Post by: Mike Philipps
The most famous golf course in the world takes center stage of the sports world this week as Augusta National (par 72, 7,435 yards) in Augusta, Georgia hosts the 2018 Masters Tournament for the 82nd time. The season’s first major quickly approaches as thousands of patrons descend on its hallowed grounds.
It looks like spring should be in full bloom in Augusta, too. According to the extended forecast, weather looks like it shouldn’t be an issue. Rain earlier in the week, combined with relatively calm and mild conditions should make for improved scoring conditions. The weather is just one variable in looking for a winner. Here are some recent trends from the man who eventually slips on the Green Jacket each year.
Where to Bet on the Masters Online
The average Masters champ is 32 ½ years old when he wins, and the average player gets his first Masters win on his sixth try. Last year’s winner, Sergio Garcia, was over both those numbers, as the 37-year-old won in his 19th attempt. Garcia’s win also marked the sixth time in the last nine years that the winner’s age was over the mean. The average age of those winners was about 36.4.
Garcia added to another more recent trend of players coming from outside the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings to win, though he was just outside at 11th. From 2000 to 2006, all seven winners were ranked in the top 10 entering the Masters.
More recently, eight of the last 11 winners were ranked 11th or lower when they teed it up at Augusta National. During the last 11 years, two of the lowest-ranked players in Masters history have come out of the field to win; Zach Johnson was ranked No. 56 in 2007 and Angel Cabrera was ranked No. 69 in 2009. Tiger Woods is the only player over the last 28 years to enter the Masters as the No. 1 ranked player and leave with the Green Jacket, winning it in 2001 and 2002.
Last year, Garcia and Justin Rose had an epic Sunday duel, with the Spaniard finally finishing the deal to remove his name from the “best to never win a major” discussion. After faltering early on the back nine to fall out of the lead, Garcia made an impressive par save on the par five 12th before birdieing No. 14 and eagling No. 15 turn things around.
After a three-putt bogey by Rose on 17, Garcia had a chance to win in regulation on the final hole, but his birdie putt never touched the hole as it veered to the right. An errant tee shot by Rose on the first hole of sudden death (hole No. 18 again) meant Garcia only needed to two-putt to claim the Green Jacket, but he finished in style, making birdie to win. Garcia held at least a share of the lead after each of the last three rounds while finishing at nine-under-par.
The Masters has the smallest field of any major, and just 87 will tee it up this week – the lowest number since 1997. The top 50, including ties, along with all players within 10 shots of the lead, will play the weekend. The world of professional golf has been wide open when it comes to the majors and the 2018 Masters is no exception.
2018 PGA Masters Odds
We will be taking a close look at many Masters competitors today, but first here’s a comparison of the outright betting odds for each of the top twenty betting favourites. We begin with three reliable golf bookmakers that accept customers from around the world and then move to three betting sites that accept US customers.
Masters Odds at UK Online Bookmakers
Masters Odds at US Online Sportsbooks
Masters Betting Favourites
Six of the last seven Masters winners have been first-time major winners, coinciding with the run of nine of the last 12 major champions who were also first-time winners. That means there are a lot of players to consider, and we’ve broken them up into five categories: The Favorites, Past Masters Champions, Other Major Winners, Veterans Who’ve Been Close and Young Guns.
You can also see this entire post broken down to its component numbers with this handy Excel spreadsheet showing all manner of statistics. Just click here to download the Excel file.
Now, here’s a look at the five players with the best odds to win the Green Jacket.
- World Golf Ranking: 1
- Odds to Win: 10/1
- Overview: Johnson enters the week being ranked No. 1 in the world for the 59th consecutive week and one of the favorites to claim his second major title. He has placed in the top 16 of all six of the stroke play events he’s teed it up in this season, including a dominant win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. He’s added two more runner-ups this season, but he held the 54-hole lead in both those events. DJ leads the PGA Tour in Total Strokes Gained, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, and Birdie Average with nearly five per round. While those stats aren’t surprising, his putting numbers might be. He ranks 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting. He’s got the complete game.
- At The Masters: Johnson had the freak accident last year that kept him out of the Masters, slipping down the steps of his rented home just the day before the first round and injuring his back. He’d had little success at Augusta in his first five tries – he cracked the top 30 just once – but Johnson has strung together consecutive top-6 finishes in his last two starts.
- Last event: Johnson entered the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event as the defending champion, but he was shut out in pool play, losing all three matches in convincing fashion. He only made it to the 17th hole once in three tries, and lost the other two matches 4 & 3.
- World Golf Ranking: 103
- Odds to Win: 9/1
- Overview: That’s right – Tiger Woods has some of the best odds to win the Masters after playing just seven PGA Tour events over the last 31 months. But it’s pretty easy to see why people are getting excited about the latest Tiger comeback. He’s placed in the top five in each of his last three starts, and has looked more and more comfortable each time out. His statistics back up his results, too. He ranks in the top-15 in four Strokes Gained categories: Around-the-Green (7th), Total (8th), Putting (14th) and Approach-the-Green (15th). And maybe most importantly, Tiger’s knowledge of Augusta National is unmatched, and he will have the entire gallery on his side as he goes for Green Jacket number five.
