the approaches are important just to get into position. Hitting an approach shot to the wrong place in some cases means not even being able to go after the pin, whether it be a chip shot or putt. That brings big scores into play so the thought process of shots is just as important as the physical part of the game.

Even though the course is much longer, it does not take the small hitters out of play. Just look at recent winners Trevor Immelman, Mike Weir and Zach Johnson. Because the course has been tightened, it actually brings every player to an almost even playing field and that is what the goal has been since redesigns started taking place. The setup has made the goal pretty simple actually - hit fairways and then hit the correct side of the green and there is a good chance of being on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.

Past history plays a big part as you will see names near the top that you rarely see in other events as successful players here are usually successful every year. 44 Americans are in the field this week but only two U.S. players have won in the last five years, Phil Mickelson in 2010 and Bubba Watson in 2012. A European hasn't won since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 and we can also rule out first time participants as a Masters rookie has not won here since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Here is the list of 2013 Masters rookies: George Coetzee, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jamie Donaldson, Alan Dunbar, Steven Fox, Branden Grace, Tianlang Guan, Russell Henley, John Huh, David Lynn, Thorbjorn Olesen, John Peterson, Scott Piercy, Ted Potter Jr., T.J. Vogel, Michael Weaver, Thaworn Wiratchant. Only Colsaerts (+8,000), Grace (+15,000), Lynn (+50,000), Olesen (+15,000), Piercy (+15,000) and Potter (+50,000) have individual odds as the rest are part of the +2,500 field.

It is hard to go against Tiger Woods (+300) no matter where he plays as he is back to the Tiger of old. He had his worst finish in a major as a professional here last year as his putting was horrific. That is no longer the case as he leads the tour in strokes-gained putting. He has won here four times and even though the last was in 2005, he just looks ready. Three wins in 2013 will do that.

Despite being ranked third in the world, Justin Rose (+2,500) is not getting a lot respect here. He has not finished lower than T8 in his three medal play events on the PGA Tour this year, including a solo second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last time out, and he has cracked the top 25 in 12 straight starts worldwide. He has never missed the cut at Augusta and has finished T11 and T8 the last two years.

Keegan Bradley (+2,500) knows how to win a Major, as he won the 2011 PGA Championship, even though the Masters is a totally different ballgame. After a relatively slow start to the season, he is peaking at the right time as he has finishes of T10, T3, 7th and T4 over his last four starts. He was a Masters rookie a year ago but still finished T27 and that was only that bad because of a Friday 77.

Is it finally time for Lee Westwood (+2,500) to win a Major? He has knocked on the door numerous times but because he has been overtaken in the world ranking by others, he is no longer the best player without a Major. He is still a very good one though and he has had success at Augusta as his last three starts have resulted in a T3, T11 and solo second. He has fallen off the radar which has given him value.

Jason Day (+6,000) is getting incredible value as he looks to be back to his old self. No Australian has ever won the Masters but two years ago, Day, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy all placed in the top four with Day sharing runner-up. He has not missed a cut this year and has three top tens. He has not been at his best over his last three starts but a week off hopefully has recharged the batteries.

Bo Van Pelt (+10,000) will be the longshot pick this week. He is not playing his best but a return to Augusta can help with that. He has played at the Masters only three times and after missing the cut in 2005, he responded with a T8 in 2011 and a T17 last year thanks to a Sunday 64 which was the low round of the entire tournament. Carrying that memory into this week could be the spark he needs.

Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the Masters (all for One Unit)

Tiger Woods (+300)
Justin Rose (+2,500)
Keegan Bradley (+2,500)
Lee Westwood (+2,500)
Jason Day (+6,000)
Bo Van Pelt (+10,000)

2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 11 events: +1.6 Units

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Re: The Masters Betting News and Notes

Masters Betting Preview
By Alf Musketa
Sportsmemo.com

One of the reasons that the Masters is the best golf tournament of the year for bettors is because of the multitude of matchups and props. It is not quite equivalent to Super Bowl props in total numbers but few sporting events provide as much potential for profits.
 
Perhaps the most famous golf course in the world is a par 72 that measures 7,435 yards. Augusta National can be tamed by the best golfers, but if you do not have your "A" game there are many penalty strokes, water hazards and three putts lurking. The track this year is in hard and fast shape due to little rain in the area. The rough is slightly deeper and thicker than in past years, but it is not nearly as severe as the rough in any of the other majors.
 
