Augusta National - The Treasured Green Jacket is up for grabs this week. No Tiger in the field, No Arnie around at the ceremonial first tee, but things at the tourney remains the same, the most coveted win on any pro golfers resume.
This is the weekend all Dads and Husbands, heck even single guys couch surf all weekend and watch this first major of the year. Lightning fast greens, manicured to perfection, and a shot makers course. Driving accuracy and putting is the key to winning at Augusta and there are always more than 1 story-line and surprise each and every year that shape this event into golf lore as they make the turn at Amen Corner on Sunday and history unfolds in front of you.
Odds on favorite Dustin Johnson has been in a zone this year and most recently won the World Championship Match Play in Austin Texas and frankly is a hot any golfer in the world headed into Augusta here, but does his putting hold up? There are others here to worry about, the usual suspects, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and a host of talented young players who each and every week scare the top of the leaderboard, who all have the game to put birdies up in bunches here. The penalty for bad driving and bad putting here is so severe you can miss the cut with as little as 3 bad holes in 2 days before the weekend begins.
Here are a few of my picks to win it all this year including some long shots - I like to spread a half unit around on these selections and made the Thursday through Sunday couch vigil more entertaining. There will also be some betting match ups between participants on the moneyline I will put up on my site Wednesday Night.
Dustin Johnson 6/1
How can you not bet this guy? The best player in the world right now, period! Unreal length off the box, solid iron player, and won the US Open last year on a much tougher course than this and he is totally dialed in right now and in big tourneys he has the game, mental aspect, and length off the tee to make a huge run this week and weekend. You have NO choice other than not to bet on the guy right now, he is on fire.
Ricky Fowler 25/1
Playing some golf now, he has the textbook game for this course and has contended over the years including a 4th place finish in 2014. The best young player not to win a major but he did win the Tour Players Championship at Sawgrass and is surging right now. Switching to Butch Harmon for a teacher and swing coach, he does not blow up on holes like he used to and his much more mature than previous years now and his mental game is very steady. This course suits his game and if he can putt this week he will be around the narrative come Sunday.
Henrik Stenson 25/1
Do not discount this guys iron game, on display weekly, and surely on display at last years British Open which he won in an epic battle with Phil MIckelson. If he is dialed in with his irons he a contender in any tourney field he is in. I will always put this guy in contention on a shot makers course and August surely qualifies for that.
John Rahm 18/1
A new tour player in terms of experience, which is his downfall at Augusta. Experience counts and he does not have it here, HOWEVER his raw talent has him with a Tour Win this year, numerous top 10's and a runner up in the World Match Play against Dustin Johnson 2 weeks ago. I will say this is the biggest stretch on my best bets board but this kid is a superstar in the making and his game is near perfectly in sync and he plays well under pressure and is not intimidated by any big stage.
Jordan Spieth 7/1
Yes the young Texan blew it last year, and has a win here. This is a reluctant best bet for me, but this kid has mad game, and although he has not played all that well this year overall, his putting ability and short game is a huge bonus on this course. He makes as many 20-25 foot putts than anyone on tour, but his epic meltdown on the Par 3 last year to blow a 3 stroke lead on the back 9 must weight heavy on his mind, and that could be an issue this year. No doubt he has the game to win here and evidenced by a green jacket in the closet, and he simply is a guy who you cannot count out in any major, especially this one.
Justin Thomas 30/1
Great all around game, tour winner, and great controlled length and a great head for the game. He can go low and will be around the top 15 on the leaderboard. At 30/1 he is well worth a token long shot bet. He finished 39th last year and has improved his game since then greatly.
Phil Mickelson 18/1
Many would not consider him a long shot at 18/1 but it is a young players game nowadays on Tour, but Phil can get it done, and got into the quarterfinals of the World match Plays 2 weeks ago. He has the vast knowledge of this course, the subtle breaks in the greens, and his a 3 time past champion here and his clock is ticking on getting another major in his late 40's, and if Phil can control his drives he can contend deep into Sunday. His short game, scrambling and shot making ability is a huge factor in his success here in the past and is always a sentimental favorite for many avid golf fans including myself. Never count him out at Augusta, he loves this place more than any other on earth. If Phil can get off the box this week, have no illusions, he will be sniffing around come Sunday. The X-Factor is his erratic driving.
Patrick Reed 40/1
This guy is a grinder, can make shots and starred on the Ryder Cup team and is not afraid of taking chances. The issue at Augusta is getting aggressive at taking on certain pins is a near death experience in some cases and can quickly be your downfall. He needs to exercise patience on this course and if he does, he will be in the Top 10 to 15 headed into the weekend. This guy knows how to scramble around the golf course and has some mad skills.
Justin Rose 30/1
A major winner and a guy who has an excellent all around game and vast experience here. He tied for second place here in 2015, but his putting is his downfall, and we all know if you have issues with 4 and 5 foot putts around here, you simply cannot contend. He can make shots and drive the ball well, but he does put a ton of pressure on himself as he emphasizes Majors each year as his goal. His mental game is very strong and he can contend here and is a Major winner.
FADES - Do not Make the Stretch with these big names
Jason Day - His game is weak right now, putting has been terrible and mother is battling cancer. A fast fall from being #1 in the world and I do not see a bounce back here.
Sergio Garcia - Always in the narrative but just does not have the game to win majors down the stretch, proven Fact.
Lee Westwood - Another Euro player who is always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Much like Monty, a great player from England not to win a major.
Zach Johnson - Past winner without great length but he is not in sync right now. Tough course to get you game in high gear.
Rory Mcllroy - His putting is his downfall and not 100% healthy. Big name on a course not suited to his short game.
Adam Scott - His game is so/so right now and I do not see him in contention this week, although I think he will make the cut.
Bubba Watson - 2 time champs always have a chance, but his game is in bad shape, and I have noticed if the going gets tough, he throws it in.
Odds To Win 2017 Masters (4/6/17)
- Tony George, www.tonygeorgesports.com