Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's The Masters Tips 2024

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The 2024 Masters Tournament has been eagerly awaited ever since the turn of the year. At a freshly extended 7,555 yards, Augusta National will be in pristine condition for the very best professional golfers in the world this week and as per usual there are plenty of sub-plots for us golf punters to wade through. Can Jon Rahm become the first player since Tiger Woods (who else) in 2001/2 to win back-to-back Green Jackets? Can Rory McIlroy finally complete his Major Championship Grand Slam? Can Scottie Scheffler win his second Masters title in 3 years? Can Brooks Koepka win his sixth Major and his first Green Jacket? Or will the likes of Aberg, Finau, Fleetwood, Homa, Hovland, Niemann, Schauffele or Zalatoris win their first Major title?

bet365 masters 2024

Before we go into the detail surrounding the Masters Tournament we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System around The Masters. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System Podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,300 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

    Course Guide: Augusta National is always a true test of every professional golfer’s mettle. Yes, the course is the most beautiful and manicured piece of golfing property in the world, but Alister Mackenzie’s creation is a very specialised test which stretches players’ skill and temperament to the maximum.

    Augusta National with its increased length (see below), contours, nuances and extremely fast Bentgrass greens makes shooting low numbers here difficult in normal circumstances. Throw in recent weather and scoring – when the tournament has been played in its standard April spot – has been far higher than when we used to see. As Rory McIlroy described it last week “Good golf at Augusta feels like boring golf and I think that is something I have always struggled with because that isn’t my game.

    Augusta National GC, Augusta, Georgia: Designer: Dr Alister MacKenzie & Bobby Jones 1933 with 2022, 2023 and 2024 hole renovations; Course Type: Technical, Classical, Long; Par: 72; Length: 7,555 yards; Holes with Water In-Play: 5; Fairways: Overseeded Perennial Ryegrass with Bermudagrass-base; First Cut: Overseeded Perennial Ryegrass, with Bermudagrass-base 1.375″; Greens: 6,486 sq.ft average featuring A1 Penn Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 13-14ft.

    Course Scoring Average:

    • 2021: 73.06 (+1.06), Difficulty Rank 7 of 51 PGA Tour courses.
    • 2022: 73.95 (+1.95), Difficulty Rank 3 of 50 courses.
    • 2023: 72.96 (+0.96), Difficulty Rank 6 of 49 courses.

    Course Overview: The nuances of Augusta National are varied and unique. The whole Masters experience both on and off course is different from any other tournament in professional golf. Indeed a course rookie hasn’t won here since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. But of late debutants continually feature. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day have gone very close in recent years. 2017 saw Thomas Pieters feature, and land a full each-way payout at 80/1. The delayed 2020 renewal saw Sungjae Im feature as one of Dustin Johnson’s main challengers, as he finished joint runner-up with Cameron Smith at 80/1. 2021 saw 80/1 Will Zalatoris go ever so close. 2024 though may see this trend stretched to its limit as the in-form reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark makes his first appearance at Augusta National.

    Course-wise, sure you’ll have heard about the infamous Bentgrass greens that run at 14+ on the Stimpmeter (if the organisers get their way with the weather) which are the fastest of any golfing season. Their sheer size and contours make good birdie chances only viable from the smallest of target areas. Mown run-off areas mean that errant shots don’t stop and even great approach shots can lead to bogey or worse. The lack of rough around the green complexes creates indecision both with approach shots and recovery chips. Too many options can confuse players, so course experience and a patient outlook pays. Knowing that 9 of the holes are birdie opportunities and that the other 9 are holes where you can only realistically make par due to pin positions is something that over-aggressive players struggle to deal with. Put simply, and we see this year after year, you can’t chase a score at Augusta National. Another interesting course feature is that all shots are hit into the grain, be that drives or chips, the former shortening the roll on drives and the latter making scrambling very difficult.

    Since 2022 changes to Augusta National have seen the course lengthened and re-modelled – no course responds to technological progress more than Augusta. The par-4 11th hole, White Dogwood, now features a re-positioned tee with the hole lengthened by 15 yards. The pivotal par-5 15th, Firethorn, was also lengthened by 20 yards, with that fairway also being re-contoured. It made going for the green in 2 shots less prevalent.

    The par-5 13th, Azalea, has had a new tee box installed adding 35 yards to the hole. At 545 yards, the 13th still isn’t a particularly long par-5. But as a hard dogleg left, the tributary of Rae’s Creek guarding the green, and with the ball pretty much always lying above a player’s feet on the second shot, the extra 35 yards makes the decision to go for the green in two more difficult.

    And 2024 also sees detailed changes to the course. New green complexes have been added to Holes 2 (Pink Dogwood), 4 (Flowering Crab Apple) and 6 (Juniper), with new mid- and back-hole positions available. Pink Dogwood, which is the first par-5 on the course, has had some significant work done to it as a new tee-box further back and to the left by about 10 yards has also been added, in an effort to bring the right fairway bunker more into play.

    All of this remodelling takes the course to a quoted 7,555 yard, Par 72 – but don’t believe that as all fairways are traditionally mown against the grain and the hole direction to minimise driving distance, effectively meaning it will now play closer to 7,900 yards. So long, positional driving creating the right angle into the flag, plus the ability to hit towering approach shots, is vital here.

    To succeed you must be aggressive on the 4 par-5s and minimise bogeys across the rest of the property. Eagles on the par-5s and birdies on the par-4s are worth their weight in gold around here. But eventually the contest comes down to top-class game management, around the green positivity, and the ability to hole plenty of short to medium putts on Augusta National’s famously difficult pure Bentgrass putting surfaces.

    The Masters Tips

    Masters Tournament Winners: 2023: Jon Rahm (-12); 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-10); 2021: Hideki Matsuyama (-10); 2020: Dustin Johnson (-20); 2019: Tiger Woods (-13); 2018: Patrick Reed (-15); 2017: Sergio Garcia (-9); 2016: Danny Willett (-5); 2015: Jordan Spieth (-18); 2014: Bubba Watson (-8); 2013: Adam Scott (-9); 2012: Bubba Watson (-10); 2011: Charl Schwartzel (-14); 2010: Phil Mickelson (-16).

