Theoretically, it seems easy to predict or handicap the Masters.
The venue never changes, meaning we have years and years of information and results to look at to make our picks to win. The field is small, too, and the same players typically dot the top of the leaderboard.
But it’s never that simple, of course.
Consider this: 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed was a 50-1 pick to win the tournament last year, giving him the 19th-best odds in the field. A year earlier, Sergio Garcia entered with 30-1 odds, while 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett was 50-1 to begin the week.
You get the idea.
Generally speaking, though, we know Augusta National Golf Club plays easier for players who hit it long. The greens can be treacherous, but the effect can be rendered by solid ball-strikers who hit greens and get it close. If you’re able to hit it high with control, that’s even better.
The list of green jacket winners is littered with the best players of all time, but as mentioned, it’s far from a guarantee the favorites are the ones celebrating at Butler Cabin on Sunday night. With that in mind, we tried to take a stab at weeding out some of the contenders for the best golf weekend of the year.
Odds via OddsShark.com
Rory McIlroy (7-1)
He checks all the boxes whether it’s being long off the tee or being able to take advantage of the par 5s. He’s playing as well as anyone in the world right now. And while he’s never won at Augusta, he’s been fantastic there in recent years, finishing in the top 10 each of the last five years.
Dustin Johnson (10-1)
Johnson can hit the ball as far as anyone on tour, which gives him a leg up in this tournament. Like McIlroy, he’s been nails in this tournament recently, finishing in the top 10 in each of his last three Masters appearances.
Justin Thomas (18-1)
He definitely fits the profile. He might not bomb it like McIlroy or Johnson, but he’s one of the best iron players in the world, which allows him to shape shots and find the right landing spots on Augusta’s contoured greens. He hasn’t finished better than 17th in the Masters, but he’s improved his performance each year he’s played.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Hideki Matsuyama (33-1)
He’s a trendy pick this week, but it’s with good reason given his ability to go at pins. He’s second in the PGA Tour in approach-the-green strokes gained, and stop us if you’ve heard this one before: He usually plays well at Augusta. He finished fifth and seventh in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and has an average finish of 10.5 in the last four years.
Marc Leishman (50-1)
There really isn’t any part of Leishman’s game that jumps out at you, but he’s solid across the board. He’s pretty hot or cold at Augusta, with two top-10 finishes (including tied for fourth in 2013) but also three missed cuts, so it’s a bit of a gamble. Aside from a missed cut at The Players, he’s been playing well this season with five top-10 finishes (including a win) and currently sits seventh in the FedEx Cup standings.
Gary Woodland (80-1)
Woodland’s Masters performances stink. He has three straight missed cuts and hasn’t finished better than 24th. That’s not great. But he has the profile of a player who should be able to score well at Augusta. He’s tremendous off the tee, ranking 12th in driving distance and 39th in driving accuracy. He consistently hits greens and can scramble around the green. The putting is an obvious issue, which theoretically isn’t as important there. His par-5 scoring is third on tour. It’s a lottery ticket, at least.
Emiliano Grillo (175-1)
Another guy who does everything pretty well and has shown some life at the Masters despite sucking at just about every other major. At some point, he’ll finally put it together, right? He might be worth at least a look on DFS.
Keith Mitchell (200-1)
Let’s get weird. Before this year, Mitchell was an unknown. This literally is his first major, but the University of Georgia product has opened some eyes this season, thanks in large part to a win at The Honda Classic where he beat out Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka for the title.
WHAT ABOUT TIGER?
Yes, Tiger Woods (14-1) gets his own section. There’s no reason to believe he can’t win his fifth green jacket this year. He made his long-awaited return to Augusta last year, and he had to fight like hell just to make the cut. But he played well on the weekend, highlighted by a final-round 69 that reminded everyone he can still get around pretty well on that course. Woods hits the ball as high as anyone else, which should always make him a threat in this tournament. He’s probably not a great pick to win; he still isn’t showing enough consistency to warrant 100 percent confidence, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s topping the leaderboard Sunday.
Rory McIlroy ($11,600)
Bubba Watson ($8,800)
Tony Finau ($8,200)
Patrick Cantlay ($7,700)
Charles Howell III ($7,000)
Si Woo Kim ($6,700)
As mentioned above, McIlroy might be the most consistent Masters player in the field. Maybe if you’re in a deep tournament, you go somewhere else because a lot of people are going to be riding McIlroy, but it’s hard to ignore the upside. Watson is a two-time Masters champion who regained his Augusta swagger with a top-five finish last year. Finau finished 10th last year with a dislocated ankle and fits the profile. Cantlay is going to put it all together at some point, Kim also has some of the traits needed to win there and he’s playing well with three top-five finishes in his last six starts on tour. And we’ll roll the dice with Howell for a little good karma, with the Augusta native finally returning to the Masters.
Thumbnail photo via Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports Images