The colour. The azaleas. The course. The leaderboard. The drama. The coverage. The sport. The skill. The tension. The tradition. What is it that makes it the best sporting television of the year? I can’t put my finger on it. Could be one of ten things.
Par 72. 7,475 yards in length. Augusta in Georgia will host a field of 87 this year, starting Thursday at 1.20pm and live on sky sports golf from 7pm. BBC Two will cover the first major of the year on Saturday and Sunday. www.masters.com will have some coverage from 3pm Thursday for featured groups and Amen Corner.
This is Augusta National.
Flowers are pruned every other day.
Curbs are hand-painted for miles.
Bunkers require a team.
Fairways ask for an armada.
This is the Masters Tournament. pic.twitter.com/7rKhpgTPIe
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 9, 2019
Baroneracing.com are paying 10 places on each way bets at a fifth of the odds. This is a great offer. The field is made up of the worlds top golfers, but also includes many older past champions, amateurs and debutantes. As it’s held at Augusta each year, there is plenty of form on offer to see who handles this unique test of golf.
I must confess I haven’t watched a lot of golf in 2019. I am one of these annoying people who suddenly becomes a golf expert the week of the Masters each year. Why are you reading this band-wagoner so? Sure look it, your this far, you may as well stay for the selections. I pride myself on being a judge of judges. If you can’t be a judge, this is a necessity. So much of my opinions have been influenced by something I’ve read or watched, sure who’s isn’t.
Probably the most improved golfer in the last 12 months. An incredibly hard worker, practice has made near perfect. Molinari hasn’t the best Masters record, though 20th last year is not too shabby. Putting always held him back, that and his overall game has hit another level recently. In 2018 he won the BMW PGA Championship fending off Rory McIlroy and on the US PGA Tour, he won the Quicken Loans National by 8 shots.
He won the Open at Carnoustie, impressively seeing it out despite the pressure of playing with Tiger on the Sunday. The Italian then won all 5 matches at the Ryder Cup and finished off 2018 by winning the Race to Dubai.
2019 Molinari has started where he left off by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a 64 in the final round. He is a new version of himself. Write him off because of his Masters record at your peril.
— Sunday Times Sport (@ST_Sport) December 2, 2018
Augusta is a second shot course, so the experts tell me anyway. It helps of course to be long off the tee, but ultimately approach play is key. Matsuyama hasn’t won since the Bridgestone in 2017 but ranks very high, statistically speaking of late. Strokes gained is like XG measurement for football. It might not tally with the result, but it’s the best guide of what really happened and is a really good indicator of what’s likely to happen in the future if a player continues in the same vein of form. Matsuyama is 3rd in strokes gained tee to green on the PGA Tour website. 2nd in strokes gained approach to green. His putter is cold but I’m a believer if you give yourself enough chances, that will turn.
Hideki Matsuyama throws his name into the mix with this perfect shot into the par-5 16th 🎯
The eagle moves Hideki to -12 and only two back! 🦅pic.twitter.com/ZpCDHamY99
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 17, 2019
Still Hideki Matsuyama has five Top 20 finishes in 2019 from seven tournaments and has been Top 20 in his last four Masters appearances, including a 5th and 7th finish. Most impressively he was 27th here as an amateur in 2011, at the age of 19. Twenty cuts made in a row in all tournaments. Matsuyama looks really solid and if the putter can start to catch fire, we can hope for even more than top ten.
Mr Consistent. 13 appearances at the Masters, 13 cuts made. 2nd in 2015 and 2017, four Top Tens in his last 7 tries. His temperament is magnificent. Number one in the Official World Golf Rankings, he’s won at the Farmers Insurance Open this season and also has four top ten finishes to his name. He can prove to be a thorn in Bar One Racing’s side this week hitting the top ten, and maybe more.
Justin Rose's GIR ranking in the past four Masters:
His 213 greens hit in the past four Masters are 15 more than the next-best player (Jordan Spieth). pic.twitter.com/NOg6wYu6GN
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) April 9, 2019
The miserable git. He’s as efficient with his money as he is on the course. Four top tens in his last seven appearances at the Masters. He’s arguably in the form of his life and is a cheque collecting machine. He leads the Fed Ex Cup standings on the PGA Tour, winning the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Kuchar was also 2nd in the Dell Matchplay two weeks ago. Only worry is, he’s played a lot of golf. 40 years of age, the Kuuuch has won over $48 million in prize-money on tour. Overpriced to hit the frame, and who knows, stranger things have happened.
Matt Kuchar defends decision to pay caddie $5,000 after $1.3m victory https://t.co/4tEtttbvvV
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 14, 2019
Things to consider
Field of 87, of which 15 are 500/1 or bigger on baroneracing.com and 30 are 200/1 or bigger. The cut is 50 including ties after 2 rounds. And also includes those within 10 shots of the lead. That could end up fifty something players. Meaning unlike the other three majors, making the cut and then posting a good finish is more likely than the others. 4 over is the most common cut line in history. More than a few each way wagers and picking a few players to make the cut is encouraged, by me anyhow, the odds look in your favour.
57 of 82 renewals of the Masters have been decided by a play-off or a 1 stroke margin. Nearly 70% drama, no wonder it’s good TV.
McIlroy has five Top Ten finishes here in the last five years and form figures this year of 5-4-6-2-1-16. This could complete the career grand slam. Not much putting me off him except his price, and putting..
Spieth – Course form vs Overall form. 2-1-2-11-3 at the Masters. Phenomenal. He’s not been the same golfer of late though. Augusta to be the spark?
Aussie Aussie Aussie – Day, Scott and Leishman oh so nearly made the short, shortlist. Look out for a positive health report on the injury plagued Day, watch Scott leave the flag in when he’s putting and Leishman win the one time I’m not on.
Spanish Passion – Not for me. Rahm is a wonderful golfer but I can’t bring myself to back him because of his temperament. And Garcia has been a disgrace this year. He won 2 years ago, a 13 at the 15th softened his challenge last year and he looks an angry man of late.
Here's 39-year old Sergio Garcia on a £1m appearance fee going psycho in a Saudi bunker. pic.twitter.com/CylHweVSly
— The Club (@TheClub) February 4, 2019
The 5th hole could be the hardest hole on the course. Augusta have moved a road to make the hole longer and put the tee box where a road used to be. With only two renowned short hitters winning since 2000, big drivers are even more favoured now.
"It’s going to be fun to watch"
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) April 9, 2019
Keith Mitchell sounds like a character from Eastenders. But the US rookie won the Honda Classic this year and backed that up with a fine 6th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He attended the University of Georgia which means he’s no stranger to Augusta and could outperform huge odds and maybe worth a look in Top debutante market. Jordan Mackin has looked at all the extra markets and specials for the week here.
16 on Sunday. 5 hole in ones in the last three years. 9 since 2010. Will the green keepers keep the party going with that great hole location.
Patrick Reed’s modesty.
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) April 9, 2019
Tiger Woods. That is all.
Francesco Molinari 18/1
Hideki Matsuyama 28/1
Justin Rose 11/1
Matt Kuchar 33/1