- At The Masters: Tiger has done it all at the Masters – except play recently. He’s missed the last two Masters, and three of the last four. But before that, he was an absolute machine. In his career, he’s missed the cut just once in 20 starts and has claimed four Green Jackets. Everyone remembers his historic victory in 1997 that announced that he would be a dominant force in the game, but more recently, from 2005 through 2013 (nine starts), he placed outside the top six just once. He finished T-17 in 2015, his last start there.
- Last event: Woods earned his second straight top-five with a T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, ramping up the already lofty expectations of the former World No. 1’s latest comeback. Woods looked primed to do much better than T-5 early on Sunday, carding six birdies over his first 13 holes, but he got derailed by a pair of bogeys on 16 and 17, and a white-hot Rory McIlroy. He ranked sixth in Driving Distance for the week, showing that he still has impressive power despite the many ailments he’s suffered.
- World Golf Ranking: 7
- Odds to Win: 9/1
- Overview: McIlroy finally got back in the winner’s circle after a 78-week (27 events) drought, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. The four-time major champion dominated the final round with a scorching 64 to upstage Tiger Woods, who was also in contention. The win brings his name back to the forefront – though odds makers never overlook Rors – moving him ahead of the likes of Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas. Don’t forget that it’s McIlroy that has the unique motivation of being able to complete the career grand slam with a win this week. Oh, and he’s one of the most talented players in the world.
- At The Masters: McIlroy might be most remembered in Augusta history for his meltdown in the final round in 2011 when he carded an 80 (43 on the back nine) and blew a four-shot lead. But since then, he has placed in the top 10 in each of the last four years, and has finished outside the top 25 just once (T-40, 2012).
- Last event: McIlroy failed to advance from pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. He split his first two matches, but was easily handled by Brian Harman (5 & 3) in his final match.
- World Golf Ranking: 2
- Odds to Win: 10/1
- Overview: The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and FedEx Cup Champion has been a major factor in two of the last three majors, finishing T-9 at the U.S. Open, before winning the PGA Championship. He’s riding an impressive stretch of results going back to beginning of the 2016-17 season, winning seven times. In his last 15 starts alone, Thomas has four wins (PGA Championship, Dell Technologies Championship, THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, The Honda Classic), two seconds, and three more top-10s. He brings a complete game to Augusta, ranking 56th of better in all six Strokes Gained categories, and in the top six in three of them – Total (3rd), Tee-to-Green (5th) and Approach-the-Green (6th). The current leader in the FedEx Cup Points Standing has the third-best Scoring average on the PGA Tour this season at 69.054.
- At The Masters: Thomas improved on his Masters debut in 2016 (T-39) by finishing inside the top 25 (T-22) last year. He played the weekend in three-under-par after playing the first two rounds in five-over.
- Last event: Thomas coasted to the Quarterfinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, winning his first five matches without ever having to go to the 18th He defeated Si Woo Kim 6 & 5 in the Round of 16, then bested Kyle Stanley 2 & 1 in the Quarterfinals. From there, Thomas ran into a couple of buzz saws. He fell to eventual champ Bubba Watson 3 & 2 in the Semifinals, then to Alex Noren 5 & 3 in the third-place match. Despite losing his last two matches, it was an impressive showing. Had he won his semifinal match against Watson, Thomas would have moved to the No. 1 ranking in the world.
- World Golf Ranking: 4
- Odds to Win: 12/1
- Overview: The early part of the 2017-18 hasn’t been exactly what we have come to expect from Spieth, but he enters Masters week on the heels of his best result in a full-field event this season. So while he has as many top-10s as missed cuts in his last eight starts, Spieth will likely be reversing the recent trend of his odds to win The Masters going up. Spieth’s full swing hasn’t been the issue – he ranks in the top 30 in five Strokes Gained categories, including ninth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. It’s been his putter. He ranks 172nd on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained Putting, losing strokes to the field, on average. Augusta seems to bring the best out of Spieth, so while he hasn’t been playing his best, he is one the favorites to earn a second Green Jacket this week.
- At The Masters: Spieth has experienced the highest of highs at Augusta – he tied the lowest cumulative score at 18-under when he won in 2015 – and the lowest of lows – he blew a five-shot lead going into the back nine in 2016 when he hit two in the water on No. 12. Despite that roller coaster of emotions from one year to the next, his resume is as impressive as anyone’s in Masters play. His T-11 last year was his lowest finish in four career starts – the first time he hasn’t placed first or second.
- Last event: Spieth carded four rounds under par, including a scorching round of 66 on Sunday, at last week’s Houston Open. His 16-under-par total was good enough for a T-3 result.
These players have won it before, so we know that they know what it takes.
