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Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Master is Back and Confident - Back him for the Masters with Confidence

On the eve of Augusta, with the Masters 2013 app downloaded, the William Hill Golf Betting Podcast digested, and the merits of contenders debated, the bets are decided.

Essential Listening
As I've discussed before, I follow Steve Palmer in the Racing Post, have a good look at Jeremy Chapman in the Racing Post and Plus, and add into that the insight provided by the podcast boys, who often highlight key stats and posit thoughtful theories.

So with that in mind, the Palphabet Portfolio for the next four days looks thus:

Headline Pick - Tiger Woods: £200 at 9/2 Betfred; £100 e/w PP

Betfred went 9/2 about the four time Masters champ earlier in the week and a few other firms followed.  Stan James were top price in the market, meaning they had to match Fred "hopefully he'll get" Done until this evening, when they clipped him into 4/1.  Paddy Power offered the same price, but have the added advantage that they pay 6-places each-way, should you wish to cover yourself if he doesn't triumph.  Some bookies are also refunding losing bets if Tiger and/or Rory McIlroy win, so it's worth shopping around for deals.

Betfred Slip Posing on a Perfect Masters App Picture

Betfred Stake Split Each Way with PP
I had a huge win on Tiger in the WGC Cadillac early in March, when he was sent off at a price as Blue Monstrous at the famous course at which he has repeated romped home: 11/1.  These odds grossly underestimated his majesty around Doral and I believe both his game, and his temperament are now sufficiently balanced to suggest he can find familiarity in his prior successes at Augusta as he did in Florida a few weeks ago.

Thoughtful as always, the WH Podcast boys pointed out that the fairways at Augusta are backcombed in the same way as a balding man might sculpt his hair back across his bonce.  This is significant in golf, less so in male grooming, as the "carry" a player can achieve off the tee means his ball is less likely to meet friction as it attempts to gain extra roll distance.  Steve Palmer rates power as the key attribute for success at Augusta, hence his picking of Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson, and it is reassuring to see Tiger Woods and DJ right up there at the top of the "carry" stats, with Tiger rated the best on tour:

Colsaerts is one I strongly DON'T want to win this weekend.  I've picked a lot of golfers to have onside and I think Nic has a solid game, evidenced by his Ryder Cup performance last summer (another time Betfred offered a cracking deal - 2/1 Europe to win the tournament).  In the Europe vs USA spectacle, in two rounds of fourball matches, Colsaerts made 11 birdies and one eagle and was as unflappable as that bird of prey is flappy.  His lack of track experience, however, puts me off.  He's a debutant here so I'm reluctantly leaving him out of the punting pack.  Talented Dane Thorbjørn Olesen is another first-timer that I will watch with trepidation if he starts getting hot.  His recent injury, whiplash sustained in a car accident, will surely be enough to stop him driving his way to success?  Sorry.

Best Supporting Act - Louis Oosthuizen: £60 win at 34 on Betfair

I've supplemented this outright bet with £50 on the exchange matched at 7.8 for a top 5 finish.  After missing his first three cuts in the Masters, I had Louis to win it when sent off at 90/1 last year before Bubba beat him in a playoff after Mickelson fell away in the closing stages and I don't want to miss out on any place money again this time around.  That memorable albatross on the par-5 second hole, "Pink Dogwood", was one of Sky's top 10 all-time Masters shots.  A beauty indeed it was, although for me Tiger's touch around the 16th green on his way to the 2005 title still gives me goosefistpumples and gets my vote.

Louis has the power to set himself up for eagles and birdies on the longer holes and, although recent form reads 32/CUT/33/CUT/10, he won the Volvo Championship in his native South Africa on the European Tour this season and is subsequently still ranked 6th in the world, behind Snedeker, Donald, Rose, McIlroy and our top pick, the Tiger.

Antepost Fancy - Graeme McDowell: £25 at 61.6 on Betfair

Backed him for this tournament the same weekend Tiger won the Cadillac.  G Mac had three eye-catching consecutive rounds of -6, -5 and -3 before closing on Sunday with a disappointing even par round to finish tied third with Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and "Lefty" Phil Mickelson, who closed with a stunning -8, a decent -3 and an ordinary -1 respectively.  The last of that trio, though, Big Phil, is another I am fearing this coming weekend.  In the past five years his record in the Masters reads third last year, 27th, 1st, 5th, 5th.  Much like Bubba, who I have backed, Phil's shot shaping is ideal for Augusta, and both have demonstrated unbelievable shots from the trees in recent years to clinch their green jackets.

Since letting the runner-up spot slip away in Florida, we've only seen McDowell play once.  He ended up 45th at the Arnold Palmer, which was again won by Tiger at a course he loves, Bay Hill.   When he hasn't missed the cut at Augusta though, and he did in 2011 and 2010, G Mac has been there or thereabouts, with a 12 and a 17 against his name.  His accent is practically American, he seems happy and confident and unlike Donald, Westwood and Poulter, he is a Brit with a major under his belt.  The price seems to offer a decent each-way prospect.

Best of the Rest

When Jeremy Chapman AND Steve Palmer fancy a 200/1 outsider, you simply have to take heed.  When that contender, another South African, leads the European Tour's "Race to Dubai", has the 3rd best scoring average out there (behind Woods and Sned) and has a win and a 2nd place against his name this term then you'd be crazy not to chuck some cash down.  The chap in question, Richard Sterne, is begging to be backed, with Paddy Power's additional each-way place firmly coming into play.

The staking plan is completed with bets on 2011 USPGA Champion Keegan Bradley; huge hitting Dustin Johnson; last year's winner Bubba the Blubber (did you see his press conference yesterday?) and consistently competitive Hunter Mahan, who credited himself with a runner-up cheque in the recent WGC Matchplay tournament.

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