BEN CLEMINSON PREVIEWS THE MASTERS
IT IS a real shame that Tiger Woods isn’t going to be at the Masters this year. The 14-time Major winner has recently had back surgery which has ruled him out but, in truth, even if he had been fit he would have been very difficult to fancy in his current form.
That leaves Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott as the joint-favourites at around the 12/1 mark and both of them must have solid chances of taking home the Green Jacket from Augusta.
McIlroy seems to have got used to his new clubs and is certainly in better form than 12 months ago. A final round of 65 in last week’s Houston Open was a timely confidence booster, but for me he’s still a little too short in the betting.
Scott is always impossible to rule out in Majors, however, only Woods (2001 and 2002) and Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990) have won back-to-back Masters since Jack Nicklaus in 1966.
The Australian showed tremendous character to win this 12 months ago, but the mental aspect of his game has always been a worry and it was again when he blew a seven-shot lead at last month’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Scott’s success last year was surprisingly Australia’s first in this event. They might not have to wait long for the next, though, as I think JASON DAY has an excellent chance of winning his first Major.
The current world No4 was leading with three holes to play last year, but bogeyed the 16th and 17th to finish third. He also tied for second with Scott in 2011 and the demands of this unique course clearly suit the 27-year-old from Queensland.
He has been suffering with a thumb injury since his win in the WGC Matchplay which, although not ideal, has given him time to rest and he has looked good in his practice rounds. Take the 16/1 available with Paddy Power, who are paying six places.
My next selection is last year’s US PGA victor JASON DUFNER who is one of the most relaxed players you will ever see on the tour. He lollops around the course, but is fantastic from tee to green. Putting does not come naturally to him and that is always a concern on the lightning quick Augusta greens.
However, now that he has the Major monkey off his back he could go on to win a few. His Masters record isn’t outstanding, but he was joint-leader at the halfway point two years ago so he certainly does have the game to go close. The 40/1 generally available looks too big.
KEEGAN BRADLEY is a great friend of Dufner’s and it was these two who battled it out for the PGA Championship in 2011 with Bradley staging a remarkable rally to beat his mate in a play-off.
Bradley comes across as a nervy, twitchy player, but he is in fine form at the moment and has plenty of bottle. He should give you a good run for your money at 40/1 with Paddy Power.
Phil Mickelson can never be ruled out at this venue, although he has been in and out of late and might just have to give way to someone with younger arms.
Jason Day e/w at 16/1 with Paddy Power
Jason Dufner e/w at 40/1 with Paddy Power
Keegan Bradley e/w at 40/1 with Paddy Power