2021 Masters Betting Picks: The Players We Bet Right Away at Augusta National
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Sergio Garcia
Welcome to Masters Week.
One of the great things about gambling on golf is that you have three full days to get your bets in. You can spend that time doing deep research, discussing potential bets with friends and talking yourself in (or out) of betting on someone. It’s a bit of an art, betting on golf, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
That said, there are always names that jump out at you the second the odds drop. Here are the players we bet right away to win The Masters:
Jon Rahm (+1200)
Not gonna lie: I really wanted to pick Jordan Spieth in this spot. For the last month or so, really. He was my guy. Until something happened: He became everyone else’s guy, too. I still like him; I still think he has a great chance of winning this week. But in the non-Tiger Woods category, when “everyone” is on a specific player prior to a major, it usually doesn’t work out that way.
There’s also whatever the opposite of buyer’s remorse is. If you didn’t get him two months ago in the 60/1 range, it’s pretty disconcerting to pay up for whatever ridiculous price he winds up being by the time these festivities kick off Thursday morning.
All of the public zigging toward Spieth leads me to zag in Rahm’s direction instead. The reality is, I could have gone in a lot of different directions with this pick, but the form/history combo was too tantalizing to ignore. Just a few days ago, I was fully prepared to supplement all Rahm mentions with an asterisk, since his wife Kelley was due this week with the couple’s first child and he recently said he’d withdraw from the Masters should the birth be imminent. Ah, silly me. Of course the little baby boy named Kepa wouldn’t kept his dad from competing this week, as he was born Sunday, a day Rahm called, “Without a doubt, the greatest day of my life.”
There are now some serious Danny Willett vibes going on, as the 2016 champion was planning to miss that year’s Masters if his son wasn’t born ahead of time, but the baby came early and the rest became history. Still looking for that first major, this should be the one for which Rahm has the best chance, with finishes of 7th-9th-4th over the past three years.
Meanwhile, he’s finished top-10 in his last two starts, seven of his last nine and 10 of his last 14, the last of which dates back to last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs. Throw in the fact that he’s 14th in strokes gained on approach shots this season – as important as any metric this week – and that’s a lot of trends to be pointing directly at Rahm.
Here’s hoping that one week after the greatest day of his life, he’s calling this coming Sunday “the second greatest day of my life.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+6000)
I like a play on Fitzpatrick based on his current form. He’s had four starts in stroke play events on the PGA TOUR in 2021 and has finished 11th or better in all of them. Fitzpatrick has never tore up Augusta — though he has a top-10 finish to his credit — but this will be his seventh start here so he should have a good feel for the course by now.
Patrick Cantlay (+2200)
Cantlay is my pick to win this week as he has all of the attributes I am looking for in a player to find success at Augusta National. He comes in with great form to start the year with top-15 finishes in four of the five stroke-play events he has played, including runner up at the AMEX and a third at Pebble Beach. The Californian was also the best player in the field through three days of group play at the Dell Match Play but was held out from advancing in a playoff loss to Brian Harman.
I fully expect to see Cantlay improve on his best Masters finish, 9th-place in 2019, and put himself in contention down the stretch. This is the best chance of his career to capture his first major win, and I won’t be surprised to see him slipping on the green jacket come Sunday evening.
Sergio Garcia (+6000)
The most important statistic at Augusta National is approach play, and few players have been better of late on approach than Sergio Garcia. In his past two measured events, he has gained 6.7 (Concession) and 8.3 (PLAYERS) strokes on approach, respectively. Sergio followed that up with a terrific run in the WGC Match Play, making it to the final eight.
In his past 12 rounds, Sergio ranks fifth in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. While his (mostly) horrific putting can cause understandable skepticism, there is some reason to believe he can get it done at Augusta.
The Masters is an event where course experience plays a major factor. After winning his first Masters in 2017, Sergio has the confidence to match his elite ball-striking and will looking to be the 18th golfer in history to win multiple Green Jackets.
Jon Rahm (+1200)
One of the biggest storylines heading into this year’s Master’s was whether or not Rahm would leave the tournament early had he gotten the call that his wife was going into labor. He even gave a warning to the public to not bet on him because he said he would have zero qualms about leaving regardless of where he was on the leaderboard.
Thankfully, we no longer have to worry about this as Mrs. Rahm had the baby and the No. 3 player in the world should be ready to rock and roll.
Augusta was tailor-made for Rahm’s game and it’s clearly shown, as he’s posted three consecutive top 10’s whilst never missing a cut here in four trips. The Spaniard is firing on all cylinders at the moment, having finished 10th or better in six of his past eight starts. He ranks fourth in this field in SG: Ball-Striking and third in SG: Tee-to-Green both over his past 16 rounds.
The Jordan Spieth win propelled him to the betting co-favorite on most books, and for that reason among others, Rahm is going slightly overlooked.
This is a massive mistake to me and it’s clear he’s more than ready to win his first career major. Plenty of contextual factors point to that happening this week at the most prestigious tournament in golf.
Jon Rahm (+1200)
Two words: Nappy Factor.