*Each-way 1/4 odds, 6 places
Russell Henley ticks a lot of boxes for me this week - recent form (a convincing win at last week's event gave him a last minute invite this week), improving course form (a missed cut in 2013 was followed by 31st and then 21st placed finishes in 2014/2015), and local ties (born and bred in Georgia and went to University at the University of Georgia). To me, Henley is the PGA Tour's version of Alex Noren; a high-class operator that's seemingly always struggling to qualify for the big tournaments at the last minute. Admittedly, some of Noren's ranking struggles can be attributed to his 2014 injury, but the Swede shed his nearly man tag last year when winning four times on the European Tour; it's highly likely Russell Henley will make a similar surge up the rankings sooner or later and 80/1 is a very appealing each-way price about last week's winner.
Bang in form after top-four finishes on two of this last four starts, Charley Hoffman stands out at huge odds with generous each-way terms. Check out Charley's career trends and you will find an inconsistent, yet relatively predictable character. A real 'horses for courses' type who repeatedly thrives at the same venues. See for example his outstanding record in the Texas Open, CareerBuilder Challenge and Deutsche Bank Championship - three events he's already won and registered numerous high finishes. The early evidence suggests Augusta is right up his street too. Given that most players take years to peak around here, Hoffman's first three attempts - reaching every top-30 and making the top-ten in 2015 - are a promising signal.
While I'm sweet on flaming-hot Dustin Johnson's chances at Augusta this week, we can't be putting up single figure selections in the each-way column. And at around 10 times the price I'm happy to side with Marc Leishman with Betfair paying six places. Good enough at the track to have finished fourth in a Masters, this Aussie talent ticks plenty of other boxes for a strong showing this week. A big-hitter, the 33-year-old is also blessed with a sweet short game and looks just the sort of golfer you want for the Masters test. While not at DJ's levels - but no-one else is, frankly - he is in form with a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational complimented by three top 10s, and two more top 20s. As well as that Masters top-five Leishman has been runner-up at The Open so we know the big tournaments don't faze him and 66/1 looks like decent odds to me.
I've been keen on 39-year-old Englishman, Paul Casey, for this year's US Masters for quite some time and the weather situation in Augusta only strengthens my belief that he can go well again. He was sixth on debut back in 2004 and he's finished sixth and fourth in the last two renewals so he's already got solid course form in the book. And last year's fourth was a remarkable effort given he shot 77 in round two and 74 in round three! Heavy rain on Monday and again forecast on Wednesday should result in the course playing longer than it does most years and forecasted blustery conditions on Thursday and Friday will favour the better wind players. Casey's long enough off the tee if the fairways are damp and there aren't many better wind exponents in the game than the world number 16. The industry-wide best of 50/1 on offer looks more than fair given his record at the course, his decent enough current form, and the possibly favourable conditions.
I know debutants have a dreadful record at Augusta but please hear me out. For the record I think it's quite difficult to look beyond the front three in the market, but we can't put any of those up as an each-way selection, and because the rest of the guys have built a strong portfolio of selections it's allowed me to 'take one for the team' by picking a debutant. I don't know off the top of my head, but I can't remember any other Masters debutants being as highly ranked as John Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton; the latter's up to number 15 in the world (Rahm is 12) now after a brilliant 12 months. More recently he has finished in the top 25 of every single one of the last 12 tournaments he's participated in, and a lot of the courses he played he was seeing for the very first time. He's recorded four top-four finishes from his last seven starts, including in high profile events like the Dubai Desert Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But apart from his current form being so strong, Hatton's main asset is his putting. He is superb in that department of the game which will be a huge bonus at Augusta, and put simply, if we ignore the 'debutant factor' I think he has to be high on any shortlist this week.
The enhanced place terms for the Masters means it's one of my rare guest appearances in the each-way column and I don't want to waste it, so it's one of the tour's most consistent performers for me, in Louis Oosthuizen. As Dave Tindall notes in his excellent 10-year trends analysis, the 2012 Masters runner-up has made the top three in each of the last three years at Augusta and already has two top-five finishes to his name this season. The 34-year-old has come close to adding a second major to his 2010 Open on a number of occasions and has the game - he ranked third for driving accuracy in 2016 - and temperament to challenge this week.
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