Photo by Gregory Shamus
Our weekly pre-tournament ranking (with Vegas odds) of the best bets to win at Augusta.
By Alex Myers
The 2018 Masters is quickly approaching and the list of green-jacket contenders seems longer than ever thanks to the emergence of some new talent and the revival of several old reliables. We’ve combed through all potential players—and their odds to win, according to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook—to come up with a top-13 ranking that is bound to change in the final weeks leading up to the first major of the year.
You’ll notice plenty of names you’d expect to see, but perhaps, a few surprises, including some stars who didn’t make the cut so far. For example, there’s no Rory McIlroy, who will take his fourth crack at completing the career Grand Slam but has slumped recently thanks to putting and wedge woes. And Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka, both recovering from wrist injuries, need to show us more before we put our faith in them. Anyway, here’s our list. For now …
1. Dustin Johnson (8/1)
Reason to pick: A year ago, Johnson arrived at Augusta as the biggest Masters favourite not named Tiger Woods in decades. Provided he stays on his feet at his rental house this year, DJ is deserving of his favourite status.
Cause for concern: Although he finished T-4 in his last start in 2016, Johnson has never seriously contended late on a Sunday in seven tries.
2. Justin Rose (20/1)
Reason to pick: It’s still hard to believe Rose didn’t win last year after seemingly seizing control on the tournament’s 67th hole. It’s also hard to believe he’s only listed at 20/1 despite finishing runner-up two of the past three years at Augusta National. He also hasn’t finished out of the top 25 in a decade.
Cause for concern: Is Rose this generation’s Ernie Els when it comes to coming close but never quite slipping on that green jacket?
3. Jordan Spieth (10/1)
Reason to pick: Have you seen what he’s done in his first four trips to Augusta National? After a win in 2015 that was sandwiched by two runner-ups, Spieth was everyone’s pick playing in the penultimate group on Sunday last year before posting his worst-ever round at Augusta National (75) to tumble to T-11 (still not bad).
Cause for concern: Spieth’s struggles on the greens this season have been well documented. He currently ranks 163rd in strokes gained/putting.
4. Phil Mickelson (18/1, previously 25/1)
Reason to pick: Mickelson finally ended a winless drought that was approaching five years at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but Lefty’s entertaining victory didn’t come out of left field. At 47, he just had the first stretch of four consecutive top-six appearances of his career.
Cause for concern: Will the golf gods really let someone best Jack Nicklaus’ mark as oldest Masters champ in history?
5. Justin Thomas (12/1)
Reason to pick: Have you seen what he’s done everywhere other than Augusta in the past 16 months? It looks like it’s just a matter of time before JT gets to No. 1 in the world—and picks up green jacket No. 1.
Cause for concern: Thomas’ best Masters finish was a T-22. Weak. Oh, wait, he’s only played the tournament twice. Yeah, that’s not really a cause for concern then …
6. Jason Day (12/1)
Reason to pick: The Aussie nearly won in his Masters’ debut in 2011 and then followed that up with another close call in 2013. A win at Torrey Pines earlier this season shows the former World No. 1 is back on the right track after a difficult 2017.
Cause for concern: We won’t know about his health until he tells us about it the week of the tournament.
7. Sergio Garcia (40/1, previously 50/1)
Reason to pick: Garcia’s odds improved following a T-7 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, but as the defending champ, 40/1 is still a pretty generous number from Vegas.
Cause for concern: We’re still trying to wrap our head around Sergio Garcia winning one green jacket. He might be as well.
8. Jon Rahm (12/1)
Reason to pick: Few possess the power and finesse needed to navigate Augusta National. Jon Rahm is one. And he’d like nothing more than to have one of his idols and fellow countrymen slip that green jacket on him for the first time.
Cause for concern: Rahm has been a consistent contender since turning pro—except at major championships.
9. Bubba Watson (25/1)
Reason to pick: 2018 is the year of the rejuvenated lefty. Before Phil broke through in Mexico, Watson won at Riviera after he’d fallen all the way to No. 117 in the Official World Golf Ranking. There are a few places that for whatever reason suit Bubba Golf and Augusta National is certainly one.
Cause for concern: The Genesis Open victory was impressive, but this is still a guy who only had only five top-10s since his previous win at Riviera in 2016.
10. Rickie Fowler (20/1, previously 12/1)
Reason to pick: In dropping from one of the favourites to 20/1, Fowler (for now) presents one of the best betting values on the board.
Cause for concern: With all his talent and improved stats, Fowler is still stuck on four official PGA Tour wins.
11. Alex Noren (50/1)
Reason to pick: Playing his first full year on the PGA Tour, the Swede should be much more comfortable at Augusta National than he was when he missed the cut in his Masters’ debut last year.
Cause for concern: Masters rookies typically struggle, but a 74-78 was particularly rough …
12. Paul Casey (40/1)
Reason to pick: He might be the most consistent player in the world, and he’s got a solid Masters track record, highlighted by a T-6/T-4/solo sixth run the past three years.
Cause for concern: He never wins anymore. Anywhere. Ever.
13. Tiger Woods (16/1)
Reason to pick: Following a solo 12th at the Honda Classic, Vegas slashed Tiger’s odds from 25/1. Although he probably doesn’t deserve to be one of the favourites, he is the only guy in the field with four green jackets.
Cause for concern: Even in Woods’ most recent stint at No. 1, he was unable to snap his drought in majors that dates back to the 2008 U.S. Open. Overcoming the hurdle of winning again is tough enough, but doing it at a major will be extra difficult. Of course, he still has a couple more weeks to get back into the winner’s circle elsewhere first …