Matches and special bets: Oppose Garcia against homegrown talent

Bookmakers are falling over themselves to offer imaginative bets that will make you part with your hard-earned for the first big golf tournament of 2012. Coral, for instance, have introduced their exclusive Masters shotcast, which allows you to combine a choice of a winner and their margin of victory. But for those who find it daunting picking a champion from a field of 96, there are plenty of other match bets and special bets available.

One that stands out is Steve Stricker to beat Sergio Garcia over 72 holes at 10/11 with Totesport. The best putters often prevail at the Augusta National and few are better on the dancefloor than ‘Strick’. He should be expected to finish significantly higher up the leaderboard than Garcia, whose record at the Masters is poor. In the last five years the Spaniard has missed the cut twice and finished a best of 35th.

For the same reasons, Bill Haas to beat Garcia at 11/10 with Coral appeals. 29-year-old Haas lives a short distance away, in Greenville, South Carolina, so is likely to feel more at home in Augusta than most. He has proved his mettle when under pressure, beating Hunter Mahan to the Tour Championship title in a play-off last September and holding his nerve to beat Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in a similar scenario for the Northern Trust Open in February.

If Australian Adam Scott is to win any Major, then surely it is the Masters. Two 67s on the Saturday and Sunday earned him a share of second place with compatriot Jason Day last year, making him a tempting outright option this time round at 33/1 with Paddy Power. However, I think he is a must-buy at 28 with Sporting Index in their top Australian market. His only real challenger is Day, but Scott’s confidence has improved in the past year and on a track like Augusta, where knowledge of the course is paramount, caddie Steve Williams, a three-time Masters winner with Woods, is one of the best men to have by your side.

Pointers…

Steve Stricker to beat Sergio Garcia at 10/11 with Totesport
Bill Haas to beat Sergio Garcia at 11/10 with Coral
Buy Adam Scott’s Top Australian Index at 28 with Sporting Index