STAR PREVIEW: The Masters

Blue Horseshoes 2019 Masters Picks

Well here we go folks. Get your drinks and nibbles arranged. Clear the lounge. Say something loving to your significant other that will last them for a few days, because on Thursday the chords of the fabled intro music will strike up and The Masters will be under way.

This is the Cheltenham Gold Cup of golf and if, like myself, you’re a slight obsessive about this tournament, then every interaction and conversation is now only background noise while your mind ticks off the hours until Thursday.

Like the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Grand National there are countless tipsters out there telling you why their tips are best. I would not be so bold as to do that.

Almost anyone of these guys on the PGA Tour is good enough to win. And the new young breed of professional is certainly fit and fearless enough to take their chance when it presents itself. To date there have been five first time winners on the PGA Tour this season.

That’s quite amazing considering the season is still relatively young. Just last Sunday, Corey Conners, a Monday qualifier got up to win the Valero Texas Open.

As I mentioned in my article last week The Valero Texas Open was missing most of the big guns and I fancied a real dark horse to burst out of the pack and win this event, pity I didn’t pick this particular dark horse.

What makes it all the more irritating is that I had identified Conners a couple of months earlier in the review of the Sony Open I wrote as part of the PGA tournament reviews I do for golf website fromthebacktees.com in the key takeaways segment of the review I wrote:

Corey Conners – A name to remember. This Monday qualifier shot a pair of 64’s for his final two rounds to finish in a tie for third. Conners has a beautiful easy swing and could be someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

I followed him for the next few weeks but he struggled to even make the cut. So I left him alone last week and he waltzes in at 150-1. Ouch. But hey, we’ve all got horror stories. The key is to learn and move forward.

So let’s move forward to The Masters …

Some people will roll out a myriad of stats and science in justifying their picks. But for me the Masters is primarily about two things: Having the ability to hit approach shots to the right part of the treacherous greens at Augusta and then having the ability to convert those opportunities with the flat stick. The Masters greens are set up with such speed and severity that if you are at all suspect with your chipping or putting game you simply won’t win The Masters.

Of course you have to drive well to put yourself in position in the first place but the guys that inevitably get to don the green jacket on Sunday afternoon are the guys who most effectively took advantage of opportunities on and around the greens.

So without further ado here are my picks. I have selected two warm favourites who I still believe have a bit of value about them for the win and two outsider’s for solid each way value.

I will be posting another piece on Saturday morning after the cut mark to review the tournament so far, how my selections are travelling and to see if there are any players representing good value at the cut mark.

Speaking of cut marks, Star Sports are running a fantastic ‘Miss the Cut’ promotion. If your Masters selection misses the cut Star Sports will give you a free bet (max £25) which you can use on a fresh selection for the weekend. Why not take advantage of this great promotion as that way you’ll be guaranteed to have a chance at a return come the business end of the Masters on Sunday evening!

To get involved simply click below.

My selections:

TIGER WOODS – Currently 18/1 with starsports.bet

I will be up front here and say I am not a huge Tiger Woods fan. Not for that fact that I don’t think he isn’t one of the all time greats of the game, of that there is no doubt. But for the fact that the media constantly fawn over his every move on the golf course, even if he is miles off the lead and in no way in the mix regarding the outcome of the tournament. This wall to wall ‘Tiger vision’ is to the detriment of the other players who are in the mix and who fans and punters might want to see more of.

All that being said I have been watching Tiger’s all round game improve steadily this year. To dispatch Rory McIlroy at the WGC Match Play Championships, who was in his pomp after his brilliant victory at the Players Championships a week earlier, was no mean feat. If it wasn’t for some sloppiness on the final hole in his next knock out match Woods may have well advanced through to the semi finals and who knows from there.

Woods ranks fourth in Greens in Regulation on tour this season, which means he’s driving it very well and getting it on the dance floor more often than most. He’s also ranked fourteenth on tour on scoring average this season, which means once he’s getting it into good scoring positions he’s converting more often than most.

The point is Tiger’s game, which due to a number of factors has at times looked just plain awful over the last few years, is starting to look rock solid again. His chipping game is nearly back to its brilliant best, his putting stroke is much smoother and most importantly he looks healthy.

A fit Tiger is a serious contender. He knows the course like the back of his hand and with just the FOUR green jackets in his wardrobe he certainly knows how to win around Augusta.

Oh, and for the omen bettors amongst you. Didn’t a certain equine individual called Tiger Roll hack up for a famous repeat victory at Aintree this week? Could be a case of Tiger Tiger for the double.

BUBBA WATSON – currently 33/1 with starsports.bet

This guy can drive you to drink if you have money on him. No one can leak shots like an out of form Bubba. But then again no one can make birdies like an in form Bubba. Watson is freakishly talented. He can hit shots and do things with the golf ball that no other pro can do. He is also extremely long off the tee – ranking third on tour with a dizzying three hundred and thirteen yard drive average. That prodigious length provides opportunities around Augusta and is one of the main reasons why Bubba is a two time Masters Champion. Bubba loves it at Augusta. He makes no secret that he builds his game and his season around his favourite tournaments and courses, and this is most certainly one of them.

XANDER SCHAUFFELE – currently 40/1 with starsports.bet

There is a name that pops up in the top twenty ranking of nearly every single PGA statistics list for the season. His name is repeatedly high up in the important rankings when it comes to Augusta. Statistics like; Shots gained tee to green. Shots gained total. Money earned. Strokes gained putting. That name is Xander Schauffele. He is a huge rising star in the sport and what impresses me most about him is just how cool under pressure he is. If he puts it all together over the first three days he will not be overawed by the occasion on Sunday.

CAMERON SMITH – currently 80/1 with starsports.bet

This one is just a hunch. I really like this cut of this young Aussies gib and can see him being at the business end of many a major in the coming years. He has a quite superb short game and carded the low round of the day on the final Sunday of last year at Augusta with a deeply impressive 64. Smith has the short game skills that Augusta demands and represents outstanding each way value if he starts well.


RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK TIGER WOODS 2.5 points each way at 18/1 with starsports.bet
BACK BUBBA WATSON 1.5 points each way at 33/1 with starsports.bet
BACK XANDER SCHAUFFELE 1 point each way at 40/1 with starsports.bet
BACK CAMERON SMITH 1 point each way at 80/1 with starsports.bet


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