UA-33754892-1 Archives for 06 April 2014 | Jason Kelly Golf

Jason Kelly Golf

Golf Betting Tips

The Masters

The Masters, like for many, is my favourite golfing week of the year. I could go through all the standard romantic anecdotes about dreamy green grass and colourful rhododendrons. A run through of the rich tapestry of it’s unique history and what it makes me think and feel. Why The Masters is special for so many reasons; the green jacket, the venue, the immaculate condition of the course, Magnolia Lane, the super fast and undulating greens, the opening music to the BBC coverage, an elderly past Champion making a Sunday charge, Amen Corner, the notorious Augusta exclusivity and strict privacy rules etc etc. But I won’t. Every newspaper and magazine article you read relating to The Masters this week will do that and neither I nor them will even come close to recreating the feeling you get inside when they go live for the first time on Thursday. Words never will do The Masters or Augusta justice. It is very much a visual experience and my job is not that of a storyteller, but to give you the best bets to make it even more special!

So what are the best bets? Well, it looks about as wide open as I can ever remember a Masters. Every player has at least one big question mark against them. The market leaders have either questionable health (Day, Mickelson, Rose, Mahan, Bubba) or questionable Sundays (Kuchar, Scott, McIlroy). There doesn’t, on the surface, appear to be a ‘player to beat’.

The closest to ‘a player to beat’ for me is Adam Scott. He is 12/1 to be allowed to take his green jacket away from the club for a second consecutive year. He is second in the betting to McIlory, although he is favourite with a couple of firms. Scott is the only player who ticks the big three boxes for me. He has good recent form, great course form and strong stats that relate well to this course. Last year Scott ranked 1st in greens in regulation and 3rd in scrambling.

Greens in regulation is always a key stat at any course, but here accurate iron play is rewarded more than most other venues. If a player can get the ball not only on the greens but on the correct ledge it is a huge advantage. It obviously helps if you are long as you will be hitting less club, will be able to generate more elevation and spin and therefore stop it quicker on the firm greens (although it is raining heavily at Augusta today, Monday). A lot of people would view Bubba’s win here as a victory for the bombers but where Bubba is underrated is year on year he hits a higher percentage of greens than anyone else on Tour. Another very relevant stat is putting from 6 feet in. It is hard to get your first putt or chip dead on these quick and undulating greens, you often get left with testers, you have to hole out well. Hence scrambling ranks the 4th hardest on Tour at 50.82%, even with no real rough. Shaping the ball right to left is useful and imagination and touch around the greens critical. Course form is relevant but not as crucial as many suggest. Augusta has a horses for courses reputation but many past winners had very chequered form. As an example, Faldo incredibly only had three top 10s here, all wins!

Scott scrambled well, a strong indication that he holed out well. Shotlink is not used at Augusta so it is hard to gage putting relevance. So should we back Scott again at 12/1? I am tempted as he is the player most likely to win but I can’t get away from his final round at Bay Hill a few weeks ago. He shot 62-68-71-76 blowing a huge lead in the process. The funny thing is you put those scores up the other way around and they look ultra impressive! This isn’t a one off either. He did the same at the Aussie Masters. Lets face it, he is a great player but not a great closer. I have it on good information that when he blew The Open in 2012 at Lytham, handing it to Els, Stevie his caddy in the changing room after said with his head in his hands, “He just hasn’t got it”. Yes, he has won big, a Players Championship, a Masters, a WGC at Firestone and a FedEx Playoff event at the Barclays. He has also won four times since his Masters win last year and had five other top 5s. This is testament to his playing ability rather than his ability to close. He is class and certainly has as much game as anyone but hasn’t closed in style. He is no Tiger. Remember at The Players when he was home and dry before hooking a 6 iron in the water on 18? One could also argue that other players assisted him last year and he did not win it clinically, Day had the tournament in his own hands before bogeying 16 and 17. Therefore, my conclusion with Scott is he is the most likely but I can’t back a player win only at 12/1 in The Masters who could have a 3 or 4 shot lead going into the final round and I would still be thinking he could crumble. I would rather take a risk on someone else at a bigger price.

