Article by Mr. Charles Jay – Chief Sports Writer
Used with permission.
When they tee it up on April 8 at The Masters, Dustin Johnson will be a +850 favorite at BetOnline to defend his title. Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas are next on the list at +1100. Jordan Spieth is +1400, with Rory McIlroy +1600. Brooks Koepka is priced at +3300, with Sergio Garcia at +6000 and Bubba Watson at +7500.
All of these names might eventually earn their place among the legendary figures in golf history.
But not all of them are Masters champions. And it can be safely said that almost all of the legendary golfers from the 1930s forward have won this tournament. With the exception of its founder and original tournament host, that is.
The Masters – Some Brief Stuff
The Masters – originally known on an official basis as the Augusta National Invitation – did not have to wait very long to be recognized as a major event in golf. The involvement of Bobby
Jones saw to that. Jones, a “grand slam” winner who nonetheless never relinquished his amateur status, was a co-designer of the course at Augusta National Golf Club, which was established in 1932.
The tournament was first played in 1934, and Jones himself came out of retirement in order to play in it, which automatically brought it widespread attention. Jones ended up tied up for 13th place but his performance was secondary; Augusta and the Masters were immediately on the map, with Horton Smith winning the grand total of $1,500 for his victory.
Gene Sarazen won the same amount for his victory the next year, punctuated by golf’s version of the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” a double eagle (also known as an “albatross”) on the Par 5 fifteenth hole to force a playoff round with Craig Wood, who he wound up beating by five strokes.
They’ll be playing for considerably more than that starting April 8. They really don’t like talking about money at The Masters; that is not the lure. But Johnson, last year’s winner, received a little over $2 million for his efforts.
The Masters field is smaller than any other major tournament (the other majors, of course, being the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship). Last year there were only 92
participants, with 60 of them making the cut.
That’s one thing that distinguishes The Masters from others. There is also the course itself; out of the four major championships, The Masters is the only one that is played on the same course every single year. That course is a par-72 at 7,475 yards, with much less in the way of rough than you are going to find at most championship-level courses. They made the decision to “punish” players in other ways for inaccuracy. So there is water to deal with, along with difficult sand traps and sizable, undulating greens that require perhaps more exactitude than anywhere else on the PGA Tour. If you stroke it wrong, the ball might keep going and going and going. So there is a price to pay for putting it the wrong way.
There’s even a price to pay for talking about the difficulty of the greens in the wrong way. In 1994, Gary McCord, a member of the CBS broadcast team with a penchant for being irreverent, remarked, on air, that the 17th green was so fast that it looked like bikini wax was used on it. That got him banned from CBS, telecasts of the Masters, at the insistence of Augusta National. McCord, who was still an active PGA player at the time, vowed to earn entrance back to The Masters by winning a subsequent tournament, but that never happened. Likewise, he was never permitted to work for CBS again at Augusta.
How did the tournament organizers hold such sway over the network? Because the policy at Augusta National is to demand less in the way of TV rights fees in exchange for exerting more influence over the broadcast itself. That is why you will see fewer commercial interruptions at The Masters than any other tournament, with advertisers the tournament must approve. And CBS is all too willing to go along with that.
Just how important has The Masters been to CBS sports coverage? Well, the rather gruff Frank Chirkinian, who was an executive producer of Masters telecasts for 38 years, actually owned a home in Augusta to be closer to the folks at Augusta National, whom he placated at every turn.
There have been no shortage of great moments and great performances at The Masters. Arnold Palmer, probably the most important figure in the development of golf as a spectator sport, won four championships over a period of seven years. Jack Nicklaus won the event six times, the last in 1986 at the age of 46, when he incredibly shot a 30 on the back nine. Twelve years later, at the age of 58, he provided some of the greatest thrills of his career when he charged the leaders in the final round, finishing tied for sixth.
Of course, there is also Tiger Woods, who was a pro for less than a year when he broke the tournament scoring record at 18-under in 1997, finishing twelve strokes ahead of Tom Kite.
He’s won The Masters four times since, including the 2019 title that capped a very dramatic comeback from injury. As you are undoubtedly aware, Woods will not play in this year’s Masters because of injuries he suffered in a car accident. If not for that accident, however, Tiger would have been one of the listed favorites at BetOnline. Why? Because familiarity with the course, and mastery of it – pardon the pun – is an extremely important factor. It’s tricky enough that you really have to know how to play it. And the more experience you have on it, the better off you are – provided you are close to your playing prime, that is.
