Masters brings some unique betting chances

There’s just something about the Masters that raises everyone’s game, from players to bettors. It’s easily the most-bet event on the golf calendar by a wide margin. And even though this year’s model will feature autumn leaves rather than azaleas, the Masters still provides ample opportunity for newcomers and old hands alike to throw down some coin. You’re not going to walk away with a green jacket, but you can enjoy a fine weekend for the cost of an Augusta egg salad sandwich. Let’s dive in, with all lines via our friends at BetMGM.

What’s the best way to bet golf?

The Masters is a tradition unlike any other, but the gambling mantra remains the same: don’t plan on striking it rich betting on individual golfers. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack bet — sure, you might hit the mark on Bryson DeChambeau (+750, meaning a $100 bet wins you $750), but it’s unlikely.

That said, the Masters has a way of sorting out the contenders from the pretenders. “The winner’s probably going to come from the top six to eight,” says Jason Scott, MGM vice president of trading. “The best here have a way of staying on top.”

Bryson DeChambeau is the favorite at Augusta this week. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Bryson DeChambeau is the favorite at Augusta this week. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Who are the favorites?

The big names this time around are the biggest dudes: DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson (+800) and Jon Rahm (+1000). Close behind: Justin Thomas (+1100), looking to add to his lone major; Rory McIlroy (+1200), looking to close off that career Grand Slam; and Xander Schauffele (+1400), looking to level up his game.

A little further down the list, you’ll see some notable names: four-time winner Brooks Koepka (+1600), still looking to get back to his dominant form after injury; Patrick Cantlay (+2500), another player about to break through; former Masters champions Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed (both +2800), and PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa (+3300).

Who are the sleepers?

One of the game’s hottest players, Daniel Berger, didn’t even make the field this year because of the COVID-influenced eligibility rules. That leaves players like Hideki Matsuyama (+2500), who could run the table if his putter gets hot, or Matthew Wolff (+4000), who’s every bit as long a hitter as DeChambeau but without all the fanfare. Tyrell Hatton (+2800) will slot into this category until he finally wins one of these majors.

It's a different look for the Masters, but still a beautiful one. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
It's a different look for the Masters, but still a beautiful one. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

What about Tiger?

Tiger Woods makes sports books sigh. “I don’t think any [sports book] has made money on a Tiger tournament since he turned pro,” Scott said, laughing. The reason: Woods draws so many bets, from every point on the compass, that books have to protect themselves against a possible victory, like last year. That’s why Woods is a better betting favorite (+4000) this year than notables like Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Tommy Fleetwood.

If you’re really looking to get wild, go with Phil Mickelson at +10000. Phil’s got two green jackets, lefties always have a puncher’s chance at Augusta, and you can never overestimate the power of decades of knowledge.

What are some other unique-to-Augusta bets?

DeChambeau is playing so well that a bet to finish in the top 40 is -1667 (bet $100 to win $6). Gambling on whether DeChambeau or one of the other bombers cards an albatross on one of the par 5s is a +1400 proposition.

An ace in the first two rounds comes in at +1000 but drops to +125 by Sunday. The 16th hole has the lowest odds for an ace (+110) while the 4th has the highest (+2500).

The lines favor an American winner (-167) over an English one (+700) or South African one (+2200). And if you want to go the Phil route and gamble on a lefthander winning, you can do so at +2200.

But if you’re looking to have action on all sides, may we recommend the Big 5 versus the field? Betting on DeChambeau, DJ, Rahm, Thomas and McIlroy is a +140 proposition, while the rest of the field is -200. You may not win a lot of money, but you’ll be in the action literally until the final putt.

No matter how you bet, enjoy the weekend. It may not be springtime, but pimento cheese tastes great in November, too.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at jay.busbee@yahoo.com.

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