Monday, April 02, 2012

us masters


5th-8th APRIL - the 76th running of this spectacular and popular major

Course > Augusta National, par 72 and 7,435 yards.. It is an undulating course so you can get a lot of run on some holes and you don’t need to be a long hitter to do well. You do however need to have a great short game as good approaches can often end up off the green and the greens are tricky to say the least – fast with plenty of subtle borrows and swales

In the past few years the scores have been higher generally with not so many golfers breaking par by the Sunday night (Tiger's fault for shooting 270 in 1997!) although last year it played relatively easily with -14 being the winning score

A few yrs ago, Augusta was capable of being tamed but now there are less 'easy' holes where birdies are fairly common, and many more holes where you are thankful to get a part; I've watched the Masters for over 30yrs and the winner is not so much whoever has the game for the course (ie those who draw the ball not fade used to succeed more, plus the big hitters used to dominate it as it was so open) but more whoever is playing at the top of their form

You have to drive well and putt well obviously but also stay positive and ignore the inevitable bogey - play the sensible shot when it matters and not go for broke on the par5s unless you are hitting it really well; the 15th always offers eagle opportunity but plenty have found the water short and suffered a 6 or more..  likewise the 13th is tempting but sometimes you get as many birdies by those laying up as those who go for the green in two

Scoring > you have to expect 8-10 bogeys over the wk probably for the winner - could be higher but that's the usual mark ie take your medicine and accept a couple of bogeys a round. Birdies are available of course; the most has been 25 by Mickelson which is some going. A lot of players will be looking to shoot around par ie 3 birdies and 3 bogeys perhaps and take a good round if it's there, you don't normally get too many 65s here; anyone who sprays it around will no doubt have to have an immense short game to escape with decent scores

Also depends a bit on the weather of course but more so on the green speed and the pin placements - the greens will be their usual speed probably and the pin placements are the main defence that the course has - all the usual spots with sunday being the hardest as always (bar the 16th where there is a decent chance of an ace)

Odds > all on betfair

Woods 5.8 > can you back against him?

McIlroy 7.0 > meltdown will be forgotten with a win, skinny price though
Mickelson 14 > hard to back against with his record and form
Donald 17 > great chance with terrific short game
Westwood 21 > overdue
Rose 34 > maybe just past his hot spell, good 1st round leader bet!
Mahan 36 popular after winning this wk but hard to go back to back let alone win this
Scott 38 > flatters to deceive
Day 42 > great debut last yr but not much form to warrant this price
Schwartzel 46 > on the drift which is good news as great chance of a repeat
Bradley > 40 > inform but debutants never win here!
Watson 55 > length but suspect under pressure

field > 60 and above... some great value in there especially for trading

* the beauty of having an inform duo at the top of the market is that it pushes the prices out for everyone else - there are some terrific players at 70 or 80 or 100 who could easily win this... Mickelson with his record and form this yr should really be a 7/1 shot but he's 13/1 here due to the Tiger & 'boy wonder' prices

Last Year (2011) >
1 Schwartzel -14
2 Day -12
3 Scott -12
4 Woods -10
4 Ogilvy -10
4 Donald -10
7 Cabrera -9
8 Van Pelt -8
8 Choi -8
10 Palmer -6

Since 2000 (last 11 Yrs) > Top 10 finishes

9 - Mickelson
8 - Tiger
6 - VJ
5 - Els
4 - Goosen

* stunning record of big Phil and Tiger has to be respected here as they are amazingly consistent for a tour event let alone a major

The Field > being a major you would expect to see an unusual name up near the top of the leaderboard on day 1 (Justin Rose has however managed to be top after 1st round 3 times) but they usually fade and by Sunday the bigger names appear – definitely a case of ‘you can’t win it on Thursday & Friday but you can lose it’ – last year saw Couples & Tom Watson at the top after day 1 though so the evergreen pros still do well here – this isn’t a course/event for debutants to flourish in 

Look for > Current form and good previous history here definitely helps, debutants often struggle as do those who just can’t seem to get it going here; for some reason, there are a few with average at best records (Kaymer for example) but it is of course a major tourney with the world’s best players so you would expect the cream to rise to the top

Those who can putt well from distance and also 5-6 feet as you will get a lot of those par-saver distances here

GIR is more important here than accuracy or distance off the tee – you can’t keep missing greens and expect to keep getting up and down so those who do well will be probably top 5 in this stat

