As both the PGA Tour and European Tour have started their respective Christmas breaks, it’s the perfect time to delve into next year’s ante-post markets for the four majors – and this week we’ll take a look at The US Masters to see if we can uncover any early value.
We’ll start with a look at the 3 players at single-figure prices as, if we can get them beat, we must have a chance. Wonder-kid Jordan Spieth (7/1) heads the market, and will be most people’s idea of the winner after finishing second and first in his first two appearances. His imperious ability to out-putt the opposition in the pressure of battle is a massive weapon but, as champion, he will have the added pressure of defending a title that only three of the greatest golfers ever have managed, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. If Spieth does defend he’ll earn his place amongst the greats, but the task may just prove beyond him at the first attempt.
Rory McIlroy (7/1) will surely bag a Masters one day and, with the media focus likely to be on Spieth, this may be his greatest chance yet. 8th and 4th in the last two years shows he’s getting to grips with the course, but the putter will have to be on its best behaviour if he’s to win.
Jason Day (8/1) had a brilliant finish to 2016 which included his first major in the US PGA where he played a level of golf rarely seen. That sort of form would probably make him favourite, as he arguably has the power of McIlroy and the putting abilities of Spieth combined when at the peak of his powers. However, there in lies the problem, as he is repeatedly struck down by injury, whilst another edition to the Day family may also take some of his focus.
And so I’m putting up 3 players which I think offer a shade of value ante-post.
Louis Oosthuizen 1 point each-way @ 66/1 (Sky, Betfred, Coral) ¼ odds 5 places
The 33-year-old former Open Champion is one of the most hot and cold golfers on the planet, but his major performances last year where solid as he finished 19/2/2/30. He also finished 2nd in this tournament in 2012, when he lost in a play-off to the Bubba Watson wonder-shot. If he arrives in form he’ll be a danger to all.
Charl Schwartzel 1 point each-way @ 80/1 (Coral) ¼ odds 5 places
The 2011 Champion has done little in the tournament since, but he seemed to be finding his top-form again after becoming a dad. With a child to inspire him, at 31 he’s at the age where many golfers deliver on the promises of their 20’s, and he looks a value-bet.
Brandt Snedeker 1 point each-way @ 80/1 (Coral) ¼ odds 5 places
Inconsistent for much of the last few years, Snedeker definitely has a major in him, and he’s finished 3rd and 6th here in 7 attempts. Putting has always been his forte but, after seeking the advice of ace coach Butch Harmon last year, there are signs that his long game could have the consistency to make him a major champion.