2012 US MASTERS PICKS - ANTEPOST
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There looks to be some top US Masters early prices around on big name players and barring an unlikely collapse in form over the next month, it may be worth taking them now. I've already whittled down my 2012 US Masters shortlist: Follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks
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Certain players seem to go well at Augusta for the US Masters. Although there's some credence to the theory that there's a big advantage to those who like to draw the ball, the fact that fairways are relatively generous and that you can get away with some errant tee shots means I don't place a lot of importance on this. Elsewhere, you will hear that scrambling is the key to winning the US Masters around Augusta and while scrambling is of massive importance, for me, avoiding the need to scramble in the first place is the premium, IE: Iron play and approach shot accuracy.
The US Masters greens are treacherous, with different tiers, and approach shot accuracy is key. Obviously the longer you are off the tee, the more chance you have of getting it close to the pins; miss the green in the wrong part or altogether and getting up and down in fast and firm conditions will prove tough. Players will face a lot of 5-10' putts for par. In many ways, The US Masters at Augusta resembles the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. It's no coincidence that a certain Phil Mickelson plays some of his best golf in these two places.
US Masters Picks (1 or 2 possibly subject to change)
Pick 1: 1.25pts e/w Luke Donald @ 20/1(BetVictor) Deceptively long and the best player on tour around the greens, Donald is a must pick for me for the US Masters at 20's. Tied 4th at Augusta last year, Donald ranked 1st in strokes gained putting and scoring average in 2011, and maybe most importantly, he also ranked 1st in putting from 5-10'. I referred to him as being "deceptively long" and most of you will be surprised to hear that he also ranked 4th in the par 5 birdies or better leaders last year.
Pick 2: 1pt e/w Jason Day @ 33/1 with Ladbrokes -£50 free bet Pushed all the way last year at the US Masters and the fact that you can get away with the occasional erratic drive really helps Jason Day's cause. His weakness lies with the driver and some decision making but around the greens he's a brilliant player and more importantly, you'd be hard pushed to find someone with more self belief than the Aussie - key to major performance. 7th in strokes gained putting last season, 3rd in scrambling and runaway leader in par 3 performance.
Pick 3: 1pt e/w Adam Scott @ 33/1 (general) My big e/w US Money List tip at what I think were huge odds of 25/1 places 1-4, Scott finished in the top 20 at the US Masters 2010 and challenged strongly last year, finishing tied 2nd. Scott's weaknesses in the past were his mental strength and his putting. He now has Steve Williams on the bag, absolutely huge for the mental side of his game and a new belly/long putter which has sorted out his putting woes. For me, if anyone finishes ahead of Scott this year on the Money list, they're likely to be the winner. I fancy him to feature strongly in the big events this season and his game suits Augusta, being one of the very best from tee to green on tour. Scott ranked 32nd in GIR% 2011 and 5th in total driving.
Pick 4: 1pt e/w Webb Simpson @ 40/1 with Ladbrokes -£50 free bet Simpson has started the 2012 season where he left off in 2011 and is a fantastic value price for the US Masters at 40/1. I expect this to be cut quite a bit before the off. For me, the player of last season with stats in every area of the game reading right up there. 7th in ball striking, 1st in the all round, 24th in total driving in 2011 and ranking 1st in GIR% already (at time of writing) in 2012, Simpson is the next big American superstar in my opinion. He is a wizard with the short stick, a huge attribute to be armed with for the US Masters.
Pick 5: 0.5pts e/w Keegan Bradley @ 66/1 (general) A bit of a risk given that Bradley has not teed it up at the US Masters before now but I rate him very highly, having tipped him on Twitter e/w at 80/1 pre season for the PGA money list. Bradley is an extremely tough competitor and has the perfect game for Augusta National. Tied for 1st at the Northern Trust Open this year (losing in a playoff) which I mentioned has similarities with Augusta. Huge hitter, 17th in GIR% and 1st in the all round ranking in 2012 at time of writing, Bradley is already a major winner, proving the mental side of his game can stand up to the test if he gets into contention at this year's US Masters.
Pick 6: 0.25pts e/w Bill Haas @ 80/1 with Betfred - £50 free bet T26 at the US Masters in 2011 and T42 in 2011, last year's Fedex Cup winner now has some US Masters Augusta course knowledge under his belt. Much improved player and winner of the aforementioned Northern Trust Open at Riviera, Haas is still extremely underrated. In 2011 Haas ranked 11th in both GIR% and Total Driving - a lethal concoction for the US Masters at Augusta.
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