The biggest event in golf, the Masters, gets underway April 10. And if you’re anything like us, the tournament signals the unofficial start of a golf season which actually began a couple months ago.
So if you are looking to lay down a few shekels on the premier event in golf, you probably could use a bit of help. We try to give you a guide here.
First tip: Don’t bet on Tiger Woods. (He’s not playing after undergoing back surgery.)
The favorites …
Adam Scott: 10/1
The defending champion is the co-favorite to take the tournament in 2014 as well. The Aussie has played decently on the PGA Tour this year (five tournaments, four top-12 finishes), but he has yet to win. He’s coming off a third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 20. But the odds of a repeat are never good. Woods was the last person to do it (2001-02) and Nick Faldo (1989-90) was the last person to do it before him. The point is, unless you’re a legend, you’re not going to win back-to-back.
Tip: Put your money elsewhere
Rory McIlroy: 10/1
The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland is the other half of that co-favorite atop the odds. He has had a similar season to Scott — good but no wins yet. He has three top-10 finishes, including last week at the Houston Open. McIlroy had a disappointing 2013 after winning four tournaments (including the PGA Championship) in a breakout 2012 campaign. He had no wins and finished 49th in the year-end FedEx Cup standings. We don’t really know why he’s atop the odds, except for the fact he’s a household name. He’s never been suited to playing at Augusta, with his top finish being 15th in 2011.
Tip: Avoid the big name syndrome
Phil Mickelson: 12/1
Speaking of big names, Mickelson is third on this list for only one reason: his popularity. He’s played in seven tournaments this season and missed the cut three times. He has no top-10 finishes. Mickelson pulled a muscle at the Texas Open in late March and withdrew from the event. But he avoided pulling out of the Masters, unlike rival Woods, and had a solid outing last week in Houston (12th place).
Tip: An unlikely winner
Money makers …
Jordan Spieth: 33/1
The 20-year-old rising star is one of the top underdogs to win the tournament. In fact, he’s gotten so much attention, his odds have risen all the way to 33/1. He’s playing well, currently 13th in the World Golf rankings. He was last year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, broke through for his first PGA win at the John Deere Classic and won two U.S. Junior Amateur titles (2009, 2011) — the only person to do that besides Woods.
Tip: No question he’s going to be good, but he won’t win in his first Masters
Luke Donald: 50/1
The Englishman has a game well-suited to the course at Augusta. He has three top-10 finishes in the last nine years and top 10s at each of the majors in his career. He’s just waiting to break through. Donald has a couple top-10 finishes this season as well, including a fourth-place finish at the Valspar Championship in mid-March.
Tip: Our favorite if you want to make some real cash
Dark horses …
Steve Stricker: 80/1
Stricker is about as boring a pick as they come. Sorry, Steve. But if you’re looking for a conservative choice to win the Masters, he’s a good option. He has 16 career PGA Tour wins and finished in the top-20 in all three majors he competed in last year.
Tip: If you’re doing a multi-pick office pool, you’ll probably be the only one to select him (that’s good)
Matt Every: 150/1
You probably don’t know the name (we don’t blame you), but he might be the best dark horse option in the tournament. He’s getting very poor odds for a player who won at the star-studded Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago. In fact, he outdueled Scott to get the win in the event. The Arnold Palmer was his first tour win and he has very little history in majors. His win on March 23 earned him his first invite to the Masters.
Tip: It’s called a dark horse choice for a reason, but he’d be fun to root for
All odds courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.