The Masters outrights and matchups betting preview

We’ve made it. The best golf event, or perhaps even sporting event, has finally arrived. Early Thursday morning the golfers will tee off at Augusta National and the 84th playing of the Masters will officially be underway. The sites and sounds will be slightly different than a normal season with the event being played in November and there being no patrons around the course. But even with these unusual conditions, it is still the Masters and there is still sure to be plenty of drama come Sunday afternoon when the golfers make the turn to the back nine with the green jacket in site. 

Path to finding a winner

More than any other golf event played throughout the season, there are consistent trends to look for when attempting to identify who will be putting on the green jacket Sunday evening. Our normal process will still be crucial (stats, current form, etc) but there are specifics to Augusta National to use to our advantage when looking to place outright bets. Additional information about these trends can be found in the Line Movement piece “The Masters Betting Preview.”

Course history

Experience matters around this course and there is no way to argue it. Course history is an important factor around all golf courses but with the nuances that Augusta National is known for, having a vast course knowledge has proven to be a leg up on the field.

  • No golfer has won the Masters in their first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 and total it has only happened three times (two of which were the first two Masters tournaments played)
  • Seven of the past ten winners had played in the event at least three times prior to winning.
  • Nine of the past ten winners had finished top-30 or better the year prior to claiming the title.

A more detailed take on course history and how it can help identify a winner is broken down near the bottom of this article titled “How to Be on Golf Futures.” 

Recent form and world golf rankings

There is always the argument of which to consider more between course history or recent form. Well, when it comes to the Masters, history says we need to look at both.

  • All of the past five winners had posted at least a top-5 finish in the season leading up to the event
  • Three of the past five winners had claimed a title in the season leading up to the event

The Masters is typically won by a well known, high profile golfer. Whether it is Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, or Phil Mickelson; the winner is typically near the top of the world rankings when they claim the jacket.

  • All of the past five winners had been ranked inside the top-25 of the world golf rankings at the time they won

Check out the world golf rankings to dive into which golfers qualify for this trend.

Course breakdown

  • Field: 96 golfers / top-50 and ties make cut
  • Course: Augusta National
  • Length: 7,475 yards
  • Greens: bentgrass
  • Par: 72
  • Defending Champion: Tiger Woods

Augusta National is a beast of a par-72 course that stretches to roughly 7,500 yards with four par-5s and four par-3s. Traditionally, the par-5s are the easiest holes on the course with both of the two on the back nine bringing eagle into play. The course is strategically laid out to test golfers from a mental perspective as much as physical. Bunkers, water, and sloping fairways are a few of the obstacles that lie ahead as they make their path around the course. 

Due to the strategic nature of this course, we have seen golfers with all different skill sets find success. For example, in 2007 Zach Johnson won after famously not going for any of the par-5s in two shots and playing more of a conservative iron game. The year before, Phil Mickelson claimed the title taking the exact opposite strategy. 

A major key to success has always been solid iron play. Regardless of where the golfers are off-the-tee, a strong approach game is crucial in order to hold the firm greens at Augusta National. Whether it was Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods, or Patrick Reed; the main consistency in winners has been strokes gained: approach.

Right up there with approach is the winner’s ability to get up and down from around the greens. There are a ton of strategically placed bunkers and firmly mowed short grass that will certainly test the golfer’s short game. Saving par from around the green is and always has been a key element in finding success.

Geoff Ulrich previews the 2020 Masters

Amen corner

The old saying goes “the tournament doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.” One of the true beauties of this event is how the back nine can offer as many opportunities for scoring as it can for collapses. We have seen many title hopes drift away with one ball in the water on the par-3 12th or an approach pulled left into the pond on hole 11. The centerpiece of the drama inside the back nine is what is known as “Amen Corner.”

Amen Corner is the trio of holes 11, 12, and 13. These three holes are a par-4, par-3, and par-5 respectively and they are where green jackets are won and lost with just one shot. The par-4 11th hole historically is the hardest hole on the course. It plays to over 500 yards and brings water into play with a lake to the left of the green. An accurate drive, dialed in approach, and delicate putt are all needed in order to make it through safely.

The 12th is the signature hole on the course. A short par-3 that plays over the water with a bunker that guards the flag has taken more than one golfer’s hopes at a title. Perhaps most notably was Jordan Spieth dropping two shots into the lake during his back nine collapse in 2016. Finding the green and two-putting for par will always be an acceptable result.

Then, a little breathing room is found with one of the easiest holes on the course: the par-5 13th hole brings eagle into play with two good shots and tends to be a huge factor when determining the winner. Almost the same length as the 11th hole, this par-5 requires a right to left drive followed by an aggressive approach over the creek in order to find the green in two. 

For a more detailed breakdown of the course feel free to head to the official Masters website where an aerial flyover is offered of every hole

Notable stats

  • Strokes gained: approach
  • Strokes gained: tee-to-green
  • Par-5 scoring
  • Par-4s 450 – 500 yards
Tiger and Dustin
Jun 12, 2018; Southampton, NY, USA; Tiger Woods (left) and Dustin Johnson (center) watch as Bryson DeChambeau hits from the 5th tee during Tuesday’s practice round of the 118th U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Outright favorites

Bryson DeChambeau +900

Only a couple months removed from his breakthrough major victory at the US Open, Bryson rightfully enters this week as the favorite. During the past few weeks in his off time, there are rumors that he has even added more distance to his driver. It is setting up for him to play the Masters in a way that no one has seen before. The lines he will look at off-the-tee will allow him to have short irons and wedges into almost every green. I won’t be taking him at 9/1 but it will certainly be entertaining to watch.