“There’s a level of comfort coming here,” said Adam Scott, the Australian and former world #1 who won The Masters in 2013. “I remember before I won how anxious I was. I still want to win another, but I don’t have the anxiety like I did before. You feel at peace with the place.”
It should be noted that although Woods won the tournament in his first full year as a pro, he was actually participating in The Masters for the third time, having previously played with invitations he earned by winning the U.S. Amateur title.
Of the 84 Masters tournaments, 47 have been won by a player who had won at Augusta previously. Needless to say, it is not the friendliest place for newcomers. In fact, after Smith and Sarazen won the first two Masters, there has been only one other champion who has won it his first time in the event. That was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. So that may give you a little perspective when examining BetOnline’s Masters prop, which offers a +2500 payout if a first-timer (referred to as a “debutant”) emerges with the victory.
By the way, there is a player in this field who very nearly pulled off that first-time success. Spieth, who as we mentioned is priced at +1400, tied for second in his very first Masters in 2014 (he was the stand-alone leader for a time on the final day), then won the event the next year, tying Woods’ 72-hole scoring record (since broken with Johnson’s 20-under last year). In 2016 he came back to defend his title and tied for second again, and was third in 2018. These last two years were rough, as he had a T21 and T46 at Augusta, but he’s coming back around, with three top-five finishes in 2021 – at Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Bay Hill.
And as we spoke of Sarazen before, BetOnline also has a prop that covers an “albatross” or double eagle at this year’s Masters. If it happens, on any hole, you’ll get paid at +1200 odds. This is a two-way prop, so you can lay a price of -3300 that it doesn’t happen.
And it should be noted that there is indeed a player in this field who has recorded an albatross in The Masters. Louis Oosthuizen, the former British Open champion, did it on the final day of the 2012 tournament at the Par-5 second hole. He ultimately lost in a sudden death playoff to Bubba Watson. Oosthuizen, who in addition to his British Open victory has been a runner-up in all four majors, and was third in the U.S. Open as recently as last year, is priced at +8000 to win the tournament. Perhaps he’s a possibility to consider.
If it is a choice between distance and accuracy when it comes to driving the golf ball at Augusta, distance would be well in the lead. Don’t get us wrong; it’s never a bad thing to be accurate. But consider that Calvin Peete led the PGA Tour in driving accuracy for ten straight years, but that didn’t usually do him a lot of good at The Masters. While Peete had top-five finishes at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, he never hit the top ten at Augusta, and was in the top 20 only three times.
Bryson DeChambeau is leading the PGA in driving distance at the moment, averaging 320.8 yards. Rory McIlroy (+1600) is third, with Cameron Champ (+15000) in fourth spot. Matthew Wolff (+12500) is fifth, with Dustin Johnson eighth.
DeChambeau (+1100), the reigning U.S.Open champion, would seem a likely candidate to do well at Augusta, because he can hit the ball a ton. Last year could have been a coming-out party of sorts for him in The Masters, but he never really got himself out of the starting gate, finishing tied for 34th, one stroke ahead of Tiger Woods and one behind Bernard Langer, who last won the Masters in 1993.
In four appearances at the Masters, DeChambeau’s best result was a tie for 21st in 2016, when he was the low amateur, although it should be mentioned that he shared the first-round lead in 2019.
Clearly it’s not about pure power. You’ve got to do other things well. Patrick Reed (currently listed at +3000 to win) is capable of launching long drives, but a lot of other players are as well, so he’s 182nd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, the last we looked. But Reed won the 2018 Masters in large part because he knows his way around the greens. In fact, he currently leads the tour in Strokes Gained in Putting.
And while we are on the subject of Reed, some people might not be aware that he played his college golf right around the corner at Augusta State University, which he led to two NCAA team titles. His family currently lives in Augusta, but they were not invited to watch Reed in his winning Masters effort. Not only have they not been invited to any tournaments he plays in, he actually had security escort them out of the 2014 U.S. Open. It seems his family strongly disapproved of his bride, whom he met while she was caddying for him, and as a result he does not speak to his parents or his sister. That’s just one of the strange back stories people will be talking about when the time comes.
Just a Few of The Wagers
Reed is paired with Viktor Hovland, the low amateur at the 2019 Masters, in one of the many head-to-head matchup props BetOnline has posted. Hovland is actually the slight favorite at – 112, with Reed at -108.
