US Masters Update: Best bets for day two at Augusta

Mickelson is a red-hot favourite for today's 3-balls

With the Masters leaderboard taking shape and list of contenders shortening fast, check out Paul Krishnamurty's betting advice for both the outright market and Friday's 3-balls...  

"Phil Mickelson kept a faltering Masters bid alive with a strong back-nine around his favourite course and must be expected to move into contention today, as per usual. 12 months ago he stormed back with 68 at this stage - the third time he's hit that score on the last five Masters Fridays."

Back Phil Mickelson @ 2.111/10 to win the 14.23 3-ball


Outright

Historically, the second morning of the Masters is an ideal time to try and pick the outright winner. That's because at this relatively early stage, the tournament can still seem relatively wide-open, yet the stats suggest we can actually reduce calculations to a small band of contenders. As Steve Rawlings laid out in detail pre-tournament, Augusta is simply not a catch-up course and only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won from outside the top-ten at this stage since 1998. 

A repeat of the trend would mean we should look no further than the current top-12, amongst whom several are immediately dismissed as the rank outsiders they were pre-tournament. Of course this doesn't mean the rest are completely ignored. The players within four and five off the lead - most notably Tiger and Phil - are still very much in the event. However as the leaders tend to hang around on this course, it makes more sense to focus on trading them at this stage, then worry about any chasers if and when their challenge materialises.

Of the leading dozen, only five were among my pre-tournament shortlist of realistic winners - Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott. Former champions like Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman might seem like harsh exclusions, but for now I'm sticking with my pre-tournament verdict about each player. That means the perennially unreliable Garcia can be overlooked as is DJ, at least for now. Equally Rickie Fowler might catch my attention as the week develops.

Kuchar and Scott, however, look the best trading value for now. The former was one of my main pre-tournament tips, both as an each-way and top-ten selection. Scott will be loving the fact Augusta's greens are playing soft, therefore negating his biggest weakness. Both are at the perfect stage of their careers to be breaking through in a major. Both have contended very strongly in this major - Kuchar finishing third last year, Scott second in 2011. Both are still available at double figure odds. I strongly fancy at least one of them to contend and trade much shorter than this in the days ahead.

Recommended Bets

Back Matt Kuchar 8u @ 14.5
Back Adam Scott 7u @ 17.5

3-balls

Starts 15.23
Back Phil Mickelson 4u @ 2.111/10 (v Oosthuizen, Kaymer)

Phil Mickelson kept a faltering Masters bid alive with a strong back-nine around his favourite course and must be expected to move into contention today, as per usual. 12 months ago he stormed back with 68 at this stage - the third time he's hit that score on the last five Masters Fridays. Apart from Oosthuizen's runners-up effort last year, the course record of Phil's opponents are incomparable and the South African is in much worse form now, struggling to make the cut.

Starts 15.34
Fredrik Jacobson 2u @ 4.216/5 (v McIlroy, Bradley)

Here I'm backing the outsider of three. One always fears Rory McIlroy but yesterday's level par round didn't enhance a mixed Augusta record, while Bradley has yet to achieve anything here. As argued in a couple of pre-tournament pieces, Jacobson is an in-form player with strong credentials for this layout.

Starts 16.51
Back Tim Clark 4u @ 2.546/4 (v Pettersson, Garrigus)

Given that Clark won this group by six shots yesterday, I'm surprised to see him trading well above even money. A former Masters runner-up, Clark is one of the more plausible outsiders while neither of these opponents has anything to recommend them. Pettersson has repeatedly struggled on these greens, while Garrigus lacks the course experience and tactical nous.


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