Fancy trying a plan to win big on the third round of the Masters? Paul Krishnamurty makes five picks to combine in multiples...
"Cameron Smith is made for a firm and fast Augusta...He was unlucky to find a divot on 15 yesterday that likely cost him two or three shots, yet the Aussie is still in contention."
Two days and ten 18-hole bets into the US Masters and this column is exactly level. Some would consider this a 'glass half full' scenario - a full bank for the weekend. I am however more in the 'half empty' camp, and not just because early winners offered such promise on both days.
Most groups are well-matched today
At this particular event, the draw before the cut will always present opportunities. Augusta debutants are thrown in with course specialists. Short-hitters or weak scramblers, always liable to struggle here, take on their exact opposite. Hence some of the vast differentials in scoring among some groups.
However things are lot more even by the weekend. Very few who are fundamentally unsuited to Augusta will have made the cut. Players are literally drawn against opponents who have achieved exactly the same this week. There's a strong case for lowering stakes, especially when the two-ball card looks this trappy.
Therefore rather than have a batch of singles, today's plan is a multiple bet. Five selections, covering trebles, fourfolds and an acca. Less than half the layout employed on Thursday and Friday. Small risk in search of a big win.
Herman could upset Niemann
To start, a longstanding strategy. Take on less than wholly convincing short-odds favourites over 18 holes. Top prospect as he is, Joaquin Niemann doesn't strike me as the type to trust at 8/15, when three of his four rounds here were 75 or worse.
Without expecting any miracles from this journeyman opponent, Jim Herman could offer a decent run at odds of 23/10.
Na has an Augusta edge over Woodland
Considering his power off the tee and pedigree as a major champion, Gary Woodland has a poor record here. Scrambling invariably comes to the fore over the weekend and, on that score, he's much inferior to Kevin Na.
Firm and fast suits Na well, reducing his disadvantage in terms of length off the tee. He's finished top-13 three times and his last three weekend rounds here were under par.
MacIntyre to maintain progress
Robert MacIntyre has created a good impression on his debut so far and is fancied to build on it over the weekend. I couldn't be more positive about his potential and think he has both the imagination and temperament to challenge repeatedly in this and other majors. He's preferred to Mackenzie Hughes, who has tendency to start tournaments well before fading.
Maybe yesterday's fine 67 means Bryson Dechambeau has cracked how to play Augusta. Or maybe a class act merely produced a cracking round at the best time of the day, and still has much to learn.
Bryson still a risky bet at odds-on
Bryson will be going hell for leather playing catch-up - a strategy that could go wrong and quickly deflate him. Whereas Matt Jones probably has lower expectations and the Honda Classic winner has the short game to go well throughout a Masters weekend.
Smith still very much in contention
Not dissimilarly, Cameron Smith is made for a firm and fast Augusta, with a big emphasis on short game brilliance. He was unlucky to find a divot on 15 yesterday that likely cost him two or three shots, yet the Aussie is still in contention. Without saying anything negative about Ryan Palmer, he's definitely inferior at this course.