And yes, two of the titans – DeChambeau and defending champ Dustin Johnson are also matched up, with Johnson (-114) the favorite over the reigning U.S. Open titleholder (-106). That segues us into talking about some other Masters tournament props at BetOnline. Here are just a few of them:
Highest 18-Hole Score
- Over 83.5 Strokes -130
- Under 83.5 Strokes -101
This is one of those “ouch” props. You never want to see a cringe-worthy round. We traced back six years of this tournament and see that three of the scores were below 83.5 and three were higher. The highest was back in 2015, as Ben Crenshaw, playing in his final Masters, registered a 91. That’s clearly not the way for a former champ to go out.
Lowest 18-Hole Score
- Under 65.5 Strokes -200
- Over 65.5 Strokes +150
Five times in the last six years the lowest 18-hole score in The Masters has been 65 or lower. Does that justify the price you’d have to lay? Keep in mind that the weather may play a part in the scores.
Winning 72-Hole Score
- Under 276.5 Strokes -150
- Over 276.5 Strokes +120
Guys are hitting the ball a long way these days, and there is more technology to avail oneself of. Spieth tied Tiger’s 72-hole record in 2015 and Johnson busted right through that last year. Each of the last three winning scores has been below 276.5.
Highest Round 1 Score
- Over 82.5 Strokes -115
- Under 82.5 Strokes -115
Interestingly, the highest score last year for Round 1 was 79, by amateur Lin Yuxin. In three of the last six years, however, the highest score has been above 82.5.
Leading Round 1 Score
- Over 65.5 Strokes -115
- Under 65.5 Strokes -115
Over the last six Masters tournaments, we’ve seen three 66’s, two 65’s and a 64. Somebody will likely have the ability to shoot lights out in the opening round… weather permitting, of course.
As far as betting on the winner is concerned, keep in mind what we told you earlier in this story – that The Masters has the smallest field of any major. Consider that lack of length will virtually disqualify many of these players who can’t make up for it another way. Lack of familiarity with the course will take a number of others out. Then there are six or seven amateurs who get automatic invites. There is a diverse group of international players that the tournament has included as per custom. And then, of course, there are the standing invitations to past Masters champions, 8-10 of whom don’t really have a chance to win.
What we’re saying is that when it really comes down to it, there are only about 35-40 players who should occupy your wagering interest as having a genuine chance to win this tournament. Some of the past champs are in that group. These include Johnson (+850), Spieth (+1400), Reed (+3000), Garcia (+6000), Scott (+7500), Watson (+7500), and maybe, on the outskirts, people like Phil Mickelson (+7500) and Danny Willett, the 2016 champion (+17500).
Here is the list of everybody at 100-1 (+10000) or below, according to the good folks at BetOnline:
- Dustin Johnson +850
- Bryson DeChambeau +1100
- Justin Thomas +1100
- Jon Rahm +1400
- Jordan Spieth +1400
- Rory McIlroy +1600
- Patrick Cantlay +2200
- Xander Schauffele +2200
- Collin Morikawa +2800
- Patrick Reed +3000
- Tony Finau +3000
- Brooks Koepka +3300
- Viktor Hovland +3300
- Daniel Berger +3500
- Cameron Smith +4000
- Lee Westwood +4000
- Paul Casey +4000
- Sungjae Im +4000
- Webb Simpson +4000
- Scottie Scheffler +4500
- Tyrrell Hatton +4500
- Hideki Matsuyama +5000
- Tommy Fleetwood +5000
- Jason Day +5500
- Matthew Fitzpatrick +5500
- Joaquin Niemann +6000
- Sergio Garcia +6000
- Adam Scott +7500
- Bubba Watson +7500
- Louis Oosthuizen +8000
- Abraham Ancer +9000
- Corey Conners +9000
- Billy Horschel +10000
- Justin Rose +10000
- Phil Mickelson +10000
- Will Zalatoris +10000
A number of those players have won major championships. Some of the players not on the list who have major titles on their resume include: Shane Lowry (+1100), Francesco Molinari (+12500), Zach Johnson (+20000), Charl Schwartzel (+25000), Henrik Stenson (+35000), Bernard Langer (+50000), Jimmy Walker (+50000), Mike Weir (+75000), Fred Couples (+100000), Jose Maria Olazabal (+200000), Vijay Singh (+200000) and Sandy Lyle (+500000).
And who knows? Maybe it’s time for an up-and-comer who’s been thirsting for his first major championship to come busting through that door and into the Butler Cabin for his green jacket fitting. Could it be time for someone like Jon Rahm (+1400), Patrick Cantlay (+2200), Tony Finau (+3000) or perhaps someone coming out of virtually nowhere with the performance of a lifetime?
It could be. We’re ready for some magic Masters moments. We’re sure you are too. And rest assured you can enjoy those moments a whole lot more through BetOnline!