Masters Odds 2012: Rory McIlroy and Foreign Players with the Best Shot to Win

Roger SagerCorrespondent IApril 3, 2012

Masters Odds 2012: Rory McIlroy and Foreign Players with the Best Shot to Win

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    In 2002 the only two Americans to finish in the top ten at the Masters were the winner, Tiger Woods, and the third-place finisher, Phil Mickelson.  The other nine finishers (there was a three-way tie for ninth place) were all foreign players.

    It was the start of a trend that has seen Americans place more golfers than their foreign counterparts on the leaderboard's final top-ten finishers just two times in the past ten years.

    Last year, the foreign contingent grabbed seven of the top ten spots, including the top three. It was the third time in four years the green jacket would hang in a closet outside the United States.

    In all, foreign players have taken 61 of the 110 top ten spots available in the past decade (a figure that includes an additional ten finishers due to ties).

    An early look at the odds to win the 2012 Masters shows an even distribution of American and foreign golfers amongst the ten players deemed most likely to win.

    Sticking with recent trends, let's take a look at the 15 foreign players most likely to be in Butler Cabin wearing green at around seven o'clock this Sunday evening.   

    (All odds courtesy of Bovada, current to 3:45 PM EST)

Rory McIlroy 11-2

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    65-69-70-80 -- 284   

    That's the scorecard that will haunt Rory McIlroy at least until he can win his first Masters championship.

    For now, it holds two historic distinctions: The first-round 65 made him, at 21, the youngest player to ever lead the Masters at the end of the first day. On the other side of the coin, taking a four-shot lead into Sunday, McIlroy's 80 was the worst round ever shot by the third-round leader of the Masters.

    But that was then and this is now.  McIlroy has started strong this season and appears primed to quickly erase last year's Masters' nightmare.

    However, as second choice at 11-2 to a guy named Woods who is suddenly back in golf's spotlight, the price is woefully short on value.

Lee Westwood 20-1

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    Lee Westwood has played well at Augusta.

    Two years ago he was runner-up to Phil Mickelson, and both last year and in 2008 he finished 11th. Thus far this year Westwood has two top-ten finishes in four PGA events.

    Over the past four seasons Westwood has found his way into the top-ten of about half the majors. What he hasn't found is the winner's circle.

    Golf odds offered by casinos, sports books and on-line sites are always far short of the true odds of a golfer winning a tournament. That doesn't mean that at the higher prices you might not be willing to wager a few dollars on someone you like to win, but at the lower end there simply is never fair value. 

    20-1 on Westwood just isn't worth it.

Charl Schwartzel 40-1

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    40-1 on the defending champ?  Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

    Last year was a breakout one for Charl Schwartzel. Besides his Masters victory, he finished ninth at the U.S. Open, 16th at the British Open and 12th at the PGA. In all, Schwartzel played 15 tournaments and made 15 cuts.

    This year started well, with two top-ten finishes in his first two PGA metal-play events. But in his last two tournaments Schwartzel has missed the cut, an inauspicious way to come to Augusta to defend his title.

    Whattaya think about 40-1 now?

Justin Rose 28-1

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    In the last few years Justin Rose hasn't done very well in the majors, the exception being an 11th in last year's Masters, his best performance at Augusta since finishing fifth in 2007.

    But Rose has made a strong start to his 2012 campaign, rising the fourth-most of anyone in the Official World Golf rankings (behind only Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan and Tiger Woods) to currently place ninth in the world.

    Three weeks ago Rose tamed the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, defeating Bubba Watson by one, Rory McIlroy by two and Charl Schwartzel by three strokes to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

    28-1 is no bargain, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the hunt.

Jason Day 40-1

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    If you're considering wagering on Jason Day at 40-1 you might be surprised to learn that his scoring average of 69 per round at the Masters is the lowest of anyone in the field. This is an example of the old saying, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." 

    Jason has competed in just one Masters, finishing in a runner-up tie with fellow Australian Adam Scott last year. Statistics of the type cited are kept only for players with a minimum of 25 rounds played. And it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that only a couple of guys (named Woods and Mickelson) have averages of 71 or under. Tiger is averaging 70.73 for 66 rounds and Phil is averaging 71.03 over 74 rounds.

    But back to Day. The track record is short, but impressive. Day has three top ten finishes in just six majors to date, and two of those are runner-up in last year's Masters and the U.S. Open at Congressional.

    Thus far in 2012 Day has been solid, if not spectacular, with three straight top twenty finishes in PGA events.

    40-1 doesn't seem as unreasonable as some of the other posted odds.

Adam Scott 28-1

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    Adam Scott is one of a handful of Australian players with a legitimate shot at being the first to take a green jacket "Down Under."

    Three Aussies—Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy were among the top six finishers in last year's Masters.

    Add to those three to Aaron Baddely and first-timer Bryden Macpherson and the Australian contingent appears quite formidable.

    Last year, Scott's pair of 67's on the weekend had him looking like a winner until Charl Schwartzel made Masters history birdieing the last four holes to snatch the jacket.

    The finish was Scott's best at Augusta, but he's been respectable over recent years and certainly rates a shot.

    However, 28-1 looks a tad short of a fair price.

Graeme McDowell 66-1

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    Maybe it's even-numbered years for Graeme McDowell. In 2010 he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and sank the putt that clinched the 2010 Ryder Cup for the European team. 

