Who’s donning the green jacket at Augusta? Read on and make your best bet on the first major of the year with our 2021 US Masters Betting Preview.
Listen to our 2021 US Masters Preview Podcast with pro golfer Matt Baldwin.
It was only 144 days since Tiger Woods slipped the famous green jacket on the back of Dustin Johnson and yet, here we are again with the first major of the year. The US Masters is back in its rightful slot of early April. To the casual golf fan this event used to signal the start of the golfing year. This is however event number 26 of the PGA Tour season and we are over halfway to crowning another Fed Ex Champion in August.
Fans are expected back behind the ropes although in what numbers, no one yet actually knows, but this will feel more like the US Masters that we know and love. Last November when it was held it was bereft of the atmosphere and colour that we have come to expect, however I do not expect that has particularly bothered Dustin Johnson who now has a green jacket to his name.
In trying to find the winner of this edition the first thing to consider is whether we should take note of the November results? Dustin Johnson turned out the easy winner by five shots on a rain softened Augusta that played right into his hands. Winning at 20 under was the lowest winning total in history combined with 65 other rounds in the 60s, another record, highlighting the fact the Augusta did not play as it was intended.
This April the lead up has been particularly dry ensuring a golf course playing firm and fast and a winning score that will be nowhere what was achieved in November. I think it would be churlish to write off the form off this event entirely but with the completely different forecast conditions that will prevail this week I would not lean too heavily upon it.
With only 87 players (at the time of writing) starting it’s a great event for betting on. Normally PGA/European Tour events will have over 150 players of which most will have a chance to win. Here at Augusta, we can rule out about a dozen players who are either playing as past winners or amateurs who earnt their spot through winning national amateur Championships and who will start the event at over 1000/1.
Then we have a plethora of course form to divulge. If ever there was a golf course where experience counts, then this is it. No course debutant has won here since Fuzzy Zoeller donned the green jacket way back in 1979. The course is known as a second shot golf course meaning that your iron play, and in particular your distance control, must be spot on. There are four par 5s that need to be taken advantage of and four strong par 3s where par is always a good score.
At the top of the market, we have six players who are shorter than 20/1 in the betting. At the top is Dustin Johnson who since winning here in November his form has slightly deserted him. Apart from winning in Saudi Arabia in a European Tour event, an event he has a very strong record in, only a T8 in the Genesis Open of any significant note, DJ is nowhere near the form he was in going into the event last November.
Rory McIIroy will again be popular to win here and achieve the career Grand Slam of golf majors. However, anyone who has been following Rory of late must be concerned with his results and mental attitude. Only three weeks back he swapped swing coaches which cannot bode well for this week. Winless since November 2019 there are too many negatives about McIIroy this week.
We also have the enigma that is Bryson DeChambeau. Bryson claimed with the length he hits it off the tee that Augusta was a par 67/68 to him and was going to “break it” in the November 2020 edition. Things did not go to plan and he finished a disappointing 34th. Conditions then were seemingly in his favour so I am not convinced that he can turn it around this time, although in his defence he won API last month on a firm Bay Hill golf course.
Then we have Players Champion Justin Thomas who had suffered a dip in form while dealing with the fallout from a homophobic slur that he uttered at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii at the beginning of the year. With that issue behind him and having won in impressive fashion at the Players last month I expect Thomas to go close here at Augusta. This will be his 6th start at Augusta and each time he has improved his finishing position making the halfway cut every time and culminating in a 4th last time.
My first two selections are going to be the other two player who are quoted at under 20/1. The first player is Jordan Spieth. Spieth has an incredible master’s record that reads T2, WIN, T2, T11, 3, T21 and T46. Most golf fans will remember in 2016 the title was in his hands until the 12th hole on Sunday. Spieth had led by 5 shots but put 2 balls in the water at the 12th on his way to a quadruple bogey and in doing so handing the title to England’s Danny Willett. Spieth has suffered a terrible dip in form over the last couple of years that saw him plummet to 92nd in the world rankings earlier this year.
However, things all turned around at the Waste Phoenix management Open in February finishing T4th. He followed this up with T3 at pebble Beach and T4th at the API at Bay Hill. The 1st 9 holes Spieth played at Bay Hill in round 3 was legendary stuff and anyone who witnessed it would have been left breathless with excitement. With Jordan finally getting a Win last night in his home state of Texas he will be going to Augusta brimming with confidence and another green jacket awaits him.
I was going to ignore Jon Rahm since his wife was due to give birth sometime around the kick-off however the baby was happily delivered Sunday night, so it is all systems go for Rahm. He has made 4 appearances at Augusta and his record is rather impressive. T27 on debut, but since then a 4th, 9th and 7th have followed. His form this year is outstandingly consistent with 5 top 10s from 7 starts.
At the turn of the year Rahm switched equipment to Callaway which makes his form even more remarkable. Players always take time to adjust when switching club manufacturers so achieving what he has done is a big positive for me. The normally volatile Spaniard may not be as hard on himself now that he is a father which again could help him especially this week where patience is going to be key to contending for the title.
My third pick is 26-year-old Matthew Fitzpatrick. The young Yorkshireman is playing some very consistent golf as of the last 6 months. In December last year he won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and has followed this up with a T5 at the Genesis, T9 at the Players Championship, T10 at the API and 2 other top 20 performances and has quietly got himself to number 16 in the world. Augusta playing fast and firm will be a great fit for him taking away any advantage the long hitters felt they may have had here.
In six previous performances here, after missing the cut on his debut, Fitzpatrick has recorded a T7 in 2016 as his best finish. This was the year that Englishman Willett won with a winning score of -5 in what will be very similar conditions this year. With the help of the experienced caddy Billy Foster on his bag I expect come Sunday night to see Matthew Fitzpatrick in with a winning chance.
My final selection is a little bit left field and goes slightly against the grain that course experience is as must to win here. Max Homa has had a breakout year up to now that has seen him rise to number 37 in the world golf rankings. Back in 2019 Homa won the Wells Fargo Championship in a canter against a class field and since that win its has taken Homa a while to settle down to life on the PGA Tour as a winner. However, after a good winter of practicing hard at home in California Homa came out firing this year on the west coast swing. Two top 25 finishes kicked the year of before finishing T7 at Pebble Beach followed by winning the Genesis at what he calls his home course in Los Angeles.
Make no mistake this was a class performance against a top-quality field on a top-quality golf course that tests all facets of your game. Since that win Homa has continued in good form with a T10 at the API and was unlucky to have been eliminated in the group stage of the knockout 2 weeks ago by eventual winner Billy Horschel. Speaking on his podcast last week he spoke of his debut at Augusta last November suggesting that the course fits his game really well and now having experienced it once can give more than a good account of himself.