Golf betting (Masters, April 7-10): DJ’s tumble throws green jacket race wide open

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Updated: April 6, 2017

Due to the recent crackdown on gambling operations in China, our golf expert Will Chen has been relocating his operations from Beijing to his homeland of Canada over recent weeks and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to The Inside Word just in time for the first major of the year – the Masters at Augusta.

 

Tournament – Masters Tournament; April 7-10, 2017 (starting 4am AET): From the course and its spectacular setting to the myriad traditions, the select field and the prestige of pulling on the green jacket as champion, the Masters represents the pinnacle for all golfers and golf fans. Jack Nicklaus is the undoubted king of Augusta, having won the event six times (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986).

Arnold Palmer won the event four times in seven years (1958 to 1964), while Tiger Woods’ four titles are spread over just eight years (1997 to 2005). South African Gary Player and Englishman Nick Faldo hold the record for most wins by non-Americans (three each). Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the tournament in 2013.

 

On average, first time winners have played the event six times. It’s not just course experience that’s needed. Every winner, apart from Tiger Woods in 1996, stretching all the way back to Fuzzy Zoeller’s debut win in 1979, made the cut here in the year before they won. The history of the Masters is extremely well written, and it’s a similar when it comes to trying to find a winner.

The course has been dissected down to the last blade of grass while the field marks the first time that the best of the US and Europe come together for the year. Some punters love the fact that you’ll find a decent price on some very good players, while others bemoan the fact that such a quality field makes it very tough to find a winner. As a sporting event, it’s in our top five of the year – the weight of history combined the idyllic setting and the elite field make it a must-see; even if you’re not a huge fan of the sport.

 

About the course – Augusta National GC; par 72 (7435 yards): Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia opened in January 1933 with the first Masters played the following year. The club was established by golf legend Bobby Jones and businessman Clifford Roberts, the long-time chairman of the tournament who infamously committed suicide on the course in 1977. The course is par 72, 7435 yards in length and has undergone significant changes since it opened.

Designed by Jones and Alister Mackenzie, who died before the course was finished, Augusta National was built on the site of an old nursery and It’s been evolving ever since and to such an extent recently that the original designers would barely recognise the place. The Bermuda greens were changed to bent grass and the fairways were tightened at the end of the last century before a major overhaul was orchestrated by Tom Fazio in 2002.

 

More than half the holes were lengthened and tightened and at almost 7500 yards now, it’s a very long course. Unless you have seen Augusta National in person, it’s difficult to appreciate the huge elevation changes which means playing from a flat lie is a rarity. It is essentially a ‘second shot’ course, meaning the approaches are important just to get into position.

Hitting an approach shot to the wrong place in some cases means not even being able to go after the pin, whether it be a chip shot or putt. That brings big scores into play so the thought process of the shot-making is just as important as the physical aspects of the game. Because the course has been tightened, it brings every player to an almost even playing field and that is what the goal has been since redesigns started taking place.

 

TIW says: There have been two massive storylines heading into this year’s tournament – the weather and Dustin Johnson. The traditional pre-tournament par-three contest was called off due to stormy conditions, which have prevailed all week and robbed players of crucial practise time. The wind will remain for at least two more days and will likely stock around for the weekend.

The other major headline came yesterday when Dustin Johnson took a serious fall on a staircase in his rented home at Augusta and injured his lower back. His manager said it was uncertain whether the world’s no. 1 golfer would be able to play. Why play coy? We’ll be counting out Johnson despite his superb form this season. To be successful in this major you need to hit the greens with accuracy and scramble efficiently.

 

The average ratings in the key stat categories over the past decade are Driving Accuracy (28.6), Driving Distance (22.1), Greens In Regulation (6.2), Scrambling (7.2) and Putting Average (10.2). Although the past two winners, Jordan Spieth and Danny Willett, had only played Augusta once before they won, previous course form is vital. With the weather issues keeping players off the course, experience will be doubly important this year.

For our best bet of the 2017 Masters, we’re steering clear of the top three (Johnson, Spieth and Rory McIlroy) to go with Aussie Jason Day (pictured above). He’s a player who carries his heart on a sleeve and will be buoyed after his mother emerged from cancer surgery with a positive prognosis. He went close on debut in 2011 and traded at odds-on in 2013. With the weight of the world off his shoulders, he looks terrific value at $17.

 

Confirmed betting

Jason Day WIN-E/W (one unit @ $17)
Rickie Fowler top 6 (one unit @ $4.00)
Brandt Snedeker top 10 (one unit @ $4.50)
Paul Casey top 10 (one unit @ $4.50)
Tyrell Hatton top 25 (one unit @ $2.00)
Marc Leishman top 25 (one unit @ $2.25)
Charl Schwartzel top 25 (one unit @ $2.25)
Bill Haas top 25 (one unit @ $3.25)

Note: E/W = top five

 

 

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT); prices with thanks to William Hill (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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