The 2021 Masters is here! And even though it feels like we recently broke down the field taking on Augusta National in November, the tournament's return to April brings an entirely different vibe.
Only 88 players will be in action this week after the shortened 2020 calendar limited qualifying opportunities. Every player ranked inside the top 50 in the world will be at Augusta, with the only notable absentee from the event being Tiger Woods.
The low 50 players and ties after Round 2 will advance to the weekend.
2020: Dustin Johnson (-20) over Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith
2019: Tiger Woods (-13) over Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele
2018: Patrick Reed (-15) over Rickie Fowler
2017: Sergio Garcia (-9) in a playoff over Justin Rose
2016: Danny Willett (-5) over Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood
2015: Jordan Spieth (-18) over Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose
2014: Bubba Watson (-9) over Jordan Spieth, Jonas Blixt
2013: Adam Scott (-9) over Angel Cabrera
2012: Bubba Watson (-10) over Louis Oosthuizen
2011: Charl Schwartzel (-14) over Jason Day, Adam Scott
2010: Phil Mickelson (-16) over Lee Westwood
"If it stays dry, it'll be as difficult as the course has played in a long, long time," Fred Couples said, according to the PGA Tour's Sean Martin.
"If the weather stays like this, we're going to see Augusta as good as ever," Jose Maria Olazabal said, according to Martin.
"Looked like it was at a really tournament length, the grass around the greens and the firmness and the speed of the greens had that brown tinge on it. If that's a sign of things to come, we've got to buckle up for this week," Adam Scott said on Monday.
|Player||Odds||Last 5 Masters starts|
Let's start with a quick nugget about each of the players listed above and provide a reason for or against betting them at the Masters.
Dustin Johnson - Defending a title at the Masters is incredibly tough (it's only happened three times since 1960), and he's not in peak form. Johnson is someone who can turn it on at any moment, but his +600 odds are too short.
Jordan Spieth - You are buying high on him following his win at the Texas Open. Spieth should have all the confidence in the world heading to Augusta - but +800 is still a steep price to pay.
Bryson DeChambeau - Everyone thinks his greatest advantage is his length, but it's more about his power and strength. DeChambeau's last two wins came at courses with extremely thick rough that he could still execute from while others could not. Augusta has very little rough compared to Winged Foot, so DeChambeau will need to be on point with his iron play and putting if he's going to win. The 27-year-old's undoubtedly one of the favorites, but there's too much that needs to go well for DeChambeau to justify backing at +900.
Justin Thomas - Thomas, who's one start removed from winning the Players Championship, came fourth at the Masters in November, and he seems poised to claim his second major title. It could very well come at Augusta - a course he continues to improve at year after year. If Thomas can have a field-average putting week, he'll have a shot to win on Sunday.
Jon Rahm - The biggest concern with Rahm leading into the week was the birth of his son and whether or not he would have to withdraw midway through the event. With that no longer a concern (congrats to the Rahms), the Spaniard is a fantastic option at +1200.
Brooks Koepka - Koepka's only a few weeks removed from knee surgery, so there are some serious concerns about how he holds up over 72 holes. The 30-year-old said his knee bothers him when walking on hills, and Augusta may have the most elevation change out of all courses on Tour. Koepka's a huge risk at +1500 but obviously has the upside to win anytime he's in action.
Rory McIlroy - No one consistently finishes inside the top 10 more often at the Masters than McIlroy. But we're searching for winners, and right now, his game doesn't appear ready to beat a stout field at what will be a very difficult Augusta National.
Patrick Cantlay - The 29-year-old's a popular pick among many to breakthrough with his first major victory this week. Cantlay has played exceptionally tee-to-green in 2021 and has found success at Augusta during his career. However, +1800 is too short when there are comparable players at nearly double the odds.
In summary, the best two options among the listed favorites from an odds and chances-to-win perspective are Rahm (+1200) and Thomas (+1000).
|Player||Odds||Last 5 Masters starts|
|Collin Morikawa||+2200||T44 (2020)|
|Viktor Hovland||+3000||T32 (LA-2019)|
|Scotte Scheffler||+3500||T19 (2020)|
|Sungjae Im||+4000||T2 (2020)|
Value begins to present itself in this range, starting with Daniel Berger at +3000, who's playing very well and has a solid track record at Augusta. More on Berger in a bit.
After electing to bypass the top portion of this range because of a lack in value on the players priced below +3000, Webb Simpson is the next standout option at +3800. If Augusta is going to play firm and fast, his lack of distance won't be as noticeable. Simpson's also finished inside the top 10 in his last two attempts at the Masters.
Paul Casey is another option at +4000. Casey has a great history at Augusta, with seven top-15s in his career. The Englishman also has four straight top 10s on the PGA Tour and a win at the Dubai Desert Classic in early February.
Sungjae Im was a runner-up to Johnson in his Masters debut. However, the course will play a lot differently compared to November, and a less-forgiving Augusta will expose Im's recent struggles with his iron play.
Daniel Berger (+3000)
Berger is about as well-rounded of a golfer as you will find in the Masters, especially of those priced above +3000. He's efficient off the tee, can get really hot with his irons, has a solid short game, and is a great putter. Being able to gain strokes in all aspects of the game is extremely important when trying to fend off a strong field at Augusta.
The Florida native hasn't played the Masters since 2018, which might bode well because of how unique the last two runnings of the event have played. Berger finished tied for 10th in his debut at Augusta in 2016 - one of the toughest tests in recent years - and is three for three in cuts made.
Berger has also been playing really well, missing only one cut in his last 15 events played, winning four starts ago at Pebble Beach, and finishing tied-for-ninth at the Players Championship while gaining 9.2 strokes tee-to-green.
Webb Simpson (+3800)
Simpson is getting enough respect as a top-10 player in the world. Yes, he missed the cut at The Players two starts ago, but he did record a top-six showing at the WGC-Workday Championship.
The 35-year-old's also starting to really figure out Augusta. Simpson placed inside the top-20 in three straight appearances, including back-to-back top-10 results. Additionally, if Augusta is playing as firm and fast as players have indicated it might, Simpson's lack of pop off the tee won't be as apparent. However, he remains one of the best iron players in the sport, possesses an impressive short game, and is a world-class putter.
Adam Scott (+5000)
The choice between Scott and Garcia was a tough one, but we're rolling with the Aussie at +5000.
At the Honda Classic, Scott said he was using that week as his final competitive preparation for the Masters and gained 10.5 strokes gained: tee-to-green. Something clearly clicked en route to a tied-for-13th result.
The firm and fast conditions will also play right into Scott's hands since he grew up playing on similar-type courses in Australia. The 40-year-old won't have to chase distance and can focus on getting the ball in the fairway to play Augusta as stress-free as possible.
If Scott builds on the momentum he gained at the Honda Classic, +5000 could pay off handsomely with a victory from the former Masters champ.