For the US Masters this year I tried to get a little smart by backing some players antepost and now I remember why this is something I don't usually get involved in. Geoff Ogilvy didn't even qualify in the end, Justin Rose is not exactly filling me with confidence that he can stay at the top of a leaderboard and Brandt Snedeker seems to be struggling after injury. I'm going to stick with the latter two though, advised antepost on my twitter at 25/1 and 40/1 respectively for Augusta...
There are a few standout attributes needed for the US Masters and top of the list is experience: Nerves in the build up to the year's first major play a huge part and the anticipation is usually too much for debutantes and the younger, less experienced players. 2. The par fives must be taken advantage of at Augusta National; players can get away with errant shots so the big hitters who take on the par fives in two can make their scores here especially through holes 13-15. Finally, putting from around the 10' range is vital at Augusta. Sub air system greens with severe undulations leave you with arguably the toughest up and downs all year if you miss them, or even if you miss them on the wrong tier, you're in tree putt territory. The player who holes the most from in or around this range may indeed be the one wearing the green jacket come final day Sunday
Justin Rose, has hit the front in a few recent top quality fields only to falter over the weekend but has form at The Masters only beaten by Phil and Tiger. Three top fifteens in his last five starts for Rose at Augusta and one thing I especially like is his high ball flight into the multi-tiered Augusta National greens. Current form reads T4-T8-2 and Rose also had a confidence boost at the Tavistock cup.
Watching the Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook was a real eye opener ahead of the US Masters at Augusta National this year. Super fast and tricky greens, not too dissimilar to the test that awaits the players next week caused certain players no end of trouble. Adam Scott was one of these and it pains me to cross him off my shortlist but at 28/1 I have to do so. Sergio Garcia was another I put up and his old putting woes were also prominent at Copperhead, as was his poor mentality but at 40/1 I will overlook those negatives and focus on his superb ball striking ability for Augusta. Sergio is back to top form this season and I think he has a real chance of his first major. Jason Dufner was another completely crossed off the shortlist after his shocking performance on the greens at Tampa Bay.
Brandt Snedeker is another with great US Masters course form and with the sub air system greens likely to run over 13' on the stimp, his putting is a weapon not many (if any) have in their armoury here. Brandt tied 3rd at the US Masters in 2008 with a putting masterclass and his GIR% stats have much improved this year. Watching him recently, he seems extremely confident (bordering on arrogant in some interviews) and this belief could just get him over the line if that rib problem is behind him.
If you were to ask me straight out who I think will win, I really do think we could finally have a straight shootout down the stretch between Phil and Tiger but of course I couldn't be backing either at the odds available. One negative about Tiger is his new fade shot off the tee and a lot is made at the US Masters about a right to left shot shape being needed. I don't pay too much attention to that but it will be interesting to see, as if Tiger is flushing it, added to his putter and green reading ability being back to their best, it may indeed be only Phil who can stop him.
Matt Kuchar is one that ticks all the boxes for me at the US Masters and he warms up this week at the Valero Texas Open. Kuchar has all the attributes needed to do well at Augusta National and it showed last year as he posted a third place. Matt, confidence high after his win at the matchplay will be my final US Masters pick to get amongst the big two.
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2013 US Masters Picks (6 places will be available ongoing)
Masters Pick #1: 1.25pts ew Justin Rose @ 25/1
Masters Pick #2: 1.25pts ew Brandt Snedeker @ 40/1
Masters Pick #3: 1.25pts ew Matt Kuchar 35/1 (price change 6 placs)
Masters Pick #4: 1.25pts ew Sergio Garcia @ 40/1 (6 places)
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until US Masters tee off this week
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