The time has arrived to pick a top name and roll with him in the 2014 Masters.
There's two ways to look at the betting odds surrounding the event in Augusta. One, betting on a favorite is a profitable endeavor because of the unpredictability of the field. Two, said unpredictability means an underdog can swoop in and steal the win.
Luck certainly plays a factor, but one can reduce its role in the equation through careful analysis. Here's how Vegas feels about notable names, followed by a look at the top contenders.
Full list of odds can be found on Odds Shark.
Adam Scott 9-1
Not many gave Adam Scott a chance last year when he took home the green jacket, but he's hard to ignore this time around.
Still, buyer beware—only Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods have ever won back-to-back Masters, which makes Scott quite the risk even with the favorable odds. History is a trend bettors would be wise to always take into consideration.
Scott is still an attractive bet, though, in a field where experience may reign above all else.
In a field without Tiger Woods, Scott remains an attractive and possibly lucrative option despite history. His experience and overall demeanor are simply too hard to ignore. Expect him to be in contention the entire way.
Prediction: Scott finishes in second place
Rory McIlroy 9-1
Rory McIlroy seems to be the consensus pick, which may be the globe's desire to see a new top name in the sport take over rather than his actual chances of winning.
Which favorite is the safest bet?
Alas, it's hard to knock McIlroy too much. Now 24 years old, he's a few years removed from blowing a big lead at 21 years of age. He says his disappointing finish in 2011, where he dropped a four-shot lead, was the turning point of his career, per USA Today's Steve DiMeglio:
I have no ill feelings towards 2011. It was a very important day in my career. It was a big learning curve for me. And I don't know if I had not had that day, would I be the person and the player that I am sitting here? ... I learned exactly not what to do under pressure and contention, and I definitely learned from that day how to handle my emotions better on the course.
McIlroy has failed to consistently do well until 2014, where he has collected a top-25 finish in every event and three top-10 finishes. It's not outlandish to think he'll finally get over the hump and arrive as the sport's next big thing.
Prediction: McIlroy wins the 2014 Masters
Phil Mickelson 12-1
Phil Mickelson has earned a top-10 finish in all but three events at Augusta since 1998. He seems to have shaken off a minor injury that forced him to withdraw from the Texas Open recently, which means he's an easy favorite to ride with.
Like the majority of the field, Mickelson does not exactly ride into Augusta with a boatload of momentum, as detailed by PGATour.com's Sean Martin:
This is the first year since 2010 that Phil Mickelson arrives at Masters without a win. 2010 also is the last time Mickelson won at Augusta.— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) April 6, 2014
A 12th-place finish at the Shell Houston Open is reassuring, although he could have not participated there and still been a favorite at Augusta. It's Mickelson's stomping grounds, and he'll tally another strong performance.
Prediction: Mickelson finishes in the top five.