Masters Tips: A sextet of three-ball picks for the opening round at Augusta

Golfer Si Woo Kim
Si Woo Kim is Paul's first round nap

Paul Krishnamurty marks your card for the opening day's action from Augusta with six selections from Thursday's three-ball coupon...

Maintaining his recent consistency - nine straight cuts, nothing worse than 72 in his last 12 rounds - may be enough for Munoz.

Back Sebastian Munoz 3u @ 2.747/4 (v An, Reavie) (Starts 16.16)

Back Lee Westwood 3u @ 2.829/5(v Kuchar, Na) (Starts 12.33)

There's a legitimate school of thought that course experience may be less important than previous Masters, given the softer, autumn conditions. I'm sceptical. Augusta, especially its greens, will still require plenty of knowing. Expect course specialists to deliver as usual.

Two of this trio fit that description. Kuchar finished top-30 on nine of this last ten attempts, although his game was usually in better shape. Westwood's numbers are even better with top-18s in eight of his last ten, often defying recent form.

Na's record is inferior to both and he looks too short off the tee to compete this year.

Amateur to spring opening day shock?

Back Andy Ogletree 1u @ 6.411/2(v Woods, Lowry) (Starts 12.55)

Another conundrum involves pricing up the defending champion. Tiger's form coming in is poor - whether long or short game - but he is a different animal at Augusta. Lowry has much better recent numbers - five straight sub-70 rounds, 11th at Houston and 13th at the BMW PGA - but has struggled badly in this major.

It is quite possible that neither set a high bar for Andy Ogletree to clear. Amateurs often thrive on the opening day of majors and this one is a recent graduate from Georgia Tech.

Spieth to start a major strongly again

Back Jordan Spieth 3u @ 2.56/4(v Poulter, Woodland) (Starts 13.06)

Jordan Spieth presents a similar dilemma. While consistently way below his best, his Augusta numbers warrant the ultimate respect as does his record in opening rounds of majors. Extra room off the tee here definitely improves his chances.

Poulter is in by far the best form of these and also has a solid Augusta record, although I'm sceptical he'll enjoy the course playing softer and longer. Woodland in contrast has struggled here and of late, so he could be the weak link in the group.

Back Si Woo Kim 5u @ 2.265/4 (v Lashley, McDowell) (Starts 13.17)

Here's the nap. I don't expect either Lashley or Gmac to set much of a standard. Both are too short off the tee for Augusta and the latter has an abysmal record here.

Kim to dominate weak group

In contrast, Kim has started well in this major, making the last two top-25s. He's also in by far the best form of the trio, making 13 of his last 15 cuts, including six top-20 finishes.

Back Sebastian Munoz 3u @ 2.747/4 (v An, Reavie) (Starts 16.16)

I'll take a chance here on the course debutant, because again the group may not take much winning. Reavie is too short for this test and out of form. An isn't firing on all cylinders either, struggled on previous visits and is liable to struggle on these greens.

Maintaining his recent consistency - nine straight cuts, nothing worse than 72 in his last 12 rounds - may be enough for Munoz. He's finished top-seven on his two most recent outings in Georgia too.

Couples great value as outsider

Back Fred Couples 2u @ 4.57/2 (v Homa, Frittelli) (Starts 17.00)

Finally, another outsider in a weak group. No veteran has more frequently turned back the clock at this course than Couples. He finished top-20 as recently as 2017 and has hit worse than 74 only five times on his last ten Masters attempts. He still hits it a respectable distance and is unlikely to disgrace himself.

Neither opponent is particularly fearsome. Homa has the power to go well here but is making his debut and doing nothing special of late on the PGA Tour. Nor is Frittelli, who hit 77/74 on last year's debut.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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