While the 2014 Masters will feature plenty of big names contending for the top spot on the leaderboard, there are a few underrated options capable of making a run toward a title.
According to Vegas Insider, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are the favorites to take home the green jacket this week. Jason Sobel of Golf Channel agrees, picking McIlroy to win:
Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Jason Day are not far behind, with Dustin Johnson also in contention to win his first title. However, beyond these stars are a number of quality competitors capable of making a run up the leaderboard at Augusta.
These golfers would provide an even bigger payout if successful, increasing the value of the picks.
Here is a look at the top names with complete odds, along with some of the better betting selections heading into the weekend.
via Vegas Insider
Bubba Watson (25-1)
A lot of experts think that Scott has the ability to repeat as champion, but it seems like most people are ignoring the 2012 champion Bubba Watson.
Watson has been red hot this season, winning the Northern Trust Open and tying for second at both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. This would be a solid season, but these all took place in his last four stroke-play tournaments.
Based on the scores alone, there would be reason to be concerned about his most recent appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Watson withdrew from the tournament after posting an 83 on the first day.
However, he explained the issue on Twitter:
Just wanted to tell my fans I'm sorry I had to withdraw from @APinv this week. My allergies have taken over!— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 20, 2014
It's hard to focus when you're heads all discombobulated from medicine and pollen #spellcheck— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 20, 2014
This is unlikely to be a lingering issue, meaning he should be back to full strength. With that in mind, the big hitter should remain a favorite to excel at Augusta, where he has already proven to have success.
After winning one of the most dramatic Masters championships two years ago, he should be a serious threat to do it again in 2014.
Sergio Garcia (25-1)
For a number of years, Sergio Garcia has been considered one of the best golfers in the world without a major championship on his resume. While this is an honor for a while, you can imagine the veteran wants to remove himself from this list.
Garcia has been in contention plenty of times, most recently finishing tied for eighth at the 2013 Masters. He should be able to learn from his mistakes while he continues to improve as a player. Remember, he is still only 34 years old.
The Spanish star is also coming off of a strong performance last week at the Shell Houston Open, finishing in third place with a score of 13 strokes under par.
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports thinks that this is the year for Garcia to break through:
Sergio Garcia has to win this Masters. He has to.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) April 1, 2014
If he can maintain focus for four days in a row, he should be able to finally earn his first career major championship.
Harris English (45-1)
One of the major storylines this year is the influx of talented rookies. The Masters will feature 24 players competing in the event for the first time, and some of them have a good chance to contend for a spot on the leaderboard.
Jordan Spieth might have become the biggest name among the new class, but Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed will also be competitive. Still, the best chance for a run might come from Harris English.
Graeme McDowell provided his recommendation for BBC Sport:
I played with Harris English a few weeks ago at Bay Hill. There's a kid making his Augusta debut and if the 24-year-old American was on the leaderboard come the weekend I would not be shocked. He's long, hits his irons very high, very cool, and has a good short game and putter. You know he's got the tools to win around Augusta.
Of course, the big thing that young players have to deal with is the intimidation factor. However, Jason Day—who finished in second place in his Augusta appearance—explained that this is less of a problem, via Tom Spousta of Masters.com:
These days, kids have a mental coach, strength coach, swing coach, maybe a short game coach. They have so many people around them that are in place to make sure that they are improving and competing and playing well.
English has put together a great season so far and he can make it even better with a strong finish at the Masters.
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