The Masters: Betting expert Ben Coley with his top picks for Augusta National
By Ben Coley
Last Updated: 09/04/19 1:06am
Rickie Fowler's form and Masters experience make him an attractive bet at Augusta National this week, while Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama also have appeal. Here are betting expert Ben Coley's top tips ...
There can be little doubt as to who is the most likely winner of the Masters, but with 10 places offered by Sky Bet, it's difficult to know whether or not to get stuck into Rory McIlroy.
On the one hand, he's landed the place money for five years in a row now and should do so again. On the other, 7/1 is a short price in a field of this quality and on balance a group of five alternatives are preferred.
First up, Rickie Fowler can end his major hoodoo at the golf course which suits him more than any other.
Fowler, at his best, is an aggressive iron player who respects but isn't afraid of Augusta's greens, where his putting has been better than anyone over the last half-decade.
This year he arrives with a win in the locker having bravely hung tough in Phoenix, and if he's in the same form as 12 months ago there may be nobody who can stop him this time.
Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose are of course respected, but Justin Thomas makes more appeal having just drifted out to a nice price.
The 2017 US PGA champion has improved with every visit to Augusta, a course he loves, and his sky-high approaches should set up plenty of birdie opportunities.
It's fair to say he hasn't managed to take them here so far, but as a typically reliable putter it's just a question of getting familiar and the work may now be done.
Hideki Matsuyama has impressed here ever since cracking the top 30 as an amateur, and as the leading iron player in the field on 2019 form has to be respected.
There's enormous pressure on the Japanese star to fulfil his potential but maybe the intensity has just eased slightly, as it's 18 months since he looked a world-beater when winning at Firestone.
That ought to help, and if he putts even to a decent standard on greens he knows really well then a big week can be expected.
Matsuyama will be playing Presidents Cup golf with Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman later this year, and they complete the staking plan.
Oosthuizen has been runner-up here in the past, of course, but more recently four top-25 finishes in five years speak to an increased level of comfort.
He was second two starts back at the Valspar, just like Patrick Reed last year, and can go one better in Georgia.
As for Leishman, he's contended here twice, including last year, and remains underrated. His approach play and bogey avoidance stats are world-class and suggest he'll be a factor once more.