Australian golfing legend Greg Norman has been unveiled as one of the 25 highest-paid athletes in history.
Ah yes – Masters week – my favourite of the year. A time when you actually look forward to waking up at 5am to hear that music and Jim Nantz’ soft dulcet tones.
It’s also usually the most consistent and profitable trading week of the year, but this year is different.
We have a series of new factors to consider and questions to answer thanks to COVID and the November conditions vs the usual second Sunday in April.
The grass on the fairways and around the greens are totally different as not yet cold enough for the Bermuda grass to die off for the overseeded Rye grass to come through resulting in a higher ball sitting position, fluffier lies, more forgiving for both the ball strike into the greens and especially for chipping will be very different to the usual super tight lies.
Some lies will be inconsistent though as a little grainier with some thicker patches and given the weather forecast, the dreaded MUD BALL – will need patience and understanding.
Cold average temps this time of year range from low to high of 7 – 19 degrees Celsius versus vs a normal 12 – 25 in April. While forecasts this week are a little warmer and humid than usual, the early mornings will still be chilly and might be a factor for the likes of Tiger Woods and Jason Day for example.
Prevailing wind will be out the North / East vs the usual South / West in April – although forecasts are for both over the 4 days. Experience helps here.
It will be wet. At least for the first day or so. Storms are forecast for tonight (Australian time) and for the majority of Day 1. It improves for the weekend but there is still rain about. Light to medium winds with a max of 16kph. Expect scores to be low.
It’s going to be unlike any Augusta National we’ve seen with wide open fairways and no grandstands due to zero spectators being allowed. Amen corner looks weird with the 12th tees just sitting there in no man’s land.
It’s the same on the 15th and 16th.
Whatever way you look at it there won’t be the same pressure on Sunday with no patrons and no roars for eagles and birdies. A lack of pressure was definitely a factor in Collin Morikawa’s US PGA win and Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open.
Of course, the mystique and prestige in winning a Green Jacket is enough to still rattle the nerves and those greens are still going to be stimping at 15 on Sunday.
KEY FACTOR 1
The big question is ‘Does experience still count’ – the answer is YES – maybe not so much as a normal year, but still the dominant factor for me and principally because of the greens.
They’ll still be their usual selves. They can manage them as they choose with the sub air system – they have to be cautious with the bent grass before turning them up so they were slower this week than even normal practice rounds and you’ll notice look a little tinge of brown here and there … but it’ll be game on tonight. They’ve had it easy so far … the usual “just don’t seem to perform well at Augusta for some reason” players will again fall away .. and the rookies still don’t know what’s coming … a rookie won’t be winning this one, Fuzzy Zoeller’s record since 1979 is safe
KEY FACTOR 2
The big myth circulating is distance will be the key with the wet conditions … not necessarily … look at history … all the way back to Mike Weir in the big wet of 2003 … and Zach Johnson in 2007 … it actually brings more of the field into play as the soft greens means you don’t necessarily need the high ball flight … the low trajectory guys with less spin come into play .. it actually opens the field up a bit.
KEY FACTOR 3
The morning / afternoon draw. It’s going to be such a mess there’s no way they’ll finish Day 1 with the storms coming in combined with the fact they have almost three hours less daylight compared to April with sunset 5.24pm vs 8pm normally. You must have diversification of risk in your portfolio across the morning and afternoon fields (which has never been done before obviously ) it could well be the Thursday morning players get an advantage if the arvo players have to spin quickly between rounds 1 and 2 with no real practice time after an overnight delay … but you never know you can’t position for it (been caught out so many times trying that), just make sure you have a spread across the two.
KEY FACTOR 4
Let’s just call it “BRYSON?” … and let’s get it out of the way … I’m RISKING him. He’s still too unreliable for me and inconsistent. Yep I was all over him just post Covid – loved what he was doing … did hours and hours of research … as much about his body and flexibility as his clubs and equipment … amazing … truly admirable … and yes what he is doing is game changing. I was all over his top 10 finishes early doors and his win at Rocker Mortgage in July … then he missed cut at Memorial and Northern Trust … and I got him wrong at the US Open I thought it was too tight for him but turned out the rough wasn’t penal enough.
He had it easy there was never really threatened as Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson never quite got close enough to test his nerve. Prior to the US Open he was 50th and 22nd after the missed cut. Remember the petulance when he had his “Tin Cup” moment kept hitting ball after ball Out of Bounds? We forget he’s still young in his 20s .. and he’s still experimenting with what he’s doing … I think he has the propensity to go a bit “spoilt child” if things aren’t going like he pictured it. I think he’s as much chance of dropping away into the 20s and 30s as he is being in contensh. He is certainly unproven at Augusta not managing to break the top 20 in 3 visits … I think he still hasn’t gotten his head around the greens … maybe not being allowed greens books isn’t irrelevant … he’s still deciding which driver to use … there’s plenty could go wrong … and at $9 I’m seeing better value down the page … I might have it wrong, I might be in denial as a traditionalist “you just can’t do that at Augusta National” and the problem is he goes out early might post early and I won’t be able to get a saver on him … I wouldn’t talk you out of him I’m certainly not saying he can’t win, I just think he’s too unreliable at the short price … I’m a huge fan, but I don’t think it’s his time … yet
So yes I’m sticking with course experience big time. I’m taking out all rookies – cant win – taking out all the previous “poor” performers here who for some reason there’s just something they haven’t sussed … whether course management or simply the greens … so I’m risking the likes of much-fancied favourites Rory McIlroy, Thomas, Jon Rahm – if they haven’t cracked the code before why would they this year?