- World Golf Ranking: 19
- Odds to Win: 16/1
- Overview: The two-time champ had become almost an afterthought thanks to a string of 44 straight events without even a top-five finish to his name. But in what can only be known as the year of resurgence, Watson, ranked 117th entering the week, got his third career win at the Genesis Open in February, followed it up with a T-9 at the WGC-Mexico, then added a dominating performance in winning the WGC Match Play event. A switch back his previous golf ball (and away from the pink one) earlier this season is getting a lot of credit for his turnaround, and his odds to win have really come down. He’s still one of the best drivers of the ball, ranking fourth in Driving Distance and sixth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He’s also got that even year thing working in his favor. Watson’s Masters wins came in two of the last three even-year events, for whatever that’s worth.
- At The Masters: Watson has been a boom or bust proposition at the Masters, as he either wins or doesn’t even sniff contention. Since 2009, the only two times he finished in the top 35 were the times he put on the Green Jacket – 2012 and 2014. He missed the cut for the first time in his Masters career last year after a second-round 78.
- Last event: Watson earned his second victory in four starts, claiming the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play title two weeks ago, and he did so in impressive fashion. After comfortably winning his first two matches (5 & 3 over Branden Grace, 3 & 2 over Marc Leishman), he won the final two holes to earn a halve against Julian Suri and advance from group play. From that point, he displayed the ability to get on a roll. He defeated Brian Harman 2 & 1 in the Round of 16 thanks to winning four of five holes in the middle of the round. He easily dispatched of Kiradech Aphibanrat 5 & 3 in the Quarterfinals after winning five of the first six holes on the back nine. He jumped on Justin Thomas early in the Semifinals, winning the first three holes on his way to a 3 & 2 win. Finally, he dominated Kevin Kisner in the Championship match, winning six of the first seven and eight of the first twelve to close him out 7 & 6.
- World Golf Ranking: 18
- Odds to Win: 18/1
- Overview: After a relatively poor stretch over the past year – he nearly fell out of the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings for the first time in over two decades – Mickelson has seen a resurgence in his game. He won for the first time in over four-and-a-half years when he defeated Justin Thomas in a playoff at the WGC-Mexico Championship. But that was hardly an isolated incident. Since the 2017-18 season kicked off, Lefty has five top-six results in 10 starts. His game looks to be sharp – he ranks in the top four in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green (4th), Total Strokes Gained (2nd) and Putting (2nd). If he has a solid week off the tee, he has the creativity and experience to handle Augusta’s difficult greens and add a fourth Green Jacket.
- At The Masters: Mickelson is the second-most tenured player at Augusta this week (Fred Couples is the most), and his record there is truly staggering. He’s made 25 starts in his career – including the last 23 – winning three times (2004, 2006 & 2010) and finishing in the top five a remarkable seven more times. While he’s missed the cut two of the last four years, he finished T-2 during that stretch as well. He finished T-22 last year.
- Last event: Mickelson had excellent bookend rounds at last week’s Houston Open, carding rounds of 67 and 68 to finish at 10-under-par and a tie for 24th.
- World Golf Ranking: 9
- Odds to Win: 25/1
- Overview: The man who publicly questioned his own ability to win a major, finally won one last April. The talent has never been a question, but Garcia showed remarkable poise as he overcame adversity and made up a two-shot deficit on the final seven holes to force a playoff, and maybe most importantly, proved that he can win the big one. As usual, Garcia’s ball striking is the catalyst for success this season. He leads the PGA Tour in both Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, while ranking fourth in Total Strokes Gained. His 68.714 stroke average also leads the PGA Tour, helping him collect three straight top-10 finishes going into Augusta.
- At The Masters: Garcia finally got it done, winning his first major at last year’s Masters, after many close calls in majors. It looked like he might fall victim to another late blunder, but he bounced back on multiple occasions on Sunday to best Justin Rose in a one-hole playoff. Garcia had seen some success in his career at Augusta – he had five top-25s before last year’s victory – but he hadn’t finished in the top five since 2004 (T-4).
- Last event: Garcia posted a perfect 3-0 record during pool play of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, advancing to the round of 16. He was bounced by Kyle Stanley 3 & 1 in his next match, after Stanley won four of the last seven holes on the front nine to grab a 3 up lead. Garcia made just one birdie and two bogeys over the first nine, and his comeback came up short.
- World Golf Ranking: 60
- Odds to Win: 50/1
- Overview: Scott is another former Masters champ that has fallen on hard times, of late, falling to 60 in the World Rankings. 2017 was just the second time in the last 17 years that he hasn’t notched at least one professional win, and he hasn’t placed in the top five since finishing third at the 2016 Australian PGA Championship. His best result so far this season is a T-13 at the Honda Classic.
- At The Masters: This will be the 17th straight start for the 2013 champion, and he’s made the cut in 14 of his previous 16. Last year marked the first time he finished inside the top 10 (T-9) since his victory. From 2010 to 2014, he had an average finish of better than 9th, never finishing lower than T-18.
