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The first major of 2021 is here! The most iconic golf course, Augusta National is set to host the 85th Masters Tournament. This is the tournament that golfers dream of winning and this Sunday will completely change someone’s life. The winners of the Green Jackets have left behind a handful of trends for us bettors to discover. You can view my Masters Trend spreadsheet here. All of the trends I am about to discuss were found in this spreadsheet where I highlight certain similarities amongst the former winners.
Trend: 18 of the last 20 winners were ranked inside the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) Top 30. The last 10 winners were all ranked inside the OWGR Top 30.
I will highlight every golfer currently ranked inside the Top 30 OWGR. I will mention reasons to consider this golfer, or reasons to fade.
1. Dustin Johnson +950
The world’s #1 golfer is the defending Masters Champion. During November’s iteration of the Masters Tournament, DJ was able to run away with the lowest winning score in Masters history. This will be Johnson’s 11th time playing at Augusta with only one missed cut, and five Top 10 finishes. Over the last 24 rounds, in this field, DJ ranks: fifth in Greens-in-Regulation Gained, seventh in Approach, seventh in Tee-to-Green, and 10th in Birdies or Better Gained. DJ’s recent finishes aren’t indicative of how he’s really playing, but the recent finishes don’t offer any encouragement. This is an expensive price to pay, but for the best golfer in the world, and the defending champion, it makes sense.
2. Justin Thomas +1250
Thomas struggled early in the year, but snapped out of his funk with a win at the PLAYERS Championship. Prior to his victory, he was laying the foundation for a breakout event. JT has been on fire with his iron game, gaining 1.11 strokes on Approach per round since the beginning of the calendar year. Thomas has played Augusta five times, improving his finishing position each year. His previous Augusta finishes are: 39th, 22nd, 17th, 12th, and 4th. Five of the last six winners at the Masters have won at Kapalua, where Thomas has won twice! Thomas comes into Augusta with great form and is trending in the right direction with course experience. Thomas is one of my favorite plays of the week, and was one of the first bets I made.
3. Jon Rahm +1250
Bettors were worried about whether or not Rahm would compete in this week’s tournament because he said he wanted to be present at the birth of first child. The Spainaird welcomed his son into the world over the weekend, which means he will be playing this week. The #3 player in the world certainly did not want to miss this event, especially with his current form. Over his last four events, Rahm has recorded three Top 10 finishes, including two Top 5 Finishes. He is knocking on the door for another victory, and the five-time PGA Tour winner has never won a major. Rahm has played at Augusta four times, with three Top 10 finishes in his last three tries. Over the last 24 rounds, in this field, Rahm ranks: first in Greens-in-Regulation Gained, fourth Tee-to-Green, fifth in Total Strokes Gained, and 10th in Approach. The cream will rise to the top and Rahm is poised for his first major victory.
4. Collin Morikawa +3150
Morikawa has now played in 44 PGA Tour events in his young career. He has four wins, including a major and a WGC victory. +3150 makes no sense for a player who has shown he can win against the very best and is the fourth best player in the world. Since the start of 2021, Morkiawa has played in 23 measured rounds and is gaining 1.28 strokes per round in Approach. During that time frame, no one has been better with their irons. Augusta is truly a “second shot” golf course, which is very similar to The Concession, the course Morikawa tore apart a few weeks ago.
Golfers need to know where the right place to miss is, and will need to know when to attack the pin. In his victories, Morikawa has exhibited a mature, patient approach that can be dialed up into attack mode when the time is right. Morikawa has only played Augusta once, and now that he has some experience under his belt, I expect him to maneuver the course better this time around. Morikawa has the talent, and the overall game to win at Augusta and if not this year, I can see him winning this event one day.
5. Bryson DeChambeau +1150
Bryson made headlines last fall when he referred to Augusta as “a Par 67.” The golf gods quickly humbled Bryson, where he finished worse than the 63-year-old Bernhard Langer. Bryson’s biggest mistake last November was his overly-aggressive approach that left him far from the hole. The former SMU Mustang is known on Tour as a “Mad Scientist” who is always tinkering his game to maximize his upside. Augusta National bans green books which makes putting much more difficult, and Bryson’s excellent putting has been neutralized at Augusta in the past. If Bryson can figure out the undulating greens at Augusta and putt well, he will find himself in another final group pairing on Sunday. Bryson might take a more calculated approach with his Off-the-Tee game this week, which I think will give him a better chance than last year.
