Biggest Long Shots To Win The US Masters Since 1990
Since 1990, there’s been no bigger long shot to win The Masters than 150/1 shot Trevor Immelman in 2008.
It was part of an unusual five-year span that saw green jackets go to four of the biggest outsiders in Masters betting history, none of them more unlikely than Immelman, a wire-to-wire winner who had missed the cut in his PGA Tour start the week before.
Here, Gambling.com looks back on that momentous occasion plus the other major upsets in the recent history of golf’s most iconic event.
1. Trevor Immelman +15000 (150/1)
What Happened: Golf betting enthusiasts know that The Masters lends itself to long shots breaking through. The field is the smallest of the majors, typically around 90 players, and several of those are former champions who have little chance of winning.
The tournament welcomes a large contingent of internationals who may have enjoyed success on other tours but have little name recognition in the U.S. And it’s contested on the same course every year, one veteran players are extremely familiar with, and even first-timers feel they know well from years of watching on television.
And yet, the events of the 2008 tournament remained a surprise. Only 10 players carried worse odds into the 2008 Masters than Immelman, who was 28 at the time. The galleries waited for Tiger Woods to make his move, but in a blustery final round buffeted by 35 mph winds, it never came.
Immelman double-bogeyed the 16th, tied for the highest final-round score by a champion, and still won by a comfortable three shots. It would be Immelman’s only major, and one of just two career victories on U.S. soil.
The finale was anticlimactic — a long lag putt rolled past the pin, and he knocked in the short come-backer for a 75.
But the finish in 2008 was still more than good enough for Immelman to stun the golf world by becoming the youngest Masters champion since Woods, and one of the biggest long shots ever to prevail at Augusta National Golf Club.
It was at the beginning of a roller coaster era for golf, which over the previous decade had been dominated by Woods, and was just a year away from his infamous melee in the driveway that would begin the decline of the world’s No. 1 player.
Woods finished second on that Masters Sunday in 2008, when his grand slam talk gave way to an unheralded South African slipping on the green jacket in the east Georgia dusk.
2. Zach Johnson +12500 (125/1)
What Happened: Woods was golf’s dominant force in the 2000s, and in his prime was the betting favorite each time he parked his courtesy car at Augusta National. But even he couldn’t prevent an onslaught of long shot winners that began not with Immelman’s victory, but an unlikely and unforeseen triumph by Zach Johnson the year before.
A former grinder on golf’s mini tours then ranked No. 56 in the world, the little-known Johnson birdied three of his final six holes to hold off Woods in dry, gusty conditions. He came out of nowhere to win as a +12500 (125/1) long shot, carrying odds better than just 11 other players in the field.
Johnson has since backed up that victory with an Open Championship triumph and a reputation as a U.S. Ryder Cup mainstay, but in 2007 he was an unknown from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who stunned the golf world.
3. Angel Cabrera +12500 (125/1)
What Happened: And the long shots just kept coming. Angel Cabrera made it three in a row in 2009, when he birdied three of his final six holes and made an up-and-down par save on No. 18 to force a three-way playoff with Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell.
A tap-in on the first playoff hole made Cabrera the first Masters champion from Argentina. Cabrera carried long shot odds into that 2009 Masters despite winning his first career major at the U.S. Open two seasons before.
4. Charl Schwartzel +10000 (100/1)
What Happened: Phil Mickelson provided a return to normalcy by winning as No. 2 betting favorite in 2010, the first Masters after Woods’ personal issues had exploded onto the scene.
But in 2011, the long shots were at it again, with dark-horse Schwartzel birdieing each of his final four holes to claim his own green jacket and cap an unusual five-year span.
That stretch still stands as an anomaly. Part of it has to do with the fact that golf betting odds changed; in the mid-2000s perhaps due to the attention brought by Woods’ rise and the increasing prevalence of the internet, odds on long shots grew much longer. In 2004, player odds topped out at +10000 (100/1); the next season, they went as high as +50000 (500/1).
Other Notable Long Shots to Win the Masters
More recently, stability has crept back in. Since Schwartzel’s victory, the highest odds carried by a Masters champion has been +5000 (50/1), by Bubba Watson in 2012 and Danny Willett in 2016.
There was a similar degree of constancy between 1990 and Johnson’s stunner in 2007, when the biggest long shots to win had been Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 and Mike Weir in 2003, both at +3000 (30/1).
All that predictability was blown away in 2007, when Johnson held off Woods to set the long shots on the loose. What a pack of underdogs: +12500 (125/1), +15000 (150/1), +12500 (125/1) and +10000 (100/1), all within a span in five years. Staid, old Augusta National had never experienced anything like it, and it might never again.
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