The clocks going forward, snowdrops blooming and the US Masters on TV: all signs that spring is here. The excitement is growing ahead of the first major golf betting event of the year, which begins on Thursday 5 April. Several players can claim to have a realistic chance of winning the tournament this year, so it’s set to be a fascinating four days of top-level golf from most of the world's best professionals.
Respected American sports broadcaster Jim Nantz recently said that "this might be the most anticipated Masters any of us has seen in our lifetime". And with Tiger Woods getting back to his best and the likes of Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy hitting good form at the right time, it's hard to pick a winner. Luckily, this preview has all the odds and tips you need to bet the Masters.
The prestigious tournament has been won by a non-American player 16 times in the last 30 years and McIlroy, a top storyline this week, will be leading the European charge at Augusta National Golf Club. The Northern Irishman is a four-time major winner and only needs the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam.
After a disappointing, injury-hit 2017 campaign, McIlroy has started 2018 in better form and claimed his first victory on the PGA Tour since September 2016 in the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 28-year-old has finished in the top ten at Augusta in each of the last four years and is best priced at 10/1 with Black Type to win it all.
Hoping to keep the coveted green jacket in America will be Justin Thomas. 2017 was a breakthrough year for the 24-year-old as he won six tournaments, including his first major. He was beaten in the semi-finals at last week’s WGC Match Play, when he was one victory away from replacing Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings.
This will be only his third appearance at Augusta following T39 and T22 finishes in the last two years, but he has certainly proven he has the talent to reach the top. Thomas is slightly behind McIlroy at 10/1 with most of the best online bookmakers.
As it is, Johnson remains World No. 1 heading into the Masters – a position he’s held for over a year – and it goes without saying he's right among the favourites. Johnson’s PGA Tour season got off to a flying start with three top-five finishes in his first four tournaments, including a win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Most recently, though, he failed to defend his WGC Match Play title, finishing a measly 59th. The 33-year-old tied for fourth place at Augusta in 2016 but had to pull out of last year’s tournament due to injury. The 2016 US Open is the only major Johnson has to his name, but his form over the last year suggests he's ready to win another.
‘DJ’ can be backed at odds of 12/1 with Betfair. Interestingly, none of the top three favourites have won the Masters before. One man who has is current World No. 4 Jordan Spieth. As well as triumphing in 2015, Spieth finished runner up in 2014 and 2016, so he certainly knows his way around the Augusta course.
However, his form has not been great this season, which is why his odds are slightly longer than some of his rivals'. A good showing at the Houston Open (which we thought might happen) could change that, though, and William Hill offering odds of 14/1 is good returns for punters wiling to back the three-time major winner.
Much of the attention at this year’s Masters will be turned to Tiger Woods, who returns to the course for the first time since 2015 where he’s been a winner on four occasions. It’s a decade since Woods’ last major success but after years of injury struggles and personal problems, Tiger is getting back to the great player he once was.
He may be down in 104th in the rankings, but a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship and a tie for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational prove he is very much a threat. Only two players have ever won majors ten years apart but if anyone can do it, Tiger can. Like Spieth, his best odds are currently 14/1 with Ladbrokes.
England’s hopes of a winner this year are likely to rest with Justin Rose. The current World No. 5 has had a solid 2018 so far, finishing third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s looking to go one better at Augusta, having finished runner up in 2015 and 2017.
The 37-year-old can also be backed at 14/1 with a number of bookies but, like Spieth, those odds are likely to have shortened by the time the players tee off if Rose records a good result at the Houston Open over the Easter weekend.
It’s impossible to go through every potential winner, such is the strength of the field, but there are a few previous champions who deserve a mention. One of them is Bubba Watson, who has worn the green jacket twice – in 2012 and 2014. After a winless 2017, Bubba returned to the winner’s circle with victory at the Genesis Open in February.
He followed that up with a win at the WGC Match Play in March, which has seen his odds for the Masters plummet to 16/1 with Unibet. And then there’s last year’s winner, Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard finally claimed his first Masters crown in his 74th major championship appearance and has four top-ten finishes in six starts this year.
The World No. 9 is bidding to become only the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters and is a tempting punt at 28/1 with some of the best new betting sites. Ladbrokes is paying eight places for pre-tournament bets on the Masters, so get your bets in now for a great chance to win.