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US Masters 2024: Odds, tips and predictions

The first major of the year is finally upon us and Mike Glasscott has his picks for the week.

US Masters 2024 tips

To Win – Rory McIlroy (10/1), Jordan Spieth (20/1)
Top 10 – Matt Fitzpatrick (3/1), Hideki Matsuyama (17/10)
Top 20 – Patrick Reed (21/10), Taylor Moore (5/1)

US Masters

Augusta National Golf Club course guide

Contested on the former grounds of the Fruitland Nurseries, the Masters Tournament is the first major championship of the season. Purchased by Bobby Jones in 1931, he hired Dr. Alister Mackenzie to create his vision for a course that would host and challenge the best in the game.

The Augusta National Invitational Tournament debuted in 1934, setting the bar for future events. The 88th edition, now the Masters Tournament, will play 7,555 yards to Par-72 with all the modern bells and whistles.

The annual April examination requires power, precision, and putting to come out on top after 72 holes. 

Finding fairways is the first requirement, but escaping less-than-perfect tee balls is possible. Tree limbs won’t interfere with errant drives, but uneven lies, pine straw, and patrons lining the second cut do not always result in optimum second-shot chances. The art of finding the sprinkler line in the middle of the fairways guarantees nothing but full concentration for approach shots. 

The pure A1- Penn Bentgrass putting surfaces are the best in the business. Powered by Sub-Air systems, the targets, averaging 6,486 square feet, can be managed to run at tournament speed. Undulating and difficult to read, experience reading greens matters. Elite players will play away from danger to avoid difficult up-and-downs. Skilled iron players know the proper trajectory and spin required to get it close. Keeping the ball below the hole is the beginning of most winning plans.

A new tee box on No. 2 provides the extra yardage for 2024. Holes Nos. 2, 4, and 6 have been reshaped, softened, and flattened on the putting surfaces to add flexibility for hole locations and shot selection. 

Par-5 scoring captures the headlines but saving shots on the Par-4 holes will carry the momentum of the rounds. Hammering Greens in Regulation is the recipe for success, but resolving errant approaches is necessary. Scrambling to save pars from tight lies and bunkers is required. 

There will be bogeys this week. Taking advantage of the proper number from the fairway will need to be paid off on the greens.

Major championship golf should be difficult. 

The five water penalty areas located on the inward nine holes add to the challenge of Holes No. 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16.

Greg Norman (1996) and Nick Price (1986) share the course record with 63 (-9). Neither man won that season or any other season.

The April tournament scoring record was last set by Jordan Spieth (270, 2015) after Tiger Woods posted that total in 1997. 

The November scoring record is 20-under 268, set by Dustin Johnson in 2020.

The 88th Masters Tournament preview

The field of 89 players includes the top 50 from the Official World Golf Rankings.

The final player to gain entrance into the event was Akshay Bhatia, the winner at the Valero Texas Open last week.

Winning the 2019 edition, Tiger Woods is the most decorated player in the field with five victories. Phil Mickelson, the winner in the 2004, 2006, and 2010 editions, is also competing.

Winning a record sixth time at Augusta, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest winner in 1986.

The average age of winners is around 33 years old. The last three champions had not reached birthday No. 30.

The only player (post-1945) to win on debut was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

The youngest champion was Tiger Woods (21 years old) in 1997.

Since 2000, three players have won on their second attempt: Charl Schwartzel (2011), Jordan Spieth (2015), and Danny Willett (2016).

The last wire-to-wire was Spieth, becoming just the fifth player in history to lead after all four rounds.

Only three players have successfully defended the title. Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Sir Nick Faldo (1989-1990), and Tiger Woods (2001-2002) are the members of this exclusive club.

Only three players ranked No. 1 in the OWGR went on to win: Tiger Woods (2007), Dustin Johnson (2020), and Scottie Scheffler (2022).

Adam Scott is the only Australian winner.

Hideki Matsuyama is the only Asian winner.

Gary Player (three times) is the only African winner.

Sergio Garcia was the last winner to need a playoff. Defeating Justin Rose, the Spaniard won in his 19th attempt, the record for a first-time winner.