The favourite, Rory is similar to Scott in my opinion. He has two Majors and both of those he absolutely dominated. However, recently he hasn’t looked the same. He looked close to his best at the Honda for a while but blew a lead there. Not only did he blow it, he looked completely lost and without answers with every club.... apart from, obviously, the 5 wood into the last. Still, a Masters favourite should be winning events like that. His final round 65 last week in the Shell Houston will see him arrive with an optimistic outlook, but for me he is too short to risk, especially as he has nothing better than a 15th in the form book at Augusta.

Next in the betting is Phil Mickelson at 14/1. Phil has not registered a top 10 this season and has struggled with various back injuries. Having said that he has only finished outside the top 20 once. His course form of 1-24-5-5-1-27-3-54 is cracking. Another stat in his favour is that he arrives at Augusta this year without a win this season. He hasn’t done that since 2010. 2010 was the last time he won The Masters. If that’s good enough reason to back him feel free, but he is not for me at the price, especially as he finished 54th last year which is his worst finish at Augusta since 1997.

Jason Day is a 16/1 chance and 18/1 in a place with Bet365. There are many people who believe a Major is just a mere formality for the talented young Australian. He is a confident and aggressive player and looks to have a game that should be a perfect fit here. He has a 2nd and a 3rd in his 3 starts at Augusta and has an incredible Major record in his short career. He won the individual in the World Cup of Golf and the WGC Accenture Matchplay already this season as well as a 2nd at the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines, a course with strong form lines to Augusta. He certainly looks like the real deal. Day also has the highest ball flight on tour, which, if there is no wind, could be a huge advantage The only downside with Day is he hasn’t played since his win. He withdrew from WGC Cadillac Championship with a bad thumb and has not been seen since. I have a feeling it is more precautionary as a friend of mine saw him chipping and putting the day after he withdrew. So he is tempting. My problem with backing him at a short price is he could be injured, he could be rusty and he is a little inconsistent. He doesn’t hit that many fairways or greens. He can get it done, but he won’t be in my staking plan. I would be more inclined in taking the 9/2 that Ladbrokes offer on an Australian winner or the 3/1 with Stan James of the winner coming from anywhere but Europe and the USA (rest of world). (Update - I just read he has had a cortisone shot and he says his thumb is pain free. This makes me think his thumb has been bothering him and therefore his preparation may have been affected. Maybe best avoided.)

Now we get into the section of the market where everyone looks like they have a chance and are hard to separate. Kuchar (25/1) has not only the positives of finishing 3rd and 8th the last two years but also the happy memories of having a big Masters as an amateur in 1998. He has been playing great too 7-4-3-1-6-8-mc-9-13-38-4-2. On paper he looks to have a big chance and he led greens in regulation last week which, as we have mentioned, is a big stat for Augusta. You have to like his chances but like Scott and Rory, his Sundays have been off-putting. In his last four final rounds on Tour he has no rounds under par, a combined score of +8 and bogied two of the last 3 in Houston last week to fall into a playoff which he lost. So can he close a Major? Probably, but it is going to be hard after last week. I do expect him to have a big week but won’t be on the 25/1.

Garcia is another who is tempting at 25/1. He looked awesome last week through 2 rounds and kind of fizzled on the weekend. Still he showed his game is in good shape and he is still putting nicely. He also led scrambling in Houston which bodes well. You feel with Garcia that he has the ability and capability to win this if he really wanted to, and of course he wants to, but he seems to go into the big events these days with a defeatist attitude, almost like he wants to take the pressure off himself. To protect himself from failure. With the right attitude it would not surprise anyone if he got the Major monkey of his back but it seems a big ask at the price. Also last week he said he was struggling to hit draw which he will need this week.

