2020 Masters Tournament
November 12th - 15th
Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, GA Par 72 - 7,475
Defending Champion - Tiger Woods
The players are on the property. They’ve been playing the course. The Masters will officially be played! With so much change happening in the world right now I sort of feel grateful the Masters didn’t get cancelled altogether. Even though it's being played in the month of November and the Azaleas won’t be in bloom - my favorite golf tournament on one of my favorite courses will be played.
The Masters rewards chalk (favorites) more than any other tournament. It’s safe to assume the winning player will have a pre-tournament price tag of +3000 or lower. The avg price of the past 15 winners is +2700. Of course there are outliers once in a while like the 2011 winner Charles Schwartzel at 100/1 but he’s surrounded by big name pre-tournament favorites like Phil Mickelson who won the year before and Bubba Watson who won it the year after.
Everyone says this is a second-shot golf course, the type of track that requires precision iron and wedge play in order to succeed. But why do people say that? There’s no strong data that supports every winner leads the field in SG:APP, even though Tiger won it last year by demolishing the field on second shots, he didn’t drive the ball well or putt well, his irons were on point and finished +9 in SG:APP. But that might just be an outlier from the greatest iron player of all-time. Removing Tigers performance SG:APP isn’t always the automatic key stat for success, it’s important but I think everyone says it’s a second shot golf course because that’s what all the players say, it’s almost like it’s their generic canned response in every interview. How good are golfers at predicting who wins tournaments? We know how good announcers and former players are in football are picking winners...
Playing super-aggressive off the tee and super-conservative into greens is basically the optimal strategy. Not much trouble at Augusta, the rough is minimal and nothing compared to the US Open. At Augusta it’s trees and pine needles, no heavy green side rough, it’s mowed down slick angles and undulations. Augusta's defense is the slopes and greens, you very rarely have flat lies in the fairways and you have to hit the ball to an area on the green the size of a table top or it’s just going to roll off and away from the hole - TV doesn’t do it justice.
I think Augusta is a shot makers golf course - creativity, imagination and shaping shots left, right, high and low shots. It definitely sets up for the right to left shot (draw for righties, fade for lefties). Bubba was slinging the ball right to left off the tee when he won and Reed was hitting a helicopter fade off the tee putting them in positions with good angles into the greens. They aren’t the greatest iron players in the world but rather shot shapers that can scramble and have great imagination around the greens. Who else shapes shots and can scramble around the greens? Phil who has had success at Augusta. Scrambling from around the greens has more value than putting this week IMO, especially with the added rain which will likely slow the greens down a bit. We’ve seen players who typically struggle with the flat stick, like Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, putt well enough to snatch the Green Jacket.
So we are starting to narrow it down a bit, the winner is much likely to be one of the bigger names and a favorite up to +3000. Remember, this isn’t set in stone we are just trying to find out what’s more likely to happen based on past events. We want a creative shot maker who has imagination around the greens that are near the top in strokes gained scrambling. Let’s also add in some of the regular staples like recent form going into the event. Having a MC (missed cut) in golfer's recent results leading up to the Masters has been a death sentence for a player’s chances over the past 15-20 years. Let’s also add in course history - Jordan Spieth who has a very solid course history at Augusta, maybe one of the best, missed the cut last week at the Houston Open and is +4000 to win it outright. He might not be a guy to pick for outright winner, but he can be used in another bet.
Course history can be a solid predictive quality. Augusta plays the same every year - length and style, pin placements etc. November this year is really the only difference. We can expect some softer conditions this year due to rain the first few days. Softer conditions might help a guy like Bryson who is typically hitting 3/4 wedges into greens which it’s always a challenge getting the ball to spin on those shorter in between shots, the softer greens should help him. On the flip side, firm and fast conditions help a guy like Webb Simpson. What makes this tournament and other tournaments like it so great is that predicting the winner is probably one of the hardest feats in sports betting.
Let’s recap the checklist. Remember, this is just for outright winner bets. This checklist will just help narrow down who maybe is more likely to win. Golfers that don’t meet this criteria very well could be solid plays in H2H matchup bets or Top 20 finish bets so we don’t want to just discard them entirely, we are talking strictly 2020 Masters outright winners here.
Recent form and course history are obvious ones. We want golfers that are playing well coming into the tournament, preferably no missed cuts recently and we want a golfer who has experience at Augusta and has played well. First timers at Augusta have struggled. We have seen golfers who have a natural shot shape of right to left have success as well. We like golfers who are solid around the greens and near the top in both strokes gained around the greens and strokes gained scrambling columns. Finally we want to look towards the bigger names and favorites even though there might not be the greatest value on some of the big name favorites the average price tag for the winner is +2700, it’s okay to pick some long shots to win but again we are talking what’s more likely to happen.
Below are a couple wagers I’ve already made:
H2H Tournament Matchup - M.Wolff -115 over T.Woods
First Round Leader - Jordan Spieth +4000 (In 3 of the last 5 years — Spieth has shot a Thursday 64 in 2015, 66 in 2016 and another 66 in 2018)
Masters Low Amateur - John Augenstein +320
All my Masters picks including outright winners and props will be posted in the Betting Network community #golf channel. You can follow me on IG @TheBettingNetwork or @TBN_Lefty also @TheFav_orite on Twitter