Best bets for Augusta National
The highly anticipated first major of the year is upon us. The Masters Tournament kicks off on Thursday at Augusta National, and bettors will have plenty of options to pick from.
Tiger Woods (12-1) returns to the tournament for the first time since a T17 finish in 2015. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are 10-1, followed by Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose at 12-1.
Here are some of the best bets, along with some betting nuggets to keep in mind when attempting to pick the winner.
Note: All odds as of April 3, via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Dustin Johnson (12-1)
2017 was a lost year in majors for the No. 1 player in the world. Johnson may not be entering the Masters on a three-event win streak like last year, but he still has a win and three top-three finishes from six starts this year, and 16 of his 20 stroke play rounds have been under par. DJ leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, and his improved play on and near the green is a huge part of that. The concern was seemingly always Johnson's putting, and he's now become a top-15 putter (14th in strokes gained-putting this year).
Johnson finished T4 and T6 in his last two Masters, and it would be a shock to me if he wasn't in serious contention entering the final round.
Jon Rahm (20-1)
Rahm's putting has been a bit of a problem this year, as he ranks 129th on the PGA Tour in putts made inside 10 feet. How will he respond Sunday with an 8-footer for par on 18 to win or get into a playoff? But if he puts it together this week, look out.
While his major and Players record isn't great (he failed to crack the top 20 in five starts in those events in 2017), he has contended at WGC events and was fantastic in just about every other event last season. He finished in the top 10 in all of the FedEx Cup events. There is less buzz and pressure around him entering his second Masters, and that could be a good thing for the emotional Rahm.
It seems to me like Rahm is making a natural progression towards contending and winning majors. He's the highest-ranked player in the world without a major win. In his first four majors, Rahm played himself out of the tournament in the first round, but in each of his last two, he's been under par after the first round, starting with a 69 at The Open last July. Then a 70 at the PGA Championship marked the first time he's been closer than four shots off the lead after 18 holes at a major. So maybe the last two major starts, along with a second spin around Augusta, offer a reason for optimism this week.
Bubba Watson (16-1)
After Watson won at Riviera, a course he is familiar with and has had a ton of success on, I took notice. It's apparent his game didn't suit the Volvik ball last year, and a change back to Titleist has done him good. In 2012 and 2014, when Watson won the Masters, he had played well at Riviera and in a WGC leading up to the Masters, and this season, he logged wins both at Riviera and the WGC Match Play.
Bubba Watson entering Masters in years he won