The Masters 2021: Complete Betting Guide for This Year’s Tournament

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2021

The Masters 2021: Complete Betting Guide for This Year’s Tournament

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    It's Masters week at Augusta National Golf Club.

    And while Jim Nantz and Co. are sure to remind us of how it's "a tradition unlike any other" a few hundred times through Sunday evening, it's a little something more to those of the wagering persuasion.

    An opportunity unlike any other.

    A field of 88 golfers provides betting prospects of all styles, sizes and shapes, and the numbers-crunching folks at DraftKings have answered the call with a tasty menu of would-be plays—from the requisite lines on players to win outright, to the likelihood one of nine players will be the top finisher from continental Europe.

    The vast landscape prompted us to assess where the smartest money ought to be spent and the spots where gutsy speculation could yield high-end accumulation.

    Click through to get a look at our thoughts, and feel free to let us know if the cash is flowing in the B/R Betting community section.

Who Will Be the First-Round Leader?

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Hammer lock: Dustin Johnson (+1800)

    The first rule of sports betting: Don’t overthink it.

    A cursory look at the last two Masters leaderboards after 18 holes will reveal a striking similarity. Only one player was on both. And he just so happens to be the world’s top-ranked player heading into the tournament this time around.

    The father of Wayne Gretzky’s grandchildren shot a four-under 68 to settle two shots off the lead after Round 1 in 2019, then fired a seven-under 65 to share the lead on the way to his first career green jacket five months ago. He’s +1800 (bet $100 to win $1,800) to have that spot this time, and we’d not suggest otherwise.


    Dart throw: Cameron Smith (+3500)

    Though he’s a 27-year-old Aussie with only two wins on the PGA Tour, Smith is getting some genuine love this week thanks to some top-end performances at Augusta in two of his last three appearances.

    He used a final-round 66 to get a tie for fifth overall in 2018, then started fast at last fall’s rescheduled event—shooting a five-under 67 in the first round before ultimately finishing in a three-way tie for second, five shots off Johnson’s winning pace. All four of his 2020 rounds, in fact, were in the 60s.

    We’ll call that momentum and label him as a bargain.


    Squad ride pick: Rory McIlroy (+2000) 

    If not for the 10-shot difference between their first-round scores in November, it might have been McIlroy and Johnson dueling down the stretch Sunday evening on the way to Butler Cabin.

    Problem was, McIlroy shot 75 to DJ’s 65 across the first 18, effectively eliminating himself, though he did string together three subsequent rounds of 66, 67 and 69 to climb all the way to a tie for fifth.

    We’re assuming starting fast will be priority No. 1 for the Northern Irishman as he once again tries to nail down the only piece of the career grand slam that’s eluded him. 

    He gives the best value in the field, so pull the trigger with us.

Who Will Miss the Cut?

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Lay the juice: Henrik Stenson (-250)

    Let’s face it. It’s not been trending well lately for the 45-year-old Swede with career top-five finishes at each of the four majors.

    He has not won since the Hero World Challenge in 2019, didn’t have a top-10 finish across 14 events in 2020 and has missed the cut in six straight tournaments this year on the PGA and European tours.

    So while his resume at Augusta does include a tie for fifth three years ago and five other top-20s dating back to 2007, recent results leave no reason to believe the resurgence is on the agenda this week.

    Take him to miss the weekend and buy yourself a box of balls with the profits.

    Pick ‘em: Shane Lowry (+163)

    Lest we forget, the Irishman was one of the sport’s hottest pre-pandemic commodities in 2019.

    He won the Open Championship, tied for eighth at the PGA Championship and had three other top-10s across 14 events before ending the year ranked 19th in the world.

    But even when things were good for Lowry, now 44th in the world, they were never that good at Augusta. He’s missed the cut three of the five times he’s made the trip and never fared better than a tie for 25th last fall after starting with a two-over 74 in the first round.

    At +163 to miss the cut this time, he’s hardly an unreasonable risk.

    Worth a shot: Jordan Spieth (+400)

    Yes. As a matter of fact, we do have Wi-Fi at the B/R headquarters.

    So yes, we know that Spieth, a former Masters champion and three-time major winner, is arriving this week off a win at the Valero Texas Open—his first since 2017. But we also know his other history at Augusta, including a final-round collapse as a favorite in 2016 and also-ran efforts in 2019 and 2020.

    It’s one thing to win in San Antonio as the world’s 53rd-ranked player, it’s another to win the Masters, particularly when the spotlight hasn’t always been your friend. At +400, he’s a steal. 

Head-to-Head Matchups

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    1st-Round Matchups

    Cameron Smith over Jordan Spieth (+145)

    If you’ve read up to this point, this one’s no surprise.

