Woods won the last of his 14 Majors at Torrey Pines in the 2008 US Open but, despite his slump, he has still managed to finish tied 6th in 2009, tied 4th in 2010 and tied 4th in 2011 and would have rewarded each way backers in his 3 previous Masters since his last triumph in 2005 (bet365 are 1/4 odds for top 5). Woods looks hard to keep out the mix and if he is hot with the putter this week, he will destroy the opposition and win easily. He looks to be coming into form at the perfect time and it is ONLY his putting that is below scratch – tee to green he is playing some of the best golf of his career at present.
Rory McIlroy is a worthy 2nd favourite at 6/1 via William Hill and may well win but is plenty short enough although he does have outstanding credentials despite throwing away a huge lead here in the final round last year. He showed his true class by running away with US Open and became World Number One briefly earlier in the year. He is the obvious danger to Tiger but I do not regard him as value this week.
Phil Mickelson always saves his best for Augusta and will be well supported at Blue Square at 12/1 to win another Green Jacket while Luke Donald at 16/1 (BetVictor) and Lee Westwood at 20/1 (Totesport) only need to win a Major to complete fabulous careers. One feels Westwood has just been unlucky while for Donald it is only a matter of time before he lands a big one.
England have not provided a Masters Winner since Nick Faldo produced his memorable comeback against Greg Norman in in 1996 and Justin Rose looks great value at 33/1 with Coral to end the drought following his victory at Doral in the WGC Cadillac Championship in Miami last month and he looks a great each way bet. Rose is 7/2 with Skybet to be top Englishman.
Hunter Mahan, a winner in Houston last week, is the highest ranked American in the field and should go well at 33/1 (Skybet) but it is big hitting left hander Bubba Watson that catches my eye at 50/1, courtesy of Paddy Power. Watson will love the four par 5′s at Augusta and has a magical short game and if he can control himself for 4 rounds this week, he should give backers a great run for their money.
Of the bigger outsiders, YE Yang at 150/1 (William Hill) looks too big as does Jason Dufner, runner up in last year’s PGA, at 125/1 (Ladbrokes) while former winner Zach Johnson, also 125/1 (Totesport), looks overpriced.
Paddy Power have given punters a great chance this week by offering 6 places to each way backers and offering money back on win and win part of each way bets if Tiger wins, now that is very generous!
The best special I have seen so far is Skybet’s offers of 9/4 on the winner not playing in the final group on Sunday. OK you may well have Tiger or Rory clear on Saturday and be up against it but a congested leaderboard is more likely and the 2nd last group could be the place to be on Sunday. This looks a value bet either way.
I can seldom remember looking forward to a Major so much, enjoy!