“I’m hitting some of those tee shots, and it’s, I’m trying to hit that like low hooking driver on No. 2, and I know that there’s a, this is what I’m going to hit on 13,” Thomas said at the Valspar Championship, played the week after the Players. “This is what I’m going to hit off of 2, or I’m sorry, off 10.
“You have some second shots into par-5s where like this is, I feel like I’m going to be able to hit this into the second shot into 15. Or potentially you hit a ball above your feet, you’re like, OK, this is kind of good practice for a second shot on 13.
“So it’s weird. There’s no other golf tournament, no other golf course, that I do that on, but for some reason, Augusta’s just always on your mind.”
When the Masters begins on Thursday, few are more favored to win than Thomas, and few want it more. Everything tells you and him that it should happen, too. In six appearances at the Masters, he’s improved nearly every year — 39th in 2016; 22nd in 2017; 17th in 2018; 12th in 2019; fourth in 2020; and 21st last year, after a disappointing 75-73 weekend — and Thomas believes Augusta is a fit.
“This place is really good for me,” he said last year.
But is this Thomas’ year? As we try to find a Masters winner, I’ve asked that question to colleagues Jessica Marksbury and Josh Sens, and I answered it, too. And to help you even further, members of our staff have each made a to-win bet using odds from BetMGM.
(Looking to play any of these bets yourself? We teamed with BetMGM and the online sports book is offering a new promotion: Get a $20 free bet when you bet the first 4 days of the tournament at Augusta! Sign up for an account to get into the action today.)
On to our analysis.
Why Justin Thomas will win the Masters
Jessica Marksbury: JT will win because he’s one of the best iron players in the game, and Augusta National tends to reward great iron play. He’s managed a tie for 12 and a solo fourth in two of his past three appearances and has admitted he has yet to showcase his A game on the greens.
Josh Sens: JT will win because he’s been getting dialed, sniffing the winner’s circle, showing signs of a guy starting to peak at just the right time, and all those other cliches. He really has been playing great. Plus, he’s got Bones on his bag, an X-factor of a boost.
Nick Piastowski: Trending. Course fit. The Bones addition. Thomas won’t lose the Masters. The only way he isn’t being fitted for a jacket on Sunday is if someone else just goes and wins it.
Why Justin Thomas won’t win the Masters
Jessica Marksbury: JT will not win because willing your putter into a hot week at Augusta is pretty much impossible, and there are too many players — Rahm, Koepka, Spieth — who seem to have cracked the code for contending at Augusta.
Josh Sens: JT will not win because either Scottie Scheffler or Xander Schauffele will.
Nick Piastowski: Do all of the Masters thoughts paralyze JT? Something to consider.
Staff picks to win the Masters
To-win: Viktor Hovland, +1,800. By his own admission, Hovland isn’t a great chipper, and the stats back that up (he’s DFL on Tour in SG: Around the Green). That would normally be a red flag heading into Augusta, but the guy hits so many greens in reg (71 percent, 12th best on Tour) that he’s not forced to scramble all that much. So, yeah, we still like him. How can’t we? In 2022, he has been more or less an automatic top 10, he loves the big moment, and though he has only two career starts at Augusta, on both occasions he proved the course suits him, finishing T32 as an amateur in 2019, and T21 a year ago. This year, I think he’ll look great in a green jacket.
To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +1,600. A trendy pick, yes, but what’s not to like about Scheffler right now? Even without his recent success, he’s proven to be a contender in major championships. He was T19 and T18 in his two Masters starts, and in his past three majors, he’s finished no worse than T8. A somewhat obvious pick? Yes. But man, would I feel dumb if he won this thing and the only reason I didn’t pick him was because it was too obvious.
To-win: Patrick Cantlay, +1,800. This year feels ripe for the “long-overdue star finally captures first major” narrative, and what better player for that than Cantlay, whose public persona has come of age in the past few months?
To-win: Xander Schauffele, +2,200. I’ve been staring at these odds. Staring and staring. The players’ names themselves have stopped even making sense to me. I suddenly hate all the offerings. Everybody is too smart now. Cameron Smith seems like a great pick to play well — but he’s just 14-1?! Y’all are coalescing on a few logical names. My brain has turned to mush. I’m falling back on the guy who I basically pick every major, who has two top-3s in his past three starts here, who has been playing well but not well enough to get on your radar and has more than 2x the odds of Jon Rahm. Gimme Xander Schauffele and redemption at No. 16 on Sunday.
To-win: Abraham Ancer, +6,600. This feels like really good value. As much as I want to pick Jordan Spieth at +1,400, Abe is ranked higher in the official world golf rankings and I can get him at odds that are more than four times longer. He hasn’t had any stellar finishes yet this season, but he has had some stellar starts, which makes me think he’s due.
To-win: Adam Scott, +5,000. Look, do I think Adam Scott is the most likely player in the field to win? No. Give Patrick Cantlay (+1,800) a look if you’re looking for a proper favorite. But it’s hard to find any player with better value than 2013 Masters champ Adam Scott. 18th on tour in driving distance and 13th in SG: Putting, with three top 10s in nine events so far this season.
To-win: Jon Rahm, +1,000. Rahm is one of those players who just “gets” Augusta National. He has all the tools and hasn’t finished outside the top nine in his past four appearances. This is the year.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +1,400. He’s shown good form this season — six top 10s — and at Augusta National — five-straight top 25s. Thomas will win at least one green jacket before it’s all said and done. With all the talk around good buddy Tiger, a JT win makes a nice story, too.
To-win: Brooks Koepka, +1,800. Koepka is taking home his first green jacket. He looks to have his health issues behind him and has turned his game up a notch ahead of major season. Aside from last year’s missed cut, which can be chalked up to previous stated health issues, Koepka has been a consistent performer at Augusta. A non-limping Brooks will walk his way into Butler Cabin.
To-win: Cameron Smith, +1,400. Smith is comfortable at Augusta, with three top-10 finishes in just five starts. At Sawgrass, we saw how he does when he has a couple weeks off to fish and relax. Plus, we all want to see how the green jacket looks with the mullet.
To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +1,600. With three wins in his past five starts, the new world No. 1 has proven that he can hang with the best of ’em. He’s not intimidated by Tour veterans, major champions or the crowds on 16 at TPC Scottsdale. The late Dan Jenkins once said that the Masters doesn’t start until the second nine on Sunday, and Scheffler definitely knows how to close coming down the stretch. Scheffler’s on a hot streak, and I don’t see him cooling down any time soon.
To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +1,600. Sometimes a bet seems so obvious and conventional that it makes you gun-shy and start doubting yourself. This is not one of those cases.
To-win: Viktor Hovland, +1,800. Hovi is going to put at least one green jacket in the closet before it’s all said and done. He’s playing well enough this season to make a legitimate run.
To-win: Rory McIlroy +1,400. The basic Nikes. The basic hat. The no-frills everything. Tiger taking the headlines. Rory is going to slide under the radar and finally do it.