- Last event: Scott failed to break 70 in any of his four rounds at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finishing at two-under-par and a tie for 41st Scott can still bomb it, as he ranked third in the field in Driving distance at over 308 yards.
- World Golf Ranking: 58
- Odds to Win: 80/1
- Overview: Schwartzel has just one top-10 finish since his solo third at last year’s Masters, and that came last June at the FedEx St. Jude Classic (T-2). Since the start of the 2017-18 season, he’s yet to place in the top 10, and he has an average finish of 38th with a missed cut. So while he’s shown he can handle Augusta National, he’s not playing his best right now.
- At The Masters: Schwartzel is coming off his best finish since 2011, when he became the first player in history to birdie the last four holes on Sunday to win the Green Jacket. Much like the year he won, Schwartzel came up big on the weekend last year, carding a pair of 68s to finish in solo third place.
- Last event: Schwartzel was eliminated after losing his first two matches in the Round Robin portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. He did manage to win his final match, defeating Haotong Li 3 & 2.
- World Golf Ranking: 56
- Odds to Win: 150/1
- Overview: Johnson has made the cut in all eight stroke play events he’s played so far this season, with six resulting in top-20s. As he has done throughout his career, and most notably in his 2007 Masters win, Johnson relies on his wedges and his putting to overcome his lack of distance. He ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards, and second in three-putt avoidance. Johnson knows his game, and he understands the strategy he needs to employ to contend.
- At The Masters: Johnson became the first player to be ranked outside the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings to win the Masters when he won in 2007 (Angel Cabrera joined him with this distinction in 2009). At 1-over-par, he tied the record for the highest winning score in Masters history. The most notable aspect of Johnson’s win was how he approached the par 5s. Not one of the longest hitters on the planet, he vowed to lay up on every par 5, and that’s exactly what he did. The strategy allowed him to torch those 16 holes to the tune of 11-under-par. His best finish since the win came two years ago when he finished T-9. He missed the cut last year.
- Last event: Johnson didn’t win any of his three matches at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, earning a pair of halves, and failed to advance.
Other Major Winners
These players have won some of the biggest tournaments in the world, but never at Augusta National.
- World Golf Ranking: 5
- Odds to Win: 14/1
- Overview: Rose has been on a tear since the beginning of last year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, winning three times and finishing in the top 10 10 more times in 16 starts. Factor in those results with fact that Rose has been so close to claiming the Green Jacket – he was T-2 in 2015 and, more agonizingly, lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia last year – and Rose is easily one of the best bets this week. He’s shown he can win the big one with his U.S. Open and Olympic victories, and he hits the ball about as well as anyone on the planet. He ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in Total Strokes Gained, and surprisingly, his putter has been a real ally this season. He ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting in 2017-18 – his previous career high was 53rd in 2010.
- At The Masters: Rose has been in contention regularly in his nine career starts at the Masters. He has the highest number of starts (11) without a missed cut in the field, and four of those have resulted in top-10s. He finished 2nd to Jordan Spieth in 2015 and lost in playoff to Garcia last year.
- Last event: Rose was in good position to add another top 10 to his impressive streak after 36 holes at the Houston Open, firing rounds of 68 and 69 to put himself just four shots off the lead. But two rounds of 72 over the weekend weren’t enough for him to keep pace, and he finished T-52.
- World Golf Ranking: 11
- Odds to Win: 16/1
- Overview: The former World No. 1 appears to have found his game near the end of a disappointing 2016-17 season. Since finishing T-9 at the PGA Championship, he’s added seven more top-11 results to his resume, including his 12th career PGA Tour victory – his first since the 2016 PLAYERS – at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. Day has had some close calls at Augusta, and he has the third-highest scoring average of all players with at least 25 rounds (71.56). He’s also one of the best putters around – he leads the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting again this season – so this might be the time he gets it done.
- At The Masters: Day came so close to winning in his first ever Masters start, finishing T-2 in 2011. He backed that up with a solo 3rd in 2013 and T-10 in 2016. He finished T-22 last year, ranking second in the field in Driving Distance at over 300 yards.
- Last event: Day failed to advance from pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event two weeks ago. After defeating James Hahn 4 & 2 in his first match, Day lost his next two.
- World Golf Ranking: 14
- Odds to Win: 40/1
- Overview: Stenson has placed in the top 10 in five of his nine starts since the beginning of the new PGA Tour season, including two top-six finishes in a row. Stenson ranks eighth on the European Tour in Scoring Average (68.92) and 10th in Greens in Regulation. He’s missed the cut at two of last year’s majors, including The Masters, but he showed at the 2016 Open Championship, when he’s on, he can go very, very low.
- At The Masters: Stenson’s results at Augusta are solid, but unspectacular. He has six top-25s in his 12 starts there, including four-in-a-row from 2013 to 2016, but has never finished higher than T-14. He missed the cut last year after rounds of 77 and 75.