6. Xander Schauffele 26-1
Xander has won four times on the PGA Tour, with three of those events being smaller-field events. The Masters field only consists of 88 golfers, so we are right in Xander’s wheelhouse. A 2019 victory at Kapalua is also encouraging based on the trend mentioned in JT’s section. Xander has been a very good overall player; he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his statistical profile. The biggest concern with Xander is his ability to win and close out events. To start the year, Xander was on fire with three straight Top 5 finishes, but has cooled off in recent weeks. Since the beginning of the calendar year, Xander has gained strokes in every major category. The 27-year-old California native is a safe play, but I think his win equity is limited. I would be more inclined to target Xander in matchups or in the Top 10, Top 20 market.
7. Patrick Reed 35-1
The 2018 Masters winner is never priced correctly for the number of times he wins. This is mostly because he is a polarizing player with many fans rooting against him. However, he is a great golfer. Reed’s is one of the best, if not THE best short-game player in the world. On and Around-the-Green, Reed is magical. Reed has a volatile history at Augusta, playing this course seven times. He has two Top 10 finishes including a win, but has missed the cut twice and finished outside the Top 30 three times. Reed excels on tough courses because of his ability to get up-and-down. The major concern with Reed is that Augusta has favored strong drivers, and good ball-strikers. Reed’s path to victory is through excellent putting, and making par where the field makes bogeys.
8. Tyrrell Hatton 50-1
Hatton has found himself in the winner’s circle multiple times since the start of 2020. One PGA Tour win, and two European Tour victories has seen Hatton skyrocket up the OWGR. Hatton has been stateside since the end of February, but has yet to find his form. He has played five PGA Tour events in 2021 and has not recorded a single Top 20 finish. Hatton is not playing poorly though, he just hasn’t been able to put it all together. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field, Hatton ranks: sixth in Approach, 11th in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 13th in 3-Putt Avoidance, and 18th in Bogey Avoidance. Hatton has been able to avoid really big mistakes and has been strong on Par 4s. That is a good skill set to have for Augusta, but he isn’t one of my main betting targets.
9. Webb Simpson 43-1
Webb is a very solid player, but his Off-the-Tee play could be a reason for concern. Augusta National measures close to 7,500 yards but it plays much longer, closer to 7,800 yards. Since the start of 2021, Simpson has lost .25 strokes per round Off-the-Tee. At a course like Augusta, it will be really hard for a player to contend while losing strokes Off-the-Tee. This is not my favorite spot for Webb, especially with his lackluster Tee-to-Green play. Webb has played well at Augusta his last three times, but was not good his previous attempts.
10. Patrick Cantlay +2050
Cantlay has been great in 2021. He has shown an upside that only a few other golfers could show. Cantlay has tied two different course records for single round performances at the American Express and Pebble Beach. Cantlay is solid all-around. He hits the ball straight, and rarely finds himself in trouble. Since the start of 2021, Cantlay has been the best Tee-to-Green player by gaining 1.70 strokes per round in that category. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field, Cantlay ranks: second in Total Strokes Gained, fifth in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, fifth in Bogey Avoidance, sixth in Birdie or Better Gained, and sixth in Tee-to-Green. Cantlay is showing signs of breaking out and taking down his first major championship.
11. Brooks Koepka 28-1
There are many questions surrounding the health of Brooks Koepka who underwent an operation on his knee in recent weeks. Brooks has indicated on social media in recent days that he is ready to play, and good to go. I have to think that even though he will play, Brooks is not 100 percent healthy. However, if there is any player in this field who can win The Masters with only one leg, it would be Brooks Koepka. Brooks shows up at majors and has played well at Augusta in the past. Posting back-to-back Top 10 finishes at Augusta, Brooks has his eyes on the Green Jacket and has played well recently when he has teed it up. If Brooks wasn’t healthy enough to contend, I don’t think he would play. While he won’t be 100 percent, I still think Brooks is live to win.
12. Rory McIlroy 19-1
There has been plenty of media coverage on Rory’s recent struggles. While the former #1 golfer in the world has not won in over a year, he hasn’t been playing as badly as people make it seem. Rory has played seven PGA Tour events in 2021 and has recorded four Top 20 finishes. The biggest concern for Rory is his mental approach to the game. Rory wants to win and his “struggles” have shot his confidence. He changed swing coaches, and has said numerous times that he is “searching” for something. Rory’s ball-striking has still been good, but his putter has failed him recently. He is searching for the major Grand Slam having won every major championship except for this one. Rory has six Top 10 finishes in his last seven appearances at Augusta, so if there is a place for Rory to right the ship, it is here.
