VINCE BLISSETT (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on the 2017 US Masters from Augusta.
US Masters | 6th-9th April 2017 | Sky Sports
It’s the big one – Augusta and the Masters.
I’m just going to dive straight into my thoughts and a few bets. I’m not taking the normal approach of GIR stats, driving accuracy etc this week. Gut feel and a bit of course experience are what I’m mainly going with.
The top three in the betting are a long way clear of anyone else and rightly so. You can make solid arguments for Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlory and in my opinion you need to have one of them one side heading into Thursday.
Which one though is the big question. A couple of months ago I was definitely siding with one of them before changing my mind and in the last few weeks I’ve changed again to the one I’d ruled out.
Speith to bounce back?
Going back to last year’s Masters, I think we all remember what happened to Spieth as he collapsed and let Danny Willett sneak in to take the green jacket. For about 10 of the last 12 months I’ve had him down as coming back this year to put that disappointment behind him.
His form around Augusta is sensational with finishes of 2-1-2 meaning he has to be in anyone’s thinking. He’s had a good start to 2017 with a pair of thirds in the two Hawaii tournaments and a win at Pebble Beach being the highlights.
He missed the cut this past week in Houston along with a number of other big names but I wouldn’t read much into that. You can take positives and negatives depending on your viewpoint so best option is to just not bother taking anything from it.
Johnson to take top honours?
I changed my mind and started thinking I’d be backing Dustin Johnson about six weeks ago when it was obvious he was in the form of his life. That level hasn’t dropped since and he is worthy favourite to be wearing that green jacket on Sunday night.
His form since the turn of the year reads 6-2-MC-3-1-1-1. Not bad at all. Worth noting too that the missed cut came a few days after travelling from Abu Dhabi to California so that’s explains that one.
Louis Ross has been talking up for months and you can’t blame him.
My money’s on McIlroy
Having said that though Rory is the one I’m backing from the three. He picked up a stress fracture to a rib whilst finishing second at the South African Open in January which put him out for a while but came back with a seventh at the WGC Mexico and fourth at the Arnold Palmer.
The match play on his last outing didn’t go great but I’m not worried about that, he played very well in defeat against Soren Kjeldsen who played brilliantly and then the withdrawal of Gary Woodland sealed his fate.
Whilst he was out injured the aim was to get back and be at his best for this week. His impressive finishes without playing at his best when he did come back has swung the pendulum his way for me.
He’s looking to complete the Grand Slam having won the other three majors already and it’ll surely come sooner rather than later. I don’t think I’ve backed Rory many times in the past somehow but at 9/1 best price I’m doing so now.
This is the week Rory has aimed to reach his peak for and I think he’ll be at his best or very close to it. I won’t put him up as a bet here as I know Louis is all over DJ but Rory is the one of the three I’m with.
Brandt Snedeker (55/1 Betfair)
Brandt Snedeker is a player I possibly back a little too often. I couldn’t really say why, he just always seems a nice price.
He doesn’t really have a weakness in his game, he’s solid all round just needs an aspect or two of his game to click on any given week.
So far in this calendar year Sneds’ form has been pretty good, discounting the match play he has had four top-20 finishes from seven starts – three of those top-10s.
Augusta form is pretty decent too – a 10th place last year to go along with two other top-10s in his nine appearances. At 55/1 (Betfair) he’s on my team this week.
Daniel Berger (80/1 Bet365)
Next up is Daniel Berger at 80/1 (Bet365) . He goes under the radar slightly, not quite one of the high profile younger players coming through at the moment but a very good player on his day.
What draws me towards him is his consistency, maybe doesn’t contend right at the top of the leaderboard too often but is found towards the top quite a lot. This time last year he finished fifth at Houston and followed up with a 10th at Augusta, two courses that are set up fairly similarly.
This past week in Houston he again put up a good showing with another fifth proving last year’s wasn’t a one off. I’m banking on him taking that form into the Masters once again and hopefully going one step better.
Soren Kjeldsen (150/1 Ladbrokes)
Soren Kjeldsen took the step last year to play some PGA events along with his European Tour commitments too. He finished ninth at the Open last year which gave him a full PGA tour card for 2017 after 19 years on the European Tour.
Soren started 2017 with four consecutive cuts but has turned that around with 37-32-27 place finishes and a quarter finalist of the WGC match play in his last four starts.
In his first match there he played some brilliant golf in the process of beating McIlroy who played very well himself. Other than that nine that the Open as already mentioned he also picked up a seventh here at Augusta last year too.
Two top-10s from the four Majors is an impressive return for anyone outside the elite few. He’ll be full of confidence in how his game has steadily improved this week and at a big price could be an outsider worth looking at.
Ross Fisher (150/1 10BET)
My final pick is another Englishman who’s seen a rejuvenation recently in the shape of Ross Fisher.
The 36-year-old quietly finished 20th in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last season. He had a poor start to this season but his last two outings, WGC Mexico and the WGC Matchplay have seen him play some brilliant golf.
In Mexico in finished in a tie for 3rd which saw him qualify for the Matchplay and once there he made it through to the quarter-finals. That performance saw his world ranking rise to 49th and a place in the field this week.
He’s also got some form at Augusta where he made four appearances between 2009-12 with his best finish being a 15th in 2011. I see no reason why he can’t carry on his good form and put in a good showing. He looks a good bet at 150/1 (10BET).
Terms to note
Finally, the bookies and their each-way terms. I always take the best price and ignore the terms but everyone is different.
The prices I’m putting up here are best prices available but I’d advice using Oddschecker and going with what you prefer. SkyBet lead the way and are going eight places at the normal ¼ terms but you won’t find many golfers best price with them.
Again everyone is different so go with personal preference would be my advice.