    Not that 2011 was awful, mind you—he did manage three top ten finishes and ended up 13th in the Official World Golf rankings.

    2012 has seen a number of strong efforts from McDowell, including a runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Where McDowell hasn't been impressive to date is Augusta. In four tries, he has made a single cut, and that was three years ago.

    He can't be discounted, but 66-1 doesn't seem reasonable.

K.J. Choi 60-1

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    K.J. Choi has been the picture of consistency over his career, and his recent Masters' performances are no exception. His tie for eighth last year was his second consecutive top-10 finish at Augusta. In fact, he will tee off on Thursday with a streak of nine straight rounds of par or better in Masters competition.

    Winner of eight PGA titles in his 19-year career, fans are accustomed to seeing his name on the leaderboard, but seldom at the top.

    2012 hasn't seen Choi playing his best golf. Maybe he can make the leaderboard again, if he heats up, but no jacket. 60-1 looks light.

Ian Poulter 100-1

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    Ian Poulter is about to play in his eighth Masters, and I'll betcha he shoots between 283 and 296. 

    Poulter has been ultra-consistent over his first seven Masters tournaments. Not only have all his finishing scores been between the range above, but his final placings have also been in a very tight grouping of 10th to 33rd.

    Two years ago he opened with a pair of 68's before fading on the weekend to his Masters' best 10th place.

    A third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was by far his sharpest effort this year.

    Most of Poulter's success has come in Europe, but he obviously plays Augusta well.

    Fair value is more than 100-1, but hey, you might get some entertainment value out of a small wager on him.

Louis Oosthuizen 66-1

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    With his victory in the 2010 British Open (by a cruise-control seven shots) Louis Oosthuizen became the first player since Tony Lema in 1974 to win his first major at St.Andrews.

    That's the good news. The bad news is Oosthuizen has an "ofer" at Augusta, failing to have made a cut in three attempts.

    But, back to good news, Oosthuizen shot a 14-under 274 at last weekend's Shell Houston Open, good for third-place.

    His performances in the majors have been erratic to date.  As an example, Oosthuizen missed the cut in all three of the other majors in 2010.

    But he's certainly capable.  For a couple of bucks at 66-1, he may give you an exciting ride this weekend.

Luke Donald 16-1

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    Named the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2011, Donald currently sits atop the Official World Golf rankings as the No.1 player in the world. Luke also gained his second career top-five Masters finish last year.

    That said, Poulter's record in the majors has been spotty.  Since 2007 he has four top-10 finishes, but he has also failed to make the cut in seven of 18 major tournaments.

    His Masters' efforts are of a similar ilk.  Besides last year's fourth-place finish, his three most recent trips to Augusta have resulted in two missed cuts and a 38th place finish.

    His current world ranking is clearly reflected in his very short 16-1 odds, and by now you know what I think of taking short odds in a golf tournament. 

Geoff Ogilvy 80-1

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    Geoff Ogilvy is off to a poor start (by his standards) this year. In truth, with the exception of last year's Masters' performance (T-4) that saw him string five birdies in a row on the back nine on Sunday, the magic has been missing these past few years.

    But winners of majors have an odd way of popping up in, well, majors.

    Ogilvy's victory in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006 may seem a long way off, but he's been worse than 26th only once in seven visits to Augusta. Last year's strong close may get the engines revving for this year's edition.

    80-1 is by no means stealing, but Ogilvy wouldn't be a complete surprise.

Trevor Immelman 100-1

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    Just as it's common to see winners of majors show strongly on those four weekends every year, it's even more common to see past Masters' winners play well. The obvious reason is, of course, the Masters is the only major played on the same course every year.

    In the five years prior to his winning in 2008, Trevor Immelman had missed two cuts, finished 55th and 56th, and had one top-five finish.  Since his victory at Augusta, he's never missed the top-20.

    Immelman has been up and down so far this year, but it shouldn't surprise anyone if he's up this week.

    100-1 on a guy who won this four years ago and hasn't been worse than 20th since?  I'll take a couple of bucks' worth of that action.

Angel Cabrera 90-1

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    If Angel Cabrera had two more legs, on this particular weekend he would be known as "a horse for course."

    The 2012 start to his season suggests that Angel may no longer be hard at work on golf, but Augusta has unquestionably brought out the finest aspects of his game.

    And to be fair, his Masters' "pre-season" doesn't look terribly different than it did in 2009 when he defeated Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell in a play-off to become the first South American to win the Masters (fellow Argentinian, Roberto De Vicenzo, finished first in the 1968 Masters but was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard). Cabrera missed the cuts of the two tournaments just prior to the Masters.

    Last year Angel missed the cut in three of the four tournaments leading up to the Masters only to see Augusta's magnificent magnolias seemingly inspire him, as he shot 279 (only three strokes over his 2009 winning score of 276) to finish seventh.

    You may not want to take 90-1, but you don' want to bet against him, either.

Y.E.Yang 150-1

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    The last invitee alphabetically, don't be surprised to see Y.E.Yang far from the bottom when it comes to the final leaderboard.

    Winner of the 2009 PGA Championship (remember that winners of majors thing), Yang has demonstrated a fondness for Augusta the past two years, opening each Masters with a 67.  He finished tied for eighth in 2010 and tied for 20th last year.

    He is the first Asian-born player to capture a major championship.

    150-1 doesn't seem awful as he attempts to duplicate that feat this weekend in Georgia.