One of the largest matters of debate within the build-up to Augusta this yr is how in a different way the course will play in contrast to the 2020 November Masters when Dustin Johnson broke the 72-hole scoring document by taking pictures 20-under.
As I famous in my developments piece, seven of the highest 10 finishers in 2020 had posted a earlier prime 5 at Augusta. In different phrases, November hadn’t spawned a monster; the outcomes of that Masters weren’t a freak that must be killed off when researching for 2021.
However, and this will sound apparent, I do count on scoring to be considerably increased this time. But the considering behind that lies within the historical past books fairly than simply glibly saying that situations in November have been atypical.
Here’s what I’m utilizing as proof:
1997 Tiger Woods wins with -18; 1998 Mark O’Meara wins with -9
2015 Jordan Spieth wins with -18; 2016 Danny Willett wins with -5
On that proof, the folks at Augusta National don’t love to see the course taken aside. When it’s, they react.
So, with DJ taking pictures 20-under final yr, it is a first rate guess that the profitable rating will come proper down.
Jordan Spieth dropped a touch which supported that concept in his pre-Texas Open press convention:
“Rumours that I’ve heard already are that it’s already firm and fast two, three weeks out from the golf tournament. I think it will play significantly different and I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
That’s backed up by Lee Westwood claiming it was the hardest he had ever seen it when he went on a dads and lads journey there together with his son straight after ending runner-up at Sawgrass.
I’ll admit that I’ve a longlist of doubtless winners and, as that is an each-way preview with 10 payout locations being dangled, I’ll fairly gloss over the market leaders. For the document, I’d have Justin Thomas, Spieth and new dad Jon Rahm as my three from the highest finish.
Rahm can be profitable his first major if profitable and seven of the final 10 Masters champions went to Augusta with out one within the bag.
But at 3 times the worth of Rahm, the one I’m touchdown on is Daniel Berger at 33/1.
Berger rapidly received to learn the way powerful Augusta National might be when he made his debut within the 2016 version gained with 5-under by Willett.
But he dug in impressively, ending the week in tied tenth after two under-par rounds on the weekend. He performed the following two years and added tied twenty seventh (2017) and tied thirty second (2018).
Later in 2018, Berger fired a Saturday 66 to be the co-leader after 54 holes of the US Open at ultra-tough Shinnecock. He had to accept tied sixth however the expertise was invaluable for the longer term and what it could lead on to. Think Shane Lowry. He was the 54-hole chief on the 2016 US Open, did not get it finished however went out and gained the Open Championship three years later.
Three years on from Shinnecock, Berger is on that identical path now. Since then he is added wins on the Charles Schwab Challenge (June 2020) and Pebble Beach (2021) and he mentioned what everybody can see when interviewed on the latest WGC Dell Match Play: “I just think I’m a better golfer now than I was two or three years ago, so I’m a better putter, better chipper, I drive the ball better, so overall I’m a better golfer.”
The 27-year-old was second at midway and seventh after three rounds within the 2020 US PGA Championship which was one other constructing block and I’ve a sense this might be his time.
So many Masters winners have grown up or gone to faculty within the south-east and Berger is a born-and-bred Floridian who went to FSU (together with four-time major winner Brooks Koepka).
That rib harm which induced him to miss his dwelling Honda Classic? He mentioned at The Match Play: “This is the first day in like over two weeks that it’s felt pretty close to perfect. So I think it was the right decision to not play last week, although it sucks obviously being my home event. But this is what I was hoping for, to take that five or six days off and come here ready to go feeling good.”
His Approach and Putting numbers look nice and do not be too delay by his 151st in SG: Around The Green as he was within the prime 12 for that class on the Sony Open, Pebble Beach and Players Championship.
Tied ninth at Sawgrass on his final strokeplay begin, Berger seems to be a powerful wager at 33/1 with 10 each-way locations.
There are plenty of gamers I like across the 33/1 to 40/1 mark however a number of roads lead me in the direction of Matt Fitzpatrick.
His finest Augusta efficiency got here in that powerful Danny Willett 2016 version when an outstanding closing 67 lifted him right into a tie for seventh. He ranked 1st for Greens in Regulation that week.
He’s matched that 5-under lap with 67s in each 2018 and 2019, and within the former he completed tied twenty first regardless of beginning out with 78. Fitzpatrick performed the ultimate 54 holes in 11-under in 2019 – the identical as winner Tiger Woods.