    Where Smith was the only golfer in last fall’s field to shoot four rounds in the 60s, Spieth had a career-worst tie for 46th. And even though the Texan comes in this time on the heels of a long-awaited return to the winner’s circle, we’re thinking the prosperity won’t be handled so well Thursday.

    Smith is the underdog to have the better score over the first 18, and we’re bullish on him at these odds.

    Phil Mickelson over Tommy Fleetwood (+150)

    There’s something about a major that makes you want to root for a guy named Lefty.

    Though he’s just two months shy of birthday No. 51 and hasn’t won any tournament since he was 48, there’s always a feeling—or at least a sentiment—that Mickelson will put together a few successful rounds and somehow find himself in the mix come Sunday afternoon.

    We’re not ready to make quite that big a commitment, but if you’re suggesting it’s unfathomable Mickelson can come out of the first round ahead of Fleetwood, who’s missed a cut and never finished better than a tie for 17th at Augusta, we’ll respectfully disagree.

    And we’ll take the guy at +150 to back up our nostalgia.

    Full-Tourney Matchups

    Dustin Johnson over Bryson DeChambeau (-143)

    Think back a few months and you may recall DeChambeau was the biggest thing going.

    He finished fourth at the PGA Championship in last August, then followed it up with a six-shot blitzing of the field for a championship at the U.S. Open a month later. So it’s needless to point out he was a popular pick heading to Augusta, where he instead shot 70 and 74 to barely make the cut and ultimately finished tied for 34th place—18 shots off Johnson’s winning pace.

    Could he rebound and do all the things so many expected last time around? Certainly. But should anyone put their wallet on the line while waiting for him to deliver on 2020’s promise? We say no.

    Take DJ head-to-head, or leave this one alone entirely.

    Justin Thomas over Jon Rahm (+105)

    For those unaware, Thomas is the second-ranked golfer in the world.

    He’s won at least one tournament every year since 2014, has finished progressively better in each of his five Masters appearances and was fourth in November after shooting 66, 69, 71 and 70.

    So to get him at plus-money against anyone is a worthwhile opportunity. Even if it’s Rahm, who’s ranked just one position behind at No. 3 in the world and was seventh in last fall’s tournament, two shots off Thomas’ pace.

    It’s no gimme by any stretch, but when it comes to combining value and an elite name, it’s hard to beat. 

More Prop Bets to Keep the Good Vibes Going

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Bet Dustin Johnson to Make Eagle in Round 1 (+400)

    If you’re tooling around the website and find yourself poring over Historical Records & Stats, don’t be surprised if you see the name Dustin Johnson.

    The defending champion shares the record for most eagles in a tournament by one player with four in 2009, including two in a row on the 13th and 14th holes in the final round. He was still putting up numbers six years later, when, on the second, eighth and 15th holes in the second round, he became the first player to record three in a single 18-hole day.

    Given that history and an alluring +400 price, bet on Johnson to get at least one Thursday.

    Winning Margin of 3 Strokes (+550)

    OK, as much as we’d love to cite years of statistical research or consult reams of player scorecards as evidence, this one is simply a product of the eye test.

    Looking at tournament results back to 2010, we noticed that the most frequently occurring margin of victory across those 11 events—from Mickelson to DJ—was three strokes.

    It’s the gap Lefty had on Lee Westwood in 2010, the margin Bubba Watson forged over Spieth and Jonas Blixt in 2014 and the edge Danny Willett had on Spieth and Westwood in 2016. And given the choices of one, two, three or four strokes—or a playoff result—it offered the biggest potential payoff.

    Good enough for us.

    Viktor Hovland as Top European Player (+1000)

    If you’re looking for an emergent player from anywhere on the golfing globe, you could do worse than a 23-year-old Norwegian who played at Oklahoma State and enters the week ranked 14th in the world.

    Particularly when he’s the subject of a prop bet at this rate.

    Hovland was the low amateur at Augusta in his only appearance in 2019 and hasn’t broken through for a major win anywhere else, but a tie for 13th at last year’s U.S. Open indicated promise and he’s followed up on it with two seconds and two other top-10s across eight events in 2021.

    Do we think someone else from Europe may win? Yes. But is it a ridiculous risk to lay a couple of bucks on a guy as good and as hot as Hovland has been recently? No way.

Hammer Locks and Dart Throws for Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Top 5

    Hammer lock: Jon Rahm (+275)

    As mentioned earlier, Rahm is as good a bet to win this thing as anyone.

    A No. 3 world ranking will do that for a guy.

