Friday, 1 April 2016

The Masters 2016 - Making the Shortlist, Part 4

With just six days to go, its time to narrow down the shortlist and start finalizing the final staking plan for the most eagerly awaited Masters in years. As play resumes at the Shell Houston Open, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler show signs that their game is good nick as they sit nicely behind the leaders after day one. It also shows that Dustin Johnson is once again a player to consider for First Round Leader (FRL) bets. This blog backed DJ for the Masters last year, did so again for the US Open and stuck with him for the Open at St. Andrews. His third round at St. Andrews blew him out of contention again and I began to doubt if DJ could ever win a Major, and began to think that he is a bottler, a choker in the big events when the pressure comes on. I'm still not convinced that he will go Major-less in his career, and he may be just peaking and timing his run to perfection ahead of this year's first Major. He most definitely remains on the final shortlist and won't be tossed aside as a no-hoper by me.

As per my opening, part 1 preview, I have backed Adam Scott already back in February @ 33/1 and his best price today (Friday 1st April) is 12/1. The Aussie has some great form here, winner in 2013 following form of 8-2-18 in the three preceding years, Scott followed up in 2014 with another TOP15 before dropping his standards twelve months ago to a finish of 38th. He tied alongside previous twice winner Bubba Watson who coincidentally also finished 38th in 2011 before winning in 2012! Bubba's form at Augusta shows a mixed bag ; he either wins it or does nothing (best place outside his two victories are those two T38ths). Strangely enough, Dustin Johnson also finished 38th in both 2011 and 2010. (has recorded a 13th & 6th since). Bubba though is in fantastic form this season having won at Riviera,and finishing 2nd at Doral. He has to have a shout. Rickie Fowler would you believe finished T38th in 2013 before producing  5-12  results the following two years.

If finishing in a position of 38th is an omen of any sorts at Augusta then what about the results from twelve months ago where Jimmy Walker, Danny Willett and former champion, Charl Schwartzel tied alongside previous winners Bubba & Adam Scott for a tie of 38th ? Danny Willett became a father for the first time this week and will now be raring to go, whereas as Texan Jimmy Walker will be hoping to continue the amazing Texan success story at the Masters. there have been thirteen titles own by Texans, Jordan Spieth being the latest. The South African is in the best form of his career of late and is a contender this week for certain. Sergio Garcia has mixed form at Augusta; 4th way back in 2004, his bid for his first Major continues and he hasn't bettered that result here since. He was TOP20 twelve months ago and TOP10 in 2013 and he too is showing some form of late but he's not for me from a betting perspective, although I would love to see him win one at some point soon.  Henrik Stenson has solid consistent form at Augusta but over the years has never really shown us that he is going to win here. in the past ten years his form-line reads 19-14-18-40-mc-mc-38-17-17-mc. He does have a 38th finish to consider ! He too is not for me this time round either. Both Garcia & Stenson are not shelved with a flick or swipe of the pen easily. They are top golfers quite capable of winning both both are susceptible to pressure come Sunday afternoon and its this reason and the nature of the form of the field this year that leaves me with the decision to look elsewhere. The Nappy Factor would have to kick in here for Danny Willett if he were to win but I think he still needs more course experience to take the jacket.

Brandt Snedeker has gone close in the past with a 6th in 2013 and a 3rd in 2008 but I would like more than 60/1 for this. Hunter Mahan has three TOP10s including one from last year (when form generally wasn't there) and at odds in excess of 200/1 he despite poor form this year cannot be dismissed just yet. Round one scoring from Johnson Wagner in Houston proving that no matter what current form is like, if you have previous excellent course form then your game just might click. I will axe Chris Kirk and Ernie Els at this point although both have shown their game is an upward trend of late but not enough to challenge this week. Charley Hoffman is most definitely in form and produced a TOP10 last year at his second attempt but like Garcia & Stenson, he is yet to prove himself when in contention. I'll pass on Charley too. Ryan Moore might give you a run for your money for a TOP10 although he has never finished in the TOP10 here despite a form-line of 12-mc-38(!!)-35-14-13.

Lastly for now, the English lads of Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey have huge course form in all of them ! Rose was T 2nd last year; his third TOP10 at Augusta. Casey was 6th last year in his first visit since 2012. He was 38th in 2011(that 38th finish again eh) and produce results of 20-11-10 in 2007-2009. Poulter has been very consistent here; 6-20-mc-7-27-10-20-25-13-33-31, just the one missed cut and three TOP10s. I've backed lee Westwood a number of times here over the years as I did Greg Norman and Chris Di Marco (perhaps I was there jinx). Westy had his worst result here last year finishing way down at 46th but he didn't have the best years personally last year and that can be overlooked. He is 42 years of age though now so history is against him but we can't argue with a previous form-line of 7-8-3-11-2-43-11-30. I'd keep an eye on TOP10 markets next week. Bill Haas would have to produce his A-game, and he's quite capable of doing so but he hasn't shown enough at Augusta with a form-line of 12-20-20-37-42-26 although it certainly is progressive. My final culling will fall on Jason Dufner though I do expect him to challenge for his best finish here next week. He will have to finish better than 20th to do that and that kinda sums up his chances for the Masters. Fast slick greens may catch him out and he's passed over again.

So, my 30-man list is shortened again; those that are chopped at this point are:

1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Sergio Garcia
3. Ryan Moore
4. Jason Dufner
5. Chris Kirk
6. Ernie Els
7. Charley Hoffman
8. Henrik Stenson
9. Bill Haas
10. Danny Willett


This now leaves me with 20 players - have I left out the winner? I hope not but its clear now that I do think the winner will come from the market leaders but just how high up ? My final preview will be online on Tuesday next or you can have it sent directly to your inbox by clicking here