Measuring Up for the Green Jacket - Eachway Bets
As Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald grab the headlines ahead of this year's Masters we take a look at ten names which could provide some serious value as eachway bets.
Sergio Garcia (PaddyPower 66/1)
The most gifted player in this field never to have won a big tournament. The mercurial Spaniard has the game to bring Augusta to its knees but more often than not Sergio’s story at Augusta is one of 36 good holes and then mental implosion. And while his form this season does nothing to suggest that he will win, a man of his talent has to get it right one week at a major, and the week that that happens Garcia will become a major championship winner.
Bubba Watson (BetVictor 50/1)
The BBC recently published a list of attributes that experts believe are necessary to win at Augusta. Firstly, you need to be a big hitter (Watson’s driving average is 10 yards more than anyone else on tour). Secondly, Augusta favours a player who draws the ball around the right to left doglegs, the left handed Watson is a natural right to left mover of the ball. Thirdly, you must score well on the Par Five’s, again Watson’s driving length means that he is currently third in the list of Eagle makers this season. Finally, it is important to have experience around Augusta, as only Fuzzy Zoeller has won the Masters on debut since 1936. This will be Watson’s fourth trip to Georgia and while his record isn’t great around the course he now has all the attributes to win. To cap it all, Watson leads the Greens in Regulation charts, and if one course in the world demands that sort of control then it’s Augusta.
Paul Lawrie (351/1 BetFair)
The joker in the pack as far as we are concerned. The Scot is enjoying a renaissance in his career this season having won the Qatar Masters in February following up his Andalucian Open victory in 2011. He is in the very first group out tomorrow and may well enjoy the best of the weather before the thundery storms set in. Not the longest hitter on the Tour by any stretch of the imagination, salvation may lie for the 43-year-old Scot in the fact that the softer Augusta is, the better short hitters tend to do. Mike Weir and Zach Johnson both won the Masters at a soft Augusta, being a long way down the driving yardage. Lawrie is already a major winner and while he appears to be a rank outsider, the resurgence of Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn at last year’s Open shows that nobody can be discounted.
Keegan Bradley (35/1 William Hill)
The 2011 PGA Rookie of the Year has a perfect Major record at the moment – one tournament, one victory. Bradley is one of only three men to win their first Major but winning at the Masters may be another kettle of fish. Yet in terms of form the Vermont player goes to Georgia in as good as form as anyone else in the field. He is the third-ranked player so far in 2012 and has the fourth best scoring average to boot. He is high on the Birdie and Eagle rankings showing that he has the scoring game to become the first man ever to win their first two major tournaments. His inexperience at Augusta may be a stumbling block, but as Bradley said at yesterday’s press conference when asked if he was nervous going to Augusta for the first time: “Well, I’ve only played one major – and I won that”.
Thomas Bjorn (264/1 Betfair)
Were it anyone other than Darren Clarke who won last year’s Open, Thomas Bjorn would have been the story of last year. For a man who had all but quit the game and who had had to cope with the passing of his father, last year’s fourth placed finish showed a man who had found a new confidence with his game. He has finished second at both the Open and PGA Championship so he has Major’s pedigree. Having all but lost his love for the game Bjorn is determined to make the most of his second career and that makes him a dangerous man around this course. Much like Lawrie he has seen everything that the game has to throw at him and his ability to stay calm under the pressure could see him do well this year round.
Charl Schwartzel (45/1 Bet365)
Last year’s Green Jacket recipient obviously knows how to win at Augusta as his amazing four birdie finish was only overshadowed by Rory McIlroy’s final round meltdown. The South African is having a steady season with three top-10 finishes and will be under the radar more than current champions at most Majors. Schwartzel putts well under pressure and with an average drive of just under 300 yards he is long enough for Augusta.
Justin Rose (30/1 William Hill)
The current world number nine won the WGC-Cadillac Championship last month to alert the golfing world to yet another British talent who can challenge for Majors. Rose seems to have matured physically and mentally recently and has top-20 finishes at Augusta in 2011 and 2009. The 31-year-old will be hoping for a week which seems him remembered for more than his performance at the 1998 Open as an amateur.
Hunter Mahan (33/1 Ladbrokes)
Victory at last week’s Houston Open moved Mahan up to fourth in the world and makes him the highest ranked American at Augusta. The 29-year-old has the game to be successful at Augusta as an opening 66 in 2009 shows, however, his results are mixed with two top-10s mixed with two missed cuts in the last four years. Mahan has placed in the top-25 in all but one of his tournaments this year and beat McIlroy to win the WGC Matchplay in February, tees off in the final group with Phil Mickelson.
Steve Stricker (55/1 SkyBet)
The 45-year-old is the Mr Consistent of the PGA Tour. Although he has 20 professional wins under his belt he has never won a major and only one WGC title. His best result at Augusta is a tie for sixth in 2009 but with a victory already in 2012 he should not be counted out. Stricker sits second in average scoring this year and his solid all-round game will be major asset especially if the stormy weather rolls in. The world number five has not been out of the top ten since 2007 and could have a better claim than the likes of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as the best player in the field never to have won a Major.
Webb Simpson (66/1 Ladbrokes)
The 26-year-old American’s odds are quite short considering this week is his Masters debut, however, this is a testament to the world number ten’s quality. Simpson ranks second for Par Breakers on the PGA Tour making him an exciting player and getting Birdies and making the most of the Par 5s is crucial at Augusta. Simpson has three top-10s this year, made creditable Top-20 debuts at the US Open and Open and finished second in last year’s FedEx Cup. These impressive statistics give Simpson a good chance of being there or thereabouts on Sunday afternoon.