golf

A Brief Look Forward To The Masters

March 20, 2017

- Grant Whittington

The Open Championship is the oldest and most revered of the tournaments, but ask most players and the Masters is the one they all want to win.

Superstars of the game say they still feel the hairs on the back of their neck stand on end when driving up Magnolia Lane even if it is their 10th time at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods has been the star attraction for the best part of two decades, claiming four Green Jackets in an illustrious career, but it is still open to debate whether the 41-year-old American will make the trip to Georgia this year.

His back problems will not go away and a truncated start to the season is hardly the basis for a tilt at the year’s first major, with the Florida resident generally on offer in the region of 66/1 to win for a fifth time.

Jordan Spieth looked on course to claim back-to-back Masters last year only for a back-nine meltdown to hand the title to England’s Danny Willett.

Ever since the Texan joined the professional ranks it was well known that he had the perfect game for Augusta and it would be no surprise to see his name near the top of the leaderboard on the Sunday of the tournament.

The 23-year-old is favourite for the Masters at 13/2 with Dustin Johnson falling into second favourite.

Johnson is the in-form player in world golf at present and seems totally in control of his game.

After claiming his first major at last year’s US Open, the 32-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength, with four more PGA Tour titles under his belt.

Now at the top of the world rankings, the Ryder Cup star appears supremely confident from the tee, with an iron in his hand or on the green.

When all facets of his game are in working order, he is almost impossible to beat as his distance from the tee he can reduce par fours to a driver and a pitching wedge most of the time.

Winning the WGC-Mexico Championship was the perfect way to prepare and it seems almost inconceivable that he will not be in the mix between April 6 and 9.

Rory McIlroy has made no secret of a burning desire to complete his set of majors with a Green Jacket.

The Northern Irishman appeared set to take the title in 2011 only for a final-round implosion to end his hopes, and a share of fourth in 2015 is his best return to date.

The 27-year-old finished second in Africa back in January this year and seventh in Mexico on his return from a rib injury, and is 8/1 to break his Augusta duck in 2017.

A look at his history in the majors and a glance at golf betting tips would show McIlroy to be a great frontrunner, and so watch out for him to make a strong start next month.

Golf betting on Jason Day in both 2015 and 2016 would have proved fruitful as the Australian won tournaments for fun, with eight victories during that period.

The 29-year-old Queenslander finally secured his first major two years ago to take the US PGA Championship but he has not visited the winner’s circle since the 2016 Players Championship 10 months ago.

The world number two, who is priced at 12/1, has suffered with injury and is yet to pull up any trees this season, with just one top 10 to his name.

That came at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am while he missed the cut at the Farmers Open and could only manage at tie for 64th at the Genesis Open.

But he is a class act and was as dominant as Johnson is now during his purple period.

The Masters has been going since 1934, when Horton Smith was crowned champion, and it usually sees the cream rise to the top.

Such is the nature of the course that it is rare for an outsider to win and Willett certainly fell in into that category last year.

His form has dipped appreciably since those giddy heights and, with past champions Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson all set to tee it up, it seems likely that the Englishman might struggle to pull off another stunning victory.

Back your favourite for the Masters with William Hill today

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