    • 2023: Jon Rahm 65-69-73-69 -12/276
    • 2022: Scottie Scheffler 69-67-71-71 -10/278
    • 2021: Hideki Matsuyama 69-71-65-73 -10/278
    • 2020: Dustin Johnson 65-70-65-68 -20/268
    • 2019: Tiger Woods 70-68-67-70 -13/275
    • 2018: Patrick Reed 69-66-67-71 -15/273

    Path to Victory: Below are end of round positions for The Masters winners:

    • 2023 – John Rahm: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
    • 2022 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2021 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2019 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 2nd.
    • 2018 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2017 – Sergio Garcia: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2016 – Danny Willett: Round 1: 9th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 5th.
    • 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2014 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
    • 2013 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 10th, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 3rd.
    • 2012 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 4th.
    • 2011 – Charl Schwartzel: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 12th, Round 3: 2nd
    • 2010 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.

    Shots From the Lead: Below are the Masters winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

    • 2023 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 2 back.
    • 2022 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 5 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
    • 2021 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 4 ahead.
    • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: level, Round 2: level, Round 3: 4 ahead.
    • 2019 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 2 back.
    • 2018 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
    • 2017 – Sergio Garcia: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: level.
    • 2016 – Danny Willett: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 3 back.
    • 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 3 ahead, Round 2: 5 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
    • 2014 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: level.
    • 2013 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.
    • 2012 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 back.
    • 2011 – Charl Schwartzel: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 4 back.
    • 2010 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 back.

    OWGR of Masters Tournament Winners: 2023: Rahm 3; 2022: Scheffler 1; 2021: Matsuyama 25; 2020: D Johnson 1; 2019: Woods 12; 2017: Reed 24.

    Cut Line: 2023: +3; 2022: +3; 2021: +3; 2020: E; 2019: +3; 2018: +5.

    Lead Score Progression:

    • 2023: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -11; Round 4 -12.
    • 2022: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -8; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -10.
    • 2021: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -11; Round 4 -10.
    • 2020: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -20.
    • 2019: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -13; Round 4 -13.
    • 2018: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -15.

    Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats | Recent Majors Stats.

    My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Si Woo Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Corey Conners, Wyndham Clark and Shane Lowry.

    Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

    Masters Tournament Winners & Prices: 2023: Rahm 9/1; 2022: Scheffler 16/1; 2021: Matsuyama 45/1; 2020: D Johnson 9/1; 2019: Woods 16/1; 2018: Reed 55/1; 2017: Garcia 45/1; 2016: Willett 66/1; 2015: Spieth 11/1; 2014: Watson 28/1; 2013: Scott 28/1; 2012: Watson 55/1; 2011: Schwartzel 90/1; 2010: Mickelson 10/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 19/1; Average: 35/1.

    Historical Weather:

    • 2023: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SSW 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers in the afternoon. High of 79. Wind SSW 5-10 mph. Play was suspended at 3:07pm ET and for a second time at 4:22pm ET and did not resume. Saturday: Cloudy with showers. High of 48. Wind NE 14-18 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. The third round was suspended for the remainder of the day at 3:15 p.m. ET. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 62. Wind NE 14-18 mph, with gusts to 25 mph.
    • 2022: Thursday: Mostly sunny with morning thunderstorms. High of 74. Wind W 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. Due to thunderstorms, all starting times were delayed 30 minutes. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 66. Wind WSW 15-20, with gusts to 30 mph. Saturday: Cloudy. High of 56. Wind W 12-16, with gusts to 25 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 73. Wind W 6-12 mph.
    • 2021: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 80. Wind SSW 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 82. Wind SSW 8-14 mph. Saturday: Cloudy, with light showers late in the afternoon. High of 79. Wind SSE 10-15 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Play was suspended at 3:58 p.m. due to a dangerous weather situation. Play resumed at 5:15 p.m. for a delay of 77 minutes. Sunday: Mostly cloudy and breezy. High of 80. Wind W 10-15 mph, gusting to 23 mph.
    • 2020: Thursday: Mostly cloudy with morning thunderstorms. High of 78. Wind WNW 4-8 mph. Due to inclement weather and thunderstorms play was suspended at 7:35 a.m. ET and resumed at 10:20 a.m. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 74. Wind ENE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 79. Wind SW 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph.
    • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 84. Wind SE at 10-15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy, with scattered showers and a high of 84. Wind SSE at 5-10 mph. Play was suspended at 5:05 p.m. due to dangerous weather and resumed at 5:34 p.m., a delay of 29 minutes. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind SE at 5-10 mph. Sunday: Cloudy, with occasional showers. High of 80. Wind SSE at 15-20 mph, gusting to 25 mph.
    • 2018: Thursday: Sunny and cool with a high of 69. ENE wind at 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny and cool in the morning. Partly cloudy in the afternoon with a high of 79. SSW wind at 10-15 mph. Saturday: Scattered showers and overcast with a high of 65. SW wind at 10-15 mph. Sunday: Cloudy and cool in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon with a high of 65. NE wind at 5-10 mph.

    Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Augusta, Georgia is here.

    A game of two halves looks the best way to summarise The Masters in 2024. Tournament week looks perfect for organisers and then we get to Thursday! High winds, rain and electrical activity on Thursday morning would be the worst scenario which naturally will lead to interruptions in play. The storm clears away in the afternoon, with no more rain forecasted. But winds gusting to +30mph from the south will keep a lid on scoring.

    Friday sees a change in the wind direction to a westerly, but no drop in strength with gusts over 30mph more than likely.

