US Masters: Dave Tindall rates the top 10 for course, current and major form

Will the smiles return for Phil Mickelson at this week's US Masters?
Will the smiles return for Phil Mickelson at this week's US Masters?

Dave Tindall arms you with the stats that matter for a punt on the Top 5 and Top 10 Finish markets ahead of the 79th Masters at Augusta National...


"Phil Mickelson tends to be hit or miss in the majors these days while nine of his last top 10s in the Masters were actually top 5s. Therefore it's far more attractive to back him at 7.06/1 for a top 5 than the safer 3.7511/4 for a top 10."

Rory McIlroy - Top 5 Finish 2.68/5, Top 10 Finish 1.824/5

He famously suffered a final-round meltdown in 2011 when four clear at start of play and had to wait until last year for a first Masters top 10 but Rory says "I love it. It's my favourite tournament of the year. I absolutely adore the golf course. I'm really comfortable on the tees. I'm really comfortable with the second shots.  I'm comfortable on the golf course." Maybe it'll only take a change of strategy for Rory to get a first win/top five. Noting his poor record on the par 5s, he said: "Sometimes, with my length, I can be a little over-aggressive. Give yourself a decent chance to make three but make sure you get your four. Bubba last year played them in eight-under par. I played them in even par and he beat me by eight shots." Any rain will enhance his chances and, let's not forget, Rory has won the last two majors and four in all since that blowout here in 2011.

Last four events: 11-9-MC-1
Masters record: 8-25-40-15-MC-20
Last 10 majors: 1-1-23-8-8-MC-41-25-1-60
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 32%, Top 10: 56%


Jordan Spieth - Top 5 Finish 3.613/5, Top 10 Finish 2.1411/10

The remarkable Spieth had a Masters debut to remember last year when finishing T2. Always honest, he reflected later: "I can see why even when you're playing your 'A' game why it's difficult for a first time winner to pop up here, because it's just so hard with the subtleties of the greens and it may have made a difference by about three shots during the week." Spieth, for the record, finished three behind winner Bubba. Whether playing and being under the gun in the last two weeks is good preparation for Augusta when every ounce of mental energy is needed remains to be seen. It does seem the one negative as, put simply, Spieth was T2 last week and T2 here last year so his chance is glaringly obvious.

Last four events: 2-2-1-17
Masters record: 2
Last 10 majors: MC-36-17-2-MC-44-MC-21
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 30%, Top 10: 42%


Bubba Watson - Top 5 Finish 3.711/4, Top 10 Finish 2.1411/10

Why does 2012 and 2014 winner Bubba do so well at Augusta National? For starters, he likes all the right-to-left doglegs. "The tee shots are pretty generous for me. I like to cut the ball. It sets up well for me." And when he does miss a fairway... "You look at the trees, it's not like there are a lot of branches down below. So there are gaps that you can pull off shots, kind of like I pulled off on 15 last year under the limbs over the water. The pine straw is better than rough so you can hit solid contact and be creative with your contact out of pine straw." He'll be able to handle all the pomp and ceremony (Masters Dinner etc) better than he did when defending in 2013 and although history suggests another win is a tall order (only legends Nicklaus, Faldo and Woods) have won back-to-back Masters, there's no reason why Bubba can't finish top five or 10.

Last four events: 3-14-2-10
Masters record: 1-50-1-38-42-20
Last 10 majors: 64-MC-MC-1-MC-32-32-50-11-23
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 22%, Top 10: 30%


Jason Day - Top 5 Finish 4.57/2, Top 10 Finish 2.427/5

Don't worry that Day isn't prepared for the tournament he wants to win more than any other. "I feel like my game plan from tee-to-green is pretty good, but around the greens, you definitely have to have that touch. I spent five-and-a-half hours on the front nine Sunday and four hours today on the back side just chipping and chipping and putting," he revealed in Monday's press conference. In the two years the Aussie has played the Masters in good health, he's finished second on debut in 2011 and third (led with three to play) in 2013. Everything points to a huge challenge this week and a victory at Torrey Pines earlier this year will add another layer of confidence as the one question mark is that he doesn't win enough.

Last four events: 17-31-4-1
Masters record: 20-3-WD-2
Last 10 majors: 15-58-4-20-8-32-2-3-MC-59
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 28%, Top 10: 38%


Dustin Johnson - Top 5 Finish 5.14/1, Top 10 Finish 2.8615/8

DJ has had legitimate chances to win the US Open, Open Championship and US PGA but he's never been in contention on the weekend at Augusta. He did lead after 13 holes of his second round in 2013 but dropped six shots in the final five holes and never recovered. Although it's his local major - he grew up just an hour away - he's still never had a top 10. He likes the course - "I love the shape of all the holes, and for my game, I think it suits very well" - while coach Butch Harmon once said: "When he improves his short game, he's going to contend for a long time here." Since coming back from his self-imposed six-month break, DJ has looked better than ever. After his win in the WGC-Cadillac and play-off loss at Riviera, does he now have the required concentration levels to succeed at Augusta National?