Experience counts – it will be unusual for a non tour winner to succeed here; you will probably have a champion who has won many times on tour and/or majors 

Woods > 7 years have elapsed since he donned the green jacket; could be time for him to notch another major as it seems to be almost inevitable in some ways - the win a fortnight ago certainly pushed a lot of doubters back towards backing him and his price consequently firmed up a lot - whether 5/1 is worth taking is another matter as this isn't an ordinary tour event. Tiger is no ordinary player though so with his confidence on the greens back, his superb tee to green game and his experience, hard to go against him eh? unless someone else has an absolute blinder or gets very lucky I expect him to shoot 68-69 average and -14 or so may be hard to beat > not sure whether I will back him at 5/1 unless I go in with big stakes but I may just trade him as a separate entity to all my other bets (I often trade Tiger back and forth as it is quite easy to read the market moves with him)

Donald > a player I used to rarely back as he didn't have the killer instinct, steady and solid bu tnot doing enough when it mattered - he has really stepped up a level or two obviously and is the deserved world no 1 although doesn't get the credit he should as he is not a media darling - terrific short game and such a reliable putter these days and that is to his benefit here; can see him working his way through the field and probably being the steadiest on Sunday and notching birdies late on whilst others fall away under the pressure.. could well be a duel between him and Tiger which is the world no 1 against the 'soon to be' world no 1 again perhaps > will be taking Luke at about 17

so that's 2 of the top 3 in the betting - won't go for Mickelson although he looks to be a solid bet with a win this year, great form this week and his amazing record here too - if anyone is going to walk this tournament it could be him but there is also always that doubt with Phil that he may suddenly lose his way or miss some daft short putts

I'm leaving Rory and Westy as both are more than capable but I have the odd doubt - Rory will win more majors for sure but it might take him a while to get settled enough again to do so - Westy is a nearly man like Monty these days - should have won one by now and has been so close but cant quite seem to get it done in the majors

Rose has had his hot spell recently where he hit form and played courses he likes - he loves this one too and has a knack of leading after round 1 (3 times!) but may have gone off the boil slightly now. Day played extremely well last year in the majors and was so close here too but hasn't really done much in recent months and is probably having a quiet year before re-surfacing on the scene in a big way as he has the ability for sure. Scott is a good player and will benefit from having Steve Williams on his bag but doesn't look quite strong enough currently against a field of this quality and current form

Schwartzel was an early pick of mine for this a month or so back - his form has drifted in the last few weeks with 2 missed cuts on this tour after a string of top 5s etc > whether this is him tweaking before his defence of this trophy we don't know but he should still put up a spirited effort - those 2 missed cuts are unusual though and maybe a sign of him going off the boil - his odds have drifted accordingly from 38 to about 46 now

Bradley is making his debut here and that's not a reason to back any golfer here - he has the ability and the form but it is a big ask to come here and win at the first go although it isn't impossible - will have plenty of supporters though and 40/1 isn't too bad but just looks skinny compared with some others

Bubba is a decent price if going by stats is the way - his length and GIR record should mean plenty of birdie opps but always a doubt over his temperament and ability to withstand the extreme pressure on a Sunday

So on to the others >

Van Pelt > in great form, stats are good, had some good finishes already this season so should be full of confidence and was top 10 here last year > perhaps unlikely to win but could go really well at a good price and looks a reasonably good shout for the top 10 too > 130 betfair

Ed Molinari > great player and has the game for this course - has returned from injury and played well recently so is warming up nicely for this - should go on to do better than his more heralded brother - price is 450 which I'm all over as a good start should see that fall nicely so a good trading opportunity if nothing else.. great value for a classy player, 11th last year after an opening 74

Simpson > odds of 80 make this a more tempting bet than the 40 on bradley - simpson has been a bit under the radar and as a debutant you wouldn't expect much but he has the ability and can putt well especially from mid to long range - might be a quiet one that sneaks through and suddenly appears on Sunday in the top 5

Bill Haas > super popular young man who has really proven to have what it takes - has already won tournaments and the fedex cup (in style!) and wouldn't surprise me if he found his form here and put in a great showing - 120 is tempting as he has had a rest before this event; played ok last yr here but struggled on the 13th, will have learned a bit and should improve on that 42nd place