    He’s been tied for ninth or better on three straight trips to Augusta, topping out at fourth in 2018, and has five top-10s—including two top-fives—in seven events so far this season.

    So it’s more than just a wise choice to take him. It’s almost mandatory.

    Dart throw: Matt Kuchar (+1400)

    Facts are facts. And the fact is there aren’t a lot of players more consistent than Kuchar.

    Now 42, the Florida native has five top-12 finishes in 11 attempts at the Masters, topping out with a tie for third in 2012 and a tie for fourth 2017. Not to mention he was two shots off the lead after one round in 2018 and tied for seventh heading into the final round in 2019, too.

    The idea he could string together four rounds of respectable top-five golf is worth taking a flier.

    Top 10

    Hammer lock: Paul Casey (+275)

    Like Kuchar, this guy is as consistent as it gets. He’s finished among the world’s top 25 every year since 2015 and has five career top-10s at the Masters, including four at a tie for sixth or better.

    A win and four other top-10s on the European and PGA tours have arrived thus far in 2021, meaning Casey is in precisely the sort of form to make this outlay worthwhile.

    Dart throw: Phil Mickelson (+1000)

    Remember that whole nostalgia thing a few slides back?

    While it still may not be prudent to wager the mortgage money on a Mickelson victory this weekend, his history at the tournament and nose for the leaderboard at big events—38 times in 111 outings (34.2 percent)—make it perfectly reasonable to toss a couple of bucks his way.

    Top 20

    Hammer lock: Patrick Cantlay (-136)

    Again folks, just do the math. Cantlay is ranked 10th in the world and hasn’t finished outside the top 20 at any tournament he’s played since last October in Las Vegas.

    He was the low amateur at Augusta when he debuted there in 2012 and has tied for ninth and tied for 17th in two straight visits after missing the cut in 2018.

    So there’s a reason he’s -136 to do it again. And we suggest you take advantage.

    Dart throw: Kevin Kisner (+400)

    You’ve got to be a real golf fan to know who Kisner is.

    He’s ranked a perfectly respectable 36th in the world, but he’s won just five times in 305 career events stretching back to 2006 and didn’t finish better than 236th in the world rankings until 2015.

    But he’s been knocking on the top-20 door at Augusta the last two times the event was held in April—finishing tied for 28th in 2018 and tied for 21st in 2019—and a tie for 18th at the Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, in late March indicates his game is in the form to turn the knob.

    At this price, it’s worth rooting for him to take a step inside.

Picking the Winner

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Lay the juice: Dustin Johnson (+950)

    Need we remind you, he’s the defending champion and the best player in the world.

    And he arrives this week as the betting favorite.

    So while we’re aware it won’t make you rich, the prospect of laying even a little something down on DJ and getting a near 10-to-1 return for your trouble is hardly a terrible proposition.  

    Sprinkles: Xander Schauffele (+2500), Patrick Reed (+3500)

    Somehow, we’ve managed to get this far along without mentioning Schauffele, the world’s sixth-ranked player, and Reed, its No. 7 competitor. But it’s not because they don’t deserve consideration. 

    Schauffele was tied for second behind the resurgent Tiger Woods in 2019, while Reed was a winner just three years ago and was back for a tie for 10th last fall.

    Getting either of them at their respective prices is a worthwhile day’s work.   

    Dart throws: Sergio Garcia (+6000), Louis Oosthuizen (+7500)

    The teenage phenom-turned-2017 champ Garcia is 41 years old and perhaps on the downside. Meanwhile, Oosthuizen, who lost a playoff to Bubba Watson back in 2012, is amid a collection of forgotten players in a field of suddenly younger, stronger contemporaries.

    Still, Garcia has top-10s in three of his last six tournaments—including two in a row in March—and Oosthuizen has made seven straight cuts at Augusta and was tied for 10th after 18 holes in 2020.

    The Spaniard and the South African are long shots, to be sure, but if you’re holding a ticket with them in the running on Sunday afternoon, remember where you heard it.   

    Squad ride pick: Rory McIlroy (+1700)

    There are several players whom linemakers consider better options. And there are several others who’ll get you a better payout if they’re indeed sliding into a new suit coat come Sunday.

    But no one, in our view, gives a more superior return on investment than McIlroy.

    Still just 31 though he’s been in the world’s top 40 since 2008, the four-time major champ blends a dynamic skill set with a comfort level on the leaderboard that overshadows nearly the entire field. He’s been a top-10 finisher in six of his last seven appearances at Augusta and, as mentioned earlier, was one shot better than the champion over the final 54 holes the last time around.

    Considering all that, getting him at +1700 seems almost criminal. 

    But you really ought to take it anyway.   

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