The Masters Favorites Offering the Most Value
On a normal Masters week, two or three names will stick out at the top of the betting odds. This year is an exception, but books have struggled to find a consensus. With so many elite golfers in good form and sporting victories leading up to the year’s first major, we’re seeing some of the most balanced odds in recent memory at the Masters.
As of Monday, Sportsbook doesn’t have a single player lower than 10-1, while Bovada has made Rory McIlroy a slight favorite over the pack at +900. Looking back at the odds over the past decade, the largest price I found for a favorite at the Masters was +800 for McIlroy in 2014. Basically, books and bettors all seem to have a lot of differing opinions on who should be the favorite this weekend.
Sportsbook lists Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods as co-favorites at 10-1, while McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas all check in at 12-1. The next tier includes Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose at 15-1. In comparison, you could only find three players listed at 15-1 or less last year in Johnson, Spieth and McIlroy. All three were listed at less than 10-1 before Johnson withdrew due to a back injury.
Let’s first take a look at the one future I will bet from the group of eight favorites mentioned above. I’ll also touch on two other value plays in the next tier and close with two popular futures picks I will avoid.
Rory McIlroy 12-1
Of the aforementioned list of favorites, I fancy McIlroy the most — mainly because he’s figured out the putter after gaining over 10 strokes on the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We know he drives the ball as well as anyone, and when his irons are clicking, he’ll give himself a ton of birdie looks. He was a parlay target of mine back in January, so that’s where my money is invested.
In regard to the eight biggest favorites I mentioned, there’s really no wrong answer. You can build a logical case for each one. They’ve all got wins this season except for Woods and Spieth, who just led the Houston Open in strokes gained tee to green. Any of these top eight golfers are a realistic potential winner, but I’m rolling with Rory.
With so many guys listed between 10-1 and 15-1, you can find a few elite players in the 20- to 30-1 range. If you don’t see any value in the top eight, you can find some world class golfers at prices you’ll rarely see them listed at. Let’s take a look at a few that jump out to me.
Jason Day 20-1
Day has fallen completely under the radar this week. However, he’s got a win at Torrey Pines this year, and his game is clicking everywhere except with his irons. He lost strokes with the approach in his last three tournaments, including his win at Torrey Pines. He’s clearly aware of this leak and made a change with the irons heading into the week.
New irons this week for Jason Day: Switched from TaylorMade P750 to P730. Said he was launching it "a little bit higher and spinning it too much." Blade setup is designed to help him control launch and spin at Augusta. pic.twitter.com/5uiqHoDljH
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) April 2, 2018
Day has played well at Augusta in his previous starts, making every cut outside of a withdraw in 2012. He also has two top-three finishes under his belt. He’s been a parlay target of mine along with McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama. I will certainly include the Australian in my futures selections to grab a green jacket.
Jon Rahm 28-1
Rahm has as much talent as any golfer in the world. He did win this year at the CareerBuilder, but his approach game has fallen off the map since. He’s lost strokes in four straight events with the irons, but has played well enough in the other phases of his game to finish in the top 30 in all four.
Unlike Day, there aren’t any media reports about Rahm making any club changes or iron adjustments, but I imagine it’s been the focus of his work leading up to Augusta. His Masters futures price dipped into the mid-teens following his victory, but bettors have noticed his iron struggles and steered clear for the last month. That has now created a lot of value at 28-1.
I don’t know yet if I have room on my card to add Rahm, but this is as big of number as we’ve seen all year with him. These elite pros can turn things around with one range session, so I couldn’t argue if you decide to include someone of his talent on your card. I will say that if this number drifts to 30-1 or better, it will become an auto-play for me. I will continue to monitor until Thursday.
Rickie Fowler (22-1) and Paul Casey (28-1) will be popular picks in the betting world, but I’m steering clear of both.
Fowler has been folding way too often in contention. It’s not like he’s missing a couple of putts here or there and falling just short. He works his way into the lead and then makes critical mistakes to vanish from contention. If he’s making those mistakes in Houston or Phoenix, it’s hard to imagine him keeping his cool at the Masters. It is mental at this point.
With Casey, I just don’t see any value at his current price. He always plays well at Augusta, but prior to the Valspar victory, he really struggled to find the winner’s circle. It wouldn’t shock me if he won, but no thanks at only 28-1.
Top photo credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports