It’s a very busy weekend ahead for sports betting with another crucial weekend of football action in the Premier League and of course, the Premier League Darts, which we have been focusing on a great deal over the last few weeks.
However, we are going to turn our attentions away from the darts for a week to look at one of the biggest sporting events of the year that is taking place from Thursday through until Sunday at the perfectly manicured Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, United States of America. That’s because between 90 and 100 of the world’s finest will battle it out from tomorrow for the chance to become the 2018 Masters champion.
This year promises to be a very interesting event with the return after several years of absence through injury, of the legendary four-times champion Tiger Woods. That is big news enough, but the fact Woods has been playing so well since his comeback augurs well for those fans who believe that a fifth Green Jacket may yet be possible for the 42-year old.
Yet Woods will face a great deal of competition from a number of golfers that are in superb form at the moment including the likes of Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson (the top two ranked golfers in the world at the moment), John Rahm, Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Jordan Spieth. Plus you can never rule out the mercurial talents of Rory McIlroy who will no doubt be targeting The Masters as it remains the only Major he is yet to win.
Then of course there is the chance that a rank outsider could come through and shock the top-rated players to land a stunning win as Danny Willetts did in 2016 and as Angel Cabrera and Trevor Immelman have also done in the 2000’s.
Let’s learn a little more about this famous event before we give you our tips for who to back to win and as each way punts over the weekend.
The Masters – Facts and Figures
- The Masters was first contested in 1934 and from then until 1960, was won exclusively by American players including Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Arnold Palmer.
- The first International player to win was Gary Player and he was the only player from outside the US to win the tournament (three times in total) until 1980 when Severiano Ballesteros won the first of his two Green Jackets.
- Ballesteros’ win ushered in an era of more success for players from around the world with Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Jose-Maria Olazabal and Vijay Singh following in his footsteps up to the year 2000.
- The record score for 72-holes in the Masters is 18 under par which was shot by Tiger Woods in 1997 and then also by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
- This year’s Masters tournament has a prize pool available of $11 million, and of that around $1.9m will be handed over to the winner, along with the trophy and the Green Jacket.
- Winnera of the tournament host the following year’s Champions Dinner. This is held every Tuesday night in the week prior to the tournament. The winning champion gets to select the menu for his guests to enjoy. Only previous Champions of the Masters tournament are allowed to attend the event.
- On the Wednesday, a par-3 contest is held over nine holes. No player has ever won the par-3 contest and gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
- Camillo Villegas is the only player to have recorded two holes-in-one in the same round in the par-3 contest (back in 2016).
- The tournament is started by veteran players invited to take the ceremonial opening tee-shot of the event. This year Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will get the tournament underway.
The Masters Legends
Outlined below is a list of players that have won three or more Masters tournaments. Players that are shown in italics are still playing and could add further to their tally of victories in 2018.
- 6- Jack Nicklaus – (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986)
- 4- Arnold Palmer – (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964)
- 4- Tiger Woods – (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005)
- 3- Jimmy Demaret – (1940, 1947, 1950)
- 3- Sam Snead – (1949, 1952, 1954)
- 3- Gary Player – (1961, 1974, 1978)
- 3- Nick Faldo – (1989, 1990, 1996)
- 3- Phil Mickelson – (2004, 2006, 2010)
Augusta National – The Course
The 18 holes of Augusta National are named after the plants, trees or shrubs that are most closely associated (and often planted) around that hole. This is a reference to the fact that the golf course was built on what was a former plant nursery.
The course now measures 7,435 yards in length but there are plans to redesign and lengthen the fifth hole (Magnolia) in time for the start of the 2019 tournament, which means that from next year, the course may well be even longer.
The full list of holes is as follows:
- Tea Olive – 445 Yards – Par 4
- Pink Dogwood – 575 Yards – Par 5
- Flowering Peach – 350 Yards – Par 4
- Flowering Crab Apple – 240 Yards – Par 3
- Magnolia – 455 Yards – Par 4
- Juniper – 180 Yards – Par 3
- Pampas – 450 Yards – Par 4
- Yellow Jasmine – 570 Yards – Par 5
- Carolina Cherry – 460 Yards – Par 4
- Camellia – 495 Yards – Par 4
- White Dogwood – 505 Yards – Par 4
- Golden Bell – 155 Yards – Par 3
- Azalea – 510 Yards – Par 5
- Chinese Fir – 440 Yards – Par 4
- Firethorn – 530 Yards – Par 5
- Redbud – 170 Yards – Par 3
- Nandinha – 440 Yards – Par 4
- Holly – 465 Yards – Par 4
Holes 10 through to 12 are known as “Amen Corner” due to the difficult nature of the holes and the fact that this part of the course offers a great deal of drama that can often play a key role in deciding the outcome of the tournament.
Which golfer will Sergio Garcia slip a Green Jacket on come Sunday evening?
I am not the biggest fan of outright winner betting on golf markets as they are so volatile, and I much prefer each-way bets for golf tournaments, especially the majors as often the best bookmaking companies will offer you additional places included in each way bets, meaning you stand a better chance of landing a return.
With that in mind I feel a great each way choice is American Rickie Fowler (20/1 with Coral). Fowler has a very strong record in Major events without ever yet winning one outright, but he certainly has the talent and temperament to do so here. He is arguably the only one of American’s young crop of superstars yet to win a Major title and that must irk him. I think Fowler is due a big win and that may well come at Augusta.
Of course, Tiger Woods (11/1 with Coral) is a golfer you need to consider after his superb return to form after a lengthy spell out with injury. Concerns Woods may not be the golfer he once was seem to have been laid to rest with the American showcasing some superb form, lengthy drives and a mesmerising short game in the weeks leading up to Augusta. It would also be just like Woods to announce his return with his first Major victory since 2008.
If you are looking at another winner from outside the US, for the third year in a row, then a solid option is the very talented Jon Rahm. The Spaniard has rocketed up the World Rankings over the past 18 months and is already a winner in America. He is yet to break his Major duck, but he has the game and form to do precisely that at Augusta. He is a 16/1 shot with Coral.