I wanted to find a market in which I could to get rapidly improving Korean, Jeunghun Wang onside and whilst I was tempted by the Top Debutant, where the likes of Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Thomas Pieters provide value further down the list, after much deliberation, the Top Asian and Top Korean markets look best.
Hideki Matsuyama is the one they all have to beat but if he has an off week, it's wide open. Second favourite, Byeong Hun An, has been to Augusta twice but he missed the cut on both occasions, and although he played brilliantly at the WGC Match Play, Hideto Tanihara, has only been here once before, ten years ago, and he too missed the cut. Yuta Ikeda was 29th on debut in 2010 and he missed the cut 12 months later, whilst debutant Si Woo Kim, is seemingly out of form.
Wang has a strong all round game but he's at his best around the greens. He's a terrific scrambler and he ranked first for putting at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational. He may lack a tiny bit of length but his short game skills could see him fare well around Augusta. He's worth chancing at a juicy price in the Top Asian market and he looks a good thing to get the better of An and Kim in the Top Korean.
Jeunghun Wang - Top Asian at 15/2
Jeunghun Wang - Top Korean at 13/10
The Top Scandinavian market is a small but select and fascinating affair. World number five, Henrik Stenson, has to be the favourite but in 11 visits to Augusta he's never bettered 14th and at 40, the chances of him suddenly getting the place are slim.
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, who's the 64th ranked player on the planet right now, is the same price as world number ten, Alex Noren, on account of the Dane's seventh 12 months ago. That was a cracking effort but the rain won't have helped the relatively short hitting 41-year-old's chances and I'd rather chance Noren at 3/1, even though he's playing Augusta for the first time.
Like the aforementioned Wang, Noren's strength is his short game and there's no reason to think he won't play well here and the 6/4 about him finishing in front of Stenson looks better than fair.
Alex Noren - Top Scandinavian at 3/1
Alex Noren - Top Swede at 6/4
Louis Oosthuizen is a popular pick to win the event this year and I can see why. As Dave Tindall points out here, he ticks lots of boxes, and I too can see him going well. He missed the cut after losing a playoff here to Bubba Watson in 2011 but he's been consistent since, finishing 25th, 19th and 15th in the last three years and another finish inside the top-25 could be enough to see him finish the week as the Top South African.
The 2010 winner, Charl Schwartzel, is far and away his biggest challenger but he's not exactly setting the world alight this year and since his famous victory here he's assembled course form that reads 50-25-MC-38-MC.
Out-of-form Branden Grace's low ball flight isn't ideal for the venue and his course form figures read 18-MC-MC-MC. Ernie Els isn't playing well and this could well be his final Augusta appearance as the five-year exemption for 2012 Open victory expires and the only other South African in the line-up, the 2008 winner, Trevor Immelman, has been hopeless for years now.
I'm not a favourite backer by nature and I love rooting out the value in these side markets but Louis looks rock-solid.
Louis Oosthuizen - Top South African at 11/8
Bernhard Langer won the Masters in 1985 and 1993 and he's still competitive on the Champions Tour. He turns up every year and performs with credit - he entered last year's fourth and final round just two off the lead! In contrast, fellow German, Martin Kaymer, famously tried to change his whole swing to improve how he plays Augusta and his record is poor. Langer has finished in front Kaymer in each of the last four and he'll be worth siding with again at odds-against in the Top German market.
Bernard Langer - Top German
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