The first major of 2015 ,the only one played at the same course each year and at a layout as familiar to golf bettors as it is to the pros. Golf wise, this is my favourite week of the year by far and hopefully I will still be saying that on Sunday evening.
We will be dipping in and out all week, getting strongly involved on Sunday, but I do not want to stake too much until I have seen how the course plays, especially over the first two days.
Having said that, there is one player I feel is overpriced and I want to start our betting portfolio this week by taking Brandt Snedeker in a couple of markets, he featured in the 2014 notes when I wrote ....... he likes it here, 3rd in 2008 ,6th last year, 19th in 2012, 15th in 2011 , just not on Sunday, when he has twice blown up . He did likewise at the Open Championship and is due a major win, but I feel it is more likely to be (a case of) close rather than a green jacket. It is not like he is afraid to get the job done ( when many are) he is a six time winner on Tour ,three in the last 18 months including the 2012 Tour Championship.
Not a very good year for him by his own high standards, but he shot two rounds in the 60's at Bay Hill, including a Sunday 68 for a share of 8th place last time out. Which promises much as he finished 6th last year on the back of two missed cuts in his warm up events, it was actually his best finish at Bay Hill ( the Arnold Palmer) since a 14th in 08, when he was 3rd here, so good omens. He has been struggling with his putter, but hit 11 single putts in that final round 68 and feels that he has "figured something out".
Snedeker arrived at Augusta early last week and been very relaxed by all accounts and in good spirits.
I selected him to finish top 20 , he played three solid rounds and finished 37th, he dropped too many strokes to the leading contenders on Saturday with an 80, which was 6-14 shots worse than the top seven finishers, if he had shot the worst score of those other golfers he would have been 14th, the best would have seen him finish in second place. He had two nightmare holes in that R3 and his play over the other 70 was good enough for yet another top 20 placing at the very least. Of course, we could make a case for a lot of golfers, by cherry picking their good holes and eliminating the others, but Snedeker has played well here in his last four visits and gone very close a couple of times (led after 54 holes twice) and more importantly, he comes into this Masters in much better form than last year. He has a host of high finishes to his name this season, including a win at Pebble Beach where we backed him (whooo ! ..........I have to take my comfort where I can get it this year !). That was his 7th career win and at 34yo he is still very much in his peak golfing years and is able and wants to focus on winning a major now and is capable of doing so. He had a couple of poor finishes after his victory, but that is usual, last time out he came 13th at the Arnold Palmer, where, to be honest, it appeared at times he didn't want to "jinx" his Masters chance by going too close. He looked to be playing within himself, went low on Thursday and very low on Saturday where he played almost flawless golf, he looks absolutely primed to go deep this week. It has been all about Augusta in the interim with all 18 days since his last outing (and much of the period before that) dedicated solely towards 15.52 (UK time) today, when he tees off.
You can see how focused he is on Augusta in this video he made with coach Butch Harmon last week, the pair have been preparing for the Masters for weeks and feel they have a good shot at going close. He looked to be hitting the ball well there and I know he arrived at the course early again and he appears confident and comfortable in his skin.
He will certainly not come up short for desire,or want of trying and speaking to his home town newspaper this week Snedeker said :"This is obviously the tournament I want to win more than anything else on the planet, I make no secret of that, it drives me, it motivates me."
Snedeker then went on to explian how often he has played Augusta.....When he qualified for his first Masters by winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2003, he took advantage of a club rule that allows a qualifier virtually unlimited access to the course in the weeks leading up to the tournament.Then a student at Vanderbilt, Snedeker would make the 6½-hour drive to Augusta and play as often as possible."I was here every chance I got, I showed up so much they considered changing the rule."
He puts his 2014 struggles down to a troublesome rib condition, which was diagnosed as "low bone turnover" and treated with medication, he also changed his diet to eliminate junk food and is his healthiest in , perhaps ever. He also made the very tough decision to part with longtime coach Todd Anderson in favor of Harmon, who is a more relaxed personality and that has already paid dividends with the early season win.
He is a little short off the tee, which might work against him if it gets very wet, but he has improved this aspect of his game and is one of the best putters on Tour and something which perhaps has gone under appreciated, is that over the last five years, only Woods, McIlroy and Bubba Watson, who are golf royalty have won more and when you factrt in his horrible 2014, that is a highly impressive statistic.
If you twisted my arm to name the winner, it would be Bubba, as it feels like the golfing gods have looked at his game and then designed Augusta, but it is hard to defend a title here , we do still have the option to bet him "in running" and anyway, a win for him would be hugely valuable for our Money List bet.
So for now it is all about Brandt Snedeker and I will opt for ......
0.5 units to win outright 41.0-46.0 general range ......there is circa 7k€ on Betfair at the upper quote.
1 unit top ten finish 4.76 Pinnacle Sports who pay out "on all ties", which means a full payout even if 5-6 are tied for 9th, 10th etc and is very valuable, there is a little 5.50 in a place or two, but not the easiest to bet.
1.75 unit top 20 finish 2.61 Pinnacle Sports, this is a wonderful price, same comments as top 10 apply, general quote band is 2.375-2.75.
I like both top 10 and top 20, but have put one in blue as they are obviously related and some of you might not want to bet 3.25 units from the start of this event.