Masters picks to win: A professional gambler risks his money on these bets
Who does the journalist, betting analyst or data guru like? Or the caddie or former player? Or the old-school gambler? Gimme the facts, storylines and trends. Gimme that inside-the-ropes look. Gimme your gut feeling.
You bet, bettor.
Welcome to GOLF.com’s new gambling advice column, where we’ve assembled a panel of those aforementioned experts to make three “best bets” through odds from DraftKings (along with a to-win and sleeper pick during major weeks). A real-life professional bettor here will then heed that advice, add his acumen and wager his own cash. It’s not unlike what you do through texts and Google searches — except now it’s all in one place.
Our hope is to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook or through free-to-play Chirp Golf, an app from our parent company that is available in the App Store and at Google Play.
Now, on to some facts, the expert picks, the bettor’s best bets and info on how to bet for free.
This week’s tournament: Masters, at Augusta National Golf Club
TV: Thursday, 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN; Friday, 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN; Saturday, 3-7 p.m., CBS; Sunday, 2-7 p.m., CBS
Weather (weather.com): Thursday, mostly cloudy, 84 degrees, 11 mph SSW wind; Friday, isolated thunderstorms (34 percent chance of rain), 83 degrees, 8 mph S wind; Saturday, PM thunderstorms (54 percent chance of rain), 84 degrees, 13 mph S wind; Sunday, isolated thunderstorms (33 percent chance of rain), 81 degrees, 12 mph WSW wind.
Defending champion: Dustin Johnson
Top 10 in odds: Dustin Johnson, +950; Bryson DeChambeau, +1,100; Jordan Spieth, +1,150; Justin Thomas, +1,150; Jon Rahm, +1,200; Rory McIlroy, +1,900; Patrick Cantlay, +2,050; Xander Schauffele, +2,300; Brooks Koepka, +2,800; Collin Morikawa, +3,150
Nick Piastowski, GOLF.com, @nickpia
Bet 1: Kevin Kisner, top 20, +400. At what’s expected to be a fire-breathing Augusta, I want someone who’s “probably been around here a hundred times,” and that’s Kis.
Bet 2: Justin Thomas over Jon Rahm, best finishing position, +105. I’ll happily take an underdog JT. I know there’s been some love for the new father angle, but I’m not buying it, especially with Rahm not reportedly seeing the course until Wednesday.
Bet 3: Tony Finau, best 18 hole round score of the tournament, +3,300. It’s either going to be him or Rory, right? And will be either a round to move into contention — or a meaningless Sunday 64.
To-win: Sungjae Im, +4,150. I know, I know. I just wrote an entire story above detailing that last year’s results don’t mean much this year. But I’m looking at more than Im’s runner-up finish last year (though I’m not completely ignoring it, either). It takes iron excellence to win at Augusta, and Im has it. And those odds are so very lovely. (Put me down for thinking that Patrick Reed may make a run, too.)
Sleeper: Brian Harman, +12,500. Do I expect him to win? Not really. But at those odds, it’s worth a flier, considering he tied for third at the Players and made a nice run at the Match Play. (And if you’re really feeling frisky — Phil’s at +17,500!)
Jessica Marksbury, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury
Bet 1: Rory McIlroy, top 10, +175. This just seems like a lock, doesn’t it? Even if Rory doesn’t contend on Sunday, he always has at least one super-low round that vaults him into a good finishing position. To wit, he’s finished in the top 10 in six of the past seven years.
Bet 2: Bryson DeChambeau to make eagle in Round 1, yes, +400. Have you seen that video of BDC smashing drives on the range? I have to believe that an eagle on Thursday is not only very possible, but extremely likely.
Bet 3: Will Zalatoris, top debutant, +110. For an Augusta newbie, Will is a seriously seasoned player. No. 45 in the OWGR, five top 10s on the PGA Tour since September. He’s legit. This should be a slam dunk.
To-win: Dustin Johnson, +950. Yeah, he’s the favorite — but for good reason! Not only is DJ the world No. 1, but his record at Augusta is top-notch: He’s finished in the top 10 in all five of his most-recent starts at the Masters. There’s no reason to think this year will be any different.
Sleeper: Abraham Ancer, +8,000. Loved his inspired debut at Augusta in November when he finished T13, and he’s been playing well since, with seven T23 finishes in his past nine events. He seems ripe for a breakthrough.
Brady Kannon, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @lasvegasgolfer
Bet 1: Daniel Berger, top 20, +100. Daniel Berger has been one of the best players on Tour over the past year, winning at Colonial and at Pebble Beach. He is normally thought of as a Bermuda grass putting specialist, but he has learned how to be one of the best now on all surfaces. He’s never missed a cut at the Masters, and I think that holds up and then some.
