Earlier this week we delved into the 10-Year-trends for the US Masters and, whilst following those trends won’t guarantee success this week – my main fancy is a nice fit for them.
Main-fancy Mark Leishman, like 8 of the last 10 winners, is in the world’s top-30. He owes that to his recent win at Bay Hill, whilst his win in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa is another sign that he is world-class at his best. At 33-years-old, he also mirrors 6 of the last 10 winners who have been in their 30s, whilst 5 of the last 10 winners have also been non-Americans, despite a numerical bias towards the home-contingent. More significantly, perhaps, 8 of the last 10 winners were winning not only the Masters for the first time but, in doing so, also claiming their first Major Success. Leishman already has 3 top-5 major finishes since 2013, including a fourth here – and he looks excellent value at 66/1 with 8 places on offer for each-way bets.
There are others who fit the identikit profile of recent winners, especially if you extend it to include players in their 20s, and why not when the last two winners have been of that age-group. Cases can be made for Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Brandon Grace, Brandt Snedeker, Brooks Koepka and Rafa Cabrero Bello, but the gut feeling says none of them are playing well enough to win – unless something has clicked in pre-tournament practice.
Therefore, the second place in this week’s portfolio has to go to Rickie Fowler. The world-number-8 was waxing-lyrical about how well Butch Harmon had got him swinging prior to the Shell Houston Open, and third-place the week before the first major of the season would have been exactly what Fowler was looking for. He’s also got plenty of Major form in the bag that suggests he’s good enough, including a clean-sweep of top-5 major finishes in 2014.
Last, but by no means least, it’s really hard to rule-out Dustin Johnson this week. Okay, so he really doesn’t fit the recent stats as a previous major-winner, or as a world-number-one – but the gut-feeling is he’ll never have a better chance of winning a Green Jacket. If Tiger Woods had arrived here in the sort of form Johnson is in, you’d have been lucky to have got 5/4 – so 7/1 looks more than fair for a player who has won his last three tournaments in completely dominant fashion. He drives it long, his short-iron play is better than ever, and his chipping and putting is good enough to scramble to keep his score together when he needs to. You could also argue that his low-ball-flight isn’t ideally suited to Augusta, but his driving is so long and accurate at the moment that he’ll be going in with much more loft in his hands than most people.
2017 US Masters Tips
Mark Leishman 2 Points Each-Way @ 66/1 (William Hill) 8 Places 1/5 odds
Rickie Fowler 2 Points Each-Way @ 25/1 (Ladbrokes) 5 Places 1/4 odds
Dustin Johnson 3 Points Each-Way @ 7/1 (Stan James) 7 Places 1/5 odds