‘JT’ ticks all the boxes for Augusta 2022

2022 US MASTERS PREVIEW BY WARREN TODD

As we head to Magnolia Lane, the golfing world is embracing yet another World Number One in Scottie Scheffler, who earnt that right by winning a ridiculous three of the last five tournaments on the USPGA Tour he has teed it up on.

This is the ninth time the World Number One mantle has changed hands since the start of 2020. Long gone are the days when a certain Tiger Woods stayed at the top of the tree for 281 consecutive weeks from 12th June 2005 until the end of October 2010, and punching in a cumulative shift as World #1 for more than 13 years. Truly remarkable. Speaking of Tiger, no Preview would be the same without an honourable mention to The Goat.

The rumours are true. Tiger is at Augusta, and, by all accounts he is absolutely striping it on the range, not losing any of his swing speed whatsoever. That is the good news. The bad news is the issue is not with his swing, it will be the arduous walks he would have to take on over the (hopefully) 4 days he plays there. Caddies bemoan that Augusta is the toughest gig for them, and I can attest to that after walking 14 of the 18 holes in 2011. Bookies are chalking Tiger up at 50/1, which quite frankly is pathetic. I cannot wait to see him play there though, although I hope we don’t get the customary Tiger Cam for 90% of the total televised schedule!

Quiztime: A list of the 25 World #1 Golfers since 1986 is at the end of this article. See if any of you Golfbores can beat my score 20/25.

TOP SHORT GAME ADVANTAGE: This could be Justin Thomas’ week.

SELECTIONS

All Prices below are bet365 EW Top 8 1/5th Odds

Justin Thomas 5pts EW at 14/1

Tiger’s Bestie is my Main Selection this week. To say he has been knocking on the door for a Big W is an understatement. Posting five Top 10 finishes (of which three were Top 3 finishes) in the eight tournaments he has played this season shows the consistently high level of game he has been playing for some time. The issue has been his putting. That does not deter me at all, as I firmly believe that to win at Augusta, putting does not rank highly as one of the pre requisites to seal the deal.

Look at the past ten years’ of Masters winners; Bubba Watson (twice), Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Hideki Matsuyama. All renowned for less than average putting, and JT is better than that with the flatstick anyway. There are so many boxes that get ticked for JT this week – long off tee, high approach shots, one of the best short games around. All of these attributes will be needed more than usual at Augusta this week (see course changes and weather sections). He is a confident Main Selection.

For those that enjoyed winning on the Famous Tiger (Roll) Tiger (Woods) 100/1 Spring Double in 2019, my shrewdies in the horse racing world firmly believe that ÉCLAIR SURF is ‘well-in’ to win The Grand National this Saturday, after a huge boost to its form via the Scottish Grand National last Saturday. Éclair Surf is 14/1 with bet365, Top 6 Places. A £10 EW double Justin Thomas to win The Masters and Éclair Surf to win The Grand National gets you nearly £2,500 back if they both win, and nearly £150 back if they both place. It’s The FOMO Trade!

Note: Eclair Surf is 47th on the list for Grand National (max 40 runners allowed), so we need seven more non-runners for him to line up on Saturday. However, if he doesn’t it will be deemed a non-runner, so it will all go onto JT as a single EW bet for The Masters.

Joaquin Niemann 2.5pts EW @ 50/1

Seven of the last 10 winners of The Green Jacket have been chalked up at odds of 20/1 to 66/1, so it pays to take a close look at the players in this price bracket. Joaquin Niemann leaps off the page for me here. Niemann is impressive with the Strokes Gained Approach shots, possesses an awesome short game, and isn’t too shabby in the wind either, should the predicted inclement weather hit Augusta Thursday-Friday. Big price, big player.

Corey Conners 1.5pts EW @ 55/1

Corey Conners made it a profitable week for us at Augusta last year, with a full place finish at 80/1, and I am not deserting him this year. He has peaked just at the right time with some solid finishes over the past month. This Greens in Regulation machine (hitting approx 75% season-to-date) is one to keep firmly onside this week.

