The picturesque greens of Augusta National take centre stage this week as the 83rd annual Masters Tournament tees off on Thursday evening (AEDT).
Not only is the time honoured green jacket on the line, but there’s also a cool $11 million up for grabs for the overall winner of the famous 7,475 yard, par 72 event.
The Masters remains the premier date on the golfing calendar, and after what has so far been a wild season on Tour, there’s a case to be made for every favourite, as well as every outsider heading to Augusta.
Fortunately, we’ve analysed all the top chances as well as a few wild cards, and our complete 2019 US Masters Preview can be found below.
2019 The Masters Best Bet
Justin Rose – $13.00
Rose’s form at Augusta stacks up. The Englishman finished runner-up in 2017 losing to Sergio Garcia in thrilling playoff fashion, only two years on from his first runner-up appearance behind Jordan Spieth in 2015. Rose’s track record easily rivals that of Rory McIlroy’s – he owns eight Top 15’s at this event. Two weeks off following the WGC in Texas also leaves the 38-year-old well rested for his 14th Masters appearance.
2019 The Masters Top 5 Finish
Francesco Molinari – $5.00
Are we about to sleep on Molinari once again? The Italian opened at equally long odds to win last year’s Open Championship, as well as this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, and of course, he silenced the doubters on both occasions. After tieing for 20th last year at Augusta, Molinari is a huge chance to win his first green jacket this weekend. Improved putting has been the catalyst for Molinari’s jump inside the World Top 10, while his third-placing at last month’s Match Play in Texas puts him in good stead to carry some momentum into the weekend.
2019 The Masters Top 10 Finish
Jon Rahm – $2.38
The Spaniard is yet to crack the winners’ circle in 2019, but he’s certainly on the cusp. Rahm owns four Top 10 finishes across his last nine starts, and he’ll be hungry to improve on his fourth placing last year at Augusta. Rahm continues to fly under the radar, which is a surprise considering he’s been one of the most accurate and powerful golfers off the tee this year. Now preparing for his third-straight Masters appearance, only one question mark remains: his short game.
2019 The Masters Top 20 Finish
Marc Leishman – $2.63
What a moment this would be for the Australian. Leishman has watched his wife battle sepsis to be alive for this moment, and although the 40-year-old hasn’t won on Tour in over a year, Leishman’s crazy hook shot to save eagle on 15 last year showed the Aussie knows how to play Augusta well. With four Top 10 finishes on Tour, including a strong ninth placing at the Match Play last month, don’t look past Leishman as Australia’s top hope.
Rory McIlroy – $7.50
This year’s Players Championship winner has had his sights set on Augusta ever since finishing tied for fifth last year. McIlroy, a 15-time Tour winner, can already lay claim to having won the US Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship, while a win this weekend would place him alongside Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen as the only players to have won every Grand Slam on Tour. You certainly can’t knock his form – McIlroy ranks first in the PGA’s off-the-tee and tee-to-green rating and also ranks 12th in birdie average. Finishing inside the Top 10 in each of the last six years, McIlroy now hopes to become the first Irishman to wear the green jacket.
Dustin Johnson – $11.00
What does the World No. 2 have in his bag of tricks? For the fourth tournament in a row, Johnson finished inside the Top 10 at last week’s Texas Open, strong form as he hopes to build on last year’s 10th place finish at Augusta. Johnson’s best performance at the Masters came in 2016 where he tied for fourth, and with over 10-years of experience on this course, you can bet he’ll be among the leaders on the final day. With players like Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson all earning their first green jacket in their early 30’s, the 34-year-old Johnson is ripe for a win.
Tiger Woods – $15.00
The four-time champ returns to Augusta with one goal in mind: finish inside the Top 10. Now 43-years-old, Tiger hopes to resume where he left off last year at Augusta after carding an impressive final round 69. Keep in mind, his three rounds prior were nothing short of a disaster, but at least Woods has managed his time properly this season. With a Top 10 finish at the WGC in Texas late last month, Woods will tee off alongside Jon Rahm feeling fresh with plenty of confidence.
Jordan Spieth – $19.00
The 2015 Masters champ returns to Augusta after finishing third behind Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed last year. The 25-year-old was brilliant on the final day to finish -13 under, but you can’t say the same for Spieth’s most recent performances. The American failed to make the cut at The Players and is yet to record a Top 10 finish so far this year. The good news is Spieth looked sharp in the early rounds of last week’s Texas Open, while it’s also worth noting the last three Masters champs have been in their 20’s.
Justin Thomas – $19.00
Thomas leads the PGA in par breakers, which should help him improve on last year’s performance at Augusta. The 25-year-old tied for 17th in what was a fairly up and down weekend for the American, which you could also say for his performances so far this year. Thomas hasn’t won on Tour since last May, and while you could argue that he’s due, the fact he’s failed to make the Top 20 in his last three tournaments suggests Augusta could pose a few challenges. Having failed to finish inside the Top 10 in three appearances, Thomas’ inconsistent putting could be his only downfall.
Brooks Koepka – $21.00
Koepka was absent at last year’s Masters, and although he’s won the US Open, the Americans recent form makes him a bit of a wildcard this weekend. Koepka stormed home to tie for second at The Honda Classic last month, only to miss the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and fall outside the Top 50 at both The Players and the Match Play in Texas. Courses like Augusta are suited to creative iron players, and unfortunately, that’s an area Koepka has struggled with this season.
Rickie Fowler – $21.00
Fowler looks a little over the odds at this price. Just like McIlroy and Johnson, the American has flirted with the green jacket for most of his career. The 30-year-old finished second behind Patrick Reed last year and has also finished Top 10 in four of his eight appearances at Augusta. With a resounding -17 under victory at the Phoenix Open earlier this year and the eighth-best rating with the putter, Fowler is a huge sleeper.
Bubba Watson – $24.00
The two-time champ is always a chance at Augusta, even his most recent performances suggest otherwise. Bubba owns only one Top 35 finish in his last nine trips to The Masters, but after tieing for fifth last year, the 40-year-old remains as good an upset chance as any this weekend as he hopes to join the likes of Phil Mickelson and Gary Player by becoming a three-time winner.
Patrick Reed – $41.00
Reed hopes to become the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2001-02 to repeat as Masters champion this weekend. The 28-year-old started 2019 off strongly by finishing tied for 13th at the Sony Open, but Reed has since slumped in recent weeks to miss the cut at the Valspar late last month. Defending champs have missed the cut at The Masters in each of the last two years, but don’t be surprised if a short game specialist like Reed puts that streak to bed.
Patrick Cantlay – $67.00
If you’re after a long shot this weekend look no further than Cantlay. The 27-year-old missed the cut on debut at Augusta last year, but Cantlay’s recent form suggests he could be due for his second win on Tour very soon. The American finished inside the Top 30 at the Match Play last fortnight and also owns two Top 10 finishes so far this year. With the 10th best tee-to-green rating as well as a handy short game, Cantlay could easily challenge for the lead at some point.