Former Talksport man Charlie McCann takes an in-depth look at the illustrious US Masters in Augusta, the first major of the year.
US Masters 2011 betting preview from
The US Masters is the one Major golf tournament of the year played on the same course and for players, punters and golf followers alike it is the most popular event on the calendar. We at will again be paying out as a winner any bet pre tournament on a golfer who has a hole-in-one during the 72-holes.
In recent years high profile names such as Padraig Harrington, Chris Di Marco, Trevor Immelman, Ian Poulter and Ryan Moore have all had holes-in-one at Augusta and we will pay you out as a winner irrespective of where your player finishes in the tournament!
The world rankings would suggest that European golf is as strong now as it was in the eighties and nineties when Europeans landed the US Masters 11 times in a golden era between the great Seve Ballesteros’s first triumph in 1980 and his compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal’s in 1999.
Since Olly’s two-shot victory at the end of the millennium there has been an 11-year barren spell for European golf which is difficult to comprehend when you consider we currently have the top four golfers in the world on official rankings and it is with the European challenge that we begin our preview of the 2011 Masters.
German World Number 1 Martin Kaymer has a poor Augusta record and his natural fade is not suited to a course which is certainly more compatible with a player who can draw (hit the ball right to left) the ball. He has yet to make a cut in three attempts at the Masters and whilst he has been asking for advice from compatriot and dual former winner Bernhard Langer in the days leading up to the tournament, making the cut might be the primary objective for the US PGA Champion.
Lee Westwood finished runner up to an inspired, and slightly fortunate, Phil Mickelson last year and it should be noted that his score of 275 or -13 would have seen him in green every year since 2001 when Tiger Woods won on 16 under par. That said Westwood really should have at least one Major to his name already (Open 2009, US Open 2008) and I just wonder whether his career is going to mirror that of European legend Colin Montgomerie?
Luke Donald finished in a tie for 10th in the 2007 Masters (winning score +1) but failed to make the cut last year and he has never struck me as a potential wearer of a Green Jacket. He doesn’t drive the ball as far as many in this year’s field and his straight hitting is not as big an asset at Augusta as it would be in a US Open for example.
Graeme McDowell became the first European winner of the US Open since Tony Jacklin back in 1970 last year and the Irishman played well here in 2009 finishing in a tie for 17th place but was another to miss the cut last year. He has already fallen foul of the rules this year, however, as both he and Ian Poulter (serial tweeters) were asked to refrain from using their phones when they reacquainted themselves with the place earlier this week. Indeed Poulter shot a video from inside the clubhouse and shared it with his army of followers! It didn’t go down too well.
Poulter has finished in the top 25 in the last 4 years and looks banker material to make the cut again but he has never seriously threatened over the weekend although he shared the halfway lead with Westwood last year.
Rory McIlroy failed to build on a good effort in 2009 (-2) when failing to make the cut this year and the young Irishman’s last three Final rounds in competitions this year have been 74 in the recent Doral EGC event, 75 in the Honda Classic and 74 in the Dubai Desert Classic. He was thumped by Ben Crane in the World Matchplay 8 and 7 although the American could do little wrong on the day. I think McIlroy has the perfect game tee to green for Augusta but I’m not yet convinced about his putting on the slick Augusta greens.
Any preview of the Masters must include the 7-time winners Tiger Woods (4) and current holder of the Green Jacket Phil Mickelson (3). Woods hasn’t won the event since 2005 but has finished 4th, 6th, 2nd and 2nd in the last four years and he remains the one to beat despite his erratic driving and, perhaps more worryingly, problems with his putter.
It must be remembered that Woods had not played for 5-months following his self-imposed exile prior to the 2010 event and in the circumstances he did remarkably well to shoot four under par rounds. Each passing tournament that Woods fails to win, however, must hurt the 14-time Major winner especially when you consider that he has had to put his $25m yacht Privacy up for sale as part of his ex-wife’s divorce settlement!
At 8/1 with Woods will have his supporters and there is enough evidence that Tiger can get back to his best sooner rather than later. In ten days time the current 8s available on Woods may look like Xmas has come early, given his course record, but I’m looking elsewhere.
Mickelson (10/1) hasn’t won since he shot 67, 67 over the weekend to win by three shots last year and has managed only six top-ten finishes in the interim period. Now world number 6 Leftie suggests he is hitting the ball better than he was 12-months ago but I’m not convinced and he is readily overlooked.
There are any number of young American players who have the game to win at Augusta including Bubba Watson, who will wear an all-white outfit for the first time each day he plays, but my two against the field for the 2011 Masters are Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson.
Mahan still only 28 has finished in the top 10 at Augusta in the last couple of years and has been ticking over nicely ahead of the first Major of the year. Runner up to the DA Points/Bill Murray combination at Pebble Beach he has 4 top tens from 8 tournaments this year and he was a winner of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational back in August. He played poorly on the weekend in the Arnold Palmer but opened up with a two under par 70 in the Shell Houston Open the final event before Augusta.
Dustin Johnson is two years younger than Mahan and having finished runner up in the WGC Cadillac Championship it was very disappointing to see him miss the cut in the Arnold Palmer last time. The first player since Tiger Woods to win in each of his first three years post college Johnson is best known as having shot 82 in the Final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach where he quickly squandered a three-shot lead. He then incurred a two-shot penalty on the 72nd hole of the US PGA Championship for inadvertently grounding his club in a bunker when holding a one-shot lead and he was denied a place in the play-off as a result.
One of the longest hitters on tour he has yet to contend at Augusta but he has comfortably made the cut on his both appearances and it would be fair to say that he is due a bit of luck in a Major. His putting is a bit hit and miss but I think the Green Jacket will once again stay Stateside and its Mahan and Johnson for me.
US Masters Championship: ew ¼ odds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: and paid out as a winner if your pre-tournament selection has a hole-in one.
T Woods 8/1
P Mickelson 10/1
L Westwood 14/1
N Watney 14
M Kaymer 18/1
D Johnson 25/1
L Donald 25/1
R McIlroy 25/1
P Casey 28/1
J Rose 28/1
G McDowell 33/1
M Kuchar 33/1
H Mahan 33/1
B Watson 33/1
S Stricker 33/1
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