Dig out that office pool sheet and grab the latest update on the betting odds: It’s Masters week.
The season’s first major never seems to disappoint in terms of drama, and with a typically loaded field once again featuring Tiger Woods, the 2019 edition should be a brilliant show.
Predictions aren’t much fun if you don’t take any chances, so without further delay, let’s get bold.
72-hole scoring record goes down
Given their history at the event, it’s no surprise that the Masters’ 72-hole scoring record of 18-under par (270) is held by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Woods finished at that mark despite shooting 4-over on his opening 9 holes in 1997. With scoring-friendly conditions forecasted this week at Augusta, expect that 18-under total to be left in the dust. Two of the last four tournaments have seen scores of 15-under or better as the winner, and with the ball flying farther by the year, the par-5s are playing shorter and shorter on an annual basis. That can make the historic track play like a par-68, setting the table for someone to go comically low and break the record.
Patrick Reed misses the cut
Captain America has lost virtually all of his shine since breaking through at Augusta last year for his first career major. Though he followed that up with a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open, Reed went on to just one top-10 finish in 19 events on the PGA Tour. After an opening-round 77 at March’s Valspar Championship, Reed’s wife, Justine, summoned famed coach David Leadbetter to take a look at her husband’s swing. Leadbetter has since been added to Patrick’s team on a full-time basis to prepare him for Augusta. Despite that move, a missed cut feels more likely than a title defense for the 28-year-old.
Tiger won’t crack top 20
The betting board once again has Woods among the favorites to win, but the four-time champion comes to Augusta lacking top form. He’s played just four full-field, stroke-play events this season, with a tie for 10th at the WGC-Mexico representing his best finish. Woods was brilliant in the final two majors of the season last year but hasn’t returned to that level thus far. A notoriously slow starter, he doesn’t quite have the firepower to hunt down today’s top players from behind. Here’s a guess: He gets behind early and can’t make up the ground for a top-20 finish. So how bold a prediction is this? In Woods’ 19 Masters starts as a professional, he’s only finished outside the top 20 on three occasions.
The winner won’t be one of the favorites
A glance at the names atop the betting board makes it seem likely that the winner emerges from the top players. A deeper look reveals that’s not always the case, as there hasn’t been a Masters winner listed lower than 25-1 since Bubba Watson claimed his second green jacket in 2014. Going off that trend, you can count out 12 players, including Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Woods, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth.
Finau claims the green jacket
Tony Finau is one of the top players on the PGA Tour, but the long-hitting 29-year-old is not an accomplished winner by any measure. Despite being a top-10 machine, Finau has won just one PGA Tour event in his career – an opposite-field tourney in Puerto Rico in 2016. While he often struggles to close, Finau is a consistent presence on leaderboards at the majors, posting top-10 finishes in three of the four events last year. That included a 10th-place showing at Augusta after dislocating his ankle in the par-3 tournament on the Wednesday. With a ball-striking performance for the ages, Finau will claim his first green jacket Sunday evening – and at 40-1 odds, this bold prediction is certainly worth a wager.
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