The Bookies point of view…
32Red’s Sponsorship manager Jack Milner delivers a weekly verdict on each tournament.
Welcome to the greatest week of the year, as golf returns to Augusta National for the Masters. Set in the backdrop of arguably the most picturesque golf course in the world, The Masters is a throwback to a simpler time, with tradition very much at the heart of the most revered and coveted golf tournament.
A place where mobile phones are forbidden on course, where past winners tee-off together and are welcomed back year upon year, and a place where the best in the world compete for no trophy but the most sought after of green jacket.
Patrick Reed fended-off the pair of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, seeking the final leg of golf’s grand slam, to win a maiden Master s Title last year however, those tempted by the 66/1 for ‘Captain America’ to go back-to-back will surely be wary of the fact that only three players have successfully defended their Title successfully in the post-war era; Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods – and Paddy Reed isn’t in that bracket, and likely never will be.
It’s the latter who makes most appeal this week, with one Tiger creating history at Aintree last weekend, what’s to say another can’t do likewise across the pond? ‘Big Cat’ completed the most amazing of comebacks with success in the Tour Championship at East Lake in September but was arguably even better prior to that looked destined to lift the Claret Jug when surging up the leaderboard in the final round at Carnoustie.
Whilst lacking the length of such powerhouses such as Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka et al, it’s been Tiger’s shot-making that has appeared better than ever ; ranking fourth on tour in Greens-In-Regulation and 54th in terms of Driving Accuracy. Combine that an unparalleled knowledge of the bumps, arches and curves around Augusta’s infamous greens and he becomes a terrific price at 14/1 with 32Red.
I personally think that this week will come down to the tour’s cleanest and crispest shot-makers and would like to have Europeans, and brilliant double act in last year’s most famous bromance, Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood onside at 22/1 and 25/1 respectively with 32Red.
The former has a long game to die for and has consistently competed without unable to complete a maiden breakthrough across the pond, despite excellent efforts in defeat at last year’s US Open (when losing by a shot to Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills) and losing all chance at last month’s Players Championship when finding the water at 17.
Molinari meanwhile, was red-hot favourite entering the final four of the WGC Matchplay, having been advised at 25/1 before the start of the week, before ultimately running out of puff when losing out to eventual winner Kevin Kisner. He has improved dramatically on tour, winning four times worldwide in the past 12 months, including a maiden major with one of the greatest rounds in major golf to go bogey free on Sunday at last year’s Open Championship to life the Claret Jug at Carnoustie. Providing it all clicks for the Italian he warrants maximum respect as golf’s most consistent and complete players.
I am loathe to omit Kevin Kisner given the roller coaster he has given backers, including myself, in majors during the past two years and he is likely to be solid over all four rounds but is now too short at around the 50/1 mark, having been double the price three weeks ago. He is over-looked in favour of compatriots Bryson Dechambeau and Xander Schaufele. I’ll get a kicking on the tweet machine for the aftertiming but I backed both at three-figure prices last summer with both having the raw talent of major winners in waiting. The latter won the Tour Championship 18 months ago and narrowly missed out at The Open Championship last July, whilst Bryson found ways to win – no less than five times on all tours during the last year or so. Both are over-priced at 33/1 and 40/1 respectively with 32Red.