It's not very often you get a US Masters with three of its debutants being as highly ranked in the world as the trio of Europeans taking their first look at Augusta this week. In a guest posting golf enthusiast Tom Jacobs tells us how best to profit...
"Since turning pro, Jon Rahm has more top-fives (six) than he does finishes outside the top-20 (five) on the PGA Tour, validating the hype around the young man."
A strong European contingent will be making their way to Augusta for the first time and there is reason to be optimistic about their chances.
We all know the stat about Fuzzy Zoeller being the last debutant to win the event way back in 1979 but that is not to say that rookies can't perform. Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt shared second place in 2014 when both playing the event for the first time. And Jason Day was runner-up just four years earlier.
Given the level the European debutants are playing at, I think there is plenty of reason to get a few on side, at least in some capacity.
The debutant with the best chance of winning the Green Jacket has to be Jon Rahm. The Spaniard, who narrowly lost out in the final of the WGC Match Play, to World No.1 Dustin Johnson, has been in incredible form in 2017.
In six starts this year prior to this week's Shell Houston Open he has one win, three more top-fives and has finished outside the top-16 just once. Since turning pro, he has more top-fives (six) than he does finishes outside the top-20 (five) on the PGA Tour, validating the hype around the young man.
Phil Mickelson certainly thinks he can do the unthinkable as when asked if Rahm would be a threat at Augusta, Lefty's response was a simple one: "Jon's a real threat, yeah". That makes two believers in the Mickelson family with Phil's brother, Tim quitting his day job as ASU Men's Golf Coach to represent Rahm, after overseeing his college career.
At 22/1 to win on the Sportsbook, Rahm is shorter than both Rory McIlroy (33/1) and Jordan Spieth (40/1) were on their Masters debut, to put in perspective how the bookmakers rate his chances. Rahm is a worthy favourite in both the Top Continental European and Top Debutant markets but there is more value betting him in the former, and I am confident he can be successful.
Back Jon Rahm to be Top Continental European @ 10/3
Tyrell Hatton is another player enjoying a great run of form, early on in his PGA Tour career. The Englishman packed his bags in February and based himself in Orlando, in the hope of continuing his success on the biggest stage.
Since arriving Stateside, he has posted T4 finishes in the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, either side of a 10th place finish at the WGC in Mexico. Hatton will be disappointed with his showing at the Match Play, where a mental error cost him a two-stroke penalty and a chance to progress to the last-16, but this is the only negative in a largely positive experience so far.
In terms of major performances, Hatton now has three straight top-25 finishes, with a T25 at the 2015 PGA Championship preceding top-10s at both the Open Championship (T5) and the PGA Championship (T10) in 2016.
Following his win at the Dunhill Links last October, Hatton has posted four top-4 finishes, a further four top-10s and finished no worse than T25 across both Tours. This form led to him reaching a career-high 14th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and he is now considered a threat every week.
At 55/1 on the Sportsbook the each-way value may still appeal, but at 70.069/1 on the Exchange I think he is worth backing there instead, especially for the trading opportunity.
Another market to get involved in is Top Englishman. Hatton sits behind Justin Rose and Paul Casey in that market, but he can still come out on top, despite that pair's vast experience at Augusta.
Back Tyrell Hatton to win on Exchange at 70.069/1
Back Tyrell Hatton to be Top Englishman @ 11/2
Thomas Pieters is the final European debutant to get on board. After a stellar display in his Ryder Cup debut, where he went an impressive 4-1-0, the Belgian has rightly been at the forefront of people's mind and the three-time European Tour winner will now look to take his game to the next level.
Pieters finished T2 at the Genesis Open behind Dustin Johnson in a good field at Riviera, and a T5 finish at the WGC in Mexico followed. This was enough to secure Special Temporary Membership on the PGA Tour, joining Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood in doing so.
Augusta National could be a good fit for Pieters, so I like his chances of finishing inside the top-20. Four debutants finished inside that number last year including Ryder Cup team-mate Rafa Cabrera-Bello, and Pieters can follow suit.
Back Thomas Pieters Top 20 Finish @ 2/1
For all the latest Masters betting tips and previews, check out our dedicated category.