2019 Masters Second Round Betting Picks: Bank on a Justin Thomas Bounceback?
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Thomas
- Brooks Koepka is now the betting favorite to win the 2019 Masters at Augusta.
- Our experts detail their favorite bets for Round 2, including matchups between Justin Thomas and Phil Mickelson along with Ian Poulter vs. Matt Kuchar.
The first round of the Masters is in the books.
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau lead the field at 6-under after Round 1. Koepka is the new betting favorite at +450, with DeChambeau not too far back at +650.
The two co-leaders hold a one-stroke lead over Phil Mickelson and a two-stroke advantage over Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter.
Tiger Woods, who finished the round two strokes under par, is listed at 10-1, while pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy drifted to 25-1 after shooting a 1-over 73 on Thursday.
A deeper look at Thursday’s metrics has revealed some value, and our golf experts have zeroed in on six bets they think have value for Friday.
Bet: Justin Thomas -0.5 over Phil Mickelson -105
Thomas had a good ball-striking day in the first round, hitting 14 greens, but the putter just wasn’t working. He only made one longer than five feet. Phil got hot on the back nine, but he’s all over the place with that tee ball right now (just eight fairways in Round 1).
While Phil knows how to get himself out of trouble better than anyone, it’s unreasonable to expect this level of success if he again has accuracy issues. If he puts himself in similar positions Friday, he’ll have a difficult time putting up another low round.
Bet: Justin Thomas (-135) over Phil Mickelson
Thomas got a front-row seat to Lefty’s incredible putting display on Thursday. Phil’s 1.44 putts per hole ranks in a tie for fifth overall, but his ball-striking left a lot to be desired. He hit just 12 greens. For context, the four other players within two shots of the lead hit 16, 15, 15 and 11 greens, with Bryson DeChambeau being the lone aberration alongside Mickelson.
So because of those metrics, Phil is automatically someone I’m looking to fade on Friday. The good news, we get a chance to do just that with Thomas, who had an opposite day to Lefty in many respects. Only six players in the field hit more greens than JT, but, as Joshua detailed above, he made absolutely nothing (tied for fourth-worst in putts per hole).
Thomas isn’t a lights-out putter, but he’s a lot better than he showed on Thursday. Bet on regression kicking in for both of these guys in Round 2.
Bet: Rory McIlroy -120 over Jon Rahm
If the books had offered this price in this matchup for the opening round, the public would’ve jumped all over it. But after Rahm fired a 69 and McIlroy only shot 73, the number has evened up a bit. I can’t imagine Rory is going to card another half-dozen bogeys and I don’t think he’ll need an ugly 32 putts again.
This was McIlroy’s first over-par round since the opener at Riviera two months ago; he followed that 72 with a 63 the next day. This bet isn’t a Rahm fade, it’s just confidence that McIlroy should bounce-back strongly once again.
Dr. Lou Riccio, Ph.D.*
Bet: Eddie Pepperell (+140) over Charles Howell III
My model has Eddie Pepperell’s predicted score for tomorrow at 69.1, whereas Charles Howell III rates out at 70.6, giving Pepperell a +1.5 stroke advantage.
The course knowledge is likely inflating Howell’s odds here, but I wouldn’t let that talk you out of Pepperell, who we saw excel at the Players and has played well on big stages.
Pepperell hit 11 of 14 fairways on Thursday but just 39 percent of his greens. I’d expect him to take more advantage from the short grass on Friday.
*Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
Bet: Ian Poulter +105 over Matt Kuchar
Poulter led the field in Round 1 with 16 greens in regulation. He’s an awesome ball-striker and was firing absolute bullets Thursday. He was able to translate those opportunities into just five birdies, however, mostly because he ranked near the bottom of the field in putting with 1.72 strokes per hole on average.
Poulter is a good putter long-term, recently and even specifically at Augusta historically. He’s been on fire lately, and that continued with his irons, and I’m betting it’ll come around with the short stick, too. Getting plus money on him here is hard to pass up.
Bet: Brandt Snedeker(-145) over Danny Willett
It’s pretty obvious at this point that I’m shorting Danny Willett from all possible angles. He managed to scrap together a 75 today, including a triple bogey on No. 10. Snedeker also shot 75, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was opposite of Willett for Friday’s matchup. Sneds has good course history here and can always get hot with the putter.
I’ve won a lot of bets taking the opposite of Willett for more than a year now, and as the great Tim Cup once said, “You ride er’ til she bucks ya or you don’t ride at all.”
Bet: Webb Simpson (+137) over Patrick Reed and Viktor Hovland
The 21-year-old Hovland shot even-par on Thursday, which was the best mark among competing amateurs. Hovland hit 14 greens in regulation in Round 1 and while that’s an impressive feat, I wonder if a young player with a lack of experience in PGA events and the Masters can keep it up.
If he can’t, then it mostly comes down to Simpson vs. Reed. In that case, I’d take Simpson every time given his superior Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (68.4 vs. 68.8) in the FantasyLabs Player Models.
Additionally, Simpson has a better approach game and is a better ball-striker, which is the difference-maker for me, considering Reed mostly relies on his short game and putting. While those skills are important, Simpson is a more well-rounded player, who also has comparable greenside skills.
Through the 2019 PGA season, Simpson ranks seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach, 24th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, compared to 65th, 55th and 40th for Reed, respectively (Fantasy National).
Reed hit just eight greens in Round 1, but he still scraped together a +1 for the day thanks to an eagle and 1.52 putts per hole. Otherwise, he only had two birdies which were among the worst marks in the field.