13. Tony Finau 35-1
Top 10 Tony will look to break out of his winning drought by taking down the biggest event of the season. Finau always profiles well, and always puts up a strong performance. He has just been unable to win. I think Finau’s lack of wins is more narrative than truly a “choke” factor. Finau is long off-the-tee, and a great ball-striker. Over the last 24 rounds, in this field, Finau ranks: seventh in Birdie or Better Gained, eighth in Total Strokes Gained, ninth in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 12th Tee-to-Green, 13th in Approach, and 14th in Greens-in-Regulation. There is really no reason to think Finau will have a bad week, the question is whether or not he can win. I’ll say he doesn’t win this week, but you can still make money on him by looking at Top 20 and Top 10 bets.
14. Viktor Hovland 35-1
Hovland is a rising superstar who has continuously shown up on the first page of leaderboards. Hovland is a great ball-striker and put on a show at the WGC Workday, where he finished runner-up to Collin Morikawa. Hovland’s lone appearance at Augusta resulted in 32nd place finish. He has what it takes to win on this course, but the lack of course experience is a bit concerning especially with Hovland’s troubles on/around the green. Since the start of 2021, Hovland has been a ball-striking machine. Over his last 25 measured rounds, Hovland has gained 1.22 strokes Ball-Striking per round, 1.02 strokes Tee-to-Green per round, and 1.26 total strokes per round. I really like this number on Hovland and don’t doubt his ability to win, there’s just some other golfers I like more.
15. Daniel Berger 39-1
Berger is one of my favorite bets this week. I just love this price for a player who has won multiple times since golf resumed last June. Berger is an above average player in nearly every facet of the game. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field, Berger ranks: third in Total Strokes Gained, 11th in Greens-in-Regulation Gained, 12th in Birdies or Better Gained, and 12th in Putting. Berger is able to get himself onto the green with a look at birdie, and being a good putter has seen him convert those opportunities. The #15 golfer in the world did not receive an invite to the Masters last year, and felt like he was snubbed. He is motivated to show why it was a mistake to not let him play last year, and his recent form is an encouraging sign.
16. Matthew Fitzpatrick 46-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick has made a name for himself as one of the best strategy players in the game. He thrives on tough courses because he knows where the proper misses are. Fitzpatrick has never won on the PGA Tour, but has notched six European Tour wins. In his seven appearances at Augusta, Fitzpatrick has finished outside the Top 30 four times. Since the start of 2021, no one has been a better putter than the 26-year-old Englishmen. He has gained .99 strokes per round with the flatstick, but will need to convert more birdie chances this week if he wants to contend.
17. Billy Horschel 100-1
Horschel is the highest ranked player in the world to come in at triple digit odds. Horschel has not been great, despite some recent good finishes and a win at the WGC Match Play. Over his last 24 rounds, Horschel has lost strokes on both Approach and Around-the-Green. That combination is concerning for Augusta, a course where he has not fared well in the past. Horschel has played at Augusta six times, and has finished better than 37th only once. I don’t have many reasons to believe that Horschel contends this week and might even look to fade him.
18. Paul Casey 40-1
Based on the current odds, if you asked me to only make one outright bet this week it would be on Paul Casey. These odds offer great value for one of the hottest players on Tour. Casey won on the European Tour back in January before making his return stateside where he’s racked up high finishes. Casey has recorded four Top 10 finishes in his five PGA Tour events in 2021! His irons have been red hot and he’s striking the ball better than ever before. Since the start of 2021, Casey has gained 1.0 strokes per round in Approach, 1.54 strokes Tee-to-Green per round, and 1.97 Total Strokes per round. Casey is peaking at the perfect time and returns to a course where he has played well in the past. The 43-year-old has made 10 trips to Augusta National, where he has finished inside the Top 10 five times. I love the value on Casey this week and have him on my outright card.
19. Sungjae Im +4150
Im is a PGA Tour ironman who seemingly plays every week. His debut at Augusta in November couldn’t have gone much better. He finished runner-up to Dustin Johnson despite shooting -15. Im is a birdie-maker who can get really hot and streaky. He has been exceptional with his short game recently, in particular his putting. Sungjae has been hovering around leaderboards without really contending recently. I like his chances at sticking around this weekend but don’t know how likely it is that he wins.
20. Lee Westwood 50-1
Westwood popped right back into the picture with consecutive runner-up finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS Championship. Westwood’s overall game profiles well for Augusta, but the 47-year-old has struggled to win on the PGA Tour. This year, Westwood has gained .96 Total Strokes per round and has a rejuvenated putter. I don’t really love the odds on Westwood and if you grabbed him before his recent hot stretch I would feel good about those tickets. At this current price, I will not be rushing to the counter to bet on him.
21. Harris English 150-1
Fade. Fade. Fade. I will not be betting on Harris English this week at all. English has played at Augusta twice with a 42nd place finish and a missed cut. Since the start of 2021, English is losing strokes in the following categories: Off-the-Tee, Approach, Around-the-Green, Tee-to-Green, and Total Strokes. If you could find a reason to bet on English, I won’t stop you, but I probably wouldn’t agree with you.
