The Masters: A betting perspective

has a look at the Masters through the eyes of someone having a flutter and offers a few sage tips

Could Ian Poulter be the top European on show? Image: _Harry Lime_ via Flickr Creative Commons

Could Ian Poulter be the top European on show? Image: _Harry Lime_ via Flickr Creative Commons

Golf’s first major of the year is a great opportunity to add some capital to your student loan. In betting terms, it’s a little easier to predict than the other three majors; the Garden of Eden is a course that commands respect from the whole golfing community but it’s also a course that, historically, doesn’t suit a first time debutant. Such are the intricacies of the great course, with its lightning fast, undulating greens and punishing bunkers there has only ever been one first time winner in Fuzzy Zoeller, who won it in 1979

At the same time, it could also be the week that a European ends the twelve year wait to put on the Green Jacket. Six of the current world top ten come from this side of the Atlantic; Lee Westwood has come closest to being the first European since Jose Maria Olazabal to win, with a runners-up finish in 2010.

Even with the history, that isn’t a signal just to lump your money on the favourites. The wonders of online betting allow us an opportunity to bet on just about anything. For Augusta, this extends down to whether Tiger will hit the fairway with his first shot or who will shoot the lowest score out of a specific three-ball. So before you place your bets, allow Nouse to try and sway your hand with some advice and some offerings that could earn you some serious cash.

(All odds correct through oddschecker.com on 06/04/2011)

OUTRIGHT WINNER

Tiger Woods (12/1 – Betfred, William Hill)

Not only is Tiger Woods at his lowest world ranking since he turned professional, his spectacular fall from grace has also led to him to being his best price with the bookies for some time. Admittedly, Woods is still a shadow of the player that we once knew and still hasn’t notched a tournament victory since November 2009. Phil Mickelson is also, correctly, priced as the outright favourite after his win last week in Houston (your best price is 13/2 with Bluesq.com and Sportingbet). But this is Augusta, where he is at his most comfortable; Tiger has four Green Jackets and hasn’t finished outside the top ten since 2004. Forget that he’s tweaking his swing again under new coach Sean Foley, Woods knows what it takes to win here and listed at 12/1, he represents outstanding value – betting him each way is a necessity.

OUTSIDER

Stewart Cink (124/1 – Unibet)

Picking an outsider to win a major championship is always difficult and there is no tested method to guarantee success. The saving grace with The Masters is that first time entrants and those with only a year or two’s playing experience of it don’t tend to do so well.

So why Stewart Cink? A real outsider in golfing betting terms is priced at over 100-1 – top ten players still price in at about 33-1 – so Cink qualifies for that category. An outstanding short game player and putter, if he can find some form in his approach work he’ll be an intriguing prospect as the week progresses. Cink has a major to his name after winning the Open Championship in 2009, but his experiences at Augusta have been less fruitful having missed the cut in the last two years. A third place finish in 2008 is as good as it has got so far, but with a wealth of tour experience and a home crowd spuring him on (Cink lives two hours away in Duluth, GA), he is as good an option as there can be at such long odds.

TOP DEBUTANT

Rickie Fowler (5/1 – SKY Bet, Tote Sport , bet365)

22-year old Fowler, who played his College Golf at Oklahoma State and wears some of the most colourful golf gear outside on the other side of the Atlantic, is garnering a lot of media hype going into this week. A surprise wildcard pick by Corey Pavin for last year’s Ryder Cup, Fowler came to the attention of the world as his skill with the putter grabbed the headlines, notably nailing a clutch 15 foot putt on the 18th hole to half his singles match with Edorado Molinari and keep America in the running for the Ryder Cup.
He handled the pressure of golf’s biggest stage with aplomb in October and that experience should serve him well this week. Currently tied with Scotsman Martin Laird in this betting market, Fowler’s ease with the Putter puts him ahead of the Scotsman. Adding to this, the calibre of player behind Fowler and Laird drops off significantly – if there is a licence to print money this week, this bet could be it.

TOP EUROPEAN

Ian Poulter (20/1 – Stan James)

Could this finally be the year that Ian Poulter enters the major winners’ circle? A tenth place finish in last years Masters only tells half the story; leading alongside Lee Westwood at the half way stage, Poulter fell away with closing rounds of 74, 73 when he should have been challenging. Put bluntly, he has something to prove this week.

Lee Westwood rightly takes his place as the bookies favourite to be the top European after a runners-up finish last year (your best price is 6/1 with Tote Sport), but behind him, Poulter represents the best value by a long way as part of a strong contingent of Europeans who are in good form entering this week. That list includes Rory McIlory, Justin Rose and Paul Casey, the latter of whom has the excellent long game tools needed to flourish round Augusta. Luke Donald will need to break the jinx of winning the par 3 tournament (no winner of it has ever gone on to win the main event), while you should also steer clear of World Number 1 Martin Kaymer, whose price is a lot shorter than it should be due to his ranking – he has missed the cut at all of his three Masters appearances.

It’s difficult to see past any of the European Ryder Cup team members from Celtic Manor finishing as the top performer from Europe, and Poulter is as confident a player as you will find in the field this week; he even went as far to predict that Tiger Woods wouldn’t make the top ten. Thankfully, he has the game to back up his off-course talk too. With his wealth of experience at Augusta too, he’s definitely worth a flyer.

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