US Masters 2014 Betting Tips & Full Preview – It's here! The Masters starts Thursday after a Majors drought since the USPGA Championship back in August, our man @gbenno79 provides this excellent full preview and his 5 to beat this week, enjoy!
The Masters : Kuchar to go one better at Augusta National
As the year's first major, the Masters is just days away here is my preview to one of the most eagerly awaited tournaments of the year, at arguably the most famous and recognisable course in the world.
COURSE: Augusta National Golf Club, 7,435 yards, par 72. Laid out in 1930 by Bobby Jones and co-designer by Alistair Mackenzie, who died before the course was actually finished. The course is one of the world’s most visually breathtaking layouts. Augusta has provided the stage for some of the game’s most gripping Sunday drama. An expansion era that saw yardage added four times from 1999-2006 has given way to stability, allowing both players and club officials to understand the nuances of the revamped layout. The course’s signature magnolia trees and azaleas are holdovers from the Fruitlands nursery operation that previously occupied the site, all the holes here are named after a tree or a shrub in honour. It officially opened in January 1933 and it's been evolving ever since and to such an extent recently that the original designers would barely recognize the place. The Bermuda greens were changed to bent grass and the fairways were tightened at the end of the last century before a major overhaul was orchestrated by Tom Fazio in 2002. Over half the holes were lengthened and tightened and at almost 7, 500 yards now, it's a very long course.
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Inside The Field : Defending champion Adam Scott headlines a 97-man field that features 56 of the top 60 players in this week’s world rankings. Four-time champion Tiger Woods is the big absence, sidelined after back surgery last week, and fears are around that Woods may not even be fit enough to play in this years Open championship at Hoylake in July. Matt Jones received the final spot after surprising almost everybody on Sunday at the Shell Houston Open, were he beat Matt Kuchar in a playoff. Valero Texas Open winner Steven Bowditch and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher got in at last Monday’s almost-last cutoff for invitations. An astounding 23 entrants will make their Masters debuts, including world No. 13 Jordan Spieth, world No. 21 Victor Dubuisson and world No. 22 Patrick Reed.
Adam Scott gave Australia its long-awaited first green jacket last year here at Augusta, outlasting Angel Cabrera in a playoff with a 12-foot birdie on the second extra hole. Scott finished off a 3-under-par 69 with three birdies in his final six holes, including an 18-footer at No. 18 to put the pressure on Cabrera in the final group. The 2009 Masters champion responded, though, with an approach to 3 feet to notch the tying birdie. After both players parred a replay of the 18th to start the playoff, Cabrera’s 15-foot birdie try at No. 10 hung on the lip. Scott followed with his winning putt, erasing the demons of the previous year’s British Open when he blew a four-shot lead with four holes left.
With Woods out and Phil Mickelson (strained oblique) not 100 percent, this could be the most wide-open Masters pursuit in at least two decades. No one else in the top 30 of the world rankings owns more than one major title. This year’s crop of first-timers could be the best in Masters history, with 10 players currently in the top 50 of the world rankings. Fuzzy Zoeller (1979) is the only man — besides Horton Smith, who won the inaugural Masters in 1934 — to finish his first Masters with a green jacket; Dan Pohl lost a 1982 playoff to Craig Stadler. … Scott will try to become just the fourth back-to-back Masters winner, joining Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Woods (2001-02). It’ll be a momentous father-son weekend for Stadler and son Kevin, whose victory in Phoenix set up the first such pair to play the Masters together.
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Bubba Watson
2011 – Charl Schwartzel
2010 – Phil Mickelson
2009 – Angel Cabrera
72-HOLE RECORD: 270, Tiger Woods (1997).
18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Nick Price (3rd round, 1986), Greg Norman (1st round, 1996).
The first Major of the year looks wide open due to the fact that four time Masters winner, Tiger Woods, is not competing due to a pinched nerve, which he is still recovering from and three time winner, Phil Mickelson, is struggling with form and injury at the moment. Looking at the course, surrounded by trees, it would be easy to think that driving accuracy would be the crucial stat, but that would be misleading due to the fact that there is plenty of room off the tee and the rough is by no means penal. Augusta National is a long course reaching nearly 7500 yards, so the obvious stand-out stat would be driving distance. The next stat that seems to be relevant is greens in regulation, although the golfers scrambling ability can be key here if the greens are not found. One area where players can score well are the par-5's – there are four of these at Augusta and the easiest of these is also the easiest hole of all. The 15th – Firethorn – where the big hitters can certainly reach in two which will be an advantage against the shorter hitters in the field. Course experience is certainly an advantage here, the usual rule is that you must have had at least six visits to Augusta before you can even think of winning a tournament. One particularly bad stat is that first timers have an atrocious record here – out of the ninety-seven starters, 23 of them are making their debut appearance here, most notably Jordan Speith.
