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Masters Tournament betting: Searching for value outside the main market

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The Masters is all about the derivatives. Magnolia Lane, pimento cheese sandwiches, Butler Cabin, etc. This rite of spring isn't just about the green jacket, nor its betting market. Let's look at the other ways to experience golf betting's preeminent event.

Top-20 finish

Justin Thomas (+100)

OK, it's not ideal that he's recently parted ways with caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay. But with four top-20 finishes this season and very few negative rounds by strokes gained, Thomas has come out of last season's funk, during which he missed the cut at Augusta National. He had been T22 or better for six straight Masters prior, and I expect a solid week for Thomas.

Sahith Theegala (+125)

How's ninth for your first Masters? We can ask Theegala that, as he took a style of play - long but occasionally wild off the tee - that suits Augusta's forgiving fairways and near non-existent rough, closing with a final-round 67. With more experience and confidence coming in without a round of minus-2.0 strokes gained since Round 1 at Torrey Pines, Theegala can hang around for a second straight top-20 Masters finish.

Shane Lowry (+125)

Lowry finished T25, T21, T3, and T16 in the last four Masters, evidence that he might have banked the institutional knowledge on how to play the tricky course and consistently finish well. At a plus price, that's good enough for me.

Russell Henley (+175)

If I asked you to guess Data Golf's top-10 statistical golfers, how long would it take you to get to Henley? He finished fourth last week for his third top-five of the season, and no one currently on the PGA TOUR finished higher than Henley - a regular major leaderboard lingerer - at the 2023 Masters.

Justin Rose (+250)

My nominee for my "Fred Couples Award," given to the older player who somehow appears on the Masters leaderboard regardless of form, is Rose. He's eighth in career true strokes gained at Augusta National. At his peak, he had a run of seven top-20 results in eight years, but lately, it's been more of a 50-50 proposition. That would still make for a valuable play at +250.

Make/miss cut

Make the cut: Tiger Woods (-115)

Hand up: I'll be that guy who blindly believes in Woods. With a smaller field than most majors, it's generally harder to miss the cut at the Masters. Last year's terrible weather contributed to Woods' withdrawal (after making the cut). Everything we've heard is about how well Tiger still hits the ball, his injuries being managed well, and course knowledge should be worth more than a few shots relative to the field.

He's also one made cut away from setting the record for most consecutive cuts made at the Masters. Tiger rarely needs extra motivation, and you'd have to imagine he knows what's at stake.

Miss the cut: Akshay Bhatia (+160)

It was a taxing Sunday for Bhatia at the Valero Texas Open. He fended off Denny McCarthy to win and earn the last ticket to the Masters. However, Bhatia isn't just on a comedown from that event but also injured his shoulder on the 18th green. Now, Bhatia has to make the quick turnaround for his debut at Augusta - a little different than his 2014 Drive, Chip, & Putt experience - and we're getting him at plus money to miss the cut, something he's done in four of 10 events this year.

Top LIV golfer: Brooks Koepka (+450)

Nine months seems like just enough time for the market to forget that Koepka is a major tournament contender. Koepka's final-round 75 last year helped Jon Rahm catch him for the green jacket, but a lesson was learned. The five-time major winner eluded to a "secret mistake" while winning the PGA Championship a month later. Koepka's regularly contended here when healthy, so he could finish dead last in every LIV event, and I'd still want to buy Brooks in every market possible, especially to win the tournament. He's available as long as 20-1.

Top Asian: Hideki Matsuyama (+125)

Since struggling in the season's first event, Matsuyama has just three rounds worse than minus-1.0 strokes gained, and his four straight top-20 results at Augusta are what we're looking for in course fit. Just four golfers (Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Rose, and Couples) with 30-plus rounds at Augusta National have better strokes gained above expectation, according to Data Golf. We'll take him to top all Asians in the field, but I'll also back him at 20-1 for a second green jacket since he's leading the PGA TOUR in strokes gained: around the green.

Top Korean: Tom Kim (+375)

Once you take Matsuyama out of the mix and pare it down to Koreans only, there's more opportunity for a better payout.

I'll excuse a terrible second round last week to potential disinterest after a first-round 73, something Kim's struggled with in his career. He's been inconsistent, but the highs have shown a sizeable ceiling on the toughest courses, with a T16 at Augusta last year and two subsequent top-10 major finishes. Lining Kim as the least likely Korean leader is a mistake.

Top debutant: Ludvig Aberg (+275)

This feels like a head-to-head between Aberg and Wyndham Clark, and it comes down to Aberg's ability to move the ball right-to-left versus Clark's fading ball flight. Augusta National has long rewarded a righties' draw, and Aberg has answered every question early in his career.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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