I suggested a little ante post interest on Dustin Johnson last week believing he would hold current form and have a big Houston Open and the 20/1 about him to win this would disappear. He shot 80 and withdrew after one round and thus is 28/1 for this. Nice work! I don’t know how much to read into his performance last week. Statistically he is the best player in the field this year ranking 2nd in driving distance, 3rd in greens, 19th in putting, 2nd in eagles, 1st in birdies, and 5th in scoring, Throw in recent form of a win, two seconds and five top 10’s in seven starts and the appeal grows. The only thing I don’t really like is his scrambling stat of 97th but the fact he is hitting loads of greens, putting well, bombs it with a draw and picks up loads of birdies and eagles outweighs this for me. 2nd in the bounce back stat shows his attitude, generally, has been pretty good. He has come close in Majors before and not got it done but I like his chances with his progressive course form of 30-38-38-dnp-13. He also opened up with a 67 last year. I forgive him one bad round that has taken him from 20/1-28/1, he had placed in the top 4 in his previous 4 stroke play starts. I fancy topping up the value a little at the price.

The course was forced to close today (Monday) due to heavy rain. The forecast is for the weather to improve day by day with little wind on the tournament days and temperatures climbing from 46 degrees on Thursday up to 69 on Sunday. Bubba Watson is one of the long hitters that will welcome the rain. The longer the better. He hits a lot of greens and ranks, an incredible for him, 10th in scrambling. We backed him when he won here and he comes into this a better player statistically and form wise 23-2-1-2-wd. The withdrawal was put down to allergies after shooting 83 in round 1 at Bay Hill. However, he is not available at the same price as he was when he won. Bubba’s putting is suspect and I wouldn’t like to see him over too many 4 or 5 footers on Sunday afternoon if in contention and, although he got a win eventually this season with an incredible 64-64 weekend at the Northern Trust, he has blown plenty of chances before, including the Phoenix Open. It was a long barren spell post Masters victory. He could be in amongst it on Sunday but is just a little too short for me to back.

Stenson’s stats at Bay Hill suggested he was nearing his best. When he was the best player in the world last year between The Open and The Tour Championship he was over 80% fairways and greens every week. They were over 80% again there. However, he did not continue that last week in Houston. In fact, this season Stenson averages only 66% fairways and 68% greens. He also loses strokes with the putter and is a disappointing 46% in scrambling. I think this should be a great fit for him but I am not sure his game is quite where it needs to be and maybe this year’s Masters comes just a little too soon for him.

Justin Rose hasn’t played enough recently to really make a call about the state of his game. He has 7 appearances at Augusta which have yielded two top 10s with a best of 5th in 2007. He has had problems with injury and I simply think he does not putt well enough to win here, although the injury may have been a blessing in disguise allowing more time for putting practice. I think 33/1 is a bad price, especially as he missed the cut last time out on a course that should really suit, Bay Hill.

Zach Johnson is a lot of people’s pick for this year’s Masters and at 35/1 he has some appeal. A past winner in 2007, statistically strong and a great putter he should have a chance. He has been very solid this season. He is famous for laying up on every par 5 when he won. He is a great wedge player so this can work if he is really on and the putter is really working, but if not, the power boys will go right over the top of him. His Masters record outside of the win is really not up to much for a very consistent player. 32-1-20-mc-42-mc-32-35. I will leave him alone in the outright market but in the ’Top Former Winner’ market he is a bit of each way value @ 7/1, 1/4 odds 1-3. He is up against Scott, Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Schwartzel and Cabrera. The rest shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Couples could do something but even then it is really 3 places in a 6 runner race. You would think a 30 something finish again would give him a fair chance of at least a place return. It should be a bet to nothing.

