It’s Masters week, and in this space we’re not going to get into any kind of syrupy soliloquy about pimento sandwiches, pink azaleas, or a cabin for the butlers. It’s time to place your bets, and make up for all those lost bets on the Suitcase Open – otherwise known as the PGA Tour events that fill the weekends between the majors.
The field teeing it up this year at Augusta National Golf Club, is the smallest in 22 years. It’s also the smallest since last season (which it tied). But it is of course loaded with every big name in the entire world, including all of the top-50 ranked golfers in the world (as of April 1 – sorry Jim Furyk).
With so many stars, there’s no clear favorite, right? Wrong.
Rory McIlroy, who can complete the career grand slam this week, and is once again looking like the Rory of old (seven-straight top-10s!), has been made a solid betting favorite at 7-1. He’s followed by Dustin Johnson, who all the experts claim plays poorly at Augusta National, yet owns three top-10s in his three most recent starts (T6, T4, T10).
At 10-1, DJ is slightly ahead of world No. 1 Justin Rose and four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods, who are both offered at 14-1.
Rose has posted two runner-ups in his four most recent starts (T2-T10-2-T12), while Tiger will be looking for his fifth green jacket, and first since 2005.
Young Spaniard Jon Rahm, who finished T4 last season, is next at 16-1, while a trio of American stars follow at 18-1: world No. 5 Justin Thomas, No. 9 Rickie Fowler, and No. 33 (gulp!) Jordan Spieth.
In three career starts at Augusta National, Thomas has yet to post a top-10 (T39-T22-T17) but Augusta National seems like a course set up perfectly for his game. Fowler is coming off a runner-up at last year’s edition to go along with a T5 in 2014, while in the midst of another stellar season.
Fowler and Thomas are listed as top favs based on current form (world top-10, money, points), but that’s not the case with Spieth, who’s been in a lengthy career-changing slump. The oddsmakers, though, clearly like the fact that Augusta National seems to be Spieth’s safe space (T2-1-T2-T11-3), although those finishes were put up by a very different golfer than the version we’re watching now.
Tournament: The Masters
Dates: April 11-14, 2019
Where: Augusta, Ga.
Course: Augusta National
Distance: Par 72, 7,435 yards
Architect: Alister McKenzie, Bobby Jones
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, no cut
Winning Share: $1,980,000
Defending Champion: Patrick Reed