US Masters Day One: Try this quintet of three-ball bets
Paul Krishnamurty lays out his five best bets among the opening day three-ball groups at Augusta...
"Jimmy Walker looks a rock-solid favourite here, and may not need do much to win...Long off the tee and excellent around the greens, he has the right skills for Augusta and did extremely well to finish eighth on his 2014 debut."
Back Louis Oosthuizen (vs Reed, Dufner) 3u @ [2.6] (Starts 14.37)
Take out an entirely forgiveable missed cut in Houston, coming straight off a gruelling marathon week en route to the World Matchplay final, and Louis Oosthuizen has rock-solid credentials for a second major title.
Since that unlikely Open Championship triumph in 2010, he's been runner-up in three majors, including twice last year and at Augusta in 2012. The South African has rarely if ever been in more consistent form or injury-free, and is hitting greens in regulation for fun.
That case just gets the nod over Patrick Reed in a strong group. Jason Dufner has also played well and won this term, but I always fear the Augusta greens will get the better of him, as on previous visits.
Back Chris Kirk (vs Matsuyama, Singh) 3u @ [3.25] (Starts 15.21)
Another major champion who tends to suffer on the Augusta greens these days is Vijay Singh, so I doubt he'll give these two in-form opponents much of a challenge. I wouldn't take anything away from Phoenix winner Matsuyama, whose fifth place last year very much brings him into the outright conversation.
However Kirk could represent some value at a fair price here. He's got one of the very best short games around, fared pretty well on both visits to date, and on his two latest starts.
Back Billy Horschel (vs Fitzpatrick, Clarke) 5u @ [2.1] (Starts 16.38)
Darren Clarke is one of the most predictable streaky players around. When he's hot, capable of anything. When not, he generally misses cuts badly and I expect no more from someone who's missed 12 of his last 17.
This may well boil down to match that won't take much winning. Fitzpatrick is a tremendous prospect but he's not settled into any sort of form in the States yet. Former FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel - a lively outsider - looks much stronger.
Back Jimmy Walker (vs Lahiri, Kjeldsen) 5u @ [2.1] (Starts 18.28)
Jimmy Walker looks a rock-solid favourite here, and may not need do much to win. Prolific in the past two seasons, Walker has slipped down the game's pecking order lately but remains in decent form with six top-20s from ten starts. Long off the tee and excellent around the greens, he has the right skills for Augusta and did extremely well to finish eighth on his 2014 debut.
Lahiri has talent and some potential, but remains vastly inferior and has done nothing much outside India this term. Kjeldsen hasn't done much in Europe either and probably lacks the power for Augusta.
Back Bill Haas (vs McIlroy, Kaymer) 2u @ [3.5] (Starts 19.01)
Finally a cracking group to finish the day one proceedings. Kaymer, who has never looked like coping with the Augusta test, is easily dismissed against two strong candidates.
Rory is famous for his opening round heroics, but that plus his obvious title claim are reflected by an odds-on quote. In fact, Haas has outscored McIlroy in the last two opening rounds here, shooting 68 and 69. As argued in my speciality bets portfolio, Haas is good value across the board.