Stanley > unlikely to do well as young and confident and on debut here which is normally a recipe for disaster! but this guy has stacks of ability - hits it long and hits greens and makes birdies - should score well on the par5s and may just enjoy this - not sure he will last so maybe a back to lay bet but worth taking on at 150 on potential! will probably miss too many short putts but a bit of luck may help

Oosthuizen > 90 is attractive for Oosty who should really benefit from last week's effort - just missed out on the win but playing well and that should give him the necessary boost - if he clicks he will make that price look daft

Choi > always worth a passing interest in the super steady unflappable KJ - played well here in recent years of course and will know what to do and no doubt plod around happily although it won't show... steady and popular and 75 is about right - not in great form so not a definite back

* there are plenty of others too such as Stricker, Poulter, DJ and so on... 

Old Boys > you often get a few previous winners having good rounds here and reminding us former glories - expect good showings from Couples, Immelman and Cabrera with the latter being a decent bet for this tourney at 100 as he likes it here and has the record and recent form too

SELECTIONS > narrowing these down to who could win or who is a possible winner makes this easier - there are plenty of good bets on paper but will some of them WIN? there are certain players you expect to come through on Sunday afternoon and others who will fall away

Tiger WOODS > 5.8 is high enough as the script seems written to me - he has the form and confidence and obviously the ability and experience - must have had doubts in his own mind but consolidating his lead and strolling to victory recently will have surely given that last bit of the jigsaw as he looks to establish himself back at the top and notch more majors; any edge that may have gone of fhis game looks to have been replaced by a super solid swing and a desire to prove a few critics wrong since his 'problems'

Luke DONALD > maybe the most likely to push Tiger or win in his own right - seems slightly miffed still by the lack of respect for his ranking and would probably love to win this to prove his point > 17.5 gets my money

Louis OOSTHUIZEN > the good showing at Houston is likely to give him the impetus to do well and when he plays well he can be really good - odds have tightened but 90 is still attractive for a major winner in form

Charl SCHWARTZEL > despite a couple of missed cuts I'm not deserting the defending champ as he can turn it on and often players have done well here year on year - has the ability and obviously confidence being the title holder; was extremely consistent worldwide until those last 2 events but perhaps his eye was off the ball and he was saving his efforts for this week here - drifted to 46 which is good, should be a good top 10 bet unless his game has really gone off the boil

Bo VAN PELT > you often get someone who don't expect lurking in the top 5 at the weekend and Bo looks the one for me - excellent form with 4 top 10s in last 4 strokeplay events, had a brief rest too; was 8th here last yr (previous visit was 2005) - stats this yr are superb and no1 ranked in total putting and strokes gained... looks a decent shout at good odds and will be backing him for top 10 too > 130 betfair

* these will be my 5 picks this week - will also look to trade a few and have some top 10 bets as well as they have been really profitable in the last few weeks since I started looking at them

will keep an eye on Haas, Simpson and Stanley as all good players who could flourish and in the 80-150 price range - all possible top 10 bets for me too

Trading > 

Ed Molinari huge at 450 and if he gets off to a good start then that should come down nicely, great longshot for me as mentioned above

Moore looks big at 320 (good record here and decent amount of top 10s, big blowout last wk though, dropped 11 shots in 6 holes on way to an 85)

Ishikawa at 380 (terrific short game will really help compensate his lack of distance and experience)

Palmer at 300 (multiple tour winner and always one I look for at big odds, capable of going really well)


  1. typical poor first round for me tips-wise, never seem to do that well in the majors - oosty going well at 21 to lay now which is handy, woods drifted and donald way off the pace

    really important 2nd round for some of these guys as they may be too far back by saturday

    trades not great so far either

  2. oosty doing ok and just a shot back....

  3. oosty with athat amazing albatross traded around 2.0 for ages... went as low as 1.5 or so during the playoff but I traded at just over 2.0 for a nice green screen and covering all my other picks

    fixed odds he returned the place money at about 20/1 (80/1 generally pre-tourney)

    not bad, shame a few of them were poor but van pelt finished fast (64 final round) and oosty was great

  4. ps mentioned briefly the good chance of an ace at the 16th on sunday (always back this here due to the pin placement) and bo van pelt duly obliged.. the price was just over evens on thursday so I waited until sunday when it was 3.65 (smaller field due to cut but the pin at the bottom of the hil is the difference)

    so some more profit which all helps eh!