This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
Masters Betting Strategy
It's Masters Week for the second time in a six-month span, and the number of storylines to follow have it set up to be one for the ages!
Last year, Dustin Johnson (9-1 odds) went wire-to-wire to win the first fall edition of the event, finishing five shots ahead of Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith. While he will be looking to go back-to-back, Rory McIlroy will take his seventh crack at completing the Career Grand Slam. It wasn't clear if four-time major winner Brooks Koepka would play this week after undergoing knee surgery last month, but he is on hand and ready to go.
After Johnson set the scoring record last November at 20-under-par, Augusta National is expected to play much faster and firmer this time around, and it will likely be a tougher test than we've seen over the last few years. Approach play tends to be the most important factor in determining the winner, as you simply won't be able to bomb-and-gouge your way around like we saw Bryson DeChambeau do at last year's U.S. Open. That's not to say distance isn't important, though, as shorter hitters are at a disadvantage on the long par-4s and par-5s, and minimal rough doesn't punish wayward drives unless they are significantly off target. The important stretch of the course is of course Amen Corner, which begins with the 11th hole, a long par-4 with water surrounding the green. That one is followed by the famous par-3 12th that has derailed final rounds. The par-5 13th and 15th holes are two of my favorites, as they are shorter par-5s that can be reached in two, but also have water protecting the front of the greens. Both holes can provide eagles and big numbers at the same time.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 6:00 ET Tuesday.
Aces at Augusta
The following players, with a minimum of three appearances, have the lowest scoring average at Augusta National since 2016:
Johnson is the only player with an average score under 70 at The Masters since 2016. He has recorded five consecutive top-10 results, including a runner-up finish in 2019 in addition to his win last year. As a result, Johnson is the favorite at 19-2 odds, although he's not in the best form, having not made it out of pool play at the Match Play event and failing to record a top-40 finish in either of his prior two events. Another player who's had success here is Finau, albeit with less fanfare than the rest of the golfers on the list. Finau (35-1 odds) has recorded two top-10 results, most notably in 2018, when he fared well despite dislocating his ankle after an ace in the traditional Wednesday Par-3 competition.
Hot on Approach
The following five players have gained the most strokes on approach per round since the beginning of 2021:
Since Morikawa stormed onto the scene in 2019, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better iron player on Tour. His putting has been the main area of his game holding him back, as he's only gained strokes on the greens in two events this year. In those instances, he recorded a T7 finish at The Sony Open and a win at The Concession. Although Morikawa struggled to a T38 finish in his first Masters appearance, he looks like a mighty fine option at 31-1 odds if the flat stick cooperates. Last, but certainly not least, Spieth is the biggest storyline after recording his first win since 2017 at last week's Valero Texas Open. Given his current form and past success at Augusta, he is tied for the third-best odds at 23-2. As such, he's a bit more appealing in DFS contests than he is on bet slips, as he offers more value in the former than the latter.
Justin Thomas (23-2)
A strong argument can be made that Thomas is the best player in the world on the heels of his win at THE PLAYERS last month. Thomas' finishes at The Masters have improved each year, and he held a share of the 36-hole lead last fall before settling for fourth. He has all the tools to win, most notably elite approach play, and it's simply becoming a matter of not if he will win The Masters, but when.
Xander Schauffele (23-1)
It's only a matter of time before Schauffele wins again, as the king of the runner-up finish has eight of them since his last win in January of 2019. Schauffele has also played well in the majors, with seven top-10 results in 14 starts. A former runner-up at Augusta, he's a good pivot off the top choices if you're looking for a larger potential payout.
Viktor Hovland (35-1)
Hovland was my Masters pick in early January at 50-1 odds, and he's been priced down since then after a solid start to the year that has featured three top-5 results, including a pair of runner-ups. He's only had one appearance at Augusta, and he did not shoot over par in any round while finishing T32 as the low amateur in 2019. Hovland fits the course well, with above-average length and strong iron play.
Joaquin Niemann (55-1)
It's easy to overlook someone like Niemann, as bettors tend to favor players that have had previous success here. However, only three of the last 10 Masters winners finished top-20 the year before. At 22 years old, Niemann is one of the best young players in the game, and he has two runner-up finishes this year alone. He ranks inside the top 50 this season in SG: Off-the-Tee, approach and putting – a good recipe for success at Augusta.
Oosthuizen is a guy who often elevates his game in the more prestigious events, including The Masters, where he has recorded a runner-up finish and has made the cut seven straight years. With three second-place finishes in majors since 2015, Oosthuizen's solid all-around game and experience make him a nice option for a top-5 bet at 10-1 odds.
Kim has made the cut three straight years here and didn't finish worse than T34 during that stretch. Over his last 10 rounds at Augusta, he shot over par just once. Kim is in good form, having already won this year, and he has proven he can win at long odds, taking home the title at the 2017 PLAYERS Championship in a similar scenario. He's certainly a long shot to win at 150-1, but at the least, he looks like a solid low-cost selection in DFS lineups.
Cameron Smith (-110) over Paul Casey: Smith is a reliable head-to-head option, having only missed one cut in his last 17 events. He's already recorded two top-5 results at The Masters and has gained 0.80 shots on approach over his last three stroke play events, which all led to top-20 results. This is more of a play on Smith than a fade on Casey, as Smith presents good value as a slight underdog.
Daniel Berger (-122) over Webb Simpson: Simpson's best results at The Masters came under easier conditions the last two years, and with the course likely to play more difficult this week, he's on my fade list. Berger is 3-for-3 in made cuts with one top-10 here, and he's played phenomenal golf this year, with four top-10 results in six stroke-play events.