What kind of golfer do we expect to take home the green jacket? It seems like the obvious answer is Tiger Woods, but he hasn't won here since 2005. We are looking for a long hitter to take advantage of the par fives or if conditions become wet and soft to carry the ball down the fairway. Sure, Zach Johnson, Mike Weir and even Mark O'Meara won at Augusta with less than average driving distance, but they either had extreme conditions, putted lights out, or the field failed to make a move on Sunday.
 
Tiger is on top of his game and already has three wins under his belt before the first major of the year. I'm very concerned however that he will have trouble drawing the golf ball on holes that bend to the left. He has taken two weeks off before the Masters, and a head-to-head matchup handicapping trend that I use is to bet against players with two or more weeks off versus a sharp current form player. Most sportsbooks have Tiger -175 against Rory McIlroy.
 
McIlroy has finally turned the corner with his new Nike clubs. He decided to play an extra week last week at the Valero Texas Open to get tournament sharp and he almost won the event. McIlroy's swing looks tighter and more efficient to me than at any stage earlier in the year and his natural high draw is perfect for Augusta.
 
I've been asked many times how do you bet the Masters? Do not chase short priced future book odds; they have no value. Tiger should be 6-1 or higher in every event he plays. Take a chance with a couple of real long shots at 50-1 or more and concentrate most (75% or more) of your Masters betting on matchups and props. I do not recommend group betting because the odds are not stacked correctly for the favorite in the group. Some of the best bets during the tournament are head-to-head, round-by-round matchups. And as for most majors, you'll see over/under props on scores. Tiger's over/under for his first round is 70.5. During the event if you see a player struggling with his game, where he cannot make a putt outside of four feet or is spraying their tee shots all over the course like John Daly they become a solid go against bet or over the round score the following day.

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Re: The Masters Betting News and Notes

2013 Masters Preview
Moachist.com

Spring is in the air. The azaleas are in bloom. Jim Nantz is once again reminding you that his job is way, way better than yours. It’s time for golf’s first major of the year: The Masters.

Key Factors

There are 93 players in this week’s field, with about 40-45 guys possessing a realistic chance at winning. In choosing among the contenders, here are three factors that I think will play an especially pivotal role:

Greens in Regulation: Recent history indicates that if you want to win at Augusta, you have to hit greens in regulation early and often. Of the last 14 winners, 10 of them have finished T-4 of better for the week in GIR percentage. With rain potentially in the forecast for Thursday and Friday that is more likely to soften the course than suspend play, conditions should be ripe for scoring and players will need as many birdie opportunities as possible. Those that spend the least amount of their week trying to scramble for pars will have the best shot.

Par 5 Performance: Fans and players alike know that the place where Augusta is most vulnerable is on the par 5s and those hoping to win must take advantage. Six of the last seven winners have played the par 5s in 8 under or better for the week, essentially meaning players looking to contend will need to birdie every other par-5 throughout the week.

Three-Putt Avoidance: Around Augusta, the ability to two-putt from 60 feet across a giant tier is just as important as being able to fire an approach shot close the pin. Players will face at least a handful of long and treacherous putts at some point this week on some of the larger greens like the 14th or 16th, and those best equipped to keep pars from turning into bogeys will have a leg up on the field.

What About Tiger?

Woods is listed as a prohibitive favorite, and rightfully so. While I expect him to win, if you didn’t grab a piece of him when the price was right in December or January, you may want to wait until Thursday night. Consider this: in 18 previous Masters appearances, Woods has broken 70 in the first round just once (a 68 in 2010, when he went on to tie for fourth). In his four prior wins, he has opened with a 70 three times, rounds that put him in fourth place (1997), seventh (2002) and 15th (2001) after Thursday’s round. In his fourth title in 2005, he was 33rd after a Thursday 74 and still battled back to win. Point being, at Augusta Tiger tends to subscribe to the theory that you can’t win an event on Thursday, but you can lose it. A relatively conservative opening round could create a situation where you can buy a Woods future prior to Friday’s second round at an improved price compared to what’s currently being offered.

Contenders

While there is no shortage of reasons why Woods will likely win his fifth green jacket Sunday, there is also no shortage of players who have the talent and pedigree to beat him. Among the contenders I have circled are the following:

Phil Mickelson: With three Masters wins to his name, Mickelson has finished inside the top-five nine times in the last 12 years, an incredibly consistent record. His game is ideally suited for Augusta, with an emphasis placed on shaping shots and touch on and around the greens. He’s already won this year in Phoenix and also finished third behind Woods and Steve Stricker at Doral. I think he will have some extra motivation this week in trying to deny Woods a fifth green jacket, and in the process perhaps winning a fourth of his own.

