Updated Odds to Win the 2014 Masters Entering Sunday
Moving day has come and gone in the 78th edition of the Masters tournament. Bubba Watson maintained his perch atop the leaderboard despite a third-round 74. He'll enter the third round tied with 20-year-old sensation Jordan Spieth, who fired a second straight 70 on Saturday.
Watson and Spieth lead Jonas Blixt and Matt Kuchar by a stroke. The duo is positioned two strokes ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez (who carded a brilliant third-round 66) and Rickie Fowler as well.
Who among these golfers has the best chance of slipping on the green jacket? Are there other serious contenders? Read on to find out.
Masters Title Odds: 65-1
Reason to Buy: As last year's winner, Adam Scott has displayed the mental fortitude to win the Masters. Nothing is more important during the final round at Augusta. With only two previous champs (Fred Couples, Bubba Watson) sitting ahead of him, Scott could get hot early and post a four- or five-under and watch everyone else falter.
Reason to Sell: Scott will start Sunday six strokes behind the leaders. To make up that sort of distance, he'll have to hole everything. His struggles with the flatstick Saturday didn't signal he'll be doing that Sunday.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... The 2013 champion will have the advantage of heading out early before the leaders. If he's able to post a Sunday 66 or 67 and everyone ahead of him stumbles, anything can happen.
Masters Title Odds: 45-1
Reason to Buy: The 1992 Masters champion avoided the Saturday meltdown that has plagued his last several efforts to secure a second green jacket. A clutch par save at the final hole in the third round has Couples positioned just four strokes behind the leaders with positive momentum to build on.
Reason to Sell: Couples has ground to make up, and he hasn't played well when needing to make up strokes. As he indicated in his post-round interview after his second round, pressuring himself to make birdies has been his undoing. "When you panic and then try and do a couple of things because, oh, God, I was tied for the lead or in second. Now I'm in 12th place. And then you try and hit a shot and it doesn't work out."
Will Win the Green Jacket If... If Couples is steady, avoids miscues and doesn't try to force the issue, a four-stroke deficit can be overcome easily at Augusta National on Sunday.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Masters Title Odds: 18-1
Reason to Buy: Well, he just shot 66. Jimenez's third-round score was the best in the field. He made seven birdies Saturday against just one bogey. He's simply the hottest golfer in the field right now, and as Kyle Porter of CBS' Eye on Golf blog wrote following the Spaniard's third round, "He's one of the two best players in the field, you could argue, without a major."
Reason to Sell: The seesaw effect. Doesn't it always seem that when a guy posts a ridiculously low score, he's used up all his good shots and comes back the next day with something pedestrian? And pedestrian won't get it done for the Most Interesting Man in Golf, as he starts his day trailing by two strokes.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He stays relaxed. Just kidding. There's no danger of that not happening. If he reprises his Saturday score, the tournament is his. It's difficult to predict future momentum, but Jimenez has more of it than any other golfer in the field right now, for what that's worth.
Masters Title Odds: 12-1
Reason to Buy: Experience. Lee Westwood wasn't at his best Saturday, but he managed to birdie all four of Augusta's par fives, which is critical to picking up strokes on the field. This is his 15th Masters, so he has the essential element in spades.
Reason to Sell: He's presently 101st in putting on the PGA Tour, and obviously holing putts is critical on Sunday at Augusta. He's played in 63 majors thus far without a win and hasn't been able to hole significant putts during the final round in majors.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He stays patient and his putter cooperates. Westwood has the appropriate outlook. Per Neil McLeman's column in the Mirror, the golfer said: "Anywhere within five, even six shots of the lead going into the final round of the Masters has a good chance. Augusta is one of those places where I know how to get around even if I'm maybe not on my game."
Masters Title Odds: 10-1
Reason to Buy: Rickie Fowler will be paired with Miguel Angel Jimenez, which ought to work wonders to settle his nerves. Six birdies and one bogey on Saturday indicate that all is right with the new swing Fowler and coach Butch Harmon have been working on.
Reason to Sell: The orange aficionado fired a final-round 78 at Augusta last year. Memories of that score will haunt the golfer throughout his final round. He'll have to be perfect to topple Watson and Spieth, and the ghosts of last season's performance will make that impossible.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... Throughout the round he sees visions of himself and playing partner Jimenez kicking back after the round with a quality cigar rather than the horrors of his final round last year.
Masters Title Odds: 9-1
Reason to Buy: Lost amid the frenzy surrounding first-time Masters participant Jordan Spieth's quality play through three rounds at Augusta National is the fact that another first-timer, Jonas Blixt, is just a stroke back. Blixt has won twice on tour to Spieth's once and is nine years his senior. If we agree Spieth can win, why not Blixt?
Reason to Sell: First-timers very rarely win at Augusta. He's played well thus far, but the back nine on Sunday at Augusta is an altogether different animal. It's not difficult to imagine the Swede's aggressive style of play backfiring as he makes his way through Amen Corner.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He continues to be able to bounce back from bad holes. Blixt countered bogeys at 11 and 13 Saturday with birdies at 15 and 16. After a disappointing bogey on the 17th hole, he parred the difficult 18th. That type of play is exactly what he'll need again on Sunday.
Masters Title Odds: 4-1
Reason to Buy: Beyond anything that can be captured on the scorecard or stat sheet, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth seems in possession of the same stuff that 21-year-old Tiger Woods was in 1997 when he won the Masters by a record 12 strokes.
Reason to Sell: Midnight has to come for Cinderella eventually. Spieth is an emotional golfer and has handled himself well thus far, but there's no greater challenge than staying on top of one's mental game Sunday at the Masters.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He maintains his focus and good form follows. As Spieth told CBS' Bill Macatee after his third round (via CBS' Kyle Porter), "You can't let your focus go astray for one moment." If he stays focused, he's shown through the first three days of his first Masters that he's abundantly capable of becoming the youngest Masters champion in the tournament's 78-year history.
Masters Title Odds: 5-2
Reason to Buy: Matt Kuchar enters the final round one stroke behind Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth. Of these three golfers, Kuchar, a happy warrior, is the most mentally tough. Make no mistake about it, behind that smile is one of the most determined golfers on tour. If you're incredulous, check out this video of Kuchar discussing his mental game.
Reason to Sell: Kuchar hasn't played well on Sunday recently. Need I mention last week's water ball?
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He repeats his Saturday performance. Another 68 will get the Georgia Tech alum into the clubhouse at eight under par. Thus, Watson and/or Spieth would need to shoot 69 or better, a number neither golfer was able to post Saturday.
Masters Title Odds: 5-2
Reason to Buy: He's tied for the lead in the tournament, for one. And he leads the next-nearest green jacket winner (Fred Couples) by four strokes. Bubba Watson has demonstrated the ability to win the Masters, and he's in better position than any other golfer with that demonstrated ability to do so.
Reason to Sell: The left-hander is only 1-of-8 when holding the lead after 54 holes. Furthermore, he looked incredibly tentative with his putter most of Saturday, which is concerning entering the final round, where the pressure will be significantly greater.
Will Win the Green Jacket If... He doesn't beat himself and stays calm and confident on the greens. Clearly, Watson has both the ability and the experience to win. If he makes confident strokes with his putter, as he did on his clutch par putts at the 17th and 18th holes during his third round, he could claim a second Masters victory.