This week sees the start of the last major of the year. Unusually it’s the Masters at Augusta, in the swing state of Georgia, much in the news recently.
This is golf’s iconic tournament, and due to the coronavirus turmoil it’s taking place in November instead of the usual April. This may mean fewer azaleas and no patrons, but more importantly the course is likely to be softer.
Rain is predicted, and the cooler conditions mean the course will play very long. Big hitters have always had an advantage at Augusta, but this may be emphasised this week. That brings us to this week’s favourite – Bryson DeChambeau.
The Californian has been bulking up over the last year or so in order to hit the ball even further, and this resulted in him overpowering the Winged Foot course in September to claim the last major, the U.S. Open. He is threatening to do the same again this week.
DeChambeau is priced around 8/1 for this event, and we think this is much too short. He may well outdrive the field, but he has historically putted poorly on these quick greens. Of the 12 rounds he has played here, he has beaten 70 only once. Maybe this year is different, but that price doesn’t leave much wiggle room.
Sticking with big hitters, the sentimental pick of the blog would likely be Rory McIlroy. The talented Northern Irishman needs this title to achieve the career golfing Grand Slam at a relatively early age. His game seems tailored for this event, as he’s able to hit the ball long distances with loads of height.
This soft conditions and the lack of patrons could play well for him, but we can’t help but be wary of the inner demons that have prompted collapses in the past when he has been in good positions. We’ll pass.
Justin Thomas is another player who has length of the tee but we don’ t think he has been playing that well of late, while Brooks Koepka has just come back from a serious injury. John Rahm is another possibility and has played well here, but we question his Augusta experience.
This leaves us with Dustin Johnson.
DJ came back to competitive golf last week after a Covid-inspired 11-day break and promptly finished tied second. This tends to suggest that his game is still sharp, and the rest may even do him good.
The American star is long off the tee, and has been the best player in the world from August. His record at Augusta is impressive – his last four performances being 6th, 4th, 10th and second, with his worst round over that period being a one-over par 73.
The pressure is largely off, with DeChambeau being the main focus of press attention before the start, and we expect DJ to add to his one major triump so far with this week’s green jacket.
Dustin Johnson to win the Masters, 2 pts, at 9/1, William Hill