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It’s April and that means it’s time for The Masters to return to Augusta National after COVID postponed the 2020 version which was played in November (definitely not the same) and with no crowd. Not only will the tournament go on as scheduled this year, it will also have fans in attendance. As usual, this will be the event of the weekend and Sunday will bring a much-needed ratings bonanza (except in Keith Olbermann’s NYC penthouse, where he will be posting manic videos on why it should be moved to San Francisco). Aside from the ratings, actual ticket prices to get in have never been hotter. Oh, you want to attend Wednesday’s practice session to see the boys getting ready? Yeah, that’ll be more than $1,515 per ticket, FOR A PRACTICE SESSION! The PGA Tour has never been hotter.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson comes in after winning the green jacket just 5 months ago. Could he be the first to win two green jackets in just 5 months? According to FanDuel Sportsbook, he is the tournament favorite at +950, but will he take it down? History says it’s unlikely as there have only been three back-to-back Masters champions: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, and Tiger Woods. Combine that with recent form. DJ has only one top ten finish in his last 4 events, including a tie for 48th at the Players Championship. His last win? This tourney in November.
Behind DJ, the next tournament favorite is Bryson DeChambeau (+1000 at FanDuel Sportsbook). Can Bryson “break” the course? Can his style of play just dominate this track? This was the talk that fueled the tour in November before the last Masters. The result? A 34th place finish in which Bryson was seemingly out of it from the start and later complained of dizziness and, of all things, diarrhea (they say that Pimento cheese can really do numbers on you). He comes in as hot as anyone on tour, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and placing third in the Players Championship. DeChambeau is definitely a guy you want to look at backing this week, and I think he will be fueled by his 2020 performance here.
Another guy who’s fully capable of taking this down is Jordan Spieth (+1100 at FanDuel Sportsbook). Spieth ended a 1,351-day winless streak on Sunday when he captured the Valero Texas Open. Though he hadn’t won in nearly 4 years, he has always played well at Augusta with four top tens, an 11th, 21st and 48th in just seven starts. His worst finish was in November when he was undoubtedly playing the worst golf of his career. He has NEVER missed the cut here, he knows this course better than anyone, and the win last week got the monkey off his back. So I will be backing the surging Spieth this week to win the tournament and also to lead after the first round (+1200 currently).
Now finally we get to the biggest boss of them all, Brooks Koepka. You can currently pick him up around 30-1 at FanDuel Sportsbook. So he’s coming off knee surgery. So what? Totally meaningless for me. I just look to his pre-tourney quotes. When asked if he thinks he can win the Masters after knee surgery he says, “If I knew I was going to finish second, I wouldn’t have shown up, I feel I can win. I’ll play, I’ll play. I’ll be all right.” The last time he said something like this? Before his last win, at the Waste Management Open in February. He followed that up with a second-place finish at the WGC. Sprinkle in the fact that he just got engaged to smokeshow Jenna Sims this past weekend and for me that equals backing this absolute unit of a golfer at a pretty good price. Not to mention everyone has counted him out, and he thrives on proving doubters and golf purists wrong.
You won’t go wrong with any of these guys, so cheers to being back at Augusta in April, with fans, the way it should be.