    Into the weekend and a firming golf course with the Sub-Air doing its thing. Saturday looks the best day for scoring with lighter winds, especially for the leaders. And that continues into Sunday, with what I’m thinking will near perfect turf conditions and releasing greens. Wind though again looks a factor with south-westerly gusts over 20mph looking possible.

    Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Genesis Invitational which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

    • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Xander Schauffele; 3) Chris Kirk; 4) Ludvig Aberg / Hideki Matsuyama; 6) Wyndham Clark; 7) Viktor Hovland / Sahith Theegala; 9) Min Woo Lee; 10) Si Woo Kim / Rory McIlroy; 12) Patrick Cantlay / Sepp Straka / Cameron Young; 15) Kurt Kitayama / Shane Lowry; 17) Stephan Jaeger; 18) Emiliano Grillo; 19) Byeong Hun An / Tommy Fleetwood / Sungjae Im; 22) Akshay Bhatia / Jason Day / Collin Morikawa; 25) Corey Conners / Jordan Spieth.
    • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Shane Lowry; 2) Corey Conners / Austin Eckroat; 4) Hideki Matsuyama; 5) Scottie Scheffler; 6) Cameron Young / Will Zalatoris; 8) Justin Thomas; 9) Ludvig Aberg; 10) Si Woo Kim / Nick Taylor; 12) Lucas Glover / Xander Schauffele; 14) Jake Knapp; 15) Viktor Hovland / Rory McIlroy; 17) Kurt Kitayama; 18) Akshay Bhatia; 19) Wyndham Clark / Luke List / Sahith Theegala; 22) Max Homa; 23) Taylor Moore; 24) Byeong Hun An / Grayson Murray.
    • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Hideki Matsuyama / Xander Schauffele; 4) Harris English / Si Woo Kim; 6) Chris Kirk / Denny McCarthy; 8) Taylor Moore; 9) Tommy Fleetwood; 10) Stephan Jaeger; 11) Jason Day; 12) Adam Hadwin; 13) Lucas Glover; 14) Rickie Fowler; 15) Adam Schenk; 16) Min Woo Lee / Collin Morikawa; 18) Tony Finau; 19) Thorbjorn Olesen; 20) Keegan Bradley / Sam Burns; 22) Brian Harman / Shane Lowry; 24) Patrick Cantlay; 25) Justin Rose.
    • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Shane Lowry / Xander Schauffele; 5) Corey Conners / Si Woo Kim; 7) Austin Eckroat; 8) Cameron Young; 9) Ludvig Aberg / Lucas Glover / Rory McIlroy; 12) Chris Kirk; 13) Stephan Jaeger; 14) Taylor Moore; 15) Wyndham Clark; 16) Akshay Bhatia / Sahith Theegala; 18) Justin Thomas; 19) Will Zalatoris; 20) Keegan Bradley / Jake Knapp; 22) Kurt Kitayama; 23) Tommy Fleetwood / Min Woo Lee; 25) Byeong Hun An / Harris English / Matt Fitzpatrick / Tony Finau / Nick Taylor / Erik van Rooyen.
    • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Max Homa; 2) Adam Scott; 3) Wyndham Clark / Jason Day; 5) Nick Dunlap / Matt Fitzpatrick / Russell Henley / Denny McCarthy; 9) Peter Malnati; 10) Xander Schauffele; 11) Patrick Cantlay / Sahith Theegala; 13) Jordan Spieth; 14) Emiliano Grillo / Brian Harman; 16) Sam Burns / Harris English / Viktor Hovland / Nick Taylor; 20) Adam Hadwin; 21) Tommy Fleetwood / Rory McIlroy / Scottie Scheffler; 24) Tom Kim / Adam Schenk.
    • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Shane Lowry; 5) Ludvig Aberg; 6) Rory McIlroy; 7) Sahith Theegala; 8) Wyndham Clark; 9) Corey Conners / Si Woo Kim / Cameron Young; 12) Taylor Moore; 13) Tommy Fleetwood; 14) Austin Eckroat / Matt Fitzpatrick; 16) Lucas Glover / Russell Henley / Stephan Jaeger; 19) Max Homa; 20) Brian Harman / Adam Scott; 22) Erik van Rooyen; 23) Jason Day / Denny McCarthy; 25) Sam Burns / Emiliano Grillo / Peter Malnati.

    Player Strokes Gained Total Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Genesis Invitational which includes PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf events, where recorded. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

    • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Joaquin Niemann; 3) Bryson DeChambeau / Jon Rahm; 5) Hideki Matsuyama; 6) Xander Schauffele; 7) Tyrrell Hatton / Adrian Meronk; 9) Shane Lowry; 10) Ludvig Aberg; 11) Sergio Garcia / Rory McIlroy; 13) Sahith Theegala; 14) Wyndham Clark; 15) Corey Conners / Dustin Johnson / Si Woo Kim / Cameron Young; 19) Taylor Moore/ Patrick Reed; 21) Charl Schwartzel; 22) Brooks Koepka; 23) Tommy Fleetwood / Cameron Smith; 25) Austin Eckroat / Matt Fitzpatrick.

    For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at Augusta National since 2021 click here.

    Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Masters winners since 2021 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for Augusta National:

    • 2023, Jon Rahm (-12). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 7th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 22nd.
    • 2022, Scottie Scheffler (-10). SG Off the Tee: 9th, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 13th.
    • 2021, Hideki Matsuyama (-10). SG Off the Tee: 21st, SG Approach: 9th, SG Around the Green: 3rd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 18th.

    Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

    • SG Off the Tee: 11th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 4th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 18th.

    Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the Masters Tournament winners since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for Augusta National:

    • 2023, Jon Rahm (-12). 298 yards (24th), 85.7% fairways (4th), 72.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 60.0 % scrambling (9th), 1.62 putts per GIR (8th).
    • 2022, Scottie Scheffler (-10). 299 yards (16th), 76.8% fairways (10th), 68.1% greens in regulation (5th), 56.5 % scrambling (9th), 1.57 putts per GIR (4th).
    • 2021, Hideki Matsuyama (-10). 288 yards (47th), 64.3% fairways (39th), 69.4% greens in regulation (7th) 59.1 % scrambling (8th), 1.68 putts per GIR (26th).
    • 2020, Dustin Johnson (-20). 307 yards (6th), 78.6% fairways (13th), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st) 66.7 % scrambling (5th), 1.63 putts per GIR (15th).
    • 2019, Tiger Woods (-13). 294 yards (44th), 62.5% fairways (47th), 80.6% greens in regulation (1st) 42.9 % scrambling (47th), 1.62 putts per GIR (14th).
    • 2018, Patrick Reed (-15). 299 yards (6th), 73.2% fairways (13th), 66.7% greens in regulation (21st) 62.5 % scrambling (16th), 1.56 putts per GIR (1st).
    • 2017, Sergio Garcia (-9). 292 yards (6th), 80.4% fairways (2nd), 75.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 66.7 % scrambling (6th), 1.78 putts per GIR (12th).
    • 2016, Danny Willett (-5). 279 yards (32nd), 67.9% fairways (26th), 66.7% greens in regulation (6th), 70.8 % scrambling (1st), 1.81 putts per GIR (13th).
    • 2015, Jordan Spieth (-18). 285 yards (52nd), 69.6% fairways (21st), 75.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 66.7 % scrambling (10th), 1.59 putts per GIR (1st).
    • 2014, Bubba Watson (-8). 305 yards (1st), 71.4% fairways (14th), 69.4% greens in regulation (6th), 63.6 % scrambling (5th), 1.78 putts per GIR (12th).
    • 2013, Adam Scott (-9). 294 yards (18th), 57.1% fairways (49th), 76.4% greens in regulation (1st), 70.6% scrambling (3rd), 1.80 putts per GIR (28th).
    • 2012, Bubba Watson (-10). 290 yards (4th), 66.1% fairways (48th), 73.6% greens in regulation (4th), 52.6% scrambling (15th), 1.64 putts per GIR (11th).
    • 2011, Charl Schwartzel (-14). 283 yards (40th), 66.1% fairways (31st), 68.1% greens in regulation (19th), 69.6% scrambling (1st), 1.61 putts per GIR (8th).
    • 2010, Phil Mickelson (-16). 297 yards (2nd), 60.7% fairways (45th), 75.0% greens in regulation (3rd), 77.8% scrambling (3rd), 1.76 putts per GIR (10th).

    Tournament Skill Averages:

    • Driving Distance: 21st, Driving Accuracy: 26th, Greens in Regulation: 6th, Scrambling: 10th, Putting Average 12th.

    So let’s take a view from players as to how Augusta National sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

    Jon Rahm (2023): Thursday: If you’re going to make a double or four-putt or anything, it might as well be the first hole, 71 holes to make it up. I’ve always said and I’ve always told Adam and I tell people who ask me about the Masters, if you can somehow make it through the first 6 1/2 holes, and what I mean is putting the ball in the fairway on 7 and you’re around even par, I think it’s a pretty good start. It’s easy to make bogeys. It’s not easy to make birdies. So if you can get through that, you have a short iron into 7, 8, 9 to maybe make some birdies and maybe get the round going. I was able to do that and took advantage of it the rest of the day.

    So the eagle on 8, it was about as hard a drive as I can hit. I mean, I hit that perfect down the center, high cut. And I had, it was 210 meters slope, adjusted already, to the front of the green, and I believe it was 244 to the pin. So knowing that you can carry at the pin, my goal was to hit a draw 4-iron and hopefully cover five to ten on and get the right bounce and get towards the back of the green, right. I hit it a little bit lower than I wanted and it carried about 8 on and obviously on a perfect line and released all the way to three feet. I would hope I would get that close, but being realistic, it doesn’t usually happen that often. I’m happy it did. I mean, it was a really good swing, and for that to end up that close is a huge bonus.

    Then the two birdies, I would say, both 13 and 15 were good in their own merit, really good chip shots, but I would say the one on 18 takes the cake. The one on 18 was just perfect drive, great second shot at two feet and tap-in for birdie. You don’t usually get a walk-off birdie over here, and those two swings were about as good as they could feel.”

    Saturday: “With the temperature we had and how long the golf course was going to be playing with the ongoing little rain and that drizzle, I was very happy if I was able to play that back nine even-par. Thanks to a couple of great par saves on 11 and 13, I gave myself a really good chance of making a few birdies on a couple of the holes. Man, I’m really happy I was able to play that 1-under par. Too bad, a good putt on 16 that didn’t go in, and 18 was brutal. It was really difficult. I would have taken even-par on the last four holes either way, and going towards this afternoon — hopefully we play — and go in with a lot of confidence.

    The most difficult of the round was the second shot on 18.  I mean, 4-iron had a very slim chance of getting on the green. But I thought anywhere short was better than whatever the 5-wood could end up. Just because it was going to have to be some kind of fade 5-wood and if you get a water ball the wrong place that can be halfway over to 8 over there on the slope somewhere, right? So I just kind of wanted the safe play. So I would say that. Obviously the tee shot was no picnic either. Tee shot on 17, 18 or that second shot there on 18. Because I couldn’t play the shot I wanted to, I would say 18.”

    Sunday: “Well, it’s soft, but it’s quick enough on the greens. Obviously fairways are not going to be rolling out too much. I’m assuming they’re going to have the SubAir going all afternoon, so it might get a little bit firmer towards the end. I doubt it just because of how much rain they had, but it’s in good shape. It’s better than I thought it was going to be with how much it rained yesterday.

    Well, with the wind we’re going to have today, the main thing is staying committed to whatever shot you pick. Have a clear picture and commit to it. It’s always going to be better to maybe have the lower percentage shot but commit to it than the higher percentage not and not committed.”