Last four events: 6-1-MC-2
Masters record: MC-13-38-38-30
Last 10 majors: 12-4-MC-8-32-55-13-48-9
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 24%, Top 10: 34%


Adam Scott - Top 5 Finish 5.49/2, Top 10 Finish 2.8815/8

In theory, Scott should be on the shortlist for every Masters after first finding his peace with the course and then producing the thunderclap moment in 2013 by becoming the first Aussie to win the green jacket. He said ahead of that victory: "2010 was the turning point for me here. I've been coming here a fair while and I finished ninth in my first outing, but then really struggled to get into contention for a long time. I played so nicely in 2010 and just found a level of comfort on the tees and into the greens, and even around the greens and just got my eye in with the golf course." His return to the broom putter must be another plus after trying out the shortstick in recent PGA Tour events while his record in the majors has been superb over the last four seasons with nine top 10s and four other top 15s in 16 starts.

Last four events: 35-MC-4-2
Masters record: 14-1-8-2-18-MC-25-27-27-33-MC-23-9
Last 10 majors: 15-5-9-14-5-3-45-1-11-2
Last 50 starts - Win: 12%, Top 5: 38%, Top 10: 54%


Henrik Stenson - Top 5 Finish 5.59/2, Top 10 Finish 2.915/8

Stenson - second, fourth and fourth in his last three tournaments - certainly seems chilled out ahead of this Masters despite being reminded that he's never had a top 10 in nine previous visits. A bout of the flu, which forced him to pull out of last week's Houston Open and spend several days in bed, led him to say in Tuesday's press conference: "The good thing is expectations are kind of out of the window. I was playing nicely, but now I'm just happy to be here and to be able to peg it up on Thursday and make the best out of it." Two years ago he eagled the 2nd and 8th and looked set to lead but took an 8 at the last. Augusta National, it seems, continues to taunt him.

Last four events: 2-4-4-13
Masters record: 14-18-40-MC-MC-38-17-17-MC
Last 10 majors: 3-39-4-14-3-2-21-18-40-68
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 42%, Top 10: 48%


Jimmy Walker - Top 5 Finish 5.79/2, Top 10 Finish 3.02/1

Ahead of his Masters debut last year, Walker said: "You get to certain places and golf courses feel better to your eye, feel better to your game, and this place, definitely, I feel like it kind of suits my style of play." And it certainly did, Walker finishing in T8. "I had a blast," he said. The Ryder Cup star returns this year as the PGA Tour's only two-time winner in 2015 after victories in the Sony Open and the Texas Open on his last start a fortnight ago. All the planets seem aligned, with the only possible negative the fact that he's been paired with Tiger Woods over the first few days. It's doubtful that will put him off.

Last four events: 1-31-41-21
Masters record: 8
Last 10 majors: 7-26-9-8-MC-MC-21-MC-MC-52
Last 50 starts - Win: 10%, Top 5: 16%, Top 10: 32%


Phil Mickelson - Top 5 Finish 7.06/1, Top 10 Finish 3.7511/4

Mickelson must have said a thousand times that this is his favourite tournament and golf course so let's stop for a minute to look at his incredible record: Three wins (2004, 2006, 2010), seven other top fives and four further top 10s in his last 20 Masters. The concern, of course, is his current form although there are signs of life. After a T17 in Houston last week, he reflected: "It was a good stepping-stone, and I would have liked to have been a little closer to the lead going into the final round, but it was a good tournament for me. My putting feels as good as it's been. My short irons distance control is really close to being sharp." Will it all come together when he gets the smell of Augusta's azaleas in his nostrils? It would be typical Phil if it did.

Last four events: 17-30-31-17
Masters record: MC-54-3-27-1-5-5-24-1-10-1-3-3-3-7-6-12-MC-3
Last 10 majors: 2-23-28-MC-72-1-2-54-36-MC
Last 50 starts - Win: 6%, Top 5: 18%, Top 10: 20%


Patrick Reed - Top 5 Finish 9.08/1, Top 10 Finish 4.67/2

It might be fair to say that Augusta National put Reed in his place last year. Attempting the fire-at-the-flags philosophy that has brought him four PGA Tour wins already, the cocksure youngster quicky discovered that the course under tournament conditions is a different beast to the one on which he played practice rounds when he attended nearby Augusta State. Interestingly, he says his goal this week is "first to make the cut and then hopefully get in contention on the weekend." If Reed does pay the course greater respect, he has the form and belief to make a big impact.

Last four events: 17-2-23-7
Masters record: MC
Last 10 majors: 58-MC-35-MC
Last 50 starts - Win: 8%, Top 5: 16%, Top 10: 24%


Conclusion

Phil Mickelson tends to be hit or miss in the majors these days while nine of his last top 10s in the Masters were actually top 5s. Therefore it's far more attractive to back him at 7.06/1 for a top 5 than the safer 3.7511/4 for a top 10.

Jason Day's results show a similar bias. If he's on it, he's more likely to finish top 5 than top 10 (five of his seven career top 10s were 2-2-3-2-4). Therefore back the Aussie for a third Masters top 5 at 4.57/2.

I consider Jordan Spieth (2.166/5), Dustin Johnson (2.8815/8) and Henrik Stenson (2.9215/8) potential top 10 lays while Jimmy Walker (3.02/1) and Bubba (2.1411/10) are tempting to back in the same market.

But given his recent record here and strike-rate across all four majors, Adam Scott is the one to back for a top 10 at 2.8815/8 now that he's taken the wise move to switch back to the putter he used to win in 2013.

If you'd played him in that market in every major since the start of 2011 you'd have won nine times out of 16 and narrowly missed out by a shot or two on four other occasions.


Recommended Bets

Back Phil Mickelson for Top 5 @ 7.06/1
Back Jason Day for Top 5 @ 4.57/2

Back Adam Scott for Top 10 @ 2.8815/8


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