22. Scottie Scheffler 55-1
Scheffler is going to win soon. He’s been flirting with his first PGA Tour victory in recent weeks but I am worried about the heavy legs heading into Augusta. Scheffler lost to Horschel at the WGC Match Play in the finals, which means he played seven rounds of golf in a five day span in a losing effort. It’s hard to imagine Scottie isn’t both mentally and physically tired. Scheffler is a good Par 4 player, and finds ways to make birdies. I believe there is some upside for him. However, each of the last 20 winners of The Masters has recorded either a PGA Tour or European Tour win prior to their Masters victory.
23. Matthew Wolff 120-1
I could be talked into Matthew Wolff at these odds. However, Wolff missed the cut at Augusta last year, which means his course experience is limited to just those two rounds. At the WGC Match Play, Wolff showed signs of life and that he might’ve figured out the issues with his game. Wolff is extremely long Off-the-Tee and might try to overpower the course. If distance and ball-striking are factors you heavily favor, then Wolff might be your guy at these odds. I will probably look at Wolff in matchups / Top Finishes but it would have to be the right price.
24. Tommy Fleetwood 60-1
Fleetwood was relatively disappointing during the Florida swing, but performed well at the WGC Match Play. The good performance could bolster Fleetwood’s confidence heading into Augusta. In his four appearances at The Masters, Fleetwood has never broken into the Top 10, but has two Top 20 finishes. Fleetwood is the kind of golfer I look to bet on in Top 40, Top 30, and Top 20, but never really bet him outright. He is a great golfer and I’m sure a win is coming his way soon, but I don’t think it’ll come in a field of this caliber.
25. Hideki Matsuyama 50-1
Hideki is coming off a 30th place finish at the Valero Texas Open. His performance last week was indicative of most of his recent performances. Good, but not great. He hasn’t put everything together and seems to be just another name on the leaderboard. I thought a good week last week could propel him coming into The Masters, but his performance last week was nothing to write home about. He has played well at Augusta with four Top 15 finishes in nine total tries, but don’t think he’s going to contend this week.
26. Joaquin Niemann 66-1
Similar to most of the players in this range, Niemann has been good but he hasn’t been contending. Niemann began 2021 with consecutive runner-up finishes, but hasn’t done too much since then. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field, Niemann ranks: sixth in Driving Distance, 10th in Greens-in-Regulation gained, and 14th in Birdie or Better Gained. Niemann’s lone attempt at Augusta resulted in a missed cut. I am not too bullish on Niemann this week.
27. Ryan Palmer 175-1
This is a crazy number on Palmer. Granted he has not won an individual PGA Tour event in more than 10 years, so it does make sense. Palmer does not have too much recent course experience, but he’s playing some really good golf. In 2021, Palmer has gained strokes in every category except for Around-the-Green. Palmer’s fourth place finish at Kapalua is encouraging because that is one course I’ve looked at as a correlated course. In his eight events in 2021, Palmer has five Top 20 finishes. Current price for a Top 30 finish is +185 which would be my best bet for Palmer.
28. Louis Oosthuizen 90-1
Oosthuizen is a name that shows up on leaderboards at big events. The 38-year-old South African has been boom or bust at Augusta. In his nine appearances, he has four missed cuts and four Top 20 Finishes. 90-1 is a pretty generous number, especially with a small field. That’s still not big enough for me to jump in, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking this. Oosthuizen’s short game has been able to keep him in tournaments and if his putter starts to fail him, the wheels could fall off.
29. Victor Perez 150-1
The Frenchman surprised many people with a strong showing at the WGC Match Play where he finished fourth. Perez also notched a ninth place finish at the PLAYERS Championship. Perez is not a staple on the PGA Tour and his odds are reflective of the betting public not knowing who he is. The #29 ranked player in the world has four international victories to his name. He played in The Masters last year where he made the cut, but didn’t play particularly well. Unfamiliarity with him leaves me intrigued, but I probably won’t be betting on him at all this week.
30. Cameron Smith 40-1
Last, but not least. Cam Smith moved into the #30 spot this past week, and he was the last player I bet on for my outright card. I really like his course form at Augusta, recording two Top 5 finishes in the last three years. The two-time PGA Tour winner has been in good form recently. Smith has three straight Top 20 finishes in stroke-play events and was in contention for most of the WGC Workday before a catastrophic Saturday. The Australian has played well on tough courses and has gained strokes in every category since the start of 2021. The strongest part of his game is his short game, so positive strokes gained with his ball-striking is very encouraging. I see Smith as a player who is trending upwards and fits this course well. 40-1 was too good for me to pass on.