Mark O’Meara, aged 41 in 1998, is the oldest first-time winner.

Phil Mickelson, aged 52 in 2023, is the oldest runner-up.

The field will be cut to the top 50 and ties after two rounds.

The winner this week will take home 750 FedExCup points.

The purse and winner’s share will be announced later this week.

Top of the Board  

Scottie Scheffler (4/1): Defeated by only one player over his last three events, the 2022 champion stands on the top of the hill as the man to beat. Cashing T10 in defense last year, the reigning two-time PLAYERS Champion checks all the boxes in the major statistical categories. Previous winners, except for Matsuyama in 2021, have been searing hot entering the first major of the year. The Texan easily qualifies.

Rory McIlroy (10/1): While Scheffler only has his expectations to fulfill, the four-time major winner is making his 10th attempt at completing the career Grand Slam. The new irons kicked in last week with solo third at Valero and that might just be the nudge the Ulsterman needs to perk his thoughts into the proper frame of mind. With the turbulent waters of 2022 firmly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to harpoon his white whale.

Jon Rahm (10/1): What a difference a year makes. Tuesday, the Champion’s Dinner was served in his honour. Thursday morning, he tees off and will try to join a power troika of back-to-back champions. Never finishing worse than T27, the 2023 winner has five top-10 paydays from seven starts.

Xander Schauffele (14/1): Looking for his first major championship breakthrough, the Californian is sizzling, again, in every category minus winning. Shut out of the winner’s circle since July of 2022 at The Genesis Scottish Open, picking up his first major championship is not out of the question this week. Sharing second in 2019, he has added T3 in 2021 and T10 last year.

Hideki Matsuyama (16/1): The 2021 winner rolls into town off a win at Riviera, T12 at Bay Hill, T6 at THE PLAYERS, and T7 in his tune-up at Valero last week. Possessing a superior iron game and nasty skills around the greens, the former champion has only missed the cut once here in 12 tries.

Brooks Koepka (18/1): The five-time major winner is missing US Masters and Open Championship wins from his collection. Sharing second twice since 2019 at ANGC, the only events that demand his attention are major championships. The 54-hole leader cashed T2 last year before winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Dismiss him at your own peril.

Jordan Spieth (20/1): Rumblings of wrist discomfort will just add to the litany of issues the 2015 champion carries with him weekly. The Texan has a full bingo card in 2024, including top-10 paydays, a DQ, missed cuts, an and adventure in San Antonio, but not a victory. AGNC is the tonic to fix what ails him.

Ludvig Aberg (25/1): Burning brightly since turning pro last summer, the Swedish sensation played in a Ryder Cup before receiving a tee time in a major championship. Recent history suggests uber-talented kids, and he easily qualifies, can contend here. Winning? Now that would be something. Posting another top-10 payday isn’t a ridiculous ask, but where’s the value?

Players to consider for Top 10, Top 20, or Top 40 action:

Matt Fitzpatrick (30/1): The Englishman is quietly going about his business. Racking up solo fifth at THE PLAYERS Championship followed by T10 at TPC San Antonio, his form, and course history ANGC intersects nicely.

Shane Lowry (35/1): Cashing inside the top 25 in his last four visits, including T3 in 2022, the Irishman loves the first major challenge of the season. Following a pair of top-five paydays and T19 in Florida, he should be rested and ready to roll.

Russell Henley (55/1): Cashing T4 in three of seven starts, the Georgia native cashed T4 at the Masters last year. Squaring only six bogeys to lead the field in 2023, he hasn’t missed the cut in his last six visits.

Patrick Reed (66/1): The 2018 winner has added three more top-10 paydays, including T4 last year. A superior putter with a nasty short game, he has found a formula that works for him.

Thorbjorn Olesen (125/1): No stranger to the former Fruitland Nurseries property, the Dane posted T6 on debut in 2013 and T21 on his last visit in 2019. A winner in January in the Middle East, he broke a three-event streak of missing the cut with T14 last week in San Antonio.

Taylor Moore (250/1): The 2023 winner at a difficult Valspar Championship posted T12 in defence this season and missed a playoff in Houston by a shot. Sat T20 after three rounds last year. Load him in.

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