I’m focussing on the good putters under pressure – the ones who don’t back off those 10 to 12 footers you need … especially Sunday.
Picture how tough these four days are going to be – wet and miserable at times and stop/start. There will be challenging overnight delays and routines will be tested.
It will be cold and exhausting. Who do you think of when you think mental toughness? Still able to strategise around the course … course management and good choices will be key in these tough conditions … then finally imagine all top 6 horses under 20 – 1 happened to be coming down the stretch Sunday who would you want your money on to hold tough and hold the putt when it matters? It just cries out to Brooks Koepka to me … and he’s just so nicely under the radar at TWICE the price of Bryson or DJ.
Brooks Koepka – $18 Odds
If he’s in the mix come Sunday he’s the man … only question is does he get to be in the mix! There are still questions on his form and ball striking, only because he hasn’t played, but hence the juicy price .. otherwise he’d be $9 with Dustin.
Last week his short game and putting was awesome … I’m pretty sure his knee is fine but that is a risk. If he hits it sideways Day 1 then I’m toast … but if he stays on the fringes and within distance come Sunday look out he’s the one I’d want my money on. If he’s in contention you won’t get better than this price
Xander Schauffele – $17 Odds
The course just suits him better than all the boys in front of him. His game is ideal for it he could well become an Augusta specialist in years to come … he’s a bit like Jordan Spieth WAS … consistent enough off the tee if not overly long, recognised strength shot-making and all Greens Approach stats .. but the real kicker for me is the confidence and firmness of his putting … especially come the moment … he’s done his time tasting contention in Majors, I think this course is his best chance.
Dustin Johnson – $10 Odds
He’s my saver. His form is just so good … last starts 2nd, 6th, WIN, 2nd, WIN … so he’s kept his form post Tour Championships in August and post getting Covid (!) … and his form here undeniable last 4 years 2nd, 10th, zip (“fell” down the stairs), 4th … but those stats in a way are why I’ m not fully on him.
While he’s consistent and I’ll have him in Head to Heads vs the other top boys but he just can’t seem to crack it … he misses the putt come the moment (I still question his green reading abilities) and just about every top 5 finish here he’s done it by coming from behind with a low round Sunday. He still hasn’t experienced holding the lead at Augusta. He’s absolutely the main threat so I have a “saver” on him for now (enough $$$s to cover all the other bets if he wins) and I’m hoping he has a dodgy day 1 or 2 as he often does (and he’s not playing till the arvo Thursday) and can add to the position around $18-19.
Patrick Cantlay – $32 Odds
He’s in my “solid putters” camp … he definitely has the right attitude (does he ever smile?) he was under the radar 9th last year although missed cut first time out 2018 … patchy form lately hence the price .. but his ball striking at Zozo when he WON 3 weeks ago and at Shriners in the mix finished 8th was awesome … I’ve always thought he has a Major in him same odds as Schauffele … he has the right temperament and attitude … he’s definitely better coming from behind though has shown signs of not dealing with the lead well so if he’s leading at any point I’ll be taking some profits to cover
Patrick Reed – $42 Odds
Talk about attitude … he really doesn’t care does he? He’s been on my radar for couple months excellent stats all of a sudden with 14th, 13th, 8th last 3 outings plus successful jaunt overseas … he seems in a good space to me and I think is licking his chops right now … he’ll feel special and “I belong here” at the Champions dinner … and that’s the main reason indeed I am on him .. of all the past Champions he is the best chance … imagine that none of the top 7 favourites under 20 to 1 have won here ! his finishes here are poor to be fair 36th and missed cut either side of his WIN 2 years ago so not consistent but feels like he’s back to me and might feel entitlement and he knows the greens … obviously
Tiger Woods – $65 Odds
Sorry I know he’s Buckley’s … but he’s Tiger and I vowed to back him for the rest of his life given he single-handedly put both kids through school … and some … his stats are nothing like what they were coming into 2019 so he could be all over the shop … so don’t back him in Head to Heads … but at this price can sell some to cover it quickly enough with a good start as he tees off early Thursday.
At $4 he’s great value be the top from down under. For one he’s been super consistent lately with 4th at Zozo and 11th CJ Cup combined with comfort factor here 5th 2 years ago and I don’t rate the competition as poor Jason Day will either withdraw with a bad back or go to mustard if he’s in the lead and Adam Scott whilst I love him just hasn’t made golf the priority this year, which I don’t have any problems with he has nothing to prove, and he’s just turning up to keep his soon to be record current Majors streak going (now that Sergio had to pull out) … his game isn’t honed … I won’t bother wasting your time on Marc Leishman.
Low Score Round 1
$21 Schauffele (playing early)
$34 Reed (playing early)
Tournament Head to Heads:
Looking to BACK
Schauffele (vs Thomas)
DJ (vs DeChambeau)
Looking to LAY
Hideki Matsuyama (can’t putt)
Tyrrell Hatton (doesn’t know Augusta, how to play it, nor its greens)
Tommy Fleetwood (playing awful, having a write off year can’t wait for it to be over)
Collin Morikawa (Rookie and putting will be found out)
Matthew Wolff Woolf (Rookie and gone off the boil)
Check back in each day in the comments section for new Daily Pairings bets … and updates to Winners Market positions.
And remember have a little BET if you have good reasoning for it, but don’t GAMBLE … and above all enjoy! Good luck!