The Masters is finally upon us after the pandemic delayed the annual April major. With the tournament starting this Thursday, I wanted to take a look at the betting odds, variables at play, recent results, the last few Masters, and a few picks. Let’s take a trip down to Augusta, Georgia for a tradition unlike any other.
History of the Betting Favorite
As a casual golf observer, it’s been Bryson DeChambeau here and Bryson DeChambeau there. He’s become synonymous with the Masters this year, and he’s currently the 8-1 favorite to win his first green jacket.
The first question that came to mind: how often does the betting favorite actually win the Masters?
A quick look at the last decade…
Favorite & Finish
Rory McIlroy, 7-1 (T-21)
Tiger Woods, 14-1 (4th best odds)
Rory McIlroy, 8-1 (T-5)
Patrick Reed, 40-1 (16th best)
Jordan Spieth, 13-2 (T-11)
Sergio Garcia, 40-1 (13th best)
Jason Day, 13-2 (T-10)
Danny Willett, 50-1 (15th best)
Jordan Spieth, 9-4 (Won)
Rory McIlroy, 7-1 (T-8)
Bubba Watson, 20-1 (8th best)
Tiger Woods, 4-1 (T-4)
Adam Scott, 25-1 (7th best)
Tiger Woods, 4-1 (T-40)
Bubba Watson, 40-1 (11th best)
Tiger Woods, 6-1 (T-4)
Charl Schwartzel, 50-1 (25th best)
Tiger Woods, 4-1 (T-4)
Phil Mickelson, 10-1 (2nd best)
The takeaway is pretty clear: beyond Spieth in 2015, the favorite hasn’t won, nor have they even finished in the top 3. Second takeaway: Tiger is a stud.
Why is Bryson the Favorite?
DeChambeau has gotten a lot of attention this year, partly because of his new frame but mostly due to his success. DeChambeau beefed up this past offseason, adding 40 pounds of muscle, a pretty astounding transformation that has added up to 40 yards to his drives. A yard per pound ain’t too shabby.
The 2021 PGA season schedule isn’t aligned to the calendar year, so we’ll look at both his ‘21 season thus far along with his ‘20 season. The pinnacle of his recent success was his first major win, a commanding U.S. Open win at Winged Foot West in September. DeChambeau finished six-under, six strokes ahead of runner-up Matthew Wolff.
Beyond that result, DeChambeau finished T-8th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
His 2020 season saw nine Top 10 finishes, including a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic this past July.
As history suggests from the table above, the winner of the Masters typically has odds inside the top 25. So, a complete look at the betting odds, according to Action Network.
Forecast in Augusta and Who it May Benefit
The forecast for this four-day tournament looks wet and windy. I scanned the old Google for golfers who play well in bad weather, and the name that came up more than any other? Rickie Fowler.
I will say, the topic seems to be widely underreported, as my findings were deep in golf blogs and old articles. Despite the lack of information, Rickie’s name came up at least three times more than anyone else. It’s an intriguing nugget to consider, given that Rickie is currently at 70-1 to win.
Fowler isn’t lighting the world on fire as of late; he’s currently 151st in the FedEx rankings, with his best result this year being a tie for 5th in the Sentry Tournament of Champions back in January.
Fowler’s most recent win was the 2019 Waste Management Open. The weather? Oh, just wind and rain.
Fowler is no stranger to Augusta, he finished second at Augusta in 2018 and tied for ninth last year. He knows this course, and the recent success here coupled with him seemingly thriving in poor weather has most definitely tickled my fancy.
Rory McIlroy would be the runner-up in terms of Google search results for this inquiry, FYI.
Three Recent Tournament Results
Golf is a momentum sport. It’s as mental as it is physical. In that vein, a look at the most recent notable tournaments, and the Top 10 finishers.
Vivint Houston Open: 11/5-11/8
The ZOZO Championship: 10/22-10/25
The CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek: 10/15-10/18
The repeats: Talor Gooch, Tyrrell Hatton, Russell Henley, Bubba Watson
It doesn’t appear Gooch or Henley are playing this weekend, which leaves Hatton (25-1) and Watson (33-1) as two golfers showing some recent success. Watson is no stranger to Augusta, owner of two green jackets.
The Top Tens for the Last Three Masters
I should note, the Masters is played in November this year, obviously. It’s usually played in April, so looking back at past results may be a flawed approach, the course conditions are sure to be different.
Even still, it couldn’t hurt to look at who has found success at Augusta the last few years.
The repeats: Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy
The buzz out of Augusta is that alterations have been made to the holes, adding distance and trees. Again, it’s being played in completely different conditions and I’ve seen reports the rough is longer than usual.
But, I look at the above, and it’s encouraging to see some repeat top-ten finishers in Rickie and Rory that I’ve already been considering. Just another notch.
Jon Rahm’s success at Augusta aligns nicely with the tear he’s been on in the 2020 calendar year. Currently 19th in the FedEx rankings, Rahm has a T-2 result in the ZOZO Championship a few weeks ago. Earlier this year, Rahm picked up a pair of tournament wins at the Memorial and the BMW Championship. No doubt he’s playing well, which lends credence to having the third-best odds to win the Masters.
Golfers to Fade
A friend sent over a great breakdown of the Masters, I recommend checking out the quick read. As the author ‘filters’ out golfers, there were a few factors that struck me.
The first: a Masters first-timer has only won once, in 1979. According to the top-25 above, that would give Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ a tough historical hill to climb.
The other focus I liked was to stay away from golfers that have struggled with approach shots, citing how important those shots are at Augusta.
A few golfers struggling to approach the green successfully as of late:
- Tiger Woods
- Jason Day
- Xander Schauffele
- Danny Willett
- Tommy Fleetwood
With odds like this, it’s important to diversify and not chase. I’ll be putting .5 units on the picks I make.
This breakdown was designed to offer as much high-level information as I could. A Masters preview is different from my weekly NFL pieces (follow me on Twitter @griffybets for that). I know football, or at least I think I do, so there’s more opinion rooted in that analysis. This study is all research and statistics. I’m hoping if you’ve gone this far, it’s because, like me, you just don’t know much about golf.
I enjoy watching the majors, and I’m an adjustment away from being an ok golfer (if I can just remember what the adjustment is). I’ve never bet on the Masters, but let’s give it a shot.
- Fowler 70-1
- Watson 33-1
- Matsuyama 30-1
- Hatton 25-1
- McIlroy 14-1
- Rahm 11-1
Enjoy the Masters, and we’ll drop just one more plug to follow me on Twitter @griffybets. Until next time.