Masters First-Round Leader Odds & Picks: Six Players with Value on Thursday at Augusta National
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Golf is a game of patience, and betting it is no different. But every Thursday, there’s a chance to cash in early with a savvy First-Round Leader (FRL) pick.
The Masters is my favorite golf tournament. It’s the only men’s major held annually at the same course, so that makes FRL picks a little bit “easier” (it’s still really hard to hit one) compared to the constant course rotation that we see for the other slams.
Not every single competitor at this year’s Masters stands a chance of donning the Green Jacket come Sunday; but anyone can get off to a hot start on Thursday and set the pace.
Here are my favorite FRL picks for the 2021 Masters.
Jordan Spieth +1800 | Tee time: 2 p.m. ET
Forget that Jordan Spieth just won on Sunday in San Antonio. Forget that he’s a past champ at Augusta. Look at his ball-striking numbers at this course since 2015. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach three of the last five Masters held in April.
Ok, now you can remember that he just won the Valero and won The Masters in 2015.
There has to a certain excitement and surge in adrenaline for Spieth at Augusta. When you combine that with a comeback win on the eve of Masters Week, I think there is a very good chance he’ll be your FRL at Augusta.
Tony Finau +3300 | Tee time: 1:48 p.m. ET
If you bet Tony Finau for a top-5, top-10 and top-20 every week this season, I have a feeling you’d be able to buy an island. He can’t seem to get into the winner’s circle, despite his stellar play, so I wouldn’t bet him outright this week.
However, he does make for a great FRL bet. He has two top-10 finishes in his three starts at Augusta. This is a course he likes, and he’ll be live so long as he gets the the putter going on Thursday.
Matt Fitzpatrick +3300 | Tee time: 1:24 p.m. ET
I’ve been bullish on Matt “Don’t Call Me Matthew” Fitzpatrick over the last few months. He has been very consistent in his Thursday rounds, with a 69.7 scoring average on the season. From the Genesis Invitational until THE PLAYERS Championship (The WGC Dell Match Play broke the streak) Fitz shot 66, 66, 69, 68 on Thursdays.
His FRL value isn’t great this week, but he’s still worth taking. I fear Vegas is catching on to his good play…
Sergio Garcia +5000 | Tee time: 10:18 a.m. ET
Despite years of self-doubt, Sergio Garcia finally slipped on the Green Jacket in 2017. He’s one of the best ball strikers on tour, which is important around a second-shot golf course like Augusta.
He’s found some form again over the last year, with his Strokes Gained: APP improving on a weekly basis. He’s a great value to lead the pack on Thursday.
Matt Kuchar +7000 | Tee time: 12:48 p.m. ET
Over the last four years, Matt Kuchar leads the field in Strokes Gained: Total at Augusta National during the first round. That should be enough for a FRL play on Kuchar but there’s more. He also has four top-10 finishes in 11 starts at The Masters. To boot, Kuchar is coming off back-to-back great finishes at the Match Play and Valero.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout +9000 | Tee time: 10:18 a.m. ET
It was another South African, Dylan Frittelli, who finished in a three-way tie for the lead after Thursday’s round at Augusta in November. This year, however, I’m taking a different South African to set the pace for Thursday.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout has had some stellar on the European Tour over the last 12 months. One thing to keep in mind about South African golfers: they all play well in South Africa. While that doesn’t seem like it would matter in rural Georgia, I promise it does.
South Africans have had success at Augusta for decades. They have similar games, and for whatever reason, those games tend to carry over to Rae’s Creek pretty well.
2021 Masters First-Round Leader Odds
|Si Woo Kim||+8000|
|Jose Maria Olazábal||+35000|
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