The Augusta National Golf Club has hosted The Masters, the first major of the season, since 1934 and is one of the most famous venues in sport. This iconic course was extended by 450 yards to 7,435 yards in 2010 but while it has kept up to date with advancing technology, it has retained both its charm and its ability to test the world’s best golfers.
With several right-to-left tee shots, the course sets up well for left-handed players and Phil Mickelson (3) and Bubba Watson (2) have each won more than one Green Jacket, a unique prize which has been presented to champions since 1949. Both men are recent winners on the PGA Tour, too.
The course is renowned for Amen Corner, a testing run of shots around the 11th, 12th and 13th holes played in front of a huge gallery. The par three 12th, played over water into a tight green surrounded by thick shrubbery, is perhaps the best-known tee-shot in major championship golf. The defending champion is Sergio Garcia, who ended his long wait for a major title by beating Justin Rose in a play-off.
Dustin Johnson may be the world number one, but he is not the market leader with any of the major bookmakers for this event, with the shortest price on offer the 9/1 available with Coral for either Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy. Spieth, who was third at last week’s Houston Open, was the 2015 Masters champion while McIlroy, winner of the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational, needs this title to complete a career Grand Slam. The Northern Irishman has finished in the top 10 in each of the last four years.
Justin Thomas, winner of last year’s PGA Championship, has played here only twice, finished 39th and 22nd. All three men are available at best odds of 11/1 with various firms. Johnson has been sixth and fourth here in the last two years – his best performances at Augusta – and he can be backed at 12/1* with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.
Justin Rose, who came agonisingly close to a second major title here last year, is at 14/1* with Ladbrokes and Betfred, while Tiger Woods is a 14/1* chance with Ladbrokes, Betfred and BetVictor after his recent return to form. Watson, who won the Genesis Open in February as well as recent Dell Match Play, is at 16/1* across the board.
There’s little doubt that recent winners on the PGA Tour have an extra advantage when it comes to the first major of the season and Paul Casey comes into that category, having gained his richly deserved reward for a long run of consistent form with victory at the Valspar Championship last month. The Englishman has got himself into contention at Augusta several times, with his seven top 20s here including five top 10s, while he has placed sixth, fourth and sixth in the last three years. He’s a 22/1* chance with several firms.
Danny Willett was the last Englishman to win a major with his surprise victory here two years ago and although he has gone off the boil since, he was one of Europe’s leading players at the time. Europe’s number one in 2017 was Tommy Fleetwood, who has the talent to match Willett’s achievement. The world number 12 has already won once this year, at the Abu Dhabi Championship, and his fourth place at last year’s US Open suggests he can be competitive at the majors. He’s a best price of 50/1 with Betfred*.
There aren’t too many outsiders in this market who really catch the eye, but Charl Schwartzel looks like he may be a touch of each-way value at 125/1 with William Hill*. The South African may not be in the best of form – albeit without missing many cuts in the last year – but he is a former champion here having donned the Green Jacket in 2011, and he was third behind Garcia and Rose 12 months ago, when he put together a superb round of 68 on the Sunday.
*All odds are subject to change