There's been a lot of chopping and changing in the US Masters 2014 betting market over the last few months and prices have pretty much crashed on the leading contenders following Tiger Woods' withdrawal - good news for antepost Masters' backers. This year sets up to be one of the most competitive Masters in recent history, with no real outstanding candidate, and I compiled my top 10 US Masters ratings last week....
Nicspicks' Top 10 Masters Ratings - Follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks
1. Adam Scott; 2. Phil Mickelson; 3. Rory McIlroy; 4. Henrik Stenson; 5. Matt Kuchar; 6. Charl Schwartzel; 7; Sergio Garcia; 8. Jimmy Walker; 9. Jason Day; 10. Justin Rose
Please note that Jason Day would be fighting for my no.3 spot if it wasn't for recent back and thumb issues along with lack of competitive play - one to watch in running.
#Negatives: Bubba Watson 25; Dustin Johnson 22; P Reed; 50
The course - Augusta National; Par 72; length 7,435 yards
Key features: Pristine tree-laden terrain, generous fairways, sub-air system and multi-tiered, firm greens set to run at 13.0 on the stimp and faster, sparse rough.
Amen corner and Rae's Creek: look out for the approach at 11, and the tee shot at the par 3 12th which can break a round, especially if the wind blows
Premium on: Driving distance, approach shot accuracy, scrambling / putting from less than 10ft, Par 5 scoring
Patience and well timed aggression is the way to go around Augusta National. A lot is made about having a right to left shot shape but a combination of length and a high ball flight with the short irons is the huge advantage at The Masters. "play smart but attack when you can, u can't miss in wrong place" - David Lynn. Experience desirable but not essential as demonstrated by Thorbjorn Olesen in 2013.
Course record: 63 (Nick Price, Greg Norman)
See my full (from 2012) Masters Augusta course guide here
US Masters 2014 Picks
Pick #1: Henrik Stenson (advised antepost at 33/1)
Course form: 18-40-mc; Current form: 54-5-16
Key stats (2013): Total Driving 3rd; 1st in GIR%
Other: showed us what he can do at Augusta when -6 through 15 in round 1 2012, only to make a quad on 18 and have a 71 consigned to the records. -14 for the par 5s in last two Masters trips, including 3 eagles.
Pick #2: Matt Kuchar (advised antepost @ 40/1)
Course form: 8-3-27; Current form: 2-4-38 #progressive
Key stats : Scrambling 15th; 20th in total putting
Other: Attended college at Georgia Tech. Been working on his driving and it's beginning to show, contending strongly in both Texas events. Game is peaking at the right time.
Pick #3: Charl Schwartzel (advised Friday @ 40/1)
Course form: 25-50-1; Current form: 19-9
Key stats: averaging 300yds from the tee, 5th par 5 birdie or better (2013)
Other: One of the best in the game with long iron distance control. Has the been there - done that advantage around Augusta, making birdies in bunches in the process. New dad #nappyfactor
Pick #4: Jimmy Walker (advised Saturday @ 66/1)
Course form: n/a; Current form: 24-16-25 #simmering
Key stats: 13th in driving distance, 9th in par 5 performance and 2nd in strokes gained putting
Other: Ticks every box barring the non debutant one. Equipped with the power draw and high launch angle in his shot portfolio. 2nd round -7 in Houston says he's ready to go again.
Pick #5: Harris English (advised antepost @ 80/1)
Course form: n/a; Current form: 14-38-16
Key stats: 22nd in driving distance, 2nd in par 5 performance, 1st in GIR%
Other: Another who can hit the short irons / wedge with a high trajectory. Georgia native who despite being a debutant, has visited the Masters on numerous occasions when growing up so will be familiar with the nuances of the Augusta set up. Hole in 1 on the 12th in practice on the weekend to get the juices flowing!
Pick #6: Fran Molinari @ 150/1
Course form: mc-19-mc-30; Current strokeplay form: 40-25-5 #progressive
Key stats: n/a
Other: Becoming more and more comfortable on US soil and a player I see breaking through Stateside. Not the longest but, like Charl, excels with long iron distance control. Has plenty of Masters experience under his belt now. All about the short putting this week which held up well at the fast and firm Bay Hill.
See profit and loss spreadsheet for advised US Masters 2014 staking
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