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The Masters - Golf: DJ ready to shine again

For golf fans the waiting is finally over, the first Major of the year has arrived and Racing Post betting guru Steve Palmer has given us his verdict heading into Augusta.

A reminder that you can follow all of the action from the Masters via our live golf tracker, while we have a hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National to ensure you know just what your favourites are up to on the golf course this week.

The Masters

The wait is over and Major competition returns to our screens on Thursday - the Masters at Augusta National starts four months of top-class action.

Tiger Woods appears set to make his return, having spent 17 months on the sidelines dealing with various injury problems, and the five-time Masters champion can be backed at 45/1 to win a 16th Major title on Sunday.

Woods has been all the rage over the first few days of Masters week, as reports from the course over his fitness and form get ever more positive. The 46-year-old, despite suffering a high-speed car crash less than 14 months ago, is back swinging reasonably fast.

Golf shots do not seem to be a problem for Woods - it is walking around the hilliest course on the circuit which is the issue.

The former world number one is set to face a breezy Friday afternoon examination at Augusta - and making the cut would be an achievement given how much competition rust is in his system.

Jon Rahm is 11/1 to claim a first Green Jacket on Sunday. The Spaniard lost top spot in the world rankings the week before last, but he has a solid Masters record and will expect to contend. This is the first time he has teed up at Augusta as a Major champion after last summers' US Open win at Torrey Pines.

Justin Thomas, typically a superb iron-player, has been featuring on leaderboards for months without winning anything. Last year's Players Championship is his last success. Augusta is a venue which suits, though, and the 12/1 chance has been popular.

Enhanced each-way terms of a fifth the odds, the first eight places are on offer this week with Rory McIlroy priced 20/1 as he once more bids to complete a career Grand Slam of Major titles.

The Masters previous winners taking part

Bernhard Langer (twice), Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal (twice), Tiger Woods (five times), Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Bubba Watson (twice), Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama.

The Masters course details

Augusta National, Augusta, Georgia is a 7,510-yard, par-72, with four par-fives. It has been home of the Masters since 1934.

In 2020, the Masters was staged in November for the first time, but April is its traditional slot in the calendar. Generous fairways encourage aggressive driving, but the course demands accurate iron-shots to the fastest greens in golf.

The par-four 11th and the par-five 15th have been lengthened since last year, so less players will go for the green in two shots at the final par five on the course.

Length off the tee is traditionally a significant advantage - only two of the last 21 Masters have been won by a short hitter. Accurate approaches are the key to success. Sunshine is forecast for the event, with light to moderate breezes.

Three to follow

Dustin Johnson

Former world number one Dustin Johnson won the Masters by five shots in 2020, posting a 20-under-par total to destroy his opposition, and the giant Carolinian may be ready to tame Augusta National again.

Johnson finished ninth in the Players Championship a month ago, closing with a spectacular round of 63, then followed up with fourth place in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He appears to have found his A-game at the perfect time to threaten a third Major title on Sunday.

Johnson tied second in the 2019 Masters - and last year's missed cut came at a time when he had gone badly off the boil. Twelve months later the sparkle has returned and this prolific champion could be the man to beat at 16/1.

Scottie Scheffler

World number one Scottie Scheffler is a 16/1 chance, despite having won three of his last five tournaments. Scheffler is the most in-form player on the planet and he can build on solid Augusta results of 19-18.

The Texas-based slugger has Major form of 4-19-18-8-7-8 and he was unbeaten on his Ryder Cup debut in September. Scheffler has shown he can handle the biggest stages - and the idea of contending for a Green Jacket on Sunday will not daunt him.

Thomas Pieters

Pick of the outsiders may be 110/1 poke, Thomas Pieters, who has the power to take Augusta apart. On his Masters debut in 2017, the Belgian bomber finished fourth, and the former Ryder Cup star is clearly good enough to challenge for the sport's highest honours.

Pieters exited the WGC-Match Play at the group stages, but he played some excellent golf and was a total of 15-under par for his three matches. The Abu Dhabi champion is a dangerman.

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