To some sports bettors, the official start of spring is when Major League Baseball begins. To golf fans, though, especially those in cold-weather locales, the end of winter is when the Masters annually tees off at Augusta National in Georgia. That happens starting Thursday, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy the +700 favorite.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Masters is the most prestigious of golf’s four Grand Slam events, with the winner receiving a garish but coveted green jacket. It also annually has the smallest field because it’s by invitation only – no Monday qualifying or playing in some sectional to get in like the U.S. Open. The Masters, also the only slam held annually at the same course, hasn’t had a field of triple digits since 103 players teed up in 1966. There are 87 players this year.
McIlroy is favored even though he has yet to win at Augusta as he looks to complete the rare career Grand Slam. He has finished Top 10 at Augusta each of the past five years. He was in position to win the green jacket with a big lead while teeing off on the back-nine Sunday in 2011 but imploded and finished shooting an 80 to plummet to 15th. McIlroy is having a fabulous year on the PGA Tour, yet to finish outside the Top 10 and with a win at the Players Championship.
World No. 2 Dustin Johnson is +1000 to win the Masters for the first time. He was the clear favorite entering the 2017 tournament but slipped in his rental house the day before the first round and had to withdraw due to injury. DJ has finished Top 10 in his past three appearances. Justin Rose, who supplanted Johnson at No. 1 this week, is +1200 to win it for the first time. He has been a runner-up twice.
Most casual golf fans will be tuning in to see if Tiger Woods can win his fifth green jacket – Jack Nicklaus holds the record with six. Hard to believe Tiger hasn’t won at Augusta since 2005. He missed the event in 2016-17 due to off-the-course issues and returned last year with a T32. Woods’ last Top 10 was in 2013. He’s +1400.
American Patrick Reed is the defending champion as he finished last year at 15-under to edge Rickie Fowler (+1800) by a shot. Reed is +5000 to become the first repeat winner since Tiger in 2002.