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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
The Masters is upon us. And while it comes at an unprecedented time, it’s hard not to get that warm feeling no matter the month.
Tiger Woods is defending his title. Bryson DeChambeau is looking to break the sport. Rory McIlroy is searching for his own return to glory. And bombers galore are looking to tear Augusta National to shreds.
Nearly all the best players in the world are gathered at golf’s most picturesque venue, but who will be successful?
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David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Bryson DeChambeau (+900)
Here comes DeChambeau, with his truckload of protein shakes and absolute disregard for previous golf norms.
The 27-year-old might drive the green on the par-4 first and might have wedges into par-5s, but rest assured, he won’t hold back. He has yet to finish inside the top 20 at the Masters, but that seems merely a footnote given he’s not the same person this year.
While some might have taken time to celebrate, DeChambeau has spent the last month wailing away at drives, trying to up his swing speed and carry even more. He’s going to win this week, and when he does, the conversations around “breaking the game” will ramp up several notches.
Prediction: DeChambeau wins (odds: +900)
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Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Dustin Johnson (+900)
It seems hard to fault any golfer who has won 26 times professionally, but it almost seems as though Dustin Johnson has underachieved.
The 36-year-old is still waiting on an elusive second major title, and though he was playing some of his best golf down the stretch of this past season, it seems the golf world is waiting until he does it at a major.
Johnson faded down the stretch at the final round of the PGA Championship in August and never really gave himself much of a shot at Winged Foot.
Now he heads to Augusta, where he finished tied for second a year ago. At this price—as a co-favorite—I’ll be fading him without hesitation.
Result: Johnson finishes outside top 10. Bet Jon Rahm over Johnson (+100)
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Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press
Jon Rahm (+1050)
Rahm has been the “best-player-in-the-world-in-waiting” for a few years now, even briefly grabbing the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in July.
It’s only a matter of time before that breakthrough comes at a major, and if it does, the floodgates could open. His joint-second finish at the ZoZo Championship on October 25 hints this could be the week.
Rahm led the PGA Tour in total strokes gained in 2020, buoyed by gaining 1.344 strokes tee-to-green (third on the tour).
The 26-year-old will be in contention this week, and perhaps this is the week he seals that elusive first major. At this price, though, I’m probably staying away.
Result: Rahm finishes in top five (odds: +250)
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Justin Thomas (+1250)
There might be no better player with a wedge in his hands than Justin Thomas, and that should—in theory at least—instill a hefty advantage at Augusta National.
However, that advantage has yet to bear fruit for the 27-year-old, who’s yet to finish in the top 10 at a Masters in four starts.
Thomas was the first-round leader at Winged Foot before steadily falling off, but he has finished strongly (12th and second) in the two events he’s entered since.
The Louisville, Kentucky native is as good a bet as any this week (non-Bryson division) to put it all together this week. But he probably won’t be on my card at this price.
Result: Thomas finishes in the top 10 (odds: +150)
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Rory McIlroy (+1400)
Much has changed in Rory McIlroy‘s career since his infamous final-round collapse after holding the 54-hole lead at Augusta National in 2011.
The 31-year-old has won four majors since and ascended to the throne of the sport’s best, but he hasn’t won a major since 2014 and questions continue to be asked about whether he will even get back to his triumphant heights.
This would be a showcase to answer those questions emphatically. It’s hard to root otherwise, but I’ll be wagering my money elsewhere.
Result: McIlroy posts a back-door top-20 finish (odds: -175)