Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Masters 2016 - Making the Shortlist, Part 3

41 players remain in the pot for consideration for this year's Masters following the initial two culling exercises! Those to be chopped at this stage required special attention. World golf at the moment maybe in the post Tiger Woods era, but it's certainly in one of the most exciting periods ever as we, the golfing spectators, fans,bettors, and fantasy gamers look on and listen to various comments on the "Big-3", the "Big-4" every week. There's no doubting that Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have started to dominate the big events more recently but we would be foolish to exclude Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler not to mention self proclaimed TOP-5 player Patrick Reed who is getting closer by the day to that position. Dustin Johnson can also throw his hat in the ring if he can shrug off the choker label in a biggie and Justin Rose looks like he intends to sit inside the World's TOP10 for quite awhile yet too. Henrik Stenson completes the TOP10 World ranked players and you could easily look at these players and settle on your Masters Shortlist from this list alone.

The bookies have the Masters priced up tightly this year and who can blame them! Its certainly promises to be the closest Masters in many a year, and we've had exciting Masters recently, but we could truly see any one of ten players in contention come "back-9", Sunday 10th April. As bettors on golf tournaments we are looking for a potential value price on a player that can contend here for either an outright punt, TOP10 placing or indeed for a trade on the exchanges and with the Worlds TOP10 closely priced, we should be able to find some value in there somewhere. My shortlist is being drafted with TOP10/possibly TOP20 markets in mind with a possible back-to-lay trade to consider also. Given the golf markets on the exchanges do tend to support the popular players, this years Masters market could see one of the leading five players being in the mix right from the off, thus making any potential trades on bigger priced players harder to come by whatever their scores may be. Nothing is more truer of the saying "Majors start back-9 Sunday" than here at Augusta and it may prove to be the case when trading the outright market for this year's installment.  With that in mind, I'm focused more on the outright and TOP10 markets and my shortlist will be concluded based on the intention to bet in those markets.

The eleven players listed below are chopped from my staking shortlist this year which will leave me with 30 players to consider my outright/TOP10 and possible TOP20 bets for the 2016 Masters. In doing so, I know I will have included players that a few regular golf punters will be backing each way to win The Masters, the likes of Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace and Justin Thomas. Thomas makes his debut and on that basis alone its easy to cull him at some point but history books can be re-written and there's no denying that JT has the game to compete at Augusta, and he's not discarded lightly. On the basis that we have a lot of live contenders this year, I can't see any value in backing him this time round despite the 125/1 on offer. Matsuyama is a player I wanted to get onside. He won the recent Phoenix Open and was sixth at Bay Hill and eleventh at Riviera. If his putting was in better nick he would be on my final list and  indeed if bigger than the 40/1 being offered too. Brooks is a popular pick but despite very consistent performances he should be more of a TOP10 bet here and is a reluctant omission at this stage. If my final staking plan does show Koepka on it, it will be because I've got 7/1 on a TOP10. Will I ? Branden Grace maybe better suited to later Majors in the year and at the same price as Koepka I'd much prefer to be with the American for this.

Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na are two players in decent form but they're not for me this week, and JB Holmes and Jamie Donaldson are two that could surprise and at 250/1, the Welshman might be worth another look. I've axed Graeme McDowell at this point too, despite two TOP20  finishes in 2014 and 2011 but its the MCs in his other four visits that puts me off. Troy Merritt also gets axed at this stage, based on lack of course experience. Tiger Woods, was on my entry list and whilst I do believe we will see Tiger back playing at the top again, sadly it wont be for awhile a yet and he gets an early bath fro me at this stage too.

With the list now down to 30, the research to find some decent bets continues and I'll aim to settle on my final 20 over the next day or two when I put up that list here on the blog in Part 4 (to receive this in your inbox click here => Please send me the BirdieClub Posts for free