Shane Lowry 1pt EW @ 50/1

Lowry is playing probably the most consistent golf of his life, and is doing it to very good effect on The USPGA Tour this season. He was incredibly unlucky not to get the elusive W in The Honda Classic late February, but showed great fortitude by finishing 13th at Sawgrass a fortnight later. His approach play has been really tidy, short game as good as ever, and if it does blow a hoolie Thursday-Friday there is no-one lese I would want to take those conditions on more than Lowry. 21st in 2021, 25th in 2020 at Augusta, he is very comfortable playing around here. G’wahhhn Shano!

BELGIAN BRILLIANCE: Thomas Pieters is a good ‘Spray & Pray’ bet at 200-1!

Spray and Pray: Small stakes, big prices

Thomas Pieters [200 on Betfair Exchange]: You don’t know how close this guy was to making The Staking Plan. Pieters is in the form of his life, and, more importantly, seems to be in his happy place. Two Wins in the past 6 months on the European/DP World Tour have helped the cause. He is never one to sell a finishing position on the spreads, but at 200/1 on the machine he possesses the exact type of game to make a run at Augusta this week, as the 4th place finish on his first ever visit to ANGC will testify.

Cameron Young [350/1 on Betfair Exchange]: Young is a big hitter, tidy with his approach shots, and had a great run February to early March. Only issue is his putting, which, as mentioned earlier, is the lesser of the Augusta evils imo. Even though Young is a Masters debutant, we might have some fun with this bet.

Tommy Fleetwood [120 on Betfair Exchange]: Tommy is thankfully in better form than his beloved Everton are at the moment. Tee to green there aren’t many better out there right now, we just need the putter to beeeehaaaave will ya. Up the Toffees!

Weather

Georgia has seen a deluge of rain the past month (5.72 inches in March, the most since 2014). Coupled with the fact we are expecting heavy rain Tuesday 2pm to Wednesday 2am, this 7,510 yard course will probably feel more like 7,800 yards.

Winds are forecast to play up too, with 10-20mph winds late Thursday morning and all afternoon. Friday looks trickier with 15-30mph gusts over the same time period. Saturday and Sunday look fine, no wind or rain expected at all.

The good news is that we should not see a repeat of the late Monday finish we experienced at Sawgrass for The TPC. However, with scattered thunderstorms predicted for Thursday, it may not be all plain sailing.

As ever, all of the above forecasts could change a lot over the next few days, so keep an eye on respected weather websites.

Course

ANGC Committee have tried to keep up with the times and made what they feel are necessary extensions to certain holes over the years.

The two notable standouts this year are an increase of 10 yards to the par 4 11th (505 yards to an eye watering 515 yards!) and the par 5 15th (530yds to 550yds). Rory McIlroy said that in practice rounds his approach shots to the 11th went from 6/7 iron to 4/5 iron, a subtle yet notable difference to probably one of the most difficult holes at Augusta. An extra 20 yards to the narrow 15th green could break a few hearts this week too.

High winds Thursday, Friday… soft fairways…hard greens (SubAir system on full power)… it could make for really fun viewing this week.

Play/Lay?

Just a mention to others at the head of the betting, with my views if you are looking for alternatives to my selections, or maybe a Draft Kings play.

Jon Rahm. Similar to Justin Thomas tee-green superb, putter misbehaving. I just prefer JT’s temperament for Augusta, but would not say avoid Rahmbo at all costs. Play.

DJ finding some form at last. Would not put you off him, looking dangerous again. Play.

Scottie Scheffler World #1 One, playing obviously the best golf out there at the moment. Prohibitive price imo but if he is your idea of a winner, then I can see why. Play.

Cam Smith, he would have been my Main Selection if not for JT. The way he got up and down from a horrid position on the 72nd hole to nab the $3.6m winning cheque at Sawgrass was just unbelievable. I just fancy JT that little bit more. However, if you like Smith as your main pick, you should get some run for your money. Best wedge player on The Planet right now. Play.

Defending Champion Hideki Matsuyama is a major doubt after withdrawing from the Valero Open with a neck injury. Lay.

Bryson DeChambeau has just returned from injury, played terrible in The WGC Matchplay and then Missed Cut over the weekend. Avoid, lay.

Hovland  tee to green one of the best out there, still nowhere near good enough around the green. Lay.

Rory doesn’t look like he has 4 solid rounds in him to me. Lay.

Good luck!

TOP-RANKED GOLFERS, 1986-2022.

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