With no European Tour or PGA Tour events until the New Year, the festive period provides punters with the perfect opportunity to take an ante-post look at some of next year’s Majors with the Masters, the first Major of the year, seeming the obvious place to start.
Ante-post betting does come with risks as it’s possible that some golfers may get injured and miss the event, and it’s important to be looking to back players who could shorten significantly before the big-day rather than simply backing more obvious players whose prices probably won’t be much different come the week of the tournament.
With that in mind, here’s our run down on some fancied and less-fancied players and the reasons for putting them in or leaving them out of your ante-post portfolio.
Having already claimed the other three Golf majors (4 wins in total), the 25-year-old superstar bids for the Rory-Slam – and will surely win one of Augusta’s Green Jackets one day. He’s now won 4 of his last 15 Majors, which statistically makes him an 11/4 shot to win any Major he plays in, and you could argue that his current price of 11/2 looks good value. However, he’s 0 from 6 in this event and has yet to even make the top-5 on any of his visits, despite looking to have the tournament at his mercy before blowing-up in 2011. He looks sure to try and peak for the big day but, unless he wins a few tournaments between now and then, it’s unlikely he’ll go off shorter and may even go off at a bigger price.
Whether Tiger will ever get back to anywhere near his best is anyone’s guess, but the four-time Masters winner’s new hitting a fade-off-the-tee swing isn’t really suited to Augusta even if he does. Could go off much shorter if he comes back to form early – but that’s too big an “if” to warrant any sort of ante-post interest.
Won 2 of the 6 Masters he’s played in (actually 2 of his last 3) which makes the 20/1 available look mighty big for a player who has the proven ability to hit the ball miles and move it in both directions. However, he’ll have to become just the fourth player in 80 years to win it two-years running. The three players to have previously achieved the feat where Jack Nicklaus 1965/66, Nick Faldo 1989/90 and Tiger Woods 2001/2, but it’s interesting that both Nicklaus and Woods achieved it when winning their 2nd and 3rd Masters titles. Not sure he’ll shorten up much before the tournament but wouldn’t put you off nearer the time.
The odds for the talented youngster to win the first Major of the season have plummeted following his 2nd and 3rd wins as a professional and, having finished runner-up last year on his Augusta debut, there’s little doubt he has the game to be wearing the fabled “Green Jacket” come April. However, 18/1 looks short enough to leave alone at present.
The Australian is my idea of a sure-fire future Masters winner as he has the perfect combination of power-hitting and silky short-game skills that are required to win at Augusta. Unfortunately, he’s extremely injury prone and too risky as an ante-post bet.
The sweet swinging South African is also a little injury prone but, at four-times the price of Day, Spieth and Watson, the 2012 runner-up looks a value ante-post bet. Having won the Open Championship at St Andrews, a feat usually reserved for the world’s elite players, he’s definitely got the game to win a Masters. His penchant for winning one of the South African tournaments that kick-start the New Year on the European Tour could also see his price shorten dramatically in the coming weeks.
Louis Oosthuisen 1 point each-way @ 80/1, Stan James
The 35-year-old is a bit of a late-bloomer having not won on tour until last season, however he quickly won his 2nd and 3rd titles before making his Masters debut where he finished 8th. He also finished 9th in the US Open, 26th in The Open Championship and 7th in the US PGA Championship. Considering that he’s only played in 10 Majors, he could make further strides this season, and he looks massively over-priced. Should he start the New Year period like he did last year, his price looks sure to shorten.
Jimmy Walker 1 point each-way @ 80/1, Bet365, Skybet
The 36-year-old has finished 3/8/5 the last three years, and his solid all-round game means he’s likely to always be in contention if on song. He also often plays some of his best golf between New Year and April and could well go off nearer the 25/1 mark.
Matt Kuchar 1 point each-way @ 40/1, Bet Victor
Great things were predicted for the 25-year-old Dane after he finished 9th in the 2012 Open Championship and 6th in the 2013 Masters, however he struggled with giving-up smoking for a long period before getting back on track when winning in Australia in October. Could well start the New Year strongly and could easily go off nearer the 66/1 mark if he does.
Thorbjorn Olesen 1 point each-way @ 150/1, Stan James