Keegan Bradley: One of the hottest players around, the 2011 PGA champion has finished inside the top 10 in each of his last four events. After leading the Tour in the all-around ranking last year, Bradley is again high on the stat sheet this year: seventh in scoring average, eighth in total driving, 11th in scrambling. Though Masters rookies usually struggle, he tied for 27th in his first appearance last year and there is reason to think he’ll improve on that this week.

Justin Rose: Rose is another player that comes in hot, with three straight top 10s including a runner-up finish to Woods at Bay Hill in his last start. He’s been inside the top 20 in each of his last three Masters starts, including a tie for eighth last year. There are several top Europeans seeking their first major win this week – Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter among them – but I think Rose has the best shot among the group.

Sleepers

The top players have short odds for a reason, but there is nothing more satisfying than pulling a needle from the haystack and boasting a winning ticket with long odds on Sunday. Here are three players from the pack that may be worth consideration:

Bill Haas: The 2011 FedEx Cup champ has five top-10 finishes on Tour in 2013, tied for the most so far this season. He has been remarkably consistent over the first three months, and in a tournament that calls for high GIR percentage, he leads the Tour in the category entering the week. Curiously he has played rather poorly when equipped with the lead late in the tournament twice this year, but if he’s able to shake that tendency he certainly has the game to contend.

Rickie Fowler: Last year he watched one of his best friends, Bubba Watson, win the green jacket, and this week has been side by side with the defending champ. Though his past results in the Masters aren’t remarkable, Fowler has been playing well this year, with three top-10 finishes already this season – including a tie for third in his last start at Bay Hill when he matched Tiger shot-for-shot until the 16th hole Sunday. His game is rounding into form, and I genuinely think the intangibles stemming from his relationship with Watson will benefit him this week.

Hunter Mahan: After winning twice last year before the Masters, Mahan fell off the face of the earth during the latter half of the season and is under the radar this week as a result. He appears to have regained his form, though, with seven top-25 finishes in nine starts this year including a runner-up in defense of his WGC-Match Play title. With three top-12 finishes in the last four years at Augusta he clearly has a good track record in this event. However, I do have some hesitations about how his  short game will perform amid the pressures of Sunday should he play his way back into contention.

Fade Material

While every player expects to play well, there are bound to be some clunkers this week. Here are a few players I’ll look to oppose in H2H matchups:

Thorbjorn Olesen: Perhaps not well known to American fans, the young Dane has some serious game and has been circled as a possible sleeper, having won last year on the European Tour. Two weeks ago, though, Olesen suffered whiplash from a car accident the day before teeing off at the Shell Houston Open. He struggled through an 82 in the first round before withdrawing, and hasn’t played since. At the time he wasn’t sure if he would be able to play this week, and his coach reportedly admitted that  Olesen expects some rust from essentially not practicing at all for 10 days. Not ideal Masters prep.

Martin Kaymer: Augusta more so than many courses requires players to shape their shots, especially the right-to-left draw: a necessity at holes like 8, 10 and 13. The draw does not fit Kaymer’s eye, who has tried to add the shot to his arsenal in recent years with limited success. One report indicated that this year in order to stay fresh, Kaymer would not be playing any actual golf Tuesday or Wednesday this week – just hitting balls and putting because “it’s such a circus there.” Again, not exactly how I’d prepare for an event on such a nuanced course, and if anything it shows me that this event is in his head in a bad way.

Brandt Snedeker: He was among the pre-tournament favorites in February, following a win at Pebble Beach and a pair of runner-up finishes. After that though, Snedeker sat out a month with a rib injury, and in his two starts back from the DL he missed the cut both times. While he possesses the skillset to win and is arguably the best putter on Tour, I’m not convinced that he’s back to 100 percent from a health standpoint.

No matter who is left standing Sunday to don the green jacket, an eventful and dramatic tournament is sure to unfold this week. Here’s hoping you’re able to enjoy, and pick up a couple units along the way. To close, here’s a prop bet that has caught my eye:

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Top Spaniard): Since I don’t expect two-time champ Jose Maria Olazabal to play the weekend (he hasn’t made a cut here since 2007), this essentially becomes a H2H between GFC and Sergio Garcia with a bit of a three-ball price. While Garcia tied for 12th last year, it was his only result of consequence here since 2004 and I’m not inclined to believe he’ll be able to repeat it. Though he’s played well this year, Garcia’s frame of mind in majors tends toward fatalistic, and GFC has put together enough top finishes this year (T-3 at Bay Hill) to make this worth a stab.