Schwartzel has been quiet this year and his ball striking stats look to be to blame, and perhaps the birth of his first child. His putting looks pretty good and last season he ranked number one in putting from outside 15 feet. Like Zach, outside of his win at Augusta his form is average. 30-1-50-25. No wind will suit but not for me at 33/1.

Snedeker has been out of sorts this year. Has only one top 10 in the last 6 months and that came at Bay Hill last time out. 90th in greens in regulation, 77th in putting and, a shocking for him, 142nd in scrambling. He has a good Masters record so no doubt there will be money for him. 3-mc-dnp-15-19-6. 35/1 is a very bad price on recent form.

Keegan Bradley has played two Masters and has finished 27-54. He is in good form and has a game that should suit Augusta. His ball striking stats are down on his normal high standards and although he is making a lot of birdies, is also making a lot of unforced errors. His routine is horrific. Other players like Simpson and Na, whose twitchy and slow routines made it hard for them to win especially as they slowed up even more under pressure. Simpson at least has seemed to maintain his slow routine now, rather than getting even slower. Bradley looks like he is getting in his own way and I am not sure he would hold up and the most intense pressure. I will pass at 40/1 but wouldn’t be surprised to see bursts of brilliance from him. Not a bad pick for first round leader perhaps at 50/1.

Spieth, Dufner, Mahan and Westwood complete the list of players at 50/1 or less, the market principles. Spieth is an exceptional young player who appears to be capable of anything. He missed the cut last week in Houston which is a little concerning but last year’s rookie of the year will love this test and has made many visits to Augusta this year to prepare for his debut. He has 4 top 10’s in 12 starts this season including a 2nd in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. However, he ranks 150th in total driving and 106th in greens. 32nd in scrambling, 30th in putting and 11th in birdies gives him a chance but he is an aggressive putter who could be found out on these greens.

Dufner is being backed for this. 66/1 into 45/1. I don’t understand it. He has never finished inside the top 20 here in 3 starts and although he hits a lot of greens he is a more than suspect putter, ranking 157th in the category. He also ranks a lacklustre 117th in scrambling. His recent form gives him an outside chance and he has a good Major record but there are others a lot more likely.

Donald, since 2006 has finished 42-10-mc-38-mc-4-32-25 at Augusta. He has shown bits of form over the last few weeks but his stats are typical Donald, even after the swing changes he has made under his new coach, Chuck Cook. His ball striking is very poor. Short and wild from the tee but balanced out with strong scrambling and putting stats. I actually think Donald will have a good week but others have much bigger weapons. He will have to be exceptional to compete here.

Westwood, despite common perception, led the scrambling stats at Augusta last year saving par 76.67% of the time. He finished 8th. We have also seen him dominate Augusta through great ball striking. Not many people are capable of doing that. Lee played well in Houston last week and appears to be going in the right direction. With some of the media attention diverted away from him as his profile decreases, he may have found a good opportunity to pounce. But will he? I am going to go with a no. 109th in driving accuracy, 117th in greens in regulation, 101st in putting and a woeful 144th in scrambling back up that opinion. It also shows why the limelight is off of him. He will have to find something to win this.

Mahan has a chequered Masters record. mc-10-8-mc-12-mc. His recent form is up and down too and has been struggling with a hip/back injury. His ball striking is ok but his putting has really improved, ranking 16th. This gives him a chance but one feels when the pressure is on and he starts missing greens his short game will not keep him up with the pace. He will be putting from everywhere as he hates a tight lie on a chip shot. Not for me.

Outside of the market leaders I like Webb Simpson @ 80/1, Harris English @ 66/1, Ryan Moore @ 110/1, Patrick Reed @ 66/1, Graeme McDowell @ 66/1, Kevin Stadler @ 300/1, Hideki Matsuyama @ 80/1, Graham DeLaet @ 100/1, Matt Every @ 150/1, Bill Haas @ 80/1 and John Senden @ 250/1.