    Scottie Scheffler (2022): Thursday: “I would say judging the wind for the most part and staying in the right spots. When the wind gets gusty like this around this golf course, it can blow from a lot of different directions. So just kind of managing your game and hitting the appropriate shots. I got out of position a couple of times, and after that I got the ball back into play to somewhere where I could make a par. I had some really good par saves on the front nine that kept me going.

    Yeah, I think Augusta National is really fun to play. Sometimes I have to watch myself around here because, for instance, on 15 today, I had an opportunity to hit a really cool shot that seemed like a lot of fun. Definitely wasn’t the right play, so I didn’t hit the shot. Sometimes you’ve got to watch yourself because there’s always something you can do. Especially a hole like 11, if you hit it over there on the right side, you can do something really cool, but you can get in trouble really quickly. Like I said, when I was out of position, I did a really good job of getting myself back in position and made some nice saves.”

    Friday: “To be completely honest, the front nine was such a grind. The wind was crazy. There was some times where we saw the sand blowing up out of the bunkers out there. It was ridiculous. I think we were a little bit fortunate that it did die down a little bit towards the end of the day. It was still gusty, but you were able to find some spots where, for instance, on 16 I almost didn’t even play any wind. We were definitely fortunate in that sense, but we were also playing in some pretty aggressive winds at the beginning of the round.”

    Sunday Round: “Then the chip shot on 15, we talked about a couple different things. The approach shot, I was walking up to or right when we got off the tee, I was like, Go for it, Teddy? He’s like, let’s see where it is. I hammered that drive. And I didn’t expect it to be over there behind the trees, but with the way the lie was and I only had a 5-iron, so it’s kind of like, it’s a 5-iron, just trying to hit it in that right bunker. And if I push it, it goes in the crowd; and if I pull it, it will go on green. And to us it seemed like the safest play at the time, so that’s what we did. I had to start at right edge of the bunker. Those trees were probably in line with the middle of the bunker, the ones right in front of me. And then after that, just trying execute.

    I feel like, once again, just trusted Teddy. And, you know, we’re walking down, seeing the layup, I just told him. I was like, Hey, man, thanks for that, I really don’t want to hit this wedge shot right now. The thing looks scary.”

    Hideki Matsuyama (2021): Thursday: “The greens were firm and fast. It was very important to hit your second shot on the proper side of the pin, and I was able to do that. I felt very good about my round today. It’s my tenth year, but I’ve never seen the greens so firm and fast. So it was like a new course for me playing today, and I was fortunate to get it around well.”

    Saturday: “During the rain delay, or right before the rain delay, I probably hit the worst shot I’ve hit this week. And during the rain delay, I just figured, I can’t hit anything worse than that. And so maybe it relieved some pressure, I don’t know, but I did hit it well coming in after the delay. At 15, I hit a 5-iron in. 16 was an 8-iron. 17 was a pitching wedge. But the 5-iron at 15, by far, probably the best shot I’ve hit this week.”

    Sunday Round: “First hole hit a 3-wood off the tee into the right trees. Second shot, I laid up short of the green with a 5-iron, just punched it out. Third shot was a 60-degree wedge at 45 yards, and then 2-putted for bogey. Second hole, hit a driver. Had 253 left. Hit a 4-iron into the right bunker. Blasted out just a couple of feet. Made birdie. Third hole, teed off with a 4-iron. Had 120 yards. Hit a 52-degree wedge over the green. Chipped up close and made par.

    4, I hit a 4-iron back edge of the green. Had about 38, probably 40 feet, and 2-putted from there. 5th hole, I hit a driver into the left bunker. Blasted out with a 52-degree wedge. Had a hundred yards left. Hit a 56-degree wedge to 20 feet and made that putt for par. No. 6, had 183 to the pin. Hit 8-iron 15 feet and 2-putted for par.

    7, I hit a driver. Had 115 yards to the pin. Gap wedge to three feet. Missed the birdie putt and made par. On 8, hit a driver. Second shot was 280 yards. Hit a 3-wood over the green. Chipped back on. Chipped to two feet and made that for birdie. No. 9, hit a driver from a hundred yards and then hit a 56-degree wedge to two feet for birdie.

    “10, hit a 3-wood with my tee shot. 175 yards left. Hit a 7-iron to about 20 feet, 2-putted for par. 11, hit a driver. Had 196 yards in. 6-iron to the right edge of the green, the collar, and 2-putted from there. 12, I hit 157 yards. Hit a 9-iron to the back bunker. Hit it out short. Had 15 feet and 2-putted from there for a bogey.”

    13, I hit driver 215 yards in and hit a 5-iron left of the green. I chipped up to there to two feet and made a birdie. 14, hit a driver 127 yards. Hit a gap wedge 15 feet right of the pin. 2-putted for par. 15, hit a driver. Had 227 yards in, 4-iron over the green into the water. Had 40 yards back to the pin. 60-degree wedge just short of the green. 2-putted from there for bogey.

    16, 183 yards, hit a 7-iron to the right part of the green 40 feet, three-putted from there for bogey. 17, hit a driver 140 yards in. Hit a pitching wedge to 20 feet. 2-putted for par. 18, hit a driver. Had 140 yards in. Hit a pitching wedge into the right bunker. Blasted out to five feet and 2-putted from there to be the Masters Champion.”

    Dustin Johnson (2020): “Obviously this golf course it’s tough. They have made it a lot longer through the years. You know, it’s really playing long right now. But yeah, obviously you need to take advantage of the par 5s. I mean, if you look back through the past winners, they always play the par 5s well. That’s something if I want to shoot good scores out here, I need to play the par 5s well.

    There was so much rain this morning. We were watching on TV, you could tell the course looked really soft. You kind of need to come out and take advantage of the conditions right now because there wasn’t really a whole lot of wind and really soft conditions, you can fire it at the flag. I mean, with the conditions being soft, you can be really aggressive no matter what club you have in your hand, as long as you feel comfortable with how far you’re going to fly it. I feel like the golf course is in really good condition just with all the rain, it’s just so soft. So you’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to attack the flags. The par3s here, you’ve just got to hit it the right distance. That’s the biggest key around here, especially on the par3s, because there’s a lot of slopes on the greens, and just seems like if you can hit it the right distance, you can play them pretty solid, and I think I’ve done a really good job of that so far.

    For me, it took me a little bit of time to figure the course out. I mean, when I first came here, I love the golf course, but I just, playing my first few Masters, I just didn’t play the course very well. But I feel like every year, I kind of learned something. Kind of figured out a little bit more about the course, how to play it. You know, when can you attack the golf course and when do you just need to try to make an easy 4. But the more and more I play it, the more comfortable I get.”

    Tiger Woods (2019): “Yeah, you know, especially with it as warm as it is, the ball’s going a long way so that we can get down there where we’re going to have irons into these par‑5s, excluding 8. Yeah, it helps having the wind down on 13 for me. I don’t quite carry it as far as some of these other guys who hit it 320 in the air. So that’s, that helps me a little bit. But it’s interesting that, how they moved the tee markers over so that we can’t hit that gap up the left. They do a lot of little things that make this golf course a little tricky.

    No, you know, after looking at the pin locations and watching some of the early morning telecast, the greens were soft, obviously it rained this morning, so it’s going to be soft and the guys were taking advantage of it. It’s not the normal Augusta National where the balls repel, they’re holding. We were able to stop 6‑irons and 5‑irons, that’s something that you don’t normally see here and with it being so hot, the ball’s flying forever. So it’s nice to, we’re hitting short irons into a lot of the holes because of it, if it got cooler from the same distance it would be a totally different deal but it with it being so warm the ball’s flying forever.”

    Patrick Reed (2018): “I just think it was a long time coming. I felt like throughout the past I’ve hit a lot of really good golf shots here, played really solid, but I always seem to leave myself just above every hole. With doing that you have to putt so defensive around here and going into today and real throughout the round I really felt like I managed that really well. I left myself below the hole on a lot of the holes or at worst pin high. But the only one I felt like I didn’t really learn from was on 16, because you know from that middle left flag you can’t go past it. And what do I do, I hit it 30 feet past the flag. I was luckily able to 2‑putt that by making a long come back putt, but all in all it was just kind of one of those steady days, just go out, just played normal golf, let the birdies come to you, because around this place pars are good. Even though you might have a pitching wedge or 9‑iron in your hand, depending where the flag is, depending on what kind of lie you have, what fairway, etcetera, pars are good with short clubs. And I was able just to kind of plot myself around and when I had opportunities, capitalize on it.

    A lot of the other places we play, if you hit it to six feet or eight feet, whether it’s above the hole or below the hole, it’s not that big of a deal. But here you hit it, even if you hit it six feet above the hole, a lot of those, if you don’t see such a high line and just tap it, it misses the hole, you have eight feet coming back. And we don’t have that at other places we play. So it truly is a course knowledge golf course. You need to know where to put the ball on certain pins and if you miss you need to miss it in certain spots because there’s some areas around here that it’s literally impossible, unless you make a 15‑, 18‑footer.

    Sergio Garcia (2017): “I mean, my relationship with Augusta has definitely improved. There’s no doubt about that. Nothing wrong with Augusta. I think that the main thing that has improved is the way I’m looking at it the last, probably, two or three years, and obviously this year. But, yeah, I mean, I think it’s the kind of place that if you are trying to fight against it, it’s going to beat you down. So you’ve just got to roll with it and realize that sometimes you’re going to get good breaks, like has happened to me a few times this week and sometimes you’re going to get not‑so‑good breaks. But at the end of the day, that’s part of the game.

    Danny Willett (2016): “You look at the conditions, it’s not really American conditions, you know. You need the ball flight control. And the greens, a lot of them are obviously raised up, which is very tricky to putt. Holing out on 4, 5, 6 holes, they’ve already got a ball rolling off a break on greens that are probably at 12 or 13, and you tuck a bit of wind in there, and it’s just one of them that you hope you’re hitting it the right time and you don’t get a gust that can knock it off line, that’s how windy it can get on a few of them. The golf course is only going to get firmer and faster. But this golf course, even if you’re hitting it really well, you still got to make putts on these greens. Obviously crosswinds and fast greens, it’s never easy. So, the golf course has firmed up day by day so, hopefully, tomorrow if the wind does die, we can still keep the control of the ball flight and hopefully roll a few in.

    Jordan Spieth: “Another part of me says, you know, let’s not overthink this place, keep it simple and make it like a regular event because that’s how I’ve had success in the last few tournaments is just trying to hit as many greens as possible, get into a rhythm with the putter. Once that happens, you know, see a couple go in, the hole gets bigger. You just really have to have an imagination on these greens, because putts that typically you play a ball out, even downhill putts, and you’re still going to take it easy; you have to play three, four times the amount of break on a lot of the putts out here, not only with the influence of Rae’s Creek, but also just the speed of these greens.

    Phil Mickelson: “Yes, it’s playing very long and it’s playing soft. So I think that distance is going to be a huge element this week. And we’ve talk about it in the past, but the reason I think this week, especially, is that the greens are very soft and receptive, and so the longer hitters are going to be able to reach the par5s and get the ball stopped on the greens. When we have bad weather like we had in 2007, you might be able to get to the greens, but you can’t keep it on the green. That really didn’t help the longer hitters, and I think guys like Dustin and J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, the usual suspects who really hit the ball long and far, have a distinct advantage coming into these greens. I think distance is going to be a factor and I’m going to be trying to swing as hard as I can. I won’t be able to keep up with them, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep it in the same zip code and have short irons into greens so I can have opportunities at lots of birdies.