Matt Kuchar 22/1 EW – William Hill – Open a new William Hill account by clicking this link and get a free £25 bet.
Matt has won six times on the PGA Tour, but coming into this event he should really be on seven. Last week, at the Shell Houston Open, Kuchar was leading by one shot at the final hole, when his approach shot to the green ended up in the water costing him the victory which went to first time winner, Aussie Matt Jones. Kuchar is probably the most consistent golfer on the planet at the moment playing some great golf, but he does seem to find it hard to get over the line. So far in 2014 he has played nine events with six top-10 finishes. His best finish in the Masters was a third place finish back in 2012 when Bubba Watson beat Louis Oosthuizen in a play off. Kuchar's scoring average is one of the best on tour and if he can get over last weeks heartache, he must be in with a shout to win his first ever Major.
Sergio Garcia 25/1EW – Betfred – Open a new Betfred Account on a mobile device – GET £10 FREE!
El Nino has been playing some great golf recently and must be in with a shout of winning his first Major. Like Kuchar last week, Garcia had a good chance of claiming the victory at the Shell Houston Open where he lead after two rounds, but ended up tied third after a disappointing weekend for the Spaniard. With his nemesis, Woods, out of the way and Garcia playing well himself, I think that he has a massive chance this week. His best finish at the Masters was actually 10 years ago which was a fourth place finish so he hasn't really performed well here over the last few years but did finish in the top-10 last year so his form maybe picking up. Most of Garcias stats look very healthy at the moment – his scoring average and scrambling stats are currently the best on tour and his length off the tee must be an advantage here.
Dustin Johnson 28/1 EW – Coral – Open a new Coral account by clicking this link bet just £5 and get a free £20 bet!
Since Dustin earned his tour card in 2008 he has won every year since, however he is still waiting on his 2014 win. This course should suit the big hitting American but his efforts here at Augusta National have been very average in the past with his best result to date being last year where he came 13th, this being the only Major Johnson is yet to get a top-10 in. Johnson has eight PGA Tour wins with one World Golf Championship title to his name and the natural progression would be to add a Major victory onto his C.V. Dustin comes into the event having played seven events so far in 2014, where he has made six cuts and finished in the top-10 on five occasions. His most positive stats for this week would be his driving distance (which he is ranked 2nd on tour) and his greens in regulation (which he ranks 3rd on tour).
Hunter Mahan 50/1 EW -Ladbrokes – Open a new Ladbrokes account by clicking this link, and get a £50 free bet!
Hunter has so much potential as a top class golfer but has struggled since his last win which was in April 2012 at the Shell Houston Open – where he beat Swede Carl Pettersson by one shot. This is now two long years since the 'Golf Boys' last win. In 2014 Mahan has shown signs that his form is starting to improve, he has played in eight event so far this year, making all eight cuts and turning four of those into top-10 finishes. His best finish so far this season was a fourth place result at the Waste Management Phoenix Open back in February, where Kevin Stadler claimed his first PGA Tour title. Although Mahan seems to have found some form, his stats don't seem to healthy, with his scrambling as usual being his major downfall, where he only makes par at 57%. Mahan's form at the Masters hasn't been fantastic but he did finish is tied 8th back in 2010.
Luke Donald 50/1 EW – Sporting Bet – Open a new Sporting Bet account by clicking this link and get a ‘Risk Free’ £50 bet.
'Cool Hand Luke' is starting to pick up his form and it will be no surprise to see the Englishman picking up his first win in nearly two years this week and his first Major at the Masters here at Augusta. Luke is a multiple winner as a professional, but has struggled with his game since his last win on the European Tour in May 2012, when he won the BMW PGA Championship, where he beat Paul Lawrie and Justin Rose to return to World Number 1 at the time. He is now ranked as the 27th best player in the world and will be looking to shoot back up the world rankings as quickly as possible. Like Garcia, for a top class golfer, he is yet to win a Major, but without the injured Woods and the out of form Mickelson, I feel that he could be a major contender come the weekend. He has played in six events so far on the PGA Tour this year, making six cuts and finishing in the top 10 on two occasions. His best finish was at the Valspar Championship where he came fourth just a few weeks back.
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