The Augusta National is an historic and iconic golf course. The layout is essentially unchanged but for some substantial lengthening, and it pre-dates much modern course design. That leaves it vulnerable in one key design aspect – directional bias.
A significant proportion of key shots on the course suit a right to left shape – it was always thus and many golfers over the years have sought to change their game to suit the course.
The lengthening of the course has impacted that bias in one readily observable way. The greens at Augusta are notoriously hard and fast, as golfers are being asked to approach with longer clubs, holding those greens becomes more challenging. For a right hander, the right to left bias is a draw shot, played with over spin, which makes gripping greens more difficult. For a left hander these are cut shots with under spin and aids gripping the greens.
This inbuilt left hander bias is reflected in the wins of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and even Mike Weir in the recent years, and it’s not as if many left handers play here. Even a seemingly simple hole like the iconic par 3 12th has right hander hazards – a pond short and right for the badly hit fade, and bushes long and left for the poorly hit draw – with the bale-outs, bunkers short left and long right matching the left handers errors.
So how best to play this bias with Watson, Mickelson and the in form Brian Harman the realistic “leftie” options.
This brings us to market analysis. A feature of the betting for the Masters is the bookie war being raged mainly in each way terms with bookies paying to 8 and even 10 places. This may seem generous, and in selective instances it is, but for the most part it is at the cost of the win odds which are being trimmed to accommodate the extended place terms.
This is most visible in the innovative Paddy Power “betting without” market, in which you are betting in a Masters that excludes Speith, McIlroy, Thomas, Johnson, Woods and Rose. By bookies odds, and our own reckoning, it’s roughly evens one of those 6 lifts the title – you would therefore expect to be taking half the odds for those left in the “without” market.
Well Bubba, 16/1 outright, is available at 9/1 in this market which looks good value, and he is preferred to Mickelson. Harman emphasises the outright market’s compression of outsiders as he is 80/1 outright yet still 60/1 in that “betting without” market.
If, like us, you think those market leaders have strong chances, then this without market is the place to play. The better odds are arguably because there is not the each way war going on, but the 1/4 first 5 terms in this market could be as generous as the outright market if you expect the excluded bunch of stars to take some of the outright market’s each way slots.
Back the lefties, but back them where value is at its best….
B Watson, “Masters without Spieth etc..,” 1pt win, 9/1 Paddy Power
B Harman, “Masters without Spieth etc…”, 0.5pts each way, 60/1 Paddy Power
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