Simpson had a shocker in the final round last week and seems to be going to wrong way a little bit. However, he still ranks 21st in total driving, 27th in greens in regulation, 8th in putting, 5th in birdies, 19th in ball striking and 25th in scrambling. His Masters record is poor 44-mc. His recent form is 47-mc-61. Not ideal, but his stats are too good to ignore and he draws it. He looks a good price, he would be in the 33/1-40/1 in my book and therefore is a bet.

English is debuting at this years Masters. Outside the first couple of years only one player, Fuzzy Zoeller, has won on debut, only three in total. A big ask but English went to University of Georgia and has played Augusta many times. He also had a hole in one on the 12th in practice so has some good vibes going. He ranks 1st in greens in regulation, 3rd in birdies, 4th in scoring. Form wise there are not many coming into this better and he is worth chancing at 66/1 and worth considering in the top debutant market at 7/1, but that is a very competitive market for this renewal. People say Augusta virgins have no chance, you have to learn how to play this unique course. It is true but there is so much ability and potential in the ‘Top Debutant’ market that 8/1 about one of them winning is worth backing, even if history is against us. They used to say an Australian would never win here too!

Ryan Moore finished 13th here as an amateur, 14th in 2010, 35th in 2011, didn’t play in 2012 and 38th last year. He has made big strides forward this year, winning in Malaysia in the CIMB this season, but at the end of last year. He has 4 top 10’s in 10 starts and ranks 14th in driving accuracy, 9th in greens in regulation and 10th in birdies. He is solid and is value @ 110/1.

Patrick Reed is a confident and very capable golfer. He has two wins and they are his only top 10’s this season. He certainly is a guy who knows how to close when he has a chance and one of those wins was the WGC at Doral. Impressive at the age of just 23. His stats are ok, pretty solid tee to greens and pretty solid on it but he ranks 112th in scrambling. He may get inspired again this week but for me 66/1 is about right for another debutant.

Graeme McDowell has been playing very nicely so far this season. Augusta really doesn’t set up that well for him. He plays his best, in my view, when he hits that low hold off cut from the tee, although naturally he draws it. That cut doesn’t work so well here and accuracy from the tee is not rewarded as much at Augusta as it would at a US or British Open course. He is a precision iron player, a great grinder and putter. He will never give up, mentally he is so strong. He will accept the challenge. He has played 6 events this year and has an incredible 5 top 10’s, including a 3rd in WGC HSBC Champions. 1st in putting, 2nd in scoring and 27th in scrambling should see him compete but he maybe does not have the weapons to go all the way. However, 10/1 each way to be top GB&I does carry good amount of appeal. In depth, the British challenge seems fairly ordinary. He should be good for at least a top three and each way money.

Kevin Stadler’s dad, Craig, has won this and they may be perceived to be twins rather than father and son. Kevin doesn’t look or play like your typical Masters Champion in waiting. He plays and then lies on the sofa betting on sports.... I like his style! Kevin is 300/1 for this. I think winning is a big ask but he is a huge price. 125/1 would be nearer the correct price. This guys golf is underrated. Tee to green there are not too many better. 3rd in total driving, 14th in greens, 9th in birdies, 4th in ball striking but a lowly 146th in scrambling and 139th in putting. He is 7/1 to finish top 20 which seems plausible and fair. 28/1 in the top debutant market each way, top 4 places is tidy too.

Hideki Matsuyama has struggled with a wrist injury for much of this season so it feels like a bit of a risk to get involved. However, he has had a month off and completed 72 holes a number of times with the injury. 80/1 is tempting about a player who chose the biggest stage, the Majors, to broadcast his talent last season. He finished 10th in the US Open, 6th in The Open and 19th in the USPGA. His stats are not as good this season but are all solid. Especially in two important ones, 7th in birdies and 10th in scoring. He hits it long which is a help here and experienced the Masters in 2011 and 12. He finished 27th and won low amateur in 2011 and 54th in 2012. He is very impressive. I was going to recommend backing Matsuyama at 18/1 in the ‘top rest of world’ market, and I will, but I am also talking myself into backing him in the outright too. He reminds me of a Zach Johnson or a Woods. He has won so much at every level growing up that winning is something he knows and does, it’s almost a habit.

