2023 Masters FRL Picks: Bet Jason Day, 2 More First-Round Leader Bets To Make
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Day.
We’ve finally reached The Masters. While the tournament is always accompanied by an ample amount of excitement, this year feels different. It will be the first Masters tournament where LIV players will be playing as members of the rival PGA Tour, which has added an element of drama we haven’t had in years past.
Combine that with a seemingly unbeatable Scottie Scheffler, an in-form Rory McIlroy seeking the career grand slam and a Jordan Spieth’s potential return to glory, and we’ve reached what I believe is the most anticipated Masters in a decade or more.
The Masters has produced a majority of first-round leaders from the afternoon wave. In the past five editions of the tournament, there have been eight first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the eight, only one has come from the morning wave.
It’s always good for a golfer you’ve bet in the outright market to get off to a hot start, but history has shown that the first-round leader rarely goes on to actually win the tournament.
Since 1980, only Seve Ballesteros (1980), Ben Crenshaw (1984), Trevor Immelman (2008), Jordan Spieth (2015) and Dustin Johnson (2020) — who shared the lead with Dylan Frittelli and Paul Casey — have been first-round leaders and put on the Green Jacket early Sunday evening.
Masters First-Round Leader Picks
Jason Day +3300 (FanDuel)
First-Round Tee Time: 12:48 p.m. ET
During the prime of his career, it seemed inevitable that Jason Day would eventually don a Green Jacket. The Australian has excelled at The Masters throughout his career, and had three top-5 finishes between 2013 and 2019 without ever finishing worse than 28th during that stretch. Day has a perfect skill set for Augusta. He’s long off the tee, and is immaculate around the greens.
This season, the now 35-year-old has been resurgent. In seven starts this year, he’s yet to finish outside of the top-19 in any event. At the WGC-Dell Match Play, he took Scottie Scheffler to the brink of defeat. He played just enough golf to gain confidence in where his game stands heading to Augusta, but not too much that he’d get worn down. His showing at the event couldn’t have gone any better for his chances at The Masters.
I believe Day gets off to a hot start at Augusta and stays in contention until late in the event.
Pick: Jason Day FRL (+3300)
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Tommy Fleetwood +5000 (BetMGM)
First-Round Tee Time: 2 p.m. ET
Tommy Fleetwood has encouraging history at Augusta National and I like the fact that he’s teeing off later in the day.
In his past five trips to the course, Fleetwood has three top-20 finishes. He’s also shown a propensity to go low at Augusta, having shot rounds of 66 on two separate occasions.
The Englishman is in good form coming into the Masters, and finished third at the Valspar in his most recent stroke play event. While he struggled while in contention on Sunday, the fact that he was able to play his way into the mix through three rounds is a good indication that he’s in good form. Fleetwood should be comfortable with playing in cooler and wet conditions that we are likely to see this week.
Patrick Reed +5500 (BetMGM)
First-Round Tee Time: 9:24 a.m. ET
As Alfred Pennyworth said in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Patrick Reed is at the 2023 Masters looking to wreak havoc. Throughout his career, the 32-year-old has played his best golf when he’s embraced the role of the villain. This week, Reed is coming to Augusta National as a former champion with little fanfare. If the past is any indicator, I believe he shows up on a mission this week.
The last time Reed was surrounding in controversy was when he flicked a tee at Rory McIlroy on the practice range at the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this season. Despite being in poor form at the time, Reed charged up the leaderboard over the weekend and chased McIlroy down. It took a 15-footer on the 18th hole for McIlroy to finally put Reed away and win the event.
Something tells me Reed embraces being the spoiler this week and makes some birdies out of the gates Thursday morning.
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