- Last event: Stenson fired four rounds under 70 at last week’s Houston Open to finish T-6. He ranked third in the field in Greens in Regulation for the week, at over 73 percent.
- World Golf Ranking: 31
- Odds to Win: 50/1
- Overview: Oosthuizen is a player that is never at the top of the list when thinking about the winner of a golf tournament, but you’re never surprised when you see his name near the top of the leaderboard. The South African has won 11 times worldwide in his career, including a dominant performance at the 2010 Open Championship, where he won by seven. Since then, he’s added runner-up finishes in all four majors, including the Masters in 2012 when he lost to Bubba Watson in a playoff. He doesn’t have a top-five since last year’s PGA Championship, but has four top-10s over his last 12 events since.
- At The Masters: Oosthuizen went to a playoff in 2012, but lost to Bubba Watson on the second extra hole, earning his lone top-10 in his Masters career. Oosthuizen has something that is even rarer than a Masters victory – a double-eagle. In fact, Oosthuizen’s deuce in the final round in 2012 on the par-5 2nd is the only one on that hole in Masters history. He added an ace on the par-3 16th hole in the 2016 final round to lift him to a T-15 finish, his best since his runner-up. He finishied T-41 last year after an opening-round 77.
- Last event: Oosthuizen came out of Group 8 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, winning two of his three matches, and defeating Jason Dufner in a sudden death playoff to advance. In the round of 16, Oosthuizen ran into a red-hot Ian Poulter, and despite making five birdies, he lost 2 & 1.
Veterans Who Have Been Close
They have the game and the experience, but haven’t been able to get over that major hump… yet.
- World Golf Ranking: 7
- Odds to Win: 20/1
- Overview: Fowler’s 2017-18 season got off to a terrific start, placing in the top four in each of his first three starts, including a win at the Hero World Challenge. Since then, he’s finished outside the top 10 in all six starts, including a pair of missed cuts. Statistically it has been a pretty rough year, too. Last season, he was in the top 40 in all six Strokes Gained categories, but this year, he ranks 57th or worse in three of them. The biggest drop has come in his putting. After ranking second last year in Strokes Gained: Putting, he ranks 127th this year.
- At The Masters: Fowler finished T-5 back in 2014 – the year he finished in the top 5 of all four majors – thanks largely in part to a round of 67 on Moving Day. He matched that score in the final round the next year, lifting him into a tie for 12th. Last year he posted a disastrous 80 in the first round, eventually missing the cut.
- Last event: Fowler had a very disappointing weekend at last week’s Houston Open. After sitting in second place after 36 holes, Fowler carded a pair of 73s to drop all the way into a tie for 43rd.
- World Golf Ranking: 13
- Odds to Win: 22/1
- Overview: Casey has been one of the most consistent players in the world over the past three years, earning 22 top-10s since the beginning of the 2015 season. But despite being in contention on a regular basis, Casey just couldn’t make it to the winner’s circle…until he won his last stroke play start at the Valspar Championship. Considering his resume at Augusta and the fact that he finally ended a lengthy winless drought, and Casey is a great pick to win his first major this week. Odds makers agree, as his odds to win have dropped significantly since the Valspar win.
- At The Masters: Casey finished in the top-six each of the last three years after a two-year-hiatus from the Masters. In his 11 career starts at Augusta National, Casey has finished in the top 11 six times.
- Last event: Casey won two of his three matches at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, but lost the tie-breaker to Kyle Stanley in a sudden-death playoff. Despite playing mathematically-eliminated Matthew Fitzpatrick in his third match, Casey lost 3 & 2, preventing him from advancing.
- World Golf Ranking: 12
- Odds to Win: 33/1
- Overview: Fleetwood has backed up his breakthrough 2016-17 season – he won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour – with another strong effort so far this season. He’s made the cut in his last 14 starts, with six top-six finishes, including a win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He sits fourth on this season’s Race to Dubai standings and ranks third on the European Tour in Scoring Average at 67.81.
- At The Masters: Fleetwood missed the cut in his Masters debut last year after opening with a round of 78 on Thursday.
- Last event: Fleetwood earned a pair of wins in the Round Robin portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, including a 7 & 6 drubbing of Kevin Chappell, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the next round. His opening-day loss to Ian Poulter proved to be decisive, as Poulter went undefeated in Group 9.
- World Golf Ranking: 6
- Odds to Win: 40/1
- Overview: Matsuyama had strung together four straight top-12 finishes before having to withdraw from the Waste Management Phoenix Open due to a wrist injury. He came back with a clean bill of health, but he’s struggled a bit since returning last month. He finished T-49 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and failed to advance from pool play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. All that said, he’s one of the best players in the world, and is capable of getting hot in the blink of an eye. These might be the best odds you see for Matsuyama in a major for some time.
- At The Masters: Matsuyama hasn’t finished lower than T-11 in his last three Masters starts, and he’s now made the cut in five of six career starts, including two as an amateur. Last year, he ranked sixth in the field in Greens in Regulation, and his final-round 67 helped him finish T-11.
