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Best Bets: PGA Masters Tournament

PGA Masters Tournament

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A perfect storm is set to hit Augusta, Georgia, where Tiger Woods and a wave of elite talent from the next generation will tee it up in a Masters that is forecast to set a wagering record for a golf major.

More than a decade has passed, and 42 majors have been contested, since Tiger last won one. But he’s expected to be in contention this week along with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who are the betting favorites despite never winning a green jacket.

William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said the biggest bet to cross his computer screen so far was $7,000 on Johnson at 11/1 odds. Westgate SuperBook golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman topped that by taking a $10,000 bet on Woods at 12/1.

“The money bet on this thing is going to be crazy when it’s all said and done,” Bogdanovich said. “The handle is just insane. Sick numbers.

“Tiger is contending, Rory is in top form and so many other guys can win it. The economy is good and sports betting is at an all-time high. It’s creating a tsunami of betting on this tournament.”

This is golf’s Super Bowl, with pages of props and head-to-head player matchups. The Westgate and William Hill will offer adjusted odds after each round and live wagering lines on the weekend. Picking the winner from the 87-player field is a major challenge, and it’s probably wise to look beyond McIlroy (7/1) and Johnson (10/1) to find value with longer odds.

Here are 10 players to watch on the Westgate futures board:

Justin Rose (12/1): Two years ago, Rose squandered a back-nine lead on Sunday and lost a playoff to Sergio Garcia. Rose has two runner-up finishes at Augusta, where course history is a primary reference point for handicappers. He landed in the top 15 in each of his past five Masters appearances. The world’s No. 1-ranked player has the track record and the putting stats to finally shed the bridesmaid label.

Tiger Woods (14/1): On the optimistic side of things, Woods has four Masters wins among 13 Top-10 finishes. On the downside, he’s 43 and has not won here since 2005. But his driving distance remains competitive with the longest hitters and his short game can be phenomenal. He’s healthy, and he’s dangerous when healthy. McIlroy, Woods and Johnson are leading the money count at William Hill books.

Rickie Fowler (16/1): The ticket count leader at William Hill books this week is Fowler, who never has won a major. He fired a final-round 67 last year to finish 14 under par, one stroke behind Patrick Reed. Fowler is immensely talented yet has trouble closing the deal. He’s one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour, and Reed might be the most unpopular. Tommy Fleetwood, Fowler and Woods lead the Westgate’s ticket count.

Jon Rahm (16/1): After opening with a 75 last year, Rahm finished 68-65-69 to place fourth behind Reed, Fowler and Spieth. He’s a loose cannon who needs to prove he has the temperament to win a major. “I think the best value in the market is Rahm in the 20-1 range,” Sherman said. “Rahm said his game fits this course perfectly, and he’s going in with confidence.”

Jordan Spieth (16/1): The most intriguing player in the field, Spieth won at Augusta in 2015 and finished third last year before becoming a mental mess. He should arrive at this course with renewed confidence. In the past four years at Augusta, Spieth is 34 under par. The next-best players in that span are Rose (-28) and McIlroy (-23). Sherman said the Westgate recently took a $6,000 bet on Spieth at 20/1.

Francesco Molinari (20/1): Koepka has won two of the past three majors. Molinari won the other, the British Open, last summer. He’s got a hot putter and is in great form, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March. “Molinari is playing as well as anybody. He’s a totally different player,” Las Vegas radio host and golf handicapper Brian Blessing said.

Brooks Koepka (25/1): A wrist injury kept Koepka out of last year’s Masters. He returned to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He tied for 11th at Augusta in 2017. A bomber off the tee with a precision short game, Koepka’s got all the skills to conquer this course, even if his current form is not the best. A three-time major winner is worth a shot at these odds.

Paul Casey (30/1): In a Masters tuneup, Casey won the Valspar Championship in late March. Success on that Florida course translates to Augusta, where Casey has finished in the top 15 each of the past four years.

Matt Kuchar (40/1): The past three Masters winners were first-time major winners. Kuchar could be next in line. He has four Top-10 finishes at Augusta in the past seven years and arrives in excellent form while leading the PGA Tour in goofy smiles and the key greens-in-regulation category.

Louis Oosthuizen (40/1): Never a sexy pick, Oosthuizen is a sleeper with solid course history and strong current form. He tied for second at the Valspar and has five top-25 finishes in the past seven Masters. This is one of Bogdanovich’s long-shot picks.

Other long shots to watch: Bubba Watson (25/1), Hideki Matsuyama (30/1), Adam Scott (40/1), Xander Schauffele (40/1), Kevin Kisner (60/1), Gary Woodland (60/1), Charley Hoffman (80/1).

 

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