Setting out with the acknowledgement that golf writers are FAR better at describing what happened than predicting what will happen, we're diving into some of the fun odds set up this week and find out what they might tell us about the tournament.
I locked in several weeks ago on Tiger Woods being the most likely player to win at Augusta (I know, I know, not super groundbreaking) and we covered our top value plays last week after talking to Vegas golf aficionado Brady Kannon. But what about the fun stuff? Kannon had some other thoughts on prop bets:
"I look at all of this stuff every year and sometimes there are bets that make sense and most of the time, it is stuff I pass on," he said. "Still, take the players that you like in match ups and in your futures plays to win the tournament, and see how attractive their odds look in these markets. You can find some 'live dogs,' I believe."
Let's take the optimism from the end of that quote rather than the down-talk from the beginning. Lastly, let's find some extra motivation from one of the beautiful direct messages in my Twitter inbox yesterday:
"hope you are making some money attempting to write because you would be obliterated by professional gamblers."
Sounds like someone who missed the boat on TONY ROMO PROP BET WINNERS from two weeks ago. Either way, I'd appreciate you keeping your expectations at the level of that reader; from there anything will be a bonus. If you make it to the end of our list, you'll be rewarded with two MORTAL LOCKS of the week.
We'll start with a look at odds from Sportsbook and then some from BetDSI. Can any longshot bets hit to cover our investments? We started with an imaginary $1000 from our bosses at GOLF; we've got $800 left.
Seem like this would be completely random? Maybe (don't they all?), but here's my instinct: the first-round leader will come from the afternoon wave, when Thursday's weather has warmed, the wind has dropped, and the rain has stopped. Sprinkle a little on Thomas Pieters, fresh off a famous practice round, from the 1:05 p.m. tee time. I like Adam Scott at the same price as Pieters in the day's third-to-last group, too, if he can put on a ball-striking clinic and lean on an improving putting stroke to make some back nine birdies in the calm afternoon.
$25 to win $1100 on Pieters (55-1) to take the first round lead.
$25 to win $1100 on Scott (55-1) to do the same. $750 left.
This is where the sharps make their biggest moves — the matchup section. The only problem? Matchups just aren't that fun, and to be honest we're not quite sharps. So let's get a few fun ones on the books and move along.
Guest pick: Josh Sens, GOLF's Vegas correspondent of late, wrote this brilliant piece from the Mirage Casino on making and adjusting Masters lines. I asked him for his lean of the week: Paul Casey over Jon Rahm. We'll ride with that.
$50 to win $43.48 on Paul Casey over Jon Rahm for the tournament.
Looking for a way to bet on Tiger, favored to win the event outright, as an underdog? Here's your best shot. The smart money is on red-hot Rose, but let's fade that. Alternatively, Woods is also a 'dog to Spieth (+130) Johnson (+125) McIlroy (+120) and Thomas (+120).
$50 to win $72.50 on Tiger Woods (+145) over Justin Rose
And oh boy, do I want to root for Shub. Here's a great opportunity against Walker, who has played better of late but is no sure thing.
$50 to win $75 on Shubhankar Sharma (+150) over Jimmy Walker. $600 left.
Speaking of Tiger…
Sportsbook has a list of Tiger Woods Specials that are very fun, but all priced to rip off the bettor (Make a hole in one is only 75-1!). Let's poke our head in carefully, making these longshot plays:
$25 to win $1750 on Woods to birdie No. 1 and go on to win the event. A great bet? Probably not. But we'll know if this one has a chance very early on…
$25 to win $450 on Woods to birdie No. 8 all four days. I like the way it sets up for Woods — has a little bit of room off the tee and favors the way he's bombing driver and two-iron or three-wood. Plus, he did this in 2015, his last trip 'round Augusta. I don't hate this for No. 15 either, at 10-1.
$50 to win $55 on Woods to make an eagle during the tournament. He hasn't made one yet this season, but the Masters soil is eagle-rich and Woods made three (!!) during his 18 holes of practice on Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully he didn't use 'em all up.
$50 to win $187.50 On Bubba Watson (+375) to miss the cut. Bubba zigs and he zags, and it's been a typically trick-or-treat for Watson this year (2018: CUT, T40, T35, 1, T9, T66, 1). Plus, the idea that he always plays well at Augusta is flawed — his best non-victory finish is T20. Elite field? Victory hangover? Worth a shot fading Bubba however you can. 500 left
$50 to win $800 on an albatross (16-1). Louis Oosthuizen was the last to make a deuce on a par 5 at Augusta, and there have been four in Masters history. With more guys than ever hitting short irons into 13 and 15, this seems like it's worth a sneeze… $450 left.
Will there be a playoff?
$50 to win $145 on YES (+290). These days on Tour, there's always a playoff. 400 left.
Length of winner's final shot
$50 to win $52.50 on over 3.5 feet (+105). In a tight Masters finish, especially in a playoff, it's likely we'll see someone hole a putt on 18 to win. $350 left.
This total of 149.5 strokes means the over/under is 5.5 strokes over par. Granted, it's a small field this year, but this stinks of recency bias, tainted by the cut going to six over the last two years. Pre-2016, the last time this would have gone over? 2007. I'd expect it to settle at four over.
$50 to win $47.62 on under 149.5 (-105)
This might seem to undercut our last play, but I'm inclined to take the over on the presented total of 277.5, which would have paid out five of the last six years. Weather could be a factor, too, with chilly mornings and potential weekend rain and bluster.
$50 to win $55 on over 277.5 (+110). $250 left.
$50 to win $575 on Gary Woodland (11.5-1). We decided last week — Woodland is one of our guys!
$50 to win $1150 on Austin Cook (23-1). These odds just seem so long for a guy who won a PGA Tour event in November and has continued to make cuts, if not necessarily contend.
$50 to win $175 on Rafa Cabrera-Bello (3.25-1). The guy's a top-30 machine (5 of his last 6 events) and has the ball-striking to contend here, so I'd be surprised if he's outside this number.
$50 to win $300 on Brendan Steele (6-1). 11 made cuts in a row, including a win and a top 3? Yes, please.
With just $50 left, I still had to make a stop at BetDSI, which is almost always ripe with fun props, and settled here:
Who will the winner hug first in 2018 Masters?
$50 to win $112.50 on "Child" (+225). Note that this category excludes the caddie. Many of the favorites have kids, and the winner's kids seem to always get out onto that 18th green first, before the spouse. Unless one of the young guns wins, there is serious value here.
Satisfied? I was, too. But then something else caught my eye that changed the entire game.
These odds were so tantalizing that I wrote in for a special request to my GOLF bosses, who generously agreed to an emergency loan of another imaginary internet $1000.
Tiger Woods to make the cut
$500 to win $370.37 on Tiger Woods (-135) to make the cut. This line is fishy fishy fishy. I don't know what else to say except that I really, really expect Tiger Woods to finish in the top 50 of an 87-player field, and these odds do not accurately reflect that perception. Act accordingly.
Will the leader hit a ball into the water on No. 12 on Sunday?
$500 to win $434.78 on NO (-115). This is potentially heartbreaking come Sunday afternoon for like, a lot of reasons. But these guys have all seen the tape of Jordan Spieth and they will have exactly one goal when they get to that particular point on Amen Corner: not dunk one in the water.
You're welcome, everyone. I think. Happy playing!