- Last event: Matsuyama failed to advance out of pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event two weeks away. He won his first match over countryman Yusaku Miyazato, but lost his last two, including a decisive 4 & 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay.
- World Golf Ranking: 15
- Odds to Win: 40/1
- Overview: After much of his success came on the European Tour – five wins since 2016 – Noren is showing that he can perform admirably on the PGA Tour as well this season. While he’s yet to get his first PGA Tour win, he’s finished third or better three times in his last seven starts, at the Farmers Insurance Open (T-2), The Honda Classic (3rd) and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (3rd). Noren is the only player on the PGA Tour that ranks in the top 20 in both Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He ranks seventh in Total Strokes Gained.
- At The Masters: Noren missed the cut in his Masters debut last year after a second-round 78.
- Last event: Outside of eventual champ Bubba Watson, Alex Noren may have been the most impressive player at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. He went undefeated in pool play, then easily dismissed Patrick Reed (5 & 3) and Cameron Smith (4 & 2) in the next two rounds. Noren played beautifully in the Semis versus Kevin Kisner, but his normally dependable putter failed him down the stretch. Noren missed some chances to close Kisner out in regulation, then, in the sudden-death playoff, a miserable putt from just off the green allowed Kisner to win. Noren bounced back nicely, though, easily defeating Justin Thomas 5 & 3, winning seven of the 15 holes they played.
- World Golf Ranking: 24
- Odds to Win: 50/1
- Overview: Reed is one of the toughest player to get a read on. When he’s hot, he’s one of the best in the world, but his inconsistency makes him very frustrating. So far this season, he’s placed in the top 10 four times, but he’s also missed the cut four times. Despite playing his college golf at nearby Augusta State University, Reed has never had much success at the Masters.
- At The Masters: Reed has just one top-25 in his four career starts at the Masters, finishing T-22 in 2015. He has yet to break 70 at Augusta National in his 12 career rounds there. Last year was a real struggle, as he missed the cut after shooting 76 and 77.
- Last event: Reed came out on top in the highest profile match of Round Robin play, when he defeated Ryder Cup teammate and partner Jordan Spieth 2 & 1 in the final match of the pool play to advance. His time was short-lived, though, as Reed fell 5 & 3 to a surging Alex Noren in the Round of 16. After winning the opening hole of the match, Reed failed to win another the rest of the way.
- World Golf Ranking: 29
- Overview: Poulter is a last-second entry into the Masters field thanks to his win last week, achieving his goal of getting back after a one-year hiatus. Since he was eliminated from the 2016-17 FedEx Cup Playoffs in September, Poulter has finished in the top 20 seven times, including three top-six results. Poulter is best known for his Ryder Cup success and his fiery personality, and he’s playing his best golf in years right now. Despite just barely making the field, Poulter is definitely a contender this week.
- At The Masters: Poulter has made the cut 12 times in 13 starts at The Masters, finishing in the top 25 seven times. He’s placed in the top seven twice in his last five starts, including his best career result (T-6) in 2015. In his last start, Poulter got off to a great start with an opening-round 69, but rounds of 78 and 82 followed, and he plummeted to a tie for 49th
- Last event: Poulter’s week at the Houston Open didn’t get off to a great start, as his opening-round 73 left him in 123rd But from point, Poulter turned things around and played some incredible golf, making 21 birdies in the last three rounds. He fired a second-round 64 to make the cut, then played the weekend in 12-under-par, including a long birdie putt on the 72nd hole to get into a playoff with Beau Hossler. Hossler made a mess of the first hole of sudden death, so Poulter’s par earned him his first career win in a PGA Tour stroke play event and a ticket to Augusta.
- World Golf Ranking: 16
- Odds to Win: 55/1
- Overview: Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Leishman has been a consistent force on the PGA Tour, winning twice and adding 10 more worldwide top-10s. Over his last 37 starts, he’s placed in the top 25 22 times.
- At The Masters: Leishman has been boom or bust in his five career Masters starts. He’s missed the cut three times, but finished T-4 in 2013 after an opening-round 66 propelled him to the top of the leaderboard. He finished T-43 last year, failing to shoot par or better in any of his four rounds.
- Last event: Despite being the highest seed in his group, Leishman went winless in pool play of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. He lost his first two matches 3 & 2 before halving his final match with Branden Grace.
- World Golf Ranking: 20
- Odds to Win: 66/1
- Overview: Kuchar has made the cut in all 10 events he’s played this season, finishing in the top 10 three times. Kuchar has been just as consistent in the majors, lately. He’s made the cut in 18 of his last 19 major starts, and finished in the top 10 in three of his last four, including a T-4 at last year’s Masters. The 39-year-old Kuchar’s window to finally win a major is starting to close, but his recent major results and experience at Augusta National suggest he’s still got a very good chance this week.
