2014 Masters Outlook: With No Real Favorite, It’s Anyone’s Tournament to Win
It’s that time of year again…the azaleas are in bloom and one of the rites of spring is about to start. The 2014 Masters will begin tomorrow on the hallowed grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club but, for the first time in eons, there isn’t a clear favorite as to who will be wearing the Green Jacket come Sunday afternoon. The reason for that is quite obvious.
For the first time since he turned pro 18 years ago, the #1 player in the world, Tiger Woods, will not be a part of the field for the first major of the professional golf season. After having back surgery last month, Woods and his doctors determined that he would need an extended rest to recover from said surgery (it is possible that Woods may miss the next two majors, the U. S. Open in June and the Open Championship (British Open) in July). With Woods out of the field, there are a handful of players who have a chance to capture the first major of 2014.
The defending champion of the Masters, Adam Scott, is one of the favorites for a repeat. According to GolfWeek and Bovada.lv, Scott is a 10/1 favorite to keep his grasp on the Green Jacket, but that hasn’t occurred since Woods did it in 2001 and 2002. GolfWeek doesn’t have Scott ensconced as the top pick, though. That honor goes to Rory McIlroy, who is set as an 8/1 favorite to take home the title.
One of the surprises on the good side is the chances that Jason Day is being given. On the Bovada boards, Day is a 14/1 pick to earn his first major championship, while GolfWeek sets him beside Scott at 10/1. One of the surprises on the bad side is three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson, who has been battling a rash of injuries through the early part of the PGA season. “Lefty” is set as a 15/1 favorite by GolfWeek, while Bovada holds him a bit higher as a 12/1 favorite to win his fourth Green Jacket. Those are both bets you shouldn’t be making.
There are two other players who are getting action at the betting window that are potential favorites for the Masters. Matt Kuchar is held as a 20/1 shot by GolfWeek and 18/1 by Bovada as Kuchar is arguably playing the best of any of the favorites at this point in the year. Perennial favorite Sergio Garcia is also getting action, held by Bovada at 20/1 odds and by GolfWeek at 30/1.
The “Katy Perrys” (Dark Horses)
One of the players I have my eye on in this year’s Masters is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, held at 25/1 odds on Bovada and 20/1 odds on GolfWeek. Arguably one of the best players to have never won a major championship, Stenson has been in contention in many majors previously and he is coming off what was one of his finest seasons of his career. Last year, Stenson became the only player to win the FedEx Cup and European Golfer of the Year. He has spent over 100 weeks in the Top Ten of the World Golf Rankings, so it is just a matter of time before that first major win comes; it could be this weekend at the Masters.
Lurking back in the pack is a former Masters champion by the name of Bubba Watson. At 20/1 on GolfWeek and 25/1 on Bovada, Watson proved his mettle on the Augusta National grounds in winning the championship back in 2012. Although he’s been plagued with consistency issues since that championship, Watson could put it together to make a run at a second Green Jacket.
Someone who isn’t getting any love (and should) from the bookmakers is the United Kingdom’s Justin Rose. Held at 25/1 on GolfWeek and 30/1 by Bovada, the defending champion of the U. S. Open has been consistent in the Masters but always seems to falter come Sunday. If he can keep some consistency to his game, it is a strong possibility that Rose could add his second major championship and win this event.
Coming Out of the Rough
I am surprised that Ian Poulter (50/1 on both Bovada and GolfWeek) is ranked as low as this due to his prior success at Augusta. In the 2012 tournament, Poulter faded down the stretch to finish in seventh place, his best finish ever in the Masters. I’m also surprised that Angel Cabrera (also 50/1 on both boards) isn’t getting more respect. Although he has some age on him, Augusta has always suited his game well and, as a defending champion of the tournament, he can’t be counted out.
If you’re looking for some of the aging greats of the game to make a run, they’re going to earn you some great return if they win. Players like Jim Furyk (80/1), Ernie Els and Fred Couples (both at 125/1) are dangerous on the Augusta course, while young guns like Webb Simpson (80/1) and Francesco Molinari (125/1) provide some potential value.
Who Will Win?
Since there is no clear consensus on a favorite, picking a champion is tough. The way I see it, Stenson and Rose will battle it out down the stretch; I am going to pick one of those two to head away from Georgia come Sunday night with the Green Jacket on their shoulders and their place set in golf history as the champion of the 2014 Masters.
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