The Masters is one of golf’s elite tournaments and makes up one of the four majors that are played each year. It’s an important event as it’s the first major of the season and is often thought of as being the most prestigious.
It’s also unique in that it’s the only one of the majors that is held at the same golf course each year; Augusta National, Georgia, United States. Played in April, the tournament takes place over four days, but often you will see TV coverage start from as early as the Monday, watching players partake in practice rounds, pro-am events and the prestigious Par 3 event that is played on the Wednesday as the curtain raiser to the main event.
Masters Betting Tips for 2019
For many golf fans the US Masters has long represented the start of the golfing season proper. The weather is starting to turn for the better, clubs get taken out of the loft and the world’s best players are on the TV competing at Augusta National.
It’s a little different in 2019 though. The Masters is still the first major of the year but the PGA Tour season has been shaken up with the Players Championship moving to March. Rory McIlroy won the unofficial fifth major and in many ways that was the perfect result for the tournament’s new scheduling. Although it’s taken a bit of getting used to, there’s an added sense of momentum now and no end of compelling storylines ahead of the Masters.
Many of the world’s best players have made the trip to Augusta feeling very happy with the state of their game. Rory McIlroy, as said, plus Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler have all picked up big wins this season but others are struggling. Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson have all won a green jacket but have struggled with their game at times this season. Will one of those in good form kick on to win the Masters for the first time or will a return to the hallowed ground of Augusta National prompt one of those former champions to get back to their best? With plenty of other contenders as well, we could very well be in for the best Masters in a long, long time!
Rory McIlroy (7/1)
Rory McIlroy has tried everything in his quest to win the Masters. He’s played the week before and in other years taken it off, he’s tried to relax by playing in the par three competition and also taken an ultra professional approach, he’s tried to tailor his game to Augusta National or alternatively relied on what he does best believing that the result will sort itself out. Nothing has worked so far but this could finally be the year that McIlroy slips into a green jacket.
Almost five years have passed since McIlroy last won a major championship but there is no doubt he arrives in Georgia playing the best golf since he lifted the 2014 PGA Championship trophy. The Northern Irishman took full advantage of the softer conditions presented at TPC Sawgrass in March to win the Players Championship and send out a message to the competition that he will be competing for all of golf’s biggest prizes in 2019.
Technically, McIlroy’s putting and approach play with his wedges have improved considerably. That’s allowed him to finally take full advantage of the incredibly advantageous positions he puts himself in off the tee. McIlroy’s power off the tee will be even more beneficial this year as heavy rainfall in the local area will have Augusta playing much softer than normal. McIlroy thrives in damp conditions and with his game looking razor sharp he is the worthy Masters favourite at 7/1 with Ladbrokes.
Jon Rahm (18/1)
It’s easy to forget that Jon Rahm only turned professional towards the end of the 2015/2016 PGA Tour season. It feels as though the Spaniard has been competing in the biggest tournaments for years and years such is the speed with which he has taken to the professional ranks. A multiple winner on both the PGA and European Tours, Rahm has all the tools to win multiple major championships. The quality of his play in two previous trips to Augusta National suggest that it would be a shock were he not to win a green jacket at some point during his career and join fellow Spaniards and golf legends Seve and Jose Maria Olazabal in this elite club.
The Masters is a tournament at which previous experience is very important which makes Rahm’s finishes of 27th and fourth all the more impressive. He is still learning about the course and the tournament but there is no doubt he’ll be seriously targeting the win this week. Like McIlroy, Rahm hits the ball a very long way through the air and is more than comfortable hitting the draw shape which is so beneficial to right handers. Soft conditions and tricky greens hold no fears for Rahm who is well priced at 18/1 with BetVictor.
Louis Oosthuizen (40/1)
Louis Oosthuizen holds a golfing record which is both hugely impressive and frustrating. The South African has finished runner up in each of the four major championships. That shows Oosthuizen to be an incredibly consistent golfer who has the game to contend on any number of different courses, including Augusta National. He also has a major to his name, so whilst he has proven he can get over the line, many will still feel he should have won more.
He’s had to take it a bit easy this season due to niggling injury concerns but Oosthuizen has really hit form at the perfect time. He finished second at the recent Valspar Championship before making it to the quarter finals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Oosthuizen is unlikely to romp to the top of the leaderboard with a very low first round but he’ll be hanging around the leaders before making a big final round push so is worth each way support at nice odds of 40/1 with bet365.
About the Masters at Augusta
The tournament is played over 4 days, with each day consisting of 18 holes, combining in a 72 hole strokeplay format. The field is the smallest of all the majors, usually consisting of 90 to 100 players. It’s also unique in that it’s an invitational field, with the committee sending out invites to each of the players. Qualification can be based on a number of factors, that include:
- Top 50 ranked players in the world as listed by the Official World Golf ranking from the previous season
- Former major champions
- Previous Masters winners (lifetime exemption)
- Amateur champions and runners-up from around the world
- Current major champions (5 year exemption)
- Top players from previous major tournaments
- Winners of PGA Tour events from the previous year
Obviously the numbers of each can vary with each year, which is the reason behind the unconfirmed field numbers for each event.
