Masters 2018: Updated Odds, Betting Tips for Golf's 1st Major of the Year

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2018

Tiger Woods is a co-favorite to win the Masters.
Tiger Woods is a co-favorite to win the Masters.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Once Villanova and Michigan finish their business in San Antonio Monday night and a national champion is crowned in men's college basketball, golf takes center stage on the sporting landscape.

As New Year's Eve follows Christmas, the Masters follows the NCAA championship. The beauty of the Augusta, Georgia, course is the constant, and the competitiveness of the tournament does not disappoint.

In recent years, the Masters has not had its full complement of superstars. Last year, Dustin Johnson was the No. 1 player in the world, but after injuring his back after suffering a fall just one day before the start of the tournament, he was unable to play.

But even if Johnson had played, the Masters would not have seemed complete. That's because Tiger Woods wasn't in the tournament. Tiger has not played in the Masters since 2015, and a year ago, it seemed that a Woods comeback and a return to Augusta or any of the other top tournaments was only a pipe dream.

However, the 2018 golf season has seen the return of Woods. Most importantly, he has been able to play without any flare-up of the back injury that has played havoc with his career in recent years.

Additionally, Woods has been playing well since he began competing again in 2018. While he has not won a tournament, he has top-five finishes at both the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

As a result of that strong play, which has seen Woods play well around the green and has also included some success with the putter, he is one of the co-favorites in the tournament. He will be attempting to win the fifth Masters title of his career.

Rory McIlroy got back on the winning track at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rory McIlroy got back on the winning track at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Tiger and Rory McIlroy, who won the Palmer Invitational last month, are both listed at plus-900, according to OddsShark. While both are on the upswing, it would seem a bit of a reach that either of those two will wear the green jacket at the conclusion of play on Sunday.

Justin Thomas, who was the top-ranked player on tour a year ago and is the FedEx Cup points leader, is listed at plus-1000, while Johnson and Jordan Spieth are both plus-1200.

Here's a look at the top 20 betting favorites (ties included), courtesy of OddsShark:

Rory McIlroy +900
Tiger Woods +900
Justin Thomas +1000
Dustin Johnson +1200
Jordan Spieth +1200
Justin Rose +1400
Bubba Watson +1600
Phil Mickelson +1600
Jason Day +1800
Jon Rahm +2000
Rickie Fowler +2000
Paul Casey +2200
Sergio Garcia +2500
Hideki Matsuyama +3500
Tommy Fleetwood +4000
Henrik Stenson +4000
Alexander Noren +4000
Patrick Reed +4500
Matt Kuchar +5000
Marc Leishman +5500
Louis Oosthuizen +5500
Adam Scott +5500
Tyrrell Hatton +5500

Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters winner, appears to be close to top form, as he has already won two tournaments this year.

Phil Mickelson got back in the winner's circle at the WGC-Mexico Open after a long drought. If the 47-year-old is able to find his way into Butler cabin at the end of business Sunday, he would overtake Jack Nicklaus as the oldest champion in the history of the event.

Sergio Garcia is the defending champion, and he seems to be a more relaxed player after earning his first major championship a year ago. He defeated Justin Rose in a playoff last year, and the British golfer has been the runner-up at Augusta in two of the last three years.

It's also tough to overlook Henrik Stenson, who is one of the most powerful ball strikers on the tour.

For those looking at longshot plays, don't ignore Louis Oosthuizen or Adam Scott. Oosthuizen has one of the most beautiful swings on the golf tour, and Augusta suits his game.

Scott has won this tournament in the past, and the key to his success is his balky putter. When Scott is able to find consistency with the flat stick, he is one of the toughest players in the game. However, he can quickly play himself out of contention when his putter lets him down.

When Dustin Johnson is on his game, he hits the ball as well as anyone competing in the Masters.
When Dustin Johnson is on his game, he hits the ball as well as anyone competing in the Masters.Eric Gay/Associated Press

Betting Tips

Johnson was at the top of his game a year ago before having to withdraw from last year's tournament, and the belief here is that he should be able to play his game at Augusta. While there are many talented golfers in the field, the belief here is that if Johnson is at his best, nobody can beat him. 

Johnson ranks first with 4.95 birdies per round and is also first in the World Golf Rankings.

In addition to Johnson, we are also going to back Fowler, who started the 2017-18 golf season with a second-place finish in the OHL Classic before he recorded a victory in the Hero World Challenge. While Fowler has not been in the top three in any event since then, he is rested and ready.

Fowler played well in the Palmer Invitational for three rounds before losing a bit of his edge in the final round. That won't happen this time.

Finally, we are big believers in Oosthuizen because of his remarkably consistent swing. The 35-year-old South African finished tied for ninth in the WGC Match Play Championship and tied for 16th in the Valspar Championship.

That's decent form, and if he can step it up a notch here, he should have a shot on Sunday.

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