The 2014 Masters is set to begin play on Thursday and should provide an ton of excitement for both casual observers and hard-core golf fanatics.
Due to Tiger Woods’ decision to withdraw from the field due to back surgery, the focus will be away from the 38-year-old’s quest for a 15th major and on a number of other golfers with the potential to win a green jacket.
Let’s take a look at the odds for some of these top-ranked golfers and project how they might finish at Augusta National.
*Complete odds for event can be found at Oddshark.com.
Rory McIlroy: 9-1
Rory McIlroy hasn’t traditionally been a force at the Masters, but 2014 may be the year that all changes.
The Irishman, installed as the odds-on favorite, is looking to bounce back from a brutal 2013 season with his first major victory since the 2012 PGA Championship.
While McIlroy hasn’t exactly been lighting it up during the lead-up to golf’s first major of the calendar year, he did finish a respectable seventh in Houston—including shooting an eye-catching 65 in the final round—and tied for second at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.
Factor in the 24-year-old’s upside and past performances at Augusta and it is easy to see why McIlroy is going off at 9-1 ahead of the opening tee off.
How will McIlroy finish at the Masters?
Detractors will point to Rory’s failure to finish inside the top 10 during his five previous tries in this tournament, but it is worth noting that he played exceedingly well for three rounds and had one crippling round destroy his chances in each of the last three events.
McIlroy explained his frustrations at having failed to record a great finish at Augusta to Ewan Murray of The Guardian, saying, “The way I play golf, the way my game is, Augusta does set up well for me. And for me not to have a top-10 coming into my sixth Masters …"
If he is able to keep things from slipping out of control for four consecutive days, there is no doubt that McIlroy will be in the hunt for a green jacket on Sunday. He’s far too skilled to let one round blow yet another shot at a championship in Georgia this week.
Adam Scott: 9-1
Adam Scott joins McIlroy as the odds-on co-favorite to claim his second green jacket at Augusta. It’s been notoriously difficult to repeat as a champion in this event, but the Australian has caught a lucky break.
With Woods out of the picture, Scott has even more motivation to do well at the Masters. He has a shot at ascending to the No. 1 ranking in the world for the first time in his career as well as a chance to join an elite group of back-to-back winners at Augusta.
That club is currently only comprised of Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger, three of the best golfers to ever play the game. Scott has to be feeding off the motivation to have his name uttered in the same breath as that trio of world-class legends.
CBS’ Eye on Golf noted that Scott would join another special list of stars if he can break through and win two of the last three Masters:
Golfers to win 2 of 3 Masters: Horton Smith, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo, Tiger, and Phil. Bubba or Scott can become No. 9.— Eye on Golf (@EyeOnGolf) April 5, 2014
The 33-year-old spoke with The Guardian's Murray in a separate piece about what it would mean to keep the green jacket for another year:
This week has been something I have been really looking forward to. But as the last week came around, I also realised it would be time for me to bring the green jacket back and leave it here maybe.
So that motivated me to work harder that last week at home and try and get myself into some kind of form that can maybe go back-to-back and keep the jacket for another year.
It would be tough to bet against Scott accomplishing that feat, especially with Woods’ absence and McIlroy’s history of meltdowns at Augusta. Don’t be surprised if he is playing to win on the final day of this tournament.
|Third Place, Tie||Adam Scott|
|Third Place, Tie||Bubba Watson|
|Fourth Place||Lee Westwood|
|Fifth Place||Dustin Johnson|