Throughout the four days – starting on the Thursday and finishing on the Sunday – a cut is made of the field after 36 holes (Friday). This will include the top 50 placed players and ties, but also now includes any player within 10 shots of the leader. As the Masters is renowned for having a fairly bunched field, this number can vary quite a lot each year, providing there is no runaway leader after these 36 holes.
The remaining players then play out the final 36 holes before the Masters Champion is crowned on the final day.
As one of the most prestigious gold tournaments on the planet, it’s no surprise to see that The Masters has one of the biggest purses. The total prize fund for the 2019 tournament sits at $11 million. The only tournaments which offer more are The Players Championship at $12.5 million and the US Open at £12 million. The breakdown of winnings for the top twenty positions at the latest Masters is shown in the table below.
2018 Master Prize Money Breakdown – Top 20 Positions
|Place||Player||Prize Money||Place||Player||Prize Money|
|1||Patrick Reed||$1,980,000||=12||Charley Hoffman||$231,000|
|2||Rickie Fowler||$1,188,000||=12||Louis Oosthuizen||$231,000|
|3||Jordan Spieth||$748,000||=12||Justin Rose||$231,000|
|4||Jon Rahm||$528,000||=15||Paul Casey||$192,500|
|=5||Rory McIlroy||$386,375||=15||Russell Henley||$192,500|
|=5||Cameron Smith||$386,375||=17||Tommy Fleetwood||$170,500|
|=5||Henrik Stenson||$386,375||=17||Justin Thomas||$170,500|
|=5||Bubba Watson||$386,375||19||Hideki Matsuyama||$154,000|
|9||Marc Leishman||$319,000||=20||Jason Day||$128,150|
|=10||Tony Finau||$286,000||=20||Francesco Molinari||$128,150|
|=10||Dustin Johnson||$286,000||=20||Webb Simpson||$128,150|
The Augusta National Golf Course
The course is probably as famous a course as you are going to find in the world. The Augusta National is one of the most manicured and most beautiful that you are going to find. As it’s played at the same place each year, many people are familiar with each hole and each has their own risk-reward play.
What many people don’t realise about the course is how undulating it is. A lot of courses in America are pretty flat, but Augusta has some steep hills, inclines and declines, which adds another layer of difficulty. These are also often found on some of the greens, which again, can make them treacherous to play on.
The course is often tinkered with quite heavily before each event. Whilst major changes are kept at a minimal, they inclusion of new bunkers, the trimming of fairway rough, the inclusion of trees and the speed of the greens are ways in which the committee feel that course is kept fresh, each year posing slightly different challenges. To get an idea of just how perfect they make the course look, if they have to fell any branches from the trees, they actually paint the stud where the branch was removed from to make it more aesthetically pleasing!
The climate is another issue that players have to cope with. Throughout April in Georgia there is on average a 30% chance of rain each day, which means at some point it’s likely the rain will affect the play. This combined with the humidity and heat that can often occur at this time of year makes it tough to predict for players.
In regards to the greens, one of the ways in that the committee are able to control how the course is played is by removing moisture from the greens to either speed up or slow them down. Each green has a moisture control system included which can suck certain amounts out of the turf. What you will usually find is that at the start of the week they leave them pretty fair, but as the it moves into the weekend they will dry them out to speed them up and increase difficulty.
With so many rounds being played at the course over the years, they often move around the flagsticks to make holes harder or easier as they see fit. For example, the 16th hole par 3 allows for several positons that can only leave a fast downhill putt.
Augusta National Course Information
|Hole||Name||Yards (2019)||Par Score||Bunkers||Tee to Green Direction|
|1||Tea Olive||445||4||2||Slight right|
|3||Flowering Peach||350||4||5||Slight right|
|4||Flowering Crab Apple||240||3||2||Straight|
|8||Yellow Jasmine||570||5||1||Slight right|
|12||Golden Bell||155||3||3||Straight (over water)|
|13||Azalea||510||5||4||Left (across brook)|
|14||Chinese Fir||440||4||0||Slight left|
|15||Firethorn||530||5||1||Straight (across water)|
|16||Redbud||170||3||3||Straight (across water)|
Par 3 Contest
The par 3 contest is the curtain raiser tot the main event, played on the Wednesday afternoon before the first round Thursday. It’s played on it’s own course, running adjacent to the main course, but is as picturesque as you will find.
