It's been some time since we witnessed a big outsider win the US Masters so are we due another one? Steve Rawlings puts forward a few candidates for a long odds Masters bet
"Fourteen of the last 19 majors have been won by a first-time major winner and the last 34 majors have been won by someone inside the world’s top-50. If that run is to be extended to 35 in-a-row and a rather neat 15 of 20, that brings as many as six Englishman into range."
Although three of the last four US Masters winners have gone off at 50.049/1 or bigger on the Betfair Exchange, and the 2011 winner, Charl Schwartzel, (generally a 90.089/1 chance before the start) was matched at a three-figure price, we have to go all the way back to 2009 for the last genuine triple-figure priced winner at Augusta.
Huge outsiders don't win the US Masters often but when they do, they often win in batches. Angel Cabrera was a 150.0149/1 chance in 2009 and he was the third triple-figured priced winner in-a-row, following Zach Johnson in 2007 and Trever Immelman in '08 and there was a similar run of results a decade earlier when between 1998 and 2000, Mark O'Meara, Jose Maria Olazabal and Vijay Singh all won at juicy odds.
It's been a while since we had a huge-priced winner at Augusta so we're perhaps due one and it would fit with the pattern of the PGA Tour season so far too given six of the nine winners to date have gone off at - at least 100/1.
The Two Nearly Men
With just the US PGA Championship needed to complete the major slam, at the age of just 27, Jordan Spieth has lost his form completely. He came very close to being the first debutant winner since 1979 when he finished second at Augusta in 2014 (matched at 2.26/5 in-running) and he romped to victory here 12 months later before imploding on the back-nine when attempting to defend the title in 2016.
Although he won four more times after that, I suspect that horror finish has had a profound affect on Spieth and he hasn't won in more than three years now. His form is generally awful and that just prevents me from selecting him but I can't pretend I wasn't tempted. His early form here is sensational and it's incredible to see him trading at 100.099/1.
I was hoping that one of my ante-post picks, Matthew Fitzpatrick, may have drifted out enough to be a pick here but his price is stubbornly refusing to budge. Everything I wrote almost a year ago still stands though and if he starts OK on Thursday, he could be there or thereabouts on Sunday but as he just fails to qualify on price, I've had to look elsewhere for my three picks...
English Have Strong Claims If Trends Maintained
As highlighted in the preview, 14 of the last 19 majors have been won by a first-time major winner and the last 34 majors have been won by someone inside the world's top-50. If that run is to be extended to 35 in-a-row and a rather neat 15 of 20, that brings as many as six Englishman into range. World number nine and pre-event fancy, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood (WR 16), the aforementioned Fitzpatrick (WR 20), Paul Casey (WR 22), Lee Westwood (WR 47) and finally, Ian Poulter (WR 49).
Of the six, Lee Westwood has come the closest to winning here. He led the 2010 edition with a round to go before getting reeled in by Augusta specialist, Phil Mickelson, and he's been in fair form of late but the two I like are Casey and Poults.
At 43, time is starting to run out for Paul Casey and that may explain why he appears to be targeting certain events more strongly than others. He's not having a great season but his two best performances have come at the year's two major championships. He was 17th at the US Open after an awful start and second in the US PGA Championship and this one arguably suits him even better.
Having sat third and just two off the lead when debuting in 2004, Casey finished sixth and he finished 10th and 11th in 2007 and 2008. There have been four missed cuts over the years, including last year, but that may help to suppress expectations and in the four previous renewals he put up form figures reading 6-4-6-15.
Casey finished 67th at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Championship before finishing second behind Collin Morikawa at Harding Park in August but he signed off with weekend rounds of 69-67 at TPC Southwind. We haven't seen Casey since he played the ZOZO Championship two weeks ago, where he finished 35th after shooting 69 on Saturday and 67 on Sunday. Could that be an omen?
Beware the Injured Golfer
Anyone following me in here on Ian Poulter does so with the knowledge that he's really struggling with back issues. He could barely move at times during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship last month, where he went on to finish fifth, and only last week he withdrew from the Houston Open before the off.
There's a real danger that he won't be able to compete for four full days this week but if he does, he's a cracking price.
November has regularly brought the best out of the Englishman with five wins in the month. He enjoys Augusta, too. Poulter was tied for the lead here at halfway ten years ago, before going on to finish 10th and he trailed by just two after 36 holes last year when finishing 12th. He was seventh in 2012 and sixth in 2015 so he has plenty of Augusta form and his current form figures read a very impressive 6-5-12.
Cameron Worth Chancing at a Juicy Price
There's an awful lot to like about world number 45th, Cameron Smith, who won the Sony Open way back in January. Having won the Zurich Classic alongside Jonas Blixt in 2017, that was the 27-year-old Queenslander's second PGA Tour title and it took him some time to get going again after the win and the pandemic-enforced spring break but he's been catching the eye of late.
He's improved his placings in each of his last three starts and his fourth placed finish at the ZOZO Championship last time out was extremely encouraging. Smith isn't the longest off the tee and if Augusta plays really soft, that could be against him but he was fifth two years ago so he's already shown an aptitude for the venue and 140.0139/1 is simply too big for such a classy performer.
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a look at the side markets.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
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