2021 Masters Picks and Betting Preview: The best event of the year is here, the Masters. The fall Masters last November just felt strange so it’s nice to bring on spring with the Masters in its regular spot on the calendar. The Masters is of course played at Augusta National, which is a par 72 playing around 7,475 yards.

The Masters is an event unlike any other with the history of the event, the significance for players, and the crazy atmosphere. There will be a good number of fans there so it will be nice to have that old-school Masters vibe back when someone makes a run on Sunday.

Augusta National is the ultimate second-shot golf course. SG: Approach has been the most important stat to look at year after year at the Masters. Previous winners have almost always been in the top five at the end of the event in SG: Approach. Good iron play is a must.

Longer hitters have had good success here as well. Augusta favors the longer hitters because there isn’t much trouble off the tee other than some tree issues. However, if it plays firm and fast as the early reports indicate, it will make it harder to find fairways.

Chipping and putting are not always something I dig too much into the week to week because they typically don’t affect outcomes as much. However, the green complexes at Augusta demand high-level short gameplay.

2021 masters picks

I’ll be putting more emphasis on players with really polished short games and those who have at least shown the ability to get hot with the putter.

Lastly, current form and course form have been huge indicators for success at the Masters. Most of the recent winners of the Masters have had at least one top 40 finish at the Masters before and most had higher finishes than that before winning. Debutants never win here.

Players in really good recent form, particularly players with wins this year or at least some top 10’s this season are almost always the players who are in contention Sunday. Augusta demands precision and severely punishes players who miss their spots.

2021 Masters Picks

Outrights

The Masters’ winners and really all major champs since about 2011 have come from the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Rankings. Finding the value amongst those players who are in good form is not always possible.

However, the books have hung some pretty nice lines this year. Speith’s reemergence among other things has left some nice value on the board. Picking a winner here should theoretically be easier because such a large portion of the field cannot win.

Justin Thomas +1250 (BetRivers)

I almost never invest this high up the board but I really think JT is going to win this. JT fits every trend, stat, and historical reference you could want from a player going into this tournament.

He has improved his Masters finish every year he has played including a 4th place finish last fall. Thomas is coming off a win at The Players where his tee to green game over the weekend there was historically great.

Thomas is the best iron player on the earth and his last two starts are clear evidence of that gaining over six strokes on approach in both starts. JT is also one of the best around the green on tour. He has every shot and that will play up around these greens.

A bet on JT is all dependent on his putter, which can be streaky. However, when JT does his thing with the irons, you only need average or above putting and he will win. Every time he putts well he wins.

Collin Morikawa +3150 (BetRivers)

The disrespect with this number is a bit ridiculous. Morikawa is a major champ who just won a loaded WGC event. Morikawa fits the bill for what it takes at Augusta too so this number is just crazy.

Morikawa is the only player on tour who rivals Justin Thomas with his irons. Morikawa ranks first in SG: Approach and 2nd in Opportunities Gained. His irons are elite and while he isnt a long hitter, his driver will always be in play allowing his irons to do the work.

2021 masters picks

Morikawa, like Thomas, can struggle with the putter. However, Morikawa switched grips and has been using a new putting coach recently and it seems to have paid off with his win at the WGC. How it will work on the lightning-fast greens at Augusta is yet to be seen.

Morikawa has only played here once last fall but he is so tactical and precise that he should be able to learn the course as he goes and take advantage of all the good birdie looks he will get.

Longshots I like: None, save your money. 50-1 and under is where the winner is coming from. Berger and Reed are nice value plays.

Top 10

Xander Schauffele +225 (BetRivers)

Xander missed his first cut in more than a calendar year a couple weeks ago at The Players and hasn’t played since. He should be rested up and highly motivated to get his first major championship win.

Xander has been the most consistently good player on tour over the last year and always seems to find the top of the leaderboard at majors. He has two top 20’s in a row at the Masters as well.

There is no weakness in Xander’s game, he bombs it, hits his irons well, and has really improved on and around the greens. He ranks in the top 25 in SG: Approach, Off the Tee, and Short game over the last 36 rounds.

He hasn’t been able to close the door but at +225 to top ten, there is some insurance for a letdown on Sunday.

Longshot I like: Joaquin Niemann +400

Top 20

Louis Oosthuizen +188

Louis just shows up for majors, particularly the Masters. Louis has seven top 30’s in his last nine Masters. He just has a knack for showing up on the leaderboard in big events.

Louis’ form is okay with a few made cuts in a row including a top 10. His putting has been really good since the start of the new year. Louis hasn’t always been the best putter so that is a good sign.

He is number one in SG: Short Game which will be key to saving pars and holing out for birdie here. While his ball-striking has been average or so, I’m not worried about that as much with him as Louis tends to gear himself up for the majors and should be primed and ready.

Jason Kokrak +225

Kokrak is coming in with great recent form. He has finished inside the top 10 in each of his last three starts and his game sets up nicely for Augusta.

Kokrak has only played the Masters once, last fall missing the cut. This Masters will play differently than last fall and it was good for him to get experience. I wish he had more of a track record here but his recent form is too good to ignore.

Kokrak is a really good driver of the ball and is nice on and around the greens. His irons come and go but have been on fire recently. If he continues his hot play he should be in contention.

Longshot I like: Marc Leishman +350

Matchup

Justin Thomas +105 over Jon Rahm (BetRivers)

I’m not wildly confident in fading Rahm here but he literally just had a baby. There is no conceivable way he is locked into this tournament a week after having his first kid.

Any distractions at Augusta will be punished as one mistake can lead to a double and send you the wrong way.

What I said about JT above applies here as well. JT is poised to win this and his form and track record here suggests it’s coming soon. JT doesn’t have the distraction of a new baby and has the full support and guidance from Tiger.

I like the idea of getting plus odds in this matchup that should be pretty even without the added stress and distractions Rahm is sure to have. This is a nice value play.

The Watchlist

Will Zalatoris

I have had such a hard time trying to figure out Zalatoris for this week. On one hand, he fits this course really well. He hits it far and straight off the tee and is one of the best iron players on tour.

On the other hand, he sucks at putting and that will cost you here. He just doesn’t make the makeable putts that he needs to. If he would have found the putter a bit more this year he would probably have a win.

2021 masters picks

His debutant status worries me a bit but man is his tee to green game elite. He ranks 4th in SG: Approach and destroys pars fives which is necessary here. I will be on him in some fashion but there is a risk here.