The whole nature of the par 3 is to create a relaxed atmosphere amongst the players and whilst it’s not required that players take part, the majority of them do. A lot of players also get friends and family involved, either to carry their bag or to even hit a couple of shots. The famous white boiler suits that the caddies will wear all week are often given out to kids of the players or anyone carrying the bag.
But, the par 3 contest comes with a strong hoo-doo attached in that no player who has won the par 3 has then gone on to win the Masters proper. This has caused many superstitious players to deliberately hit balls into the water or pick their ball up on the last should they be having a good round to ensure that they don’t win!
Last Ten Par 3 Contest Winners
|Year||Player||Country||Masters Finishing Position|
|2018||Tom Watson||U.S.A.||Did not play|
|2016||Jimmy Walker||U.S.A.||Tied 29th|
|2015||Kevin Streelman||U.S.A.||Tied 12th|
|2014||Ryan Moore||U.S.A.||Missed cut|
|2013||Ted Potter Jr.||U.S.A.||Missed cut|
|2012||Jonathan Byrd (tied)||U.S.A.||Tied 27th|
|Padraig Harrington (tied)||Ireland||Tied 8th|
|2011||Luke Donald||England||Tied 4th|
|2010||Louis Osthuizen||South Africa||Missed cut|
|2009||Tim Clark||South Africa||Tied 13th|
|2008||Rory Sabbitini||South Africa||Missed cut|
The 2017 Par 3 contest was cancelled due to poor weather.
The Silver Cup is awarded to the low scoring amateur that makes the cut. It’s a prestigious award as it gets presented alongside the winner of the main event as well, often seeing a fair amount of limelight for the young (or old) player to have managed the feat.
Some famous players have won this award in recent years including Phil Mickelson in 1991, Tiger Woods in 1995 and Sergio Garcia in 1999.
This is a traditional that has been running since 1952, but in 1954 they also decided that they would award a silver medal to the low amateur runner-up as well.
Last Ten Amateur Silver Cup & Silver Medal Winners
|Year||Silver Cup (Lowest Amateur)||Silver Medal (2nd Lowest Amateur)|
|Player (Nation)||Score||Player (Nation)||Score|
|2018||Doug Ghim (U.S.A.)||+8 (T50th)||None||–|
|2017||Stewart Hagestad (U.S.A)||+6 (T36th)||Curtis Luck (AUS)||+9 (46th)|
|2016||Bryson DeChambeau (U.S.A.)||+5 (T21st)||Romain Langasque (FRA)||+10 (T39th)|
|2014||Oliver Goss (AUS)||+10 (49th)||None||–|
|2013||Guan Tianlang (CHI)||+12 (58th)||None||–|
|2012||Patrick Cantlay (U.S.A.)||+7 (T47th)||Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)||+9 (T54th)|
|2011||Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)||-1 (T27th)||None||–|
|2010||Matteo Manassero (ITA)||+4 (T36th)||None||–|
|2005||Ryan Moore (U.S.A.)||-1 (T13th)||Luke List (U.S.A.)||+6 (T33rd)|
|2004||Casey Wittenberg (U.S.A.)||E (T13th)||Brandt Snedeker (U.S.A.)||+12 (T41st)|
Amateurs must make the cut to be awarded the silver cup or the silver medal. No amateurs made the cut in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 or 2015.
The American’s definitely hold the mantle over the rest of the world when it comes to total Masters won. Since the tournament started in 1934, an American has won on ne fewer that 59 occasions, with 36 different winners. The Europeans have a total of 13 wins, with 5 coming from South Africa and then a single win for players from Fiji, Canada, Argentina and Australia, respectively.
There are two players who have tied the lowest scoring totals in Masters history; Jordan Spieth (2015) and Tiger Woods (1997), both with 72 hole scores of 18-under. Both players in those years obviously went on to win the event, with Spieth winning by 4 strokes over Phil Mickelson and Justin, and Woods winning by 12 stokes over Tom Kite, which is also a record for the biggest margin of victory.
The great Jack Nicklaus is the most successful player at the Masters, with 6 wins to his name. But, what’s probably most impressive about it is that his first win came in 1963 and his final win came some 23 years later in 1986, 11 years after his previous win, highlighting just what a legend Nicklaus was. Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer are tied second place with 4 wins a piece.
The course record has been set twice Augusta; first by Nick Price in 1986 and then 10 years alter by Greg Norman in 1996, both shooting rounds of 63. It’s actually quite staggering given how many rounds that there have been on this great course to see only two rounds of 63 scored as the lowest, highlighting just how tough Augusta National is.
Other Notable Stats
- Youngest Player: Guan Tianlang, aged 14 years and 168 days (also youngest to ever make the cut)
- Most Appearances: Gary Player – 52 (also most consecutive cuts with 23)
- Highest Winning Score: +1 – Sam Snead, Jack Burke Jr. and Zack Johnson
- Most Birdies in a Single Round: 11 – Anthony Kim, 2009
- Most Runner-Up Finishes: 4 – Ben Hogan, Tom Wieskopf and Jack Nicklaus
The driving force behind the Masters was one of the legends of the game; Bobby Jones. It was Jones’ idea to create a course that he could play after he had retired, little did he know the effect of this vision on the game of golf.