- At The Masters: After failing to finish in the top 20 in his first five Masters starts, Kuchar has been a regular on the first page of the leaderboard. He’s placed in the top eight in four of the last six years, with his best finish coming in 2012 when he placed T-3. Last year, he used a final-round 67 to jump into the top five (T-4) for the third time in his career. One of Kuchar’s best selling points is his play off the tee at Augusta – he’s ranked in the top 20 in Fairways Hit six times in the last eight years, including leading the field twice (2012, 2016).
- Last event: Kuchar earned a second-straight top-10, finishing T-8 at the Houston Open last week. Kuchar was charging during Sunday’s final round, but bogeys on two of the final three holes put an end to his comeback effort.
- World Golf Ranking: 23
- Odds to Win: 80/1
- Overview: In the last year, Harman has gone from the fringe of the top 100 in the World Golf Rankings, to one of the more consistent players on Tour. Over the last 12 months, Harman has 11 top-10s, including a win at the Wells Fargo Championship. In the 2017-18 season alone, Harman has five top-fives in 11 starts. The flat stick is Harman’s biggest strength, as he ranks eighth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting, and that should come in handy on the treacherous Augusta greens.
- At The Masters: Harman missed the cut in his only Masters appearance back in 2015.
- Last event: Harman advanced from Round Robin play of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, going 2-0-1, including an impressive 5 & 3 win over Rory McIlroy in the final match. He got off to a good start in the Round of 16 against Bubba Watson, but only won one of the final 11 holes and fell 2 & 1.
- World Golf Ranking: 34
- Odds to Win: 100/1
- Overview: Finau is one of the most physically imposing players in the world, and he has used his 6-foot, 4-inch frame to lead the PGA Tour in Driving Distance. But Finau is not just a bomber. He ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and 31st in Greens in Regulation. Three top-10s, including a pair of second-place finishes, have moved Finau into the top 10 of the FedEx Cup Points Standings.
- At The Masters: This will be the first time Finau plays the Masters.
- Last event: Finau earned another top-25 last week, finishing T-24 at the Houston Open after a pair of 69s on the weekend. He ranked second in the field Driving Distance for the week.
- World Golf Ranking: 21
- Odds to Win: 125/1
- Overview: The 42-year-old Perez has been a revelation over the past 16 months. After never being ranked inside the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings, Perez has put together an incredible run of golf that has moved into the top 25. Since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Perez has a pair of wins (2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2017 CIMB Classic) and seven more top-10s. Accuracy is a major part of Perez’s game. He ranks fourth on the PGA Tour in Fairways Hit and fifth in Greens in Regulation.
- At The Masters: Perez finished T-18 at last year’s Masters, his first start there in eight years, when he missed the cut. He also has a T-45 to his credit from back in 2003.
- Last event: Perez went winless in pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, going 0-2-1 for the week.
Players age-26 and under that have the skills to win big.
- World Golf Ranking: 3
- Odds to Win: 16/1
- Overview: Rahm has been a top-five machine since turning pro in June 2016. In 42 starts as a professional, the former Arizona St All-American has placed in the top five an astonishing 15 times, with four of those resulting in victories. As impressive as those numbers are, Rahm has arguably been even better since the start of last year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. He placed in the top seven of all four Playoff events, then over a three-start stretch between November and January, he finished first, second, and first to move up to No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings. At just 23 years old, Rahm has shown he has an immense amount of talent, and it’s only a matter of time before he earns a major championship.
- At The Masters: Rahm finished T-27 in his Masters debut last year. The back nine really gave him trouble, as he was over par on that side in three of the four rounds and a cumulative seven-over-par.
- Last event: After a runner-up finish at last year’s event, Rahm went winless (0-2-1) at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago.
- World Golf Ranking: 17
- Odds to Win: 66/1
- Overview: After a very rough summer in 2017, Hatton has been on a tear since September. Over his last 14 starts, Hatton has finished outside the top 20 just twice. During that stretch, he’s won twice (Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Italian Open) and finished in third position three more times. In his first season as a PGA Tour member, Hatton has showcased his impressive touch on the greens, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Putting.
- At The Masters: Hatton really struggled in his Masters debut last year. He missed the cut after carding rounds of 80 and 78.
- Last event: Hatton advanced to the Round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event two weeks ago. After winning each of his first two matches by the score of 3 & 2, Hatton was tied with Brendan Steele with a 2-1 record. He defeated Steele on the first hole of the playoff to move on. Hatton won the first two holes in the Round of 16 against fellow Young Gun Cameron Smith, but just one of the last 15, and lost 2 & 1.
- World Golf Ranking: 46
- Odds to Win: 66/1
- Overview: Pieters’ talent is undeniable and incredibly tantalizing. It was on display early last year, when he earned a trio of top-fives at three of the biggest tournaments, including the Masters, where he finished T-4. He added another T-4 later that season at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – his second top-five in a WGC event in 2016-17. Those big finishes in big-time events is why odds makers place Pieters among the top 25 best odds despite earning just one top-10 in his last 17 starts. Pieters’ talent says he’s a contender, his results say he’s a longshot.