Graham Delaet is a ball striking machine and if you look at his form from October through February he was also a top 10 machine. He recorded 5 in a row. 6 in 11 starts this season. This included a pair of 2nd place finishes in a row at the Farmers Insurance and Waste Management. He finished 19th last week and could go well here. 10th in driving distance, 6th in greens in regulation, 14th in scoring could see this debutant have a solid week. I just think a ranking of 111th in putting and 108th in scrambling may just hold him back and therefore looses some of his value.

Matt Every had a huge win at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first on Tour, and I am sure he had to give Adam Scott a special thank you for his contribution to his victory. But there is no doubt he can play. 22nd in greens, 4th in putting, 3rd in birdies, 3rd in scoring and an acceptable 63rd in scrambling. That win was his 6th top 10 in 11 starts. It was no fluke. 6-24-8-1. Nice form to come into your first Masters with. 150/1 looks big when the only negative is his lack of distance. One to think about.

Bill Haas is an interesting contender @ 80/1. 26-42-37-20 is his Masters record, which matches up with his season so far. Fairly mediocre, nothing spectacular. His stats are the same, really solid throughout but with nothing really clicking. I like Haas as he hooks it and when he gets a couple of putts to drop his putter heats up very quickly. Most his good weeks he ranks at the top of the putting stats, most his bad weeks at the bottom. That club seems to have no middle ground for him. He reminds me a little of Kuchar as in he is more likely to outstay his opponents rather than rush through and blaze past them. He looks like a player to have onside in some match bets rather than in the outright markets. It is hard to profit in outright markets through consistency.

250/1 about a player who won only a few weeks ago seems big but that is the price they go about John Senden. Sure, since the win he hasn’t been at his best but he seems more likely than a lot of the guys at shorter odds than him. His Masters record is disgusting mc-dnp-mc-dnp-mc-35. Almost as bad as Martin Kaymer’s mc-mc-mc-mc-44-35! I only mention Senden as his Achilles heel is reformed. He can now putt. Sure, these greens will really test him but he ranks 18th in putting this year. Put that alongside 26th in greens and 28th in scrambling and we have a player that is shown to be underrated by the bookies that we can have in some match bets.

I will post some match bets on Wednesday after the draw is made.


The Masters

1 point each way Dustin Johnson @ 28/1 (-2 pts)
0.5 points each way Webb Simpson @ 80/1 (-1 pt)
0.75 points each way Harris English @ 66/1 (-1.5 pts)
0.5 points each way Ryan Moore @ 110/1 (-1 pt)
0.75 points each way Hideki Matsuyama @ 80/1 (-1.5 pts)

Special Bets

0.5 points each way Keegan Bradley @ 50/1 to be ‘First Round Leader’. 1/4 1-5 (-1 pt)
1 point Kevin Stadler @ 7/1 to finish in the ‘Top 20’
1.5 points ‘A Debutant To Win’ @ 8/1
1.5 points each way Zach Johnson @ 7/1 in ‘Top Former Winner’ market. 1/4 1-3 (-3 pts)
1.5 points each way Graeme McDowell @ 10/1 in the ’Top GB&I’ market. 1/4 1-3 (-3 pts)
1 point each way Hideki Matsuyama @ 18/1 in the ’Top Rest Of The World’ market. 1/5 1-4 (-2 pts)

Already Recommended

1 point each way Dustin Johnson to win The Masters @ 20/1

2014 running total =  +23.9 points. This week’s investment 18.5 points. This weeks P&L = 

2013 total - 24.22 points
2012 total +150.36 points
2011 total +370.78 points
2010 total +189.33 points

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