Dustin Johnson +900

The world’s number one golfer is potentially primed to claim his first green jacket. Want to talk about stats? He is 1st in the field in total strokes gained, 2nd in tee-to-green, and 3rd in approach. How about recent form? He hasn’t finished worse than 6th in his past six starts. Maybe Masters experience?  Last four trips have seen results of 2nd, 11th, 4th, and 6th. I’m very tempted to start my card with DJ but it is tough to rationalize a wager under 10/1. We’ll see how the week unfolds.

Jon Rahm +1100

The world’s number 2 player sets up very similarly to Dustin Johnson in the terms of course history and recent form. His past three trips to Augusa have all resulted in finishes of 27th or better, including a 4th in 2018. He also hasn’t finished outside the top-25 of an event in his last seven starts. And finally, he is top-5 in the field in strokes gained off-the-tee, ball striking, and tee-to-green. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Spaniard is the one putting on the green jacket come Sunday but again, at odds of 11/1 I just feel there are better options.

Outrights value

Rory McIlroy +1400

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Rory Mcllroy strokes gained

I’m starting my card with Rory McIlroy. After what many would consider a rocky summer, he has been shaping into much better form this fall. His past four starts have seen finishes of 8th, 8th, 21st, and 17th. And even with how inconsistent his summer months were, he hasn’t missed a cut since June of 2019. The stats over the past 50 rounds do leave a little to be desired (39th in approach and 58th in scrambling) but when he is at his best, he is still one of the top few golfers in the world. 

As far as checking the boxes for “path to finding a winner,” he has a ton of Masters experience, he finished in the top-30 last year, he has multiple top-5 finishes in the past year, including two wins, and he is certainly in the top-25 in the world rankings. The current #4 golfer in the world needs the green jacket to complete the major slam and I think he gets it done this week.

Webb Simpson +3300

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Webb Simpson strokes gained

At the top of the board, it is hard to find solid value with some of the numbers that are being offered. There are great arguments to make when looking at all the favorites heading into the event. Jumping down the board a little bit, Webb stands out very clearly to me as the exact definition of value. With how great of summer and fall seasons the top golfers in the world have had, Webb has been climbing under the radar but not due to his play at all. He has not finished outside the top 17 in his past six starts. During that stretch, he has gained strokes in all major categories, including 3.6 strokes: tee-to-green. He is also 3rd in the field in strokes gained: scrambling, which certainly helps around Augusta National. 

Let’s take a look at our checklist for Webb. He’ll be playing the Masters for the 8th time. He finished 5th last year. He had a top-5 finish on tour only two months ago and a win at the RBC back in June. The #7 golfer in the world looks to be a great play with much higher odds than someone of his pedigree should be. 

Jason Day +3400

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Jason Day strokes gained

I’ve always been a fan of Jason Day and after a rough couple years he is finally back to playing some world class golf. Back in July, he went on a stretch where he finished inside the top-10 in four consecutive starts. Last week, he was able to post a 7th place finish in Houston which will certainly boost his confidence heading into Augusta. He found success last week by gaining 7.4 strokes tee-to-green and 4.5 strokes around the green. His short game has always been a strength, ranking 3rd in the field this week. 

In August, Day placed 4th in the PGA Championship and followed that up with a decent 38th at the US Open. Looking at course history, it would appear that Day certainly has a good feel for the Masters. He has played the event 8 times and never finished worse than 28th, including a 5th place last year. Let’s hope he can carry over the momentum from last week into a run at the title with odds of 34/1.

Tournament matchups

Si Woo Kim -110 vs Byeong Hun An -110

I really don’t think the matchup odds should be even for these two golfers. Benny An has had a really rough few months of golf heading into this week. His best finish since August is a 35th at the Zozo and he has missed three of his last five cuts. He has played the Masters three times and those starts have resulted in finishes of 33rd, MC, MC. Those aren’t the course history numbers that I want to see. Si Woo Kim on the other hand finished 21st last year and 24th the year before. He also has two top-20 finishes in his last three starts. He tends to pop up in high profile tournaments proven true with his Players Championship title in 2017 and a 13th at this past year’s PGA Championship. This one is easy for me.

The pick: Si Woo Kim -110

Dustin Johnson -125 vs Jon Rahm +100

There is no way I’m passing up on betting this matchup between the top 2 golfers in the world. Both are in good form and both are looking for their first green jacket, with Rahm looking for his first major. When two golfers who are closely aligned in stats and recent form are matched up with one another, I look for any edge I can find. For this week, I’m siding with course experience and history. DJ has done everything but win at Augusta National. He has finished inside the top-10 in his last four trips including a 2nd place finish last year. His hall of fame career would be solidified with a Masters title. There’s a good shot that happens this week. Rahm is a world class golfer but DJ is on another level right now.

The pick: Dustin Johnson -125