Bet 2: Joaquin Niemann, top 20, +164. Niemann rolled into 2021 on fire in Hawaii, finishing second twice with a combined score of 46-under par. Kapalua is a correlated course to Augusta, in my opinion, and Niemann’s iron play will hold up anywhere. He avoids three-putting and scores on the par-5s. I think he’ll hang around the top 15 or better this week.
Bet 3: Louis Oosthuizen, top 20, +188. Louis is one of the most consistent players at Augusta in the field. He gains strokes off the tee, and this year, unlike many of the past, he is playing extremely well around the greens and with the putter. Louis could win the whole thing if his game clicks for four days.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +1,200. Thomas has been getting better in every Masters appearance since his debut in 2016, finishing 39th, 22nd, 17th, 12th and fourth, in 2020. A win is the next natural step. He’s in good form, having just won the Players Championship, and he’s seen success at Riviera Country Club in the Genesis Invitational, a course that shows a great deal of crossover success with Augusta National.
Sleeper: Matthew Fitzpatrick, +4,000. Fitzpatrick has made five straight cuts at the Masters and has been in great recent form, finishing fifth, 10th, 11th, and ninth in his past four stroke play starts. His iron play and magnificent short game ought to take him a long way once again.
Wes Reynolds, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @WesReynolds1
Bet 1: Joaquin Niemann, top 20, +164. His game has very few weaknesses as he can bomb it off the tee (ninth in driving distance), hit plenty of greens (10th in greens In regulation) and make plenty of birdies (sixth in birdie average). He missed last year’s event due to Covid-19 so he should be eager to show out on the biggest stage.
Bet 2: Mackenzie Hughes, top Canadian player, +200. 12th on the PGA Tour for SG: Putting. Conners finished top 10 here last year and has been in better form; however, he can still be shaky with the putter at any time.
Bet 3: Jimmy Walker, to make the cut, yes, +200. Walker is 7 for 7 in making cuts at the Masters. This is likely his last Masters appearance for the foreseeable future, as his major exemption from winning the 2016 PGA Championship expires this season.
To-win: Jon Rahm, +1,200. The putter has been slow to get going in 2021, but showed some signs of life at the WGC-Dell Match Play, as he was the only top-seeded player to advance to the round of 16. Baby boy Kepa was born over the weekend, and while Rahm is certainly not free from distractions, his game looks to be peaking at the right time and he certainly comes in the right frame of mind. Hey, it worked for Danny Willett five years ago here.
Sleeper: Sungjae Im, +4,150: Granted last fall’s conditions made Augusta National play as easy as it ever has; however, Sungjae Im’s T2 in his debut does not have the look of a one-hit wonder. Only Bryson DeChambeau has gained more strokes off the tee over the past 24 rounds. Im also has the short game to go along with his terrific driving. It should be no surprise to see “Sunday Sungjae” be in the mix again.
Martin de Knijff, Metric Gaming, @mdkentrepreneur
Bet 1: Viktor Perez, leader after Round 1, +8,000. The 28-year-old Frenchman is turning into a very solid player and plays tough courses very well. T-46 at the Masters in 2020.
Bet 2: Henrik Stenson, to make the cut, no -250 (could’ve hoped for a better price). Completely out of form, and feels like a total steal.
Bet 3: Corey Conners over Adam Scott, best finishing position, -120. CC played really well at Augusta in November, finishing T-10. Great ball striker and in superb form.
To-win: Jon Rahm, +1,200. Rahm just became a dad, and in his case, I think that’s a positive. The expected firm conditions are a big plus.
Sleeper: Patrick Reed, +3,500. Past winners should never be “slept on.” Worked a lot on his driving, and if it’s consistent, watch out.
Colt Knost, former PGA Tour player and co-host of GOLF’s Subpar and Sirius XM’s Gravy and the Sleaze, @ColtKnost
Bet 1: Justin Thomas, top 5, +275. This is a ball strikers golf course. More importantly, a second shot golf course, and not many hit their irons better than Justin Thomas.
Bet 2: Patrick Cantlay, top 10, +200. Another great iron player and a man who has no weaknesses. I love him to be a factor and doubling up your money on a top 10 at +200.
Bet 3: Will Zalatoris, top 10, +500. I know first-timers don’t have a ton of success around here, but Will Zalatoris is not your typical rookie! He’s one of the best ball strikers on the planet. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he finished in the top 10.
To-win: Jordan Spieth, +1,150. Jordan Spieth has been trending! I loved him this week even before winning in San Antonio! His iron game is back to the Jordan Spieth of old! I look for him to collect his second green jacket!