Jones and his good friend, Clifford Roberts, who also later went on to become Chairman at Augusta, manged to find a bit of land in Augusta, Georgia, and the rest, as they say, is history. Allister MacKenzie was the brains behind the design of the course and he was brought on board in 1933. Originally the land had been a plant nursery, which is why there are so many references to plants and nature within the course and likely one of the reasons it looks so beautiful. Sadly, MacKenzie passed away before the inaugural tournament was hosted in 1933.
The name ‘The Masters’ didn’t actually come along until 1939 and it was known as the Augusta National Invitational before that. The original tournament actually played the current back nine as the front and current front 9 as the back. This was switched in 1935 as it allowed for a better layout given the increasing popularity of the tournament.
Since then, the course has seen very little in way of major renovation. It’s been able to stand the test of time and whilst each year there are new features, the actual layout and the undulations that you see are all as they were some 80 plus years ago.
But, it has had to move with the times and one of things that has changed has been the length of the course. In 2001 the course was measuring just 6,925 yards, relatively short compared to modern standards. The additional 300 yards that were added were almost seen as a nod to inflation, given the lengths players were hitting the ball, rather than an increase in difficulty, per say.
However, further extensions just 5 years later to push it to 7,445 yards did come under some heavy criticism from former players such as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, saying that players who were shorter hitters weren’t going to be able to cope hitting long irons into tight flags.
The green jacket is probably the most recognisable feature of The Masters. Instead of a trophy that is often presented in silver, gold or crystal, the winners of the Masters are awarded a green jacket, that they are able to keep for life.
Only members of the Augusta National Country Club are allowed to wear the jackets with winners of the Masters becoming honarary members. Once won, the reigninging champion may take the jacket away from the club but only for one year. After this the jacket must remain at the club, only to be worn when revisiting.
The jacket is awarded to the winner upon completion of the final round and presented by the winner of the previous year’s tournament. The initial presentation takes place in the log cabin within the club house, known as Butler Cabin.
The ceremony includes the chairman at the time of Augusta National, the past winner, the current winner and the low amateur for the week. The previous winner must place the jacket on the new winner, leading to many an awkward moment between players over the years. One such moment saw Jordan Spieth, the 2015 winner blow a five shot lead in 2016, losing out to Englishman Danny Willett. Tradition then required Spieth to help Willett into his green jacket in front of the viewing millions.
A more relaxed presentation is then made on the 18th green, allowing fans and the media to see the winner with his green jacket.
Jack Nicklaus is not just widely regarded as the greatest player of the Masters of all time, but that of the greatest player in golf of all time. He’s been able to win 18 major championships over his illustrious career, more than anyone else in the game.
6 of those victories were at Augusta and Jack himself recalls the course more as a home than just a golf course. What’s most impressive is that Nicklaus has won his 6 tournaments spanning over 23 years, winning his first aged just 23 and then his last aged 46, also making him the oldest player to win the Masters.
Whilst all of his victories were undoubtedly special at the time, there was something about his first in 1963 that really stood out. The fact that he was able to win the tournament by just one stroke and that he had likes of Sam Snead, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer all within 5 shots of his precious lead made it even more remarkable.
However, the 1965 Masters has to go down as one of the greatest of all time. It was a no contest really in that Nicklaus manged to shoot 17 under par, a record that stood for over 30 years. But, it wasn’t the fact that he won by 9 shots and obliterated the field, it was the fact that in tied second place was that of long time rivals and two of the greatest golfers of all time, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer.
If Nicklaus is the best ever, there are few golfers that have had as big an influence on the game than Tiger Woods. It was Woods who transformed the game from slightly overweight, middle aged players, to that of lean, young, fit and strong men that you so often see striding down the fairways today.
Tiger Woods has been able to excel at almost every level and with 79 wins is second in the all-time list of career victories. He also holds 14 majors to his name, just 4 behind Nicklaus, although it does appear now that due to injuries, this number likely won’t be improved upon.
We spoke about Nicklaus setting the lowest ever tournament total of 17 under in 1965, well, it was none other than Tiger Woods that went 1 better in 1997 with a stunning 12 stoke victory (still the largest margin of victory today) over Tom Kite. It was a win that put Woods firmly on the map and cemented his place as the superstar that he was.
Just 4 years alter he would go back to back, with wins in 2001 and 2002, both securing relatively easy 2 and 3 stroke victories. His last Masters victory to date came in 2005 where he beat Chris Di Marco in the first hole of a playoff.