The best time of the golf year is finally here. Dan Geraghty picks out four players to go well on a windy day one at Augusta...
"It wouldn't be the Masters without Fred Couples hanging around the top of the leaderboard."
Well, the draw has been done, the tee times are out and... yesssss, my each-way pick Russell Henley is out first! in a two-ball! He'll be eating brunch with the lead before the majority of the field has tee'd off. (disclaimer: not guaranteed).
To be honest, as has been well reported, the weather forecast looks pretty dodgy and it's debatable whether we'll see delays on Thursday; meaning which players get an advantage may change. However, at this stage, it looks like they'll play without delay and the percentage call is to side with the very early and very late tee times who look like they'll get a bit of a break from high winds for a couple of hours at least.
Jhonny Vegas has had his fair share of first round payouts over the years. The Venezuelan struggled after his sole previous visit to Augusta in 2011, and had some time out of the game following shoulder surgery. Although he missed the cut on that debut in 2011, the experience will surely have been invaluable. He's been in the form of his life over the past year and a half and has made his last 11 cuts, his tee time in the second group out catches the eye.
It wouldn't be the Masters without Fred Couples hanging around the top of the leaderboard. The amiable veteran missed last year's event through injury and at 57 he's not getting any younger, but he's been in sensational form this year (having shot five 65s in his 11 2017 rounds) and there are nothing but positive vibes coming out of his pre-event interviews.
Hideto Tanihara's recent sensational performance at the Match Play has landed him a tee time with two of the hottest stars on the planet in Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. The bookmakers however, were less impressed, and he's available at an enormous 150/1 for the first round lead. Tanihara struggled on his only previous visit to Augusta in 2007 but many a debutant has walked away with their tail between their legs - and the experience will have been vital. He had previously shown his ability to play at the highest level when fifth at the 2006 Open and his recent WGC performance suggests he's ready for another crack at the Masters.
Back Russell Henley @ 45/1
Back Jhonattan Vegas @ 110/1
Back Fred Couples @ 110/1
Back Hideto Tanihara @ 150/1
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