Sleeper: Paul Casey, +3,500. Paul Casey has been in incredible form! Absolute ball striking machine and loves Augusta National. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up his first major!
Bet 1: Shane Lowry, top 10, +800. Lowry has been playing solid as of late and determined to impress Captain Harrington in a Ryder Cup year. Possesses an elite short game that will come in handy on a much firmer National. His record here is not impressive, but opened the comparative ’16 Masters with a 68 and sandwiched rounds of 69 and 68 in November.
Bet 2: Two or more holes in one in the tournament, no, -250. If the course plays firmer as advertised, it’ll be that much more difficult to get at pins. There have been 29 aces in Masters history dating back to 1934, and only on six occasions, two or more. Must dodge bullets to the front left pin on No. 6 and back left pin on No. 16. You can still root for one!
Bet 3: Lee Westwood over Collin Morikawa, best finishing position, +130. This is purely a play on experience. Westwood is in good form, with a fresh outlook, and will know how to navigate this Masters. He’s made 16 of 19 cuts and finished T2 in ’16. Morikawa is maybe the best iron player in the game, but this Masters will play completely different than his first in November (even with an experienced caddie), and it’s unlikely he replicates his putting performance at Concession.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +1,100. Only once has a player won The Players and Masters in the same year — Tiger Woods (20 years ago). It has already been a crazy year for Thomas, who now counts Tiger as one of his best friends. Making his sixth appearance at Augusta, JT has made the cut and improved his finish every year, highlighted by a fourth in November. A Sunday for the ages alongside another best friend — Jordan Spieth — wouldn’t surprise.
Sleeper: Lee Westwood, +4,000. It’s clear Westwood’s recent form is no fluke, and he’s returning to his best major championship (16 of 19 cuts made, six T10s, including two seconds) with a fresh mindset. At 47, he’d be the oldest Masters champ and second-oldest major winner. Sure, he’s never crossed the finish line ahead in a big one, and the Masters consistently proves it owes nothing to anybody, but it also writes dream storylines.
The “old-school” gambler, an “old-school” gambler, @notthefakeW
Bet 1: Jordan Spieth, top 5, +275. He’s baaaack! Usually, crusty old grumps like me don’t toss around touchy feely words like “fate” and “destiny.” But if ever there were a case of a man and the moment meeting up at the Masters, well, let’s just say Spieth in the hunt seems pretty much preordained.
Bet 2: Patrick Reed, to win, +3,500. Glassy conditions place a premium on the short game. And if there’s been a better clutch putter in recent decades outside of Tiger, I haven’t seen him. Reed will be in this one. Bank on it.
Bet 3: Lee Westwood over Collin Morikawa, best finishing position, +130. No disrespect to the steely California kid, but there’s no course where experience matters more. And no legitimate contender with more experience here. That we’re getting odds here makes this an especially appealing play.
To-win: Bryson DeChambeau, +1,150. Last November, all the distance-intoxicated pundits practically handed the green jacket to DeChambeau before the tournament even began. Which is how I knew NOT to bet him then. This year, there’s much less distracting hype around him, so he’s got that going for him, along with a game that is built on much more than just raw power. Also, I guarantee you he will not make another lost-ball triple bogey on the 3rd hole again. There may be a universe in which DeChambeau does not contend this week, but it would take a theoretical physicist much smarter than Bryson to locate it.
Sleeper: Matt Kuchar, +10,000. Kuchar was missing in action for quite a while there. But he looked back to his old steady self two weeks ago in Austin, and played well again last week at the Valero. Combine that with his solid history at Augusta, a course where history matters more than it does at many other venues, and you’ve got a pretty good long shot play at 100-1.
The pro bettor’s best bets
Erick Lindgren. Lindgren, the 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year, has won more than $10.5 million in poker tournament earnings and is an avid sports bettor. @EdogPoker
Bet 1: Scottie Scheffler, +5,500. Not many people can take Jon Rahm’s best shot in match play and respond. He is a killer.
Bet 2: Scottie Scheffler, top 10, +400. For the same reasons as above.
Bet 3: Max Homa, top 10, +600. Flushers gonna flush. That win at Riviera was no fluke, and there’s a history of crossover success between that course and Augusta.
To-win: Jordan Spieth, +1,150. I actually bet him a few months ago at 30-1, but I still like him at this price. Let’s go!
Sleeper: Viktor Hovland, +3,500. OK, so maybe not a true sleeper. But a good play given the odds. Hits it great, and his putting has been steadily improving. He will be the best of the young 20-somethings.
How to bet on the Masters — risk free!
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