- At The Masters: Pieters finished T-4 in his Masters debut last year thanks to a pair of 68s, including one on Sunday. His 19 holes under par for the week (18 birdies, 1 eagle) tied for second most in the field.
- Last event: Pieters carded three rounds under par at the Houston Open last week, finishing at seven-under-par and a tie for 52nd
- World Golf Ranking: 63
- Odds to Win: 66/1
- Overview: The 24-year-old DeChambeau is one of just five players to win the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Individual Championship in the same season, and he got his first win on the PGA Tour last July at the John Deere Classic. Maybe best known for playing irons that are all the same length, DeChambeau is showing that his talent is real. He’s got a pair of top-fives in his last five starts, but it’s been a bit of roller coaster ride since the calendar changed to 2018. He has two missed cuts and two finishes outside the top 40 to go along with those strong showings.
- At The Masters: DeChambeau’s only start at Augusta National came when he was still an amateur. He finished T-21 that week – the best finish by an amateur in over a decade – and was low amateur by three shots.
- Last event: DeChambeau is coming off his best showing since his win at the John Deere Classic in July, a solo second place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He led after 36 holes after carding rounds of 67 and 66 to open, and entered the final round in second position. The former SMU Mustang hardly crumbled under the pressure of the final group, firing a round 68, but a red-hot Rory McIlroy stole the show and the title. For the week, DeChambeau ranked second in the field in Driving Distance and T-6 in Greens in Regulation.
- World Golf Ranking: 35
- Odds to Win: 80/1
- Overview: Cantlay still hasn’t missed a cut since his return to the PGA Tour – a span of 16 starts – and he picked up his first career professional win during that stretch. The former UCLA Bruin spent an impressive 55 weeks ranked as the No. 1 amateur in the world, and is finally able to show off that talent now that he is healthy. He’s finished in the top 15 in four of his last seven starts.
- At The Masters: Cantlay has played the Masters just once in his career, doing so as an amateur back in 2012. That year, he finished T-47 and was the low amateur for the week.
- Last event: Cantlay went 2-1 in pool play of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, including a 4 & 3 victory over World No. 6 Hideki Matsuyama. Unfortunately for Cantlay, it wasn’t enough to advance.
- World Golf Ranking: 38
- Odds to Win: 100/1
- Overview: Fitzpatrick has seemingly been around for a while now, but the four-time winner is still just 23 years old. One of those wins came at the Omega European Masters last September, which began an impressive stretch for Fitzpatrick, finishing in the top 20 in 10 straight starts, with an average finish of 10th But since that hot streak, Fitzpatrick has struggled a bit. He’s missed the cut in three of his last four stroke play events.
- At The Masters: Fitzpatrick has a top-10 finish on his resume in three career starts at the Masters. He carded a final-round 67 to finish T-7 in 2016, leading the field in Greens in Regulation in the process. He finished in solo 32nd place last year.
- Last event: Fitzpatrick finished 1-2 in pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, failing to advance.
- World Golf Ranking: 26
- Odds to Win: 125/1
- Overview: The 2016-17 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year burst onto the scene at last year’s U.S. Open with a T-5 finish, and closed out the year by winning the TOUR Championship at East Lake. In 2017-18, Schauffele has five top-25s including each of his last three stroke play events.
- At The Masters: This will be Schauffele’s first time playing the Masters.
- Last event: Schauffele performed very well in his first appearance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event two weeks ago. He won his first two matches, but in a match-up of undefeated players in the third round, he fell 3 & 1 to Sergio Garcia.
- World Golf Ranking: 72
- Odds to Win: 150/1
- Overview: The 21-year-old is the surprise early leader in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings after picking up his first two professional victories of his career at the Joburg Open and the Maybank Championship. Those aren’t the only highlights for the youngest pro in this week’s field. Since November, Sharma has six top-11 finishes, including a T-9 at the WGC-Mexico. He was the 36- and 54-hole leader that week, but, not surprisingly, struggled under the pressure of the final pairing in the biggest event he had ever played. That experience could be invaluable as he plays in his first major this week.
- At The Masters: This will be Shubhankar’s first time playing the Masters.
- Last event: Sharma missed the cut by two shots at the Houston Open last week.
- World Golf Ranking: 42
- Odds to Win: 200/1
- Overview: The 22-year-old Li burst onto the scene with a third-place finish at the Open Championship last year after he went out well before the leaders in the final round and fired a 63. Since then, he’s been inconsistent, but had some impressive results. He won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January over the likes of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Tommy Fleetwood after taking solo fourth at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November. He’s played his last four events in North America, but failed to crack the top 50 in any of them.
- At The Masters: This will be Li’s first time playing the Masters.
- Last event: Li was thoroughly dominated during pool play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event two weeks ago. He lost all three of his matches, and was closed out by the 16th hole each time.
Notable Players Not in the Field: Brooks Koepka (wrist injury), Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood
Past winners in the field: Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson (2), Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson (3), Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Tiger Woods (4), Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize.