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2017 PGA Masters Outright Winner Tips and Prop Bets

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  • Where: Augusta National Golf Club. Augusta, Georgia
  • When: April 6, 2017 7:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Dustin Johnson (+600), Jordan Spieth (+750), Rory McIlroy (+800), Jason Day (+1600), Hideki Matsuyama (+1800), Rickie Fowler (+1800), Justin Rose (+2200), Phil Mickelson (+2500), Adam Scott (+3300), Danny Willett (+10000)

“He’s a Cinderella boy,” Bill Murray famously ad-libbed in the movie Caddyshack, before inexplicably taking “an 8 iron” from 200 yards on the (imaginary) uphill 18th hole at Augusta National.

But the irony of the iconic joke is that Augusta has seen few Cinderella champions over the years. One notable exception occurred last April when Danny Willett, an unheralded European Tour pro, stole the Green Jacket from the waiting arms of Jordan Spieth.

Willett’s odds are set at an astronomical (+10000), possibly the longest ever for a defending champ. That could reflect the Britisher’s zero wins in the 12 months since then. While Willett may have closed with a bogey-free 67 to prevail in 2016, the vibe among bookies was that Spieth lost the tournament instead of someone else winning it.

Well-ahead in the 4th round, the American star lost his cool and several balls in Rae’s Creek on the tiny 12th, as many have over the decades. Book-makers are forgiving – Spieth is embossed as one of the favorites to win the 2017 tournament with a line of only (+750).

But the top name on the board is Dustin Johnson, the power-hitting Floridian who has won three tournaments in a row going into Augusta. Given how molten-hot the 32 year-old has been, Johnson’s outright-winner odds (+600 at BetOnline) almost feel too skeptical.

Is the “obvious” bet on D.J. a solid one? Let’s look at each of the elite contenders and a sentimental favorite, along with a couple intriguing props.

Bet on the 2017 US Masters at the Bovada Sportsbook ($250 cash bonus).

Can Dustin conquer Augusta’s greens?

UPDATE (Thursday 11 AM): Dustin Johnson has suffered a back injury and is a tentative start for this afternoon, but may have to withdraw from The Masters. Johnson’s odds-to-win have shot up to (+1000) at Bovada Sportsbook.

Among Masters champions, the long hitters have almost always been excellent putters – Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Couples. It was the best finesse golfer of all time, Ben Hogan, who won in spite of his putting and not because of it.

Johnson is an exception to the rule, a players whose powerful, relaxed swing belies a tendency to yip on the greens. At a recent U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, D.J. three-putted the final hole from around 18 feet to lose the tournament.

Augusta is no place for the yips. Choose your cliche to describe the putting surfaces – bikini-waxed, slicker-than-tile, a billion on the Stimpmeter. Luckily for The Cheetah, Jack and Tiger each showed how the course – and the field – can be beaten without having to make too many long putts. A fine ball-striker with length can position the ball for easy two-putts on the par 3’s and par 4’s, then completely dominate the reachable par 5’s.

And Johnson’s ball-striking has been immaculate in 2017. The current World #1 won the Genesis Open by five strokes, then aced two straight World Golf Championship events leading up to the season’s first major.

The other big names

Cocky Jordan Spieth opened up his pre-Masters interviews brushing aside concerns about his watery death in 2016: “I know that (my caddie and I) strike fear in the hearts of the other players.” But that mentality is not well-suited for Augusta, where hubris can lead to double bogeys. Spieth has had an extremely solid 2017 so far, but is not a big hitter and must play careful, precise golf for four rounds.

Rory McIlroy is always a popular bet. The World #2 can complete a career Grand Slam by winning at the Masters. The confident, accurate ball-striker almost surely will one day. But he has been sidelined with a rib injury, and his putting at Augusta is often shy of championship level.

Jason Day, by contrast, is an appealing value bet at four-figure payout odds. The 2015 PGA champion is ranked World #3 and owns multiple top-10 finishes at Augusta, shooting 72-64-72-68 in 2011 to miss winning by a whisker. The Aussie has been distracted by his mother’s recent illness, but in his first start of 2017 (T-12 at the Tournament of Champions) Day averaged 300+ yards in driving distance, hit 80%-plus GIR, and avoided bunkers altogether. That would be a recipe for success this week.

Long odds for Phil

Golf pundits have short memories and often overlook the value of experience and comfort with a course. That’s why over the years, three-time Masters champ Phil Mickelson has been written off after missing cuts in warm-up tourneys, only to waddle up the 16th hole on Sunday with a chance to win.

The 46 year-old is trimmer now, but wagering on aging golfers has its pitfalls. Bovada Sportsbook gives Phil about-even odds to best Adam Scott, a player who won in 2013 but whose mediocre putting led to a +11 finish last year, over four rounds. Taking such a bet, though, involves factoring in a 20% to 30% chance that the older player will simply collapse in the early rounds.

Like Big Jack at 46, Mickelson could win outright. Or, he could miss the cut altogether. The head-to-head prop bet against Scott is unwise, since the younger player could win essentially by default. If you must wager on Phil, put one unit on the veteran to go all the way, and skip any fancy props.

Hideki’s hot hand

Hideki Matsuyama probably suffers from the stigma that Japanese golfers do not win big American tournaments. While it is true that Hideki doesn’t have the length to absolutely take over the tournament, he’s one of the most consistent and talented men in the field.

Bovada gives (+400) odds for Matsuyama to finish in the top 5, probably the best value on the entire board. The oriental ace has improved his driving distance, and finished 7th at Augusta in 2016 despite struggling to find the fairway on occasion. Considering his 5th-place mark in 2015, it’s a blunder for bookies to place 4-to-1 odds on the rising star’s near-coin flip chances to finish among the leaders.

Value in the visitors

Despite the hype and self-promotion, Rory and Jordan are both flawed wagers in 2017.

The best betting value lies in foreign entries. Jason Day is an upset-special who can rebound and win at highly-rewarding (+1600) odds. Meanwhile, young Hideki Matsuyama is an absolutely terrific bet to finish top-5 in a play worth at least a couple of units. Wager on both and watch your hard-earned stake blossom between the magnolias.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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