Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's US Masters Tips 2023

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2023 US Masters Tips Pre-Event Pointers

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The mystique and anticipation of the US Masters is like no other golf tournament. Augusta National Golf Club is the most pristine and manicured golf property on the planet; it’s where nothing’s left to chance, where golfing history is made each year, where a player’s mettle is tested to its absolute maximum.

The 87th edition of The Masters takes place from Thursday 6th April 2023. Now into our 14th season, Golf Betting System will as ever be hunting for profit with our US Masters tips from Paul Williams and Steve Bamford. Golf Betting System has full 2023 coverage with US Masters tips, long-shot and alternative market selections, a full range of free course and player statistics, plus of course our famous free statistical Predictor Model.

You can also listen to our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), which is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on the Steve Bamford Golf Channel.

The US Masters, as the first Major of the season, always captures the imagination of the golfing world and the betting public alike. Plenty of questions will be answered at what will be the 87th edition of the Masters.

Can Scottie Scheffler 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 the in-form Jon Rahm become the 4th Spanish Green Jacket winner? Can Cameron Smith become the first LIV Tour member to win a Major? Or will the likes of Cantlay, Finau, Homa, Hovland, Im, Schauffele or Zalatoris win their first Major title?

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US Masters Tips Insight and Research

Golf betting at the Major Championships, and especially The Masters, is a complex subject. Mistakes can be costly; however select the right player or player portfolio and the rewards can be excellent. Golf Betting System’s goal is to provide you with informed Masters free tournament research insight guides, statistics and tips, that will help you make educated decisions about what players to back at the 2023 Masters.

Course Information

Augusta National, Augusta, Georgia: Designer: Dr Alister MacKenzie & Bobby Jones 1933 with re-design 2008; Course Type: Technical, Classical, Long; Par: 72; Length: 7,545 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 2013: 73.41 (+1.41), Difficulty Rank 4 of 43 PGA Tour courses. 2014: 73.95 (+1.95), Rank 2 of 48 courses. 2015: 72.54 (+0.54), Difficulty Rank 14 of 52 courses. 2016: 74.42 (+2.42), Difficulty Rank 3 of 50 courses. 2017: 73.89 (+1.89), Difficulty Rank 2 of 50. 2018: 72.93 (+0.93), Difficulty Rank of 7 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.87 (-0.13), Difficulty Rank 16 of 49 courses. 2020: 71.75 (-0.25). 2021: 73.06 (+1.06), Difficulty Rank 7 of 51 PGA Tour courses. 2022: 73.95 (+1.95), Difficulty Rank 3 of 50 courses.

US Masters Tips

Augusta’s iconic 12th hole

So what do you need to know about Augusta National? The Augusta National course (you can visit the official Masters website here) has detailed nuances which certain types of player thrive upon, whereas others struggle with factors such as uneven fairway lies, swirling winds and crazily fast and undulating Bentgrass greens. Naturally water comes into play much more on the back nine, with 3 key holes around Amen Corner, plus the critical par-5 15th and the par-3 16th both offering scoring opportunities.

2022 saw significant changes to Augusta National with 2 crucial holes on the back nine being lengthened and re-modelled. Think of it as “DeChambeau proofing.” The 11th hole, White Dogwood, received a new tee box, lengthening the par-4 to a whopping 520 yards. That’s not all as the fairway was re-contoured and widened by up to 15 yards, as trees on the right of the hole were removed. In a detailed change, the first cut was also removed on the right hand side, replaced by more fairway short grass, which now sees errant drives fall foul of Augusta National’s amazing topography and roll out into more disadvantageous positions.

The pivotal par-5 15th, Firethorn, was also lengthened by 20 yards, with that fairway also being re-contoured. Usage of short grass, by replacing the first cut, was used on other holes including the 9th and 10th, which are both par-4s. New green surfaces were also added to the 3rd (par-4 Flowering Peach), 13th (par-5 Azalea) and 17th (par-4 Nandina) holes in 2022.

However the tinkering never stops at Augusta National and 2023 sees more fresh changes to the course and in particular the par-5 13th, Azalea. Trees have been removed and 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, and the tributary of Rae’s Creek guarding the green, the extra 35 yards will make the decision to go for the green in two more difficult.

This re-modelling takes the course to a quoted 7,545 yard, Par 72 – but don’t believe that as all fairways are traditionally mown against the hole direction to minimise driving distance, effectively meaning it will now play at around 7,900 yards. So pure yardage is way more important than creating the right angle into the flag.

Other challenges include huge and contoured Bentgrass putting surfaces which can bamboozle the inexperienced and poor putters alike. Rating at anything up to 14+ on the Stimpmeter if Mother Nature allows, these sub-air fuelled beauties are like little else the world’s best golfer face across the rest of the season. Birdie chances are restricted to the smallest of target areas, many of which are only accessible by using the natural contours of the green. Difficulty is also ratcheted up by Augusta’s infamous run-off areas which surround all green complexes.

The lack of rough around green complexes creates indecision when missing greens, with scrambling percentages suffering as a result. Too many options can confuse players, so course experience and a patient outlook pays.

Augusta is definitely a game of two halves. Attack all of the 4 par-5s and a number of shorter par-4s such as the 3rd, 9th, and the 14th. Tiger Woods’ “in your life, have you ever seen anything like that?” par-3 16th hole – named Redbud – yields holes-in-one and birdies. But the rest of the course needs to be played with maturity and patience. Chasing scores tends to yield bogeys rather than birdies on these holes, so par golf across the majority of holes is more than acceptable.

To win a Green Jacket a player must be aggressive on the 4 par-5s and minimise bogeys across the rest of the property via a mix of metronomic greens in regulation, top-level scrambling and rock-solid short plus distance lag putting.

So what are the key factors to watch out for, what trends need to be taken into account and what statistical skill-sets does a Masters Champion need to have in his locker?

us masters tips

Can Scottie Scheffler win back-to-back Green Jackets?

The Masters Tips - Key Points

Augusta Favours Hot Form…But Not Always!

Time was that any player with course experience driving down Magnolia Lane had a real chance of taking the Masters title. Indeed 2007 through 2010 saw Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera and Phil Mickelson capture Green Jackets with a combined two season-to-date top-10 finishes between them. Astonishing but true! And it has to be said that Hideki Matsuyama’s win in 2021 was very similar in terms of incoming form.

The Japanese Number 1 had been very understated in his pre-Masters performances. No top-10s in 10 PGA Tour appearances hardly had tipsters and punters ploughing their hard earned on the World Number 25, who had actually slipped 5 places in the World Rankings since the start of the year. 30th at the Valero Texas Open the week before, a group-stage exit at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, and a Missed Cut at the Players Championship hardly set the world alight.

But Matsuyama’s build-up seems an exception, especially when you look at Scottie Scheffler 12 months ago, who in a 2-month stretch prior to The Masters won his first PGA Tour title at the WM Phoenix Open and then proceeded to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Dell Matchplay, becoming World Number 1 into the bargain.

Since 2011, Matsuyama aside, in-form players have dominated with Adam Scott in 2013 being the only player to feature with as little as a single top-10 as part of a deliberate pre-Augusta schedule that contained just 3 strokeplay tournaments. He was 3rd though at the WGC at Doral so was clearly peaking for his target event.

Recent winning prices through 2022 of 16/1 (Scheffler), 45/1 (Matsuyama), 9/1 (Dustin Johnson), 16/1 (Woods), 55/1 (Reed), 45/1 (Garcia), 66/1 Willett, 12/1 (Spieth), 28/1 (Watson), 28/1 (Scott) and 55/1 (Watson) tells its own story. We need a short-price player in the top 6 of the betting, or players who suit further down the market.

  • Scottie Scheffler 2022 results pre-Masters: 3 Wins, 1 Top 10 including 1st Phoenix, 7th Riviera, 1st Bay Hill, 1st WGC Dell Match Play.
  • Dustin Johnson 2020 results pre-November Masters: 3 Wins, 7 Top 10s.  – 7th Kapalua, 2nd Saudi, 10th Riviera, 1st TPC River Highlands, 2nd TPC Harding Park, 1st TPC Boston, 2nd Olympic Fields, 1st East Lake, 6th Winged Foot, 2nd Memorial Park Houston.
  • Tiger Woods 2019 results pre-Masters: 2 Top 10s – 10th WGC Mexico, 5th Dell Matchplay.
  • Patrick Reed 2018 results pre-Masters: 3 Top 10s – 2nd Copperhead, 7th Bay Hill , 9th Dell Matchplay.
  • Sergio Garcia 2017 results pre-Masters: 1 Win – 1st Dubai. 12th WGC Mexico.
  • Danny Willett 2016 results pre-Masters: 1 Win, 1 Top 10 – 1st Dubai, 3rd Doral.
  • Jordan Spieth 2015 results pre-Masters: 1 Win, 6 Top 10s including 4th Riviera, 1st Copperhead, 2nd TPC San Antonio, 2nd GC of Houston.
  • Bubba Watson 2014 results pre-Masters: 1 Win, 3 Top 10s – 2nd TPC Scottsdale, 1st Riviera, 2nd Doral.
  • Adam Scott 2013 results pre-Masters: 1 Top 10 – 3rd Doral.
  • Bubba Watson 2012 results pre-Masters: 3 Top 10s – 5th TPC Scottsdale, 2nd Doral, 4th Bay Hill.
  • Charl Schwartzel 2011 results pre-Masters: 1 Win, 3 Top 10s -4th Africa Open, 1st Joburg Open, 8th Abu Dhabi.

Recent Winning Prices: 2022: Scheffler 16/1; 2021: Matsuyama 45/1; 2020: Dustin Johnson 9/1; 2019: Woods 16/1, 2018: Reed 55/1, 2017: Garcia 45/1, 2016: Willett 66/1, 2015: Spieth 12/1, 2014: Watson 28/1, 2013: Scott 28/1, 2012: Watson 55/1, 2011: Schwartzel 90/1.

Only the Elite of the Game Win Consecutive Green Jackets

Undoubtedly Scottie Scheffler was in the form of his life driving down Magnolia Lane in 2022. His first ever PGA Tour win at the WM Phoenix Open in February had been followed up by a couple of massive wins in March, namely the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Dell Matchplay in his home state of Texas. He arrived as the freshly crowned World Number 1 and amazingly was only third favourite behind Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas – both of whom has not won in 2022 to date.

T3 after Thursday, Scheffler cruised into a 5-shot lead on a windswept Friday where he made it all look all far too easy. It was a lead he never relinquished despite early Sunday pressure from Cameron Smith, who of course went on to win his first major at the Open Championship at St Andrews.

But if Scottie is to repeat in 2023 it will be a performance which only Tiger Woods and golfing royalty have managed previously.

Look through past results and since 1960 only Jack Nicklaus (1965/66), Nick Faldo (1989/90) and of course Tiger Woods (2001/02) have defended their Masters title. A pretty select group, I’m sure you’ll agree. Even from an each-way punting perspective, since Tiger defended successfully in 2002 only Woods himself in 2006 and Jordan Spieth in 2016 have finished in the top 5 when defending.

Defending Champion Summary

YearDefending ChampionFinishing Position
2022Hideki Matsuyama14th
2021Dustin JohnsonMC
2020Tiger Woods38th
2019Patrick Reed36th
2018Sergio GarciaMC
2017Danny WillettMC
2016Jordan Spieth2nd
2015Bubba Watson38th
2014Adam Scott14th
2013Bubba Watson50th
2012Charl Schwartzel50th
2011Phil Mickelson27th
2010Angel Cabrera18th
2009Trevor Immelman20th
2008Zach Johnson20th
2007Phil Mickelson24th
2006Tiger Woods3rd
2005Phil Mickelson10th
2004Mike MeirMC
2003Tiger Woods15th
2002Tiger Woods1st


Trouble in Texas

We always warn punters who are interested in backing the winner of the tournament immediately prior to a Major Championship. However there are a few notable exceptions.  The mercurial Phil Mickelson always throws the form book out of the window and clinched the Scottish Open/Open Championship double in 2013, and of course Rory McIlroy who won the Bridgestone Invitational/PGA Championship double in 2014.

However at The Masters there’s a definite trend and that’s not to back the winner of the Masters warm-up event which, since 2007, has always been in Texas. Last year J.J. Spaun won the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, but ultimately joined a list that includes Adam Scott, Paul Casey, Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan, Martin Laird, Matt Jones, J.B. Holmes, Jim Herman, Russell Henley, Ian Poulter, Corey Conners and Jordan Spieth all of whom peaked a week too early and couldn’t go back-to-back and claim the Green Jacket. Only Kim and Spieth have rewarded their backers with an each-way return.

The last player to win the week before winning at Augusta was of course Phil Mickelson (who else could it be) who in 2006 won the Bell South Classic the week before capturing his 2nd Masters title.

Warm-Up Event Summary

YearWarm-Up WinnerAugusta Finish
2022J.J. Spaun23rd
2021Jordan Spieth3rd
2020Carlos OrtizDNP
2019Corey Conners46th
2018Ian Poulter44th
2017Russell Henley11th
2016Jim HermanMC
2015J.B. HolmesMC
2014Matt JonesMC
2013Martin LairdMC
2012Hunter Mahan12th
2011Phil Mickelson27th
2010Anthony Kim3rd
2009Paul Casey20th
2008Johnson Wagner36th
2007Adam Scott27th


Powerful Driving Is Paramount

Every year there’s a debate about whether a short hitter can win around Augusta. Some believe that players of the ilk of Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner, Tom Kim, Francesco Molinari and Matt Kuchar can still triumph despite their obvious lack of big hitting ability.

Naturally Zach Johnson won here in 2007 by going for every par-5 in 3 shots, so what is the reality statistically? Since the course was re-modelled prior to the 2008 Masters, shorter hitters such as the aforementioned Kuchar and Jonas Blixt have featured, and 2019 saw both Francesco Molinari and Webb Simpson go deep into the back-nine selection process. But every winner since 2008 has been in the top 35% in terms of power hitting on Tour – the best measure to use is Distance to Apex (Distance in yards from the Tee to the Apex on measured Par 4 and Par 5 tee shots) in our opinion.

The challenge of Augusta, which effectively plays around 7,900 yards in course length, is like no other. The course is quoted as a 7,545 yard Par 72, but don’t believe that as all fairways are mown against the hole direction to minimise fairway run, effectively meaning it plays far closer to a 7,900 yard, Par 72 format. So those who are long and have a high ball flight have a huge advantage.

You see, what makes a tangible difference at Augusta is the ability to reach as many of the par-5s as possible in two shots. The 2nd, 13th and 15th holes are reachable for players who are long enough from the tee and have the in-built aggression to go for it with their approach, rather than laying-up. Spieth and Willett may be more tactical with their approaches across a season, but when they needed to go for it at Augusta they both had the firepower off the tee and from the fairway to do so. In 2021 Hideki Matsuyama ranked 68th for Distance to Apex, giving him enough power and approach height to access the par-5s.

Power Summary

YearMasters WinnerDistance To Apex
2022Scottie Scheffler59th (Pre-event)
2021Hideki Matsuyama68th (Pre-event)
2020Dustin Johnson26th (Pre-Event)
2019Tiger Woods39th (Pre-Event)
2018Patrick Reed53rd (Pre-Event)
2017Sergio Garcia4th (Pre-Event)
2016Danny Willett62nd (Pre-Event)
2015Jordan Spieth67th
2014Bubba Watson1st
2013Adam Scott20th
2012Bubba Watson1st
2011Charl Schwartzel28th
2010Phil Mickelson13th
2009Angel Cabrera13th


Strokes Gained on Approach is Critical

We constantly monitor Strokes Gained data across both PGA and DP World Tours and provide valuable, free insight for golf punters on a weekly basis. The Masters Tournament for whatever reason do not supply Strokes Gained data for general consumption, but a quick look at the last 3 winners, namely Dustin Johnson (2020), Hideki Matsuyama (2021) and Scottie Scheffler (2022), throws up some interesting points when it comes to the shape of their games when driving down Magnolia Lane.

As regular readers will know, I keep a rolling 8-week Strokes Gained tracker across the full PGA Tour and DP World Tour year, tracking Off the Tee, Tee to Green, Around the Green , Putting and Total (Strokes Gained Current Form), which we then publish the top 25 of for every single PGA Tour tournament.

And at Augusta National, where approach play is absolutely critical, it’s fascinating to note the respective Strokes Gained on Approach in-field ranks of both Johnson and Matsuyama arriving at Augusta National. Dustin ranked 2nd in the field for SG Approach entering the tournament, with Hideki ranking 13th despite his very indifferent results form. Both were clearly hitting their irons and fairway woods very well. Scottie Scheffler did not rank within the top 25, BUT he had ranked 1st for Strokes Gained Approach when winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational 2 stroke play appearances earlier.

So my advice would be to bookmark Golf Betting System and check out my rolling Strokes Gained trackers, available from Monday 3rd April 2023.

Par-4 Birdie or Better – The Key to Augusta Success

So in terms of game shape for Augusta National, long, high and aggressive makes very logical sense. However linking that to a physical scoring metric for Augusta winners is an extension which starts to really sift the wheat from the chaff.

After spending too much time over the years looking for the key Masters scoring statistic, the best we have found relates to par-4 scoring. Many commentators talk about the set of par-5s at Augusta being the key to winning, but in fact par-4 scoring in the main is the key battle ground when it comes to lifting a Green Jacket. Going back to 2013, Scoring Rank of champions on the par-4s reads like this: Adam Scott: -5 Rank 1st; Bubba Watson: +1 Rank T4; Jordan Spieth: -3 Rank T2; Danny Willett: -3 Rank 1st; Sergio Garcia: -3 Rank 1st; Patrick Reed -6 1st; Tiger Woods -1 Rank T7; Dustin Johnson -5 Rank 1st; Hideki Matsuyama Even Rank T2; Scottie Scheffler Even Rank T3.

In essence, the par-4s at Augusta National eat players alive and to win the tournament they have to be tamed or even conquered.

Critically it was possible to see pre-event that 4 of the 5 Masters champions from 2014 through 2018 all arrived in Georgia having shown real ability on par-4s on the PGA Tour in the build-up to the tournament. Indeed they all ranked in the top 7 on the PGA Tour in par-4 Birdie or Better Conversion prior to teeing off.

Now we can’t say the same for Sergio Garcia in 2017 who ranked 50th in the category as he drove down Magnolia Lane, nor Hideki Matsuyama who ranked 87th, but in Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler there were tight par-4 Birdie or Better flags – that is 3 of the last 4 Masters champions. Tiger Woods entering Augusta in 2019 ranked 30th in the same category, but Woods had ranked 11th for par-4 Birdie or Better Conversion in the season prior – so 2017/18. Dustin Johnson ranked 2nd for par-4 Birdie or Better Conversion in the season prior, which had finished earlier in 2020. And Scottie Scheffler unsurprisingly given his form entering The Masters ranked 5th for par-4 Birdie or Better Conversion.

Par 4 Birdie Or Better Summary

YearMasters WinnerPar 4 Birdie Or Better
2022Scottie Scheffler5th (Pre-event)
2021Hideki Matsuyama87th (Pre-event)
2020Dustin Johnson2nd (Previous Season)
2019Tiger Woods11th (Previous Season)
2018Patrick Reed7th (Pre-Event)
2017Sergio Garcia50th (Pre-Event)
2016Danny Willett2nd (Pre-Event)
2015Jordan Spieth1st (Pre-Event)
2014Bubba Watson5th (Pre Event)


This is Steve Bamford’s pre-event preview, his final US Masters tips will be published on the Monday before the event.

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