Having made 5 cuts out of 5 as a professional and shot these low rounds, Fitzpatrick is snug at Augusta National and I like what he is finished in the previous few months.
Eight of the final 10 Masters winners had bagged a prime 15 on the Florida Swing earlier that season (Berger ticks that field). Well, Fitzpatrick had three! He was T11 on the WGC-Workday, T10 at Bay Hill and T9 at Sawgrass.
Another course with nice correlation is Riviera. A stat: seven of the final 9 Masters winners who stopped off on the Genesis that very same season positioned within the prime 15 at Riviera.
Fitzpatrick was fifth at Riviera thanks largely to some short-game magic in order that provides one other plus.
Simplified, he is in glorious nick and performs effectively at Augusta. Factor in his confirmed document on quick greens and fantastic skill to get of jail by holing prolonged par putts and there is heaps to like at 40/1.
At 33/1, Cameron Smith comes shut to choice having already banked a second and a fifth on this occasion. He shared runner-up honours in November with my developments decide Sungjae Im and the Korean is clearly another person I’ll be cheering on.
Paul Casey has spectacular Augusta pedigree (5 prime 10s) and is in glorious type this season. He additionally gained two Valspars with -10 (2018) and -9 (2019) and I’ve a sense that might be across the profitable rating this yr.
Casey is shut to choice at 33s, as is Tommy Fleetwood at 40s. The latter has been inside the highest 10 going into the ultimate spherical twice within the final three years earlier than dropping again however he has the tee-to-green recreation for Augusta and sounded very proud of the best way he was hitting the ball when reaching the final eight of the Match Play.
Fitzpatrick, Casey, Fleetwood and Westwood make the English problem a powerful one. But with Billy Foster on the bag, I’m siding with Fitzpatrick.
My finest concept of a juicy outsider is the resurgent Matt Kuchar.
Even with simply middling latest outcomes, the veteran is value an each-way look with 10 locations given his stellar course document.
Kooch missed the reduce in November when struggling together with his recreation however was twelfth in 2019, fourth in 2017 and reeled off a trio of prime eights (3-8-5) from 2012 to 2014.
He’s had 5 different finishes of tied twenty eighth or higher in order that’s an spectacular physique of labor for the previous Georgia Tech star who was Low Amateur (T21) on his Masters debut means again in 1998.
What makes him higher than a 90/1 shot is a sudden upturn in type.
After alternating midfield finishes with missed cuts for some time, Kuchar lastly got here alive by ending third on the WGC Dell Match Play.
He mentioned quickly after: “I’m so much more excited about my game. This year’s been a struggle, but thankfully things have turned a corner, put in some good work with Chris O’Connell, really starting to feel good about my game.
“There’s by no means a foul time to type of be off, you desire to to be on on a regular basis, and I’ve been lucky over the previous a number of years to have a number of on occasions, however actually with the upcoming occasions it is a good time to type of have the sport clicking a bit bit higher once more.
“Certainly I’m as pleased as I’ve been in a long time. I feel like I kind of can step up and know where the ball’s going again. My misses aren’t near as bad as they were the last few months and when your misses are in play, you got a chance to shoot some decent scores.”
With tiredness an apparent excuse, Kuchar then headed to the Valero Texas Open and put in one other sturdy efficiency, opening with three 70s to sit tied sixth after 54 holes.
He mentioned there: “I actually think it’s a wonderful spot just before the Masters. I think there’s nice topography out here, nice undulations, nice kind of change of elevation. You’ve got to drive the ball well here, and then the approach shots have some characteristics similar to Augusta with the elevation changes, with the runoffs, the collection areas. I think it’s a nice warm-up for next week’s Masters as well.”
Kuchar would not leap from the web page if season-long stats however his numbers within the final fortnight are encouraging.
I’m additionally drawn to the truth that he completed fourth on the 2017 Scottish Open the week earlier than coming inside a Jordan Spieth of profitable the Open Championship per week later. In different phrases, he is good at driving momentum right into a major and excelling as soon as there.
A quick-running Masters must also assist given his lack of size and, though anticipating him to win is a giant ask, reaching the highest 10 is just not. Before 2020, Kuchar had registered at the very least one prime 10 in a major in seven of the earlier eight years.
There’s a respectable principle that fatigue might kick after his 11-lap stint in Texas (WGC Match Play and Valero) however he solely performed two aggressive rounds in March (MC at Sawgrass) earlier than the Match Play. And even prior to that he’d had a very gentle schedule.
Of these round 80/1 to 100/1, he is the one to take the attention at 90s.