    Bubba Watson: “The condition of the course is better than any course we play all year. So you’re going to have great fairways, great greens, so you have the chance to score. You have the chance to play at a high level. Most of the holes, I got lucky with 11 the last two years with the ice storms, some of the tops of the trees are missing. So that shot is a little bit easier for me now off the tee, if there is such a thing on a 500 yard par 4. But it’s a little bit easier. So now, it’s 7, 1 and 18 are the holes that I look at that are difficult for me off the tee. When you think about all of the other holes look good to my eye, set up well for me, the trees outline the fairway pretty good, so it’s easy for me to envision the shot I want to hit. If you add it up, yes, Augusta sets up pretty nicely for me. And like I said, if I never win again, it’s a good place to win twice.

    Incoming Form of Masters Tournament winners since 2010:

    • Jon Rahm: 31st WMP/WD Players/39th Bay Hill/1st Riviera.
    • Scottie Scheffler: 1st WMP/55th Players/1st Bay Hill/7th Riviera.
    • Hideki Matsuyama: 30th San Antonio/42nd WMP/MC Players/18th Bay Hill.
    • Dustin Johnson: 2nd Houston/6th US Open/1st Tour Champ/2nd BMW.
    • Tiger Woods: QF WMP/30th Players/10th WGC-Mexico/15th Riviera.
    • Patrick Reed: 9th WMP/7th Bay Hill/2nd Copperhead/37th WGC-Mexico.
    • Sergio Garcia: 30th WMP/12th WGC-Mexico/14th PGA National/49th Riviera/1st Dubai.
    • Danny Willett: 28th WMP/22nd Copperhead/3rd Doral/45th Malaysia/1st Dubai.
    • Jordan Spieth: 2nd Houston/2nd San Antonio/1st Copperhead/17th Doral/4th Riviera.
    • Bubba Watson: WD Bay Hill/2nd Doral/1st Riviera/2nd TPC Scottsdale/23rd Torrey.
    • Adam Scott: 30th Copperhead/3rd Doral/10th Riviera.
    • Bubba Watson: 4th Bay Hill/2nd Doral/13th Riviera/5th TPC Scottsdale/13th Torrey.
    • Charl Schwartzel: 30th Houston/47th Bay Hill/24th Doral/14th PGA National/8th Abu Dhabi.
    • Phil Mickelson: 35th Houston/30th Bay Hill/14th Doral/24th TPC Scottsdale.

    First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

    • 2023 – Hovland /Koepka / Rahm – Group 12/20/14 -7/65 40/1, 40/1, 18/1.
    • 2022 – Im – Group 25 12:57 -5/67 55/1.
    • 2021 – Rose – Group 24 12:48 -7/65 66/1.
    • 2020 – Casey / Frittelli / D Johnson – Group 10/28/27 -7/65 60/1, 18/1, 125/1.
    • 2019 – DeChambeau / Koepka – Group 27/29 13:38/14:00 -6/66 Both 33/1
    • 2018 – Spieth – Group 28 13:49 -6/66 18/1
    • 2017 – Hoffman – Group 27 13:08 -7/65 80/1
    • 2016 – Spieth – Group 9 09:48 -6/66.
    • 2015 – Spieth – Group 29 13:15 -8/64.
    • 2014 – Haas – Group 14 10:08 -4/68.
    • 2013 – Garcia / Leishman – Group 26/9 12:57/09:28 -6/66.
    • 2012 – Westwood – Group 27 12:58 -5/67.
    • 2011 – McIlroy / Quiros – Group 11/32 09:24/13:59 -7/65.
    • 2010 – Couples – Group 28 11:58 -6/66.

    For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

    • 8 – Rory McIlroy.
    • 7 – Justin Rose.
    • 6 – Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods.
    • 5 – Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas.
    • 4 – Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson.
    • 3 – Keegan Bradley, Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott.
    • 2 – Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Brian Harman, Tom Kim, Chris Kirk, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele.
    • 1 – Sam Burns, Wyndham Clark, Emiliano Grillo, Lee Hodges, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann, J.T. Poston, Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Scottie Scheffler, Charl Schwartzel, Sepp Straka.

    Augusta trends are plentiful, but here are the ones that have had any bearing over recent Masters history: Since the course was last significantly changed in 2008, all winners have averaged over 288 yards from the tee in the season they won the Green Jacket. And since 2010, Hideki Matsuyama has the lowest placed in the PGA Tour Driving Distance charts arriving at Augusta prior to winning. His average of 297 yards saw him in 92nd place.

    However a high ball flight is just as, if not even more, important around Augusta with all winners going back to Trevor Immelman in 2008 ranking in the top 70 on the PGA Tour Distance to Apex statistic in the season they placed a Green Jacket on their shoulders. As already mentioned, course experience is key and there are undoubted form links to Riviera Country Club, Doral (WGC CA & Cadillac Championship 2007 through 2016), Quail Hollow, Bethpage Black and even Sheshan, host course of the WGC Champions event in Shanghai, China.

    You can also throw into the mix the fact that no defending champion since Tiger Woods in 2002 has captured the Green Jacket and, more tellingly for punters, only Tiger himself in 2003 and 2006 has finished in the each-way places, when defending. Not exactly a huge endorsement for LIV golfer Jon Rahm – let’s face it, the omens aren’t good.

    So this week I’m looking for longer hitters who can also handle weather-affected conditions and who can hit lots of greens in regulation to keep out of trouble on the par-3s and par-4s. We also need players who are long enough, aggressive enough and subtle enough (Strokes Gained Around the Green wise) to take advantage of the par-5s. One other angle is that recent previous Major contending performances are also a huge positive this week.

    My Final Selections For The 2024 Masters Are As Follows:

    Xander Schauffele 2.5pts EW 16/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

    In a 2024 where only Scottie Scheffler has won on the PGA Tour at 50/1 or less, expecting the unexpected at Augusta National may well be the best plan. We were on Scottie Scheffler at The Players across recent wins (6/1 at The Players) and runner-up (3/1 at the Houston Open) finishes over the past month. He’s the rightful favourite for this, but favourites at The Masters have had a pretty poor record over recent years, and despite knowing he’ll be hanging around the top of the leaderboard ominously on Sunday I’m prepared to take him on this week.