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Re: The Masters Betting News and Notes

Masters Odds and Picks
By: Rick Herron
Sportingnews.com

LAS VEGAS -- The Masters has finally arrived, and even though I've never had the privilege of driving up Magnolia Lane into Augusta National, it’s my favorite week of the year.

Scotland’s Martin Laird shot a final-round 63 to win last week's Valero Texas Open and become the last man to qualify for the Masters. It was the 11th time a player has won his way into Augusta the week before, but none of the other 10 has gone on to win.

There are so many things that make the Masters special that it's not even possible to mention them all. But here are a few:

There is the Champions dinner on Tuesday night and the par-3 contest on Wednesday, where the players bring their children, all of the greats from the past still participate and, this year, Rory McIlroy will have his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, caddie for him.

There are the $1.50 pimento cheese sandwiches and Masters club sandwiches for $6.50, which also includes a beer and potato chips.

There are galleries for practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday that are bigger than most tournaments have on Sunday.

The Masters is also the only major played at the same place every year. Memories of the great Masters tournaments stay with us all of our lives.

There was Jack Nicklaus shooting 30 on the back nine to win his sixth green jacket in 1986 at the age of 46.

We had Augusta native Larry Mize’s chip-in on No. 11 in the playoff against Greg Norman in 1987. Many forget that Seve Ballesteros was also in that playoff but was eliminated on No. 10.

Who will ever forget Tiger Woods winning by 12 shots in 1997 for the first major victory of his career? He set 20 tournament records that week. Or will anyone ever forget Tiger’s chip-in at No. 16 in 2005? That was his fourth Masters win and the last time he won the event.

Last year, there was the mind-boggling, hooked-gap wedge that Bubba Watson hit from the pine straw on No. 10 in a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. That was, without a doubt, one of the greatest shots ever hit at the Masters.

Here are a couple of quick facts to note for this week:

If you win the Masters you are given a lifetime exemption.

There has not been a first-time participant win at Augusta since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Believe it or not, five of the last 10 winners have been left handed. Mike Weir won in 2003. Phil Mickelson won in 2004, 2006 and 2010. Watson won last year. That is an amazing statistic, since there are so few lefties who qualify for the event each year.

Georgia has had a mild winter, and the course is supposed to be in fantastic condition. While the wind is expected to blow on Thursday and Friday with a good chance of rain both days, it should be dry and cool with the highs in the low 70s over the weekend.

So who do we expect to do well this week?

Let’s start with Tiger Woods, who has three wins already this season. While we think he'll be a factor on Sunday, we can’t go into our pockets to take the 3-1 odds he is being offered at. You might want to wait until after the first or second round, hope Tiger is a couple of shots behind and get a better price.

Here are five plays that we will be making:

1. RORY McILROY (8-1). Rory shot a 66 in the final round last week at the Valero Texas Open and showed he is ready for this test. He famously blew the lead on Sunday at Augusta in 2011 with a final-round 80, so you know he wants this very badly.

2. KEEGAN BRADLEY (25-1). Bradley has had four-straight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, and he led last year's Masters field in driving distance. He said he was too pumped up in his first visit to Augusta, when he shot a second-round 77 and finished 2-over and tied for 27th. He has the right game to be a factor this time around.

3. BUBBA WATSON (35-1). Bubba has not won since his Masters victory last year, but he has had 14 top-20 finishes. He is sixth on Tour in greens in regulation, and this course sets up perfectly for him. Only three other guys have ever won back-to back Masters – Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. Will Bubba be the fourth?

4. JASON DUFNER (50-1). There is one reason for this pick. When Dufner was asked this spring what he would like to change about Augusta National he replied that he wanted the greens to be faster! Well, with the spring they have had, he is going to get his wish. Good luck, Jason.

5. BILL HAAS (60-1). We have been on Haas a couple times this year, and he does have five top 10s in ten starts so far. He has the perfect game for Augusta. He hits it a long way, and his iron shots are high and soft. He is also third in greens in regulation and 14th in scrambling on Tour.

So there are some options at very nice prices worth your consideration. We will also be playing Dufner (-110) in his matchup with Webb Simpson and Haas (EVEN) in his matchup against Jim Furyk.

There are also many, many props, and one you might want to take a shot at is whether or not there will be a hole-in-one. I always favor the yes (-110) at Augusta, especially with the Sunday pin placement on the par-3 16th. Since the ball tends to funnel down to the hole, there’s always a chance it goes in. Heck, you can always root for that even if your guys are not in contention.

Masters week....There is nothing like it in all of golf. So sit back and enjoy. If there is only one tournament you watch all year, this should be it!

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