The Masters Each-Way Bets: Casey can fly the flag for Europe

Paul Casey at Augusta
Paul Casey at an autumnal Augusta.

Our European Tour tipster Matt Cooper takes a close look at the continent's Masters challenge and has three each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying ten places...

"He finished T17th at Winged Foot, a decent enough performance, but a heck of a lot more impressive when you note that he carded a 76 in round one that had him T119th."

Back Paul Casey each-way @ 55/1

Main Bet: Paul Casey each-way @ 55/1

The brief: to uncover each way value in the European (and/or European Tour) challenge (a notion, in a brief digression, that would have been all but impossible a mere 40 years ago, when just four Europeans and six internationals were in the field).

The rationale for the first pick: in the last ten years of the Masters, with the exception of Bubba Watson's brace of triumphs, the winners were showing pretty decent form in the major championships.

Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson had all recently been runner-up in a major, Sergio Garcia had bagged a pair of fifths, Danny Willett a sixth, and even Charl Schwartzel had landed three top 20s.

Of course, in each those cases those hints were dropped in the year before their win rather than a few weeks ago so you might argue that the case for major form ought to be stronger this time around and, with that in mind, has Paul Casey been overlooked?

Because while everyone celebrated his tied second behind Collin Morikawa in the PGA Championship, in fact for a long while on Sunday it looked as if he might land a first major championship, his effort in the US Open was a little more hidden.

He finished T17th at Winged Foot, a decent enough performance, but a heck of a lot more impressive when you note that he carded a 76 in round one had left him T119th and facing an early exit.

Undeterred, he made ground on the field with every subsequent day of action, carding 70-69-73; only Bryson DeChambeau (this week's favourite) went lower in those final 54 holes, only Dustin Johnson (this week's second favourite) equalled it, of the rest only Matthew Wolff got within two of Casey's total.

Now he returns to happy hunting ground Augusta where he's landed five top tens in 13 starts (all of which would pay out with this week's place terms).

Moreover, his long carry will be handy with the softer conditions and, perhaps with some reports of there being more Bermuda in the grass on the fairways and around the greens, his fondness for East Lake, where he also has five top five finishes, is a further tick (it's another Georgia course, but with stickier Zoysia grass rather than Augusta's normal bent grass in April).

Next Best: Christiaan Bezuidenhout each-way @ 200/1

Dave Tindall has nominated Augusta National rookies Scottie Scheffler and Jason Kokrak in his preview, working on the notion that the November date might easily play a few tricks on past notions that novices struggle in this event.

That said, of course, while first-timers have rarely claimed the win, plenty have finished in the places and at a whopping 200/1 Christiaan Bezuidenhout makes appeal with those ten places on offer.

My interest is three-fold and begins with the location of his first win on the European Tour - Valderrama in Spain.

While it is tree-lined, like Augusta, it is quite clearly a much tighter test that the Georgia venue, but short game skills are a must on both.

It's also true that a glance down the roll-call of winners at Valderrama includes Augusta winners Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Bernhard Langer and Sergio Garcia; course-specialist Justin Rose; plus Ian Poulter and Soren Kjeldsen, who have decent enough records in the Masters.

Then there is Bezuidenhout's near-miss when losing in a play-off at Emirates earlier this year in the Dubai Desert Classic.

It's well-known that Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia won there ahead of grabbing Green Jacket glory, but there is more to the link between the two events.

In 2010 Lee Westwood lost a play-off in Dubai and was then second in the Masters, a year later Alvaro Quiros won in the desert before sharing the first round lead in Augusta, in 2018 Haotong Li nearly followed in the Spaniard's footsteps (he was tied fourth after 18 holes), and in 2019 Bryson DeChambeau did emulate him.

The clincher? Bezuidenhout has a wonderful short game, being both very good around, and on, the greens, qualities that will serve him well in his course initiation.

Final Bet: Tyrrell Hatton each-way @ 28/1

As detailed in the tournament player profiles, at first glance Tyrrell Hatton's course record is enough to make any punter go a little queasy and weak at the knees.

He's made ten journeys around Augusta National, eight were over-par, five of them at least 2-over, he has a best of 70, and he's averaged 74.20 blows per round.

Anyone got the smelling salts?!

tyrrell hatton augusta.jpg

But here's the thing. The last two European winners of the Masters? Danny Willett hadn't gone sub-70 at Augusta before winning and he hasn't gone sub-73 since.

And what about Sergio Garcia? He hacked his way to an 81 the year before he won and repeated that score to open his defence!

Yeah, but what about current Race to Dubai leader Patrick Reed, surely he had some course form ahead of his win in 2018? Actually, his pre-Masters win record at Augusta was eerily similar to Hatton: 12 rounds, nine over-par, seven of those at least 2-over, not one sub-70 effort, an average of 74.25.

That echo is not, in itself, a reason to support Hatton. Instead, it highlights, like the records of Willett and Garcia, that Augusta past performance is no guarantee of what will happen this week.

Dave Tindall also pointed out that three of the last five winners of the Green Jacket ranked first for Strokes Gained: Approach during their win, whilst both Tiger Woods and Reed ranked first in that category in the run-up to their triumph, as Hatton did when third at the CJ Cup last month.

He was also seventh last week in the Houston Open, results which suggest that he hasn't yet lost a year-long mojo that has seen him win the Turkish Airlines Open (a year ago this week), have successful surgery, claim a maiden PGA Tour title, mop up a bucket of cash in the FedExCup PlayOffs and then lift the BMW PGA Championship.

The 29-year-old has also been getting used to contending in big events, with three top ten finishes in the WGC Mexico Championship (Steve Rawlings is also keen on Hatton and has highlighted the potential value of this form) and five top tens in the majors.

He's never been in better nick to finally click at Augusta.

Staked: 78pts
Returned: 59pts
P/L: -19pts

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