The best way to maximise entertainment throughout the Masters is to load up on finishing position bets, says Paul Krishnamurty. Check out his predictions for the Top 20, Top 10, Top 8 and Top 6 markets...
"Perhaps more than any big event, course form stands up well at Augusta and the leaderboard invariably includes several of the same characters, year in, year out. Justin Rose is precisely such a type."
To get the very best out of a golf major and the wall-to-wall TV coverage, you want a bet that will last the full four days. There is no better way to do that than betting on finishing positions and this year, Betfair has truly pushed the boat out in terms of different markets.
On the exchange, you can back or lay players to reach the Top 5, Top 6, Top 8, Top 10 and Top 20. The Sportsbook even has markets for the Top 30 and Top 40.
Given this major's smaller field, that means simply making the cut will ensure your pick retains hope over the weekend. It means every shot from every player will affect your bet to some degree. Critically from an entertainment perspective, it won't matter if Dustin Johnson runs away with it, as many class acts have done over the years at Augusta.
The challenge is choosing the best market for each player. The top five and six are quite daunting targets as we must assume that at least a couple of those places will be taken by very obvious candidates. Reaching that target will probably require serious contention, whereas the lower targets allow for a relatively distant finish and charging through the pack late on when the tournament is long lost.
A trio for a Top 20 Finish
Back Charley Hoffman 4 units @ 5.04/1 for a Top 20 Finish
Back Bernd Wiesberger 4u @ 5.04/1 for a Top 20 Finish
Back Emiliano Grillo 4u @ 4.67/2 for a Top 20 Finish
Remember that, in order to win on this market, your selection doesn't need to necessarily get anywhere near the lead. In all recent renewals, the top 20 stretched back to a least nine shots off the lead, sometimes as much as 15. So this is perfect for those outsiders who you fancy going relatively well but can't really imagine in a Green Jacket.
Three bets are recommended. I've already tipped this position on Hoffman for this market and each-way in my Find Me a 100 Winner column. The weather forecast has since emboldened me. This week's early rain won't be a problem for this long-hitter and he should cope better than most in the blustery conditions. You don't build up a Texas Open record like Hoffman's without being good in the wind.
The early Augusta efforts of both Wiesberger and Grillo are highly encouraging and, while neither is particularly likely to contend, this target is very much within reach. The former is ultra-consistent in Europe and fared well enough in 22nd and 34th place on his two visits to date. He's fancied to improve as most do here and this excellent ball-striker won't mind the conditions.
I've been tipping Grillo as a future major champion since first seeing him on the European Tour and again, the Argentinian star's early efforts suggest he has the game for these tough tests, finishing top-20 in this, the Open and USPGA last year. We're yet to see Grillo's best this term but there were good signs on his last strokeplay start - finishing seventh at Bay Hill despite one round of 78.
A pair of plays in the Top 10 market
Back Justin Rose 4u @ 3.613/5 for a Top 10 Finish
Back Brendan Steele 1u @ 14.013/1 Top 10 Finish
Perhaps more than any big event, course form stands up well at Augusta and the leaderboard invariably includes several of the same characters, year in, year out. Justin Rose is precisely such a type - only missing the top-25 twice in 11 attempts, never finishing worse than 39th and making three of the last five top-tens. He has the perfect accurate game and patient temperament to repeatedly give backers a good run in these markets.
Brendan Steele is much more speculative. He's also very consistent, with a reliable long game that ensures plenty of high finishes. However his sole previous attempt was poor and Steele's relatively weak putting could be a liability at Augusta. Nevertheless, ordinary putters with great long games do contend sometimes here and these are big odds about a capable player.
Casey can put up another high finish at Augusta
Back Paul Casey 2u @ 6.611/2 for a Top 8 Finish
One of my long-range fancies, Casey remains very high on my shortlist. In fact there is widespread agreement about him across these pages. Steve Rawlings and Dave Tindall have both tipped him each-way and I'm happy to follow them in. When arriving in form, Casey has a fine Masters record and his game looked in tip-top shape last time at the World Match Play. The weather taking a turn for the worse should favour him too.
Unsung Westwood a huge price to go close again
Back Lee Westwood 1u @ 13.012/1 for a Top 6 Finish
Finally, I couldn't completely leave one of the leading Augusta specialists of recent times. There isn't much in Westwood's recent form bank to suggest he can compete at this level but the same could have been said 12 months ago, before going on to finish second. That makes it seven top-11s since 2008, including three times inside this top-six target. Write this outsider off at your peril.