When betting on golf, it's important to find the best value available. This is difficult in a wide-open field like the 2014 Masters, but there are still a few good options out there.
No matter how good the top competitors are, golf is always full of parity with plenty of players capable of surprising any week. According to Jeff Ritter of Golf.com, Rory McIlory was asked how many players could win this week and responded by saying, “I would say 70. You've got a lot of guys that can win, a lot of guys that have won PGA Tour events."
In this case, it would not be a smart bet to place money on McIlroy or even defending champion Adam Scott with low payouts. This is in spite of the fact that a lot of experts think one of these two could win it all, including Jason Sobel of Golf Channel:
Still, there are better options, players with a good chance to win that can net you a big profit for having faith. Here is a look at notable odds for the weekend courtesy of Vegas Insider, with a prediction for the smartest bets to make.
via Vegas Insider
Sergio Garcia (25-1)
There are a lot of big names with middling odds, but Sergio Garcia might be the best available. Sure, fans are well aware that he has failed to come through in past majors, but everyone is without a win until their first.
Garcia has performed well all year and is coming into the weekend with as good of odds as we have seen in a while, according to D.J. Piehowski of PGATour.com:
If Sergio Garcia is going to win that major, this seems like the week to do it.
Turning anything into a do-or-die moment is probably dangerous and irresponsible, but as an outsider, it’s tough to think of a recent situation (or picture a future one) in which things have lined up more neatly for the battle-scarred Spaniard. He’s playing great golf and putting well (he hasn’t finished outside the top 20 and has four top 10s in six starts this year). Last year (T8) was one of his best performances at Augusta. Tiger Woods will be watching from the couch instead of looming over Garcia’s head.
Garcia ranks first on tour in average score this season at 69.285. He has been incredibly consistent thanks to his long drives and ability to get onto the green in a hurry. The Spanish star has also been putting extremely well this season.
Although the 34-year-old has never won a major, he has been in contention many times and has learned from his mistakes. If he can get out to a good start, watch for him to remain on top of the leaderboard all weekend.
Hideki Matsuyama (80-1)
If you are looking for a big payout, there might not be a better bet than Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese golfer will be competing in his first Masters as a professional, but he has no fear about going up against the tough competition.
He discussed his mindset going into the tournament with Vartan Kupelian of Masters.com:
Everybody in the field has a chance to win it. I feel like I’m one of those, too, that has a chance. All I can do now is just prepare the best I can the next couple of days and see how it goes.
I’m not really sure (why). The fairways here are wide, but it’s also a shotmaker’s course, and I feel like I have confidence in my shot-making. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I play well here, and I’m trying to get back there.
Matsuyama competed at Augusta twice as an amateur and made the cut both times. Additionally, he fared extremely well in majors last season, earning top 10s at both the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
The 22-year-old star has already showcased his ability on the Japanese tour, winning four times since the start of 2013. With his pure skill and the confidence to do well, there is a decent chance Matsuyama can surprise everyone with a win at Augusta.
Phil Mickelson (15-1)
Of all the top contenders, only Phil Mickelson has proven the ability to finish well almost every time he steps onto this course.
Mickelson has won three times at Augusta and finished in the top 10 in 15 of the past 19 years. He knows this course so well he can succeed even when not playing at his best, which is what he told Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel:
"I don't have to play perfect to play well here." - 3x Masters champion Phil Mickelson on Augusta National— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) April 8, 2014
When he is playing well, though, not many people can keep up with him. Lefty is perfectly suited for this course thanks to his ability to place balls next to the pin from virtually anywhere on the fairway. On a shotmaker's course, Mickelson makes his shots.
One year he had a record 25 birdies in the tournament, showing that he can get under par on almost any hole at Augusta.
The only problem for him lately has been consistency. The veteran was forced to withdraw from two events this year and missed the cut at The Honda Classic. On the other hand, he had a top-20 finish in five of his other six tournaments.
After a solid showing at the Shell Houston Open last week, he has plenty of momentum and confidence to earn himself a fourth green jacket.
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