It’s the tournament that we all feel gets the golf season underway, even non-golfers know there is something special in the air. April in Georgia can only mean one thing: Masters week, the first major championship of the year.
To be fair as Jack Nicklaus once said, it’s the easiest of the majors to win thanks to the limited field which includes past champions and the golfers themselves – the ones who believe that they can win a major and the ones that hope they can.
My picks to win:
You really can’t look past World Number 1 and current US Open Champion Rory McIlroy (11/2). He not only comes into the Masters in great form, he also has a point to prove after last year’s emotional roller coaster. Rory has only been outside the Top 5 once in his last eight outings, winning his first tournament of the year at the Honda Classic along the way.
It’s hard to look past Tiger Woods (9/2) who has come into form just in time for the first major of the year and one that he just loves playing. Let’s put this into prospective: an out-of-form Tiger shot -10 here last year to finish tied-4th. The four-times Masters Champion will be looking to take his 15th major championship and the bookies have installed him as joint favourite with Rory – and as my mum used to say, “You don’t see many poor bookies, son.”
Luke Donald (14/1) couldn’t miss a putt from 6ft last year even with a croc snapping at his ankles, he was so good. This year hasn’t started so well for the lad from Hemel Hempstead, but I think that is more down the birth of his daughter affecting his playing schedule. Anyone with the kind of short game Luke possesses has a great chance around the Augusta greens.
My each way picks are:
Not so much an outside bet, but I really like the way Keegan Bradley (33/1) plays the game. I must admit I disagree with the belly putter, but he shouldn’t be castigated for using one, if the USGA & The R&A couldn’t sort themselves out to ban it. But I see Keegan being a multiple major champion and I think he will do well here this year and he comes into this week full of confidence after his 4th place finish at the Houston Open.
Louis Oosthuizen (66/1) was playing some great golf until he started his warm-up to the Masters in the US. His record to and including the WGC Accenture Match Play read played eight, won one, and inside the Top 10 seven times, the other finish being 17th at the Match Play where he lost to the eventual winner Hunter Mahan 2&1. Louis had to withdraw from the Honda Classic but seems to be getting back on track apart from his final round 75 at last weeks Houston Open.
An outside bet would be Thomas Bjorn (125/1). It’s really hard to tell with Thomas as he can miss a cut then win the following tournament. He’s played at Augusta several times now, his best finish being 18th. But he hasn’t played in the four and will want to put that record straight and apart from his final round 78 in Houston seemed to be hitting the ball well for the first three days.