    Xander Schauffele is my first player to back this week, and if we are in the current realms of unexpected results Xander winning a Major would be right up there! That comment is a little tongue in cheek, but “X” undoubtedly divides opinions, quite rightly on the basis he doesn’t win nearly enough. Schauffele though is playing top-level golf right now and ticks every single statistical box I’m looking for a player to have when winning around Augusta National. 2nd (2019), 3rd (2021) and 10th here last year, Xander knows his way around this course brilliantly, and despite a Missed Cut here in 2022 he sits top 7 for Strokes Gained Tee to Green across our 2024 Masters Strokes Gained rankings.

    He seriously back-doored a top 5 at the Valspar Championship last time out, and has additionally finished 3rd (The American Express), 4th (Genesis Invitational) and 2nd (The Players) already in 2024. Maybe the luck changes this week and Jon Rahm hands over the Green Jacket to Xander come Sunday! RESULT: 8th

    Hideki Matsuyama 2.5pts EW 18/1 (8EW, 1/5) with bet365

    The other player in the 16–18/1 bracket I’ll take is Hideki Matsuyama.

    Hideki has come to the party in 2024 with a Genesis Invitational win back in February ending a long winless streak for the Japanese player who lives in Florida, when campaigning on the PGA Tour. And as we have mentioned far too many times on the Golf Betting System Podcast, Hideki wins in bunches. Current form of 1-12-6-7 is ripe for another victory to be added to it by the current World Number 12, and as we have seen in recent times with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and even Bubba Watson, multiple winners here aren’t uncommon.

    Ranking 8th for Approach, 2nd for Around the Green, 2nd for Tee to Green and 5th for Strokes Gained Total here in our 2024 Masters Strokes Gained rankings, Hideki also ranks top 5 for Off the Tee and Approach, 2nd for Tee to Green and 2nd for Strokes Gained Current Form across my 8-week trackers.

    Beware the injured golfer – if reports from the Japanese media are correct – and I also liked the way he led scoring (-6/66 with Alex Noren) on Saturday at last week’s Valero Texas Open in wet and windy weather, which we could well see in-play this Thursday. RESULT: T38

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    Tony Finau 1.5pts EW 40/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

    I always used to say that Tony Finau had a superb Major record which was very, very understated. 4 top-5 or 10 top-10s across his career is excellent, but his past 10 Majors have produced MC-15-35-30-MC-28-26-72-32-MC. But this is the year of the underdog and Tony winning a Major Championship at a nice each-way price would not shock me completely. Plus we know from experience that covering off this 40/1 to 66/1 price point, which has generated 4 of the past 8 winners here at The Masters, is a savvy strategy.

    Across his last 7 PGA Tour appearances, Tony has racked-up 5 top-13 Strokes Gained Tee to Green performances, and although I’d hardly call him Phil Mickelson in his pomp when it comes to putting, Finau has seen the ball disappearing into the cup a little more often than it did, with 3 of his last 4 appearances seeing him Strokes Gained positive with the putter.

    So far at Augusta National he’s finished 10th on debut in 2018, 5th in 2019 (the year he was in Sunday’s last group with Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari) and 10th in 2022. Plus with Finau buoyed by finishing T2 at the Houston Open a fortnight ago when defending, I like his chances this week to be competitive. RESULT: T55

    Shane Lowry 1.5pts EW 45/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

    A windy forecast always peaks my interest with Shane Lowry. It’s easy to see why, as for me Lowry is playing the best golf of his United States career right now. 4th at the Cognizant Classic, 3rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 19th at the Players Championship is consistent and has seen his World Ranking improve to 36th.

    A World Golf Championship winner at Firestone in 2015 and a Major winner at the Open Championship in 2019, Shane can win big titles when conditions are testing, and this forecast should really play into his hands as the scoring will undoubtedly slow across the majority of the tournament.

    Ranking in this field across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, top 25 for Around the Green, top 15 for Off the Tee, and top 5 for Approach, Tee to Green and Current Form reminds me very much of 2 years ago, when Shane finished 3rd here tied with Cam Smith, behind Scottie Scheffler and the fast finishing Rory McIlroy. He was a 45/1 chance that week as well. RESULT: T43

    Patrick Reed 1.5pts EW 70/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

    We’ve seen LIV golfers win and finish top 5 at last year’s Major Championships. Comparison between Tours is pretty futile, but Joaquin Niemann ranks 2nd in this field for 8-week Current Form heading into Augusta National and must have a serious chance of contending. Brooks Koepka goes for his sixth Major Championship this week having already won one since becoming a LIV player, and many will fancy the chances of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Sergio Garcia this week.

    But it’s further down the pecking order that I’ve headed and I think Patrick Reed is a great bet this week. First reason is that across our Major Championship Form Chart Patrick ranks 13th for Major finishes covering all Majors back to the 2018 Masters – which naturally he won. Since that win he’s finished 10th (2020), 8th (2021) and 4th last year here at Augusta National. And across our 2024 Masters Strokes Gained rankings Patrick ranks 9th for Strokes Gained Total here at Augusta National across players with more than a single appearance over the past 3 years.

    Second reason I love Reed (poignant slip) this week is his situation. With no resolution to the Official World Golf Ranking situation happening anytime soon, Patrick at 112th in the current rankings is looking at a particularly shaky scenario when it comes to Major Championship outings in 2024 – so a big week here at The Masters would undoubtedly help from that perspective.

    Third reason is that at a course where Greens in Regulation is still king, Patrick Reed ranks 8th in this field across our blended (LIV/PGA Tour) Greens in Regulation ranking within our 2024 Masters Predictor Model. That number shocked me, but shows you how well Patrick has been striping it over a long period of time. The 2018 Masters Champion, with a further 3 top-5 and 6 top-10 Major finishes to his name, must be a danger this week. RESULT: T12

    Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 12:10BST 08.04.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.