It’s time for the “tradition unlike any other,” as the 86th edition of The Masters tees off on Thursday in Augusta, Georgia.
Hideki Matsuyama, the first ever Japanese winner, will defend his title against a field of hungry opponents — both young and old. While Matsuyama is always a strong competitor, he’s currently at +4400 to win this year. While those are not terrible odds, there are many golfers who have won non-Masters majors that are trying to slip into that green jacket. There are also many trying to wear it for a second, third, or in Tiger Woods’ case, sixth time. Then, there’s always the guys flying under the radar who are looking to become household names.
Speaking of Woods, there were many questions whether or not the superstar golfer would appear in the tournament after missing the 2021 tournament after being in a horrific car accident earlier in the year. As of now, the 15-time major winner says he should be able to play. Marking another comeback for the greatest golfer of our generation.
Beyond the focus on Woods, there are some big players looking for their first Masters win. Spanish golfer Jon Rahm is currently ranked number two in the world and has spent the last couple of seasons ascending to stardom. He really took off last summer when he won the U.S. Open, giving the now 27-year-old his first major. Rahm always seems to compete at Augusta, and oddsmakers like his chances this year as he currently sits as the favorite at +1200.
The other favorite is another one-time major winner in Justin Thomas, who won the 2017 PGA Championship. Thomas has been a popular up-and-comer for years now, but his highest finish at Augusta was fourth in 2020. At 28-years-old, the current number seven will hope to break through and win the big one.
The third most favored player is Australian Cameron Smith, who turned heads in 2020 as he finished (a distant) runner-up to Dustin Johnson at The Masters. Luckily, that wasn’t the last we heard of Smith: he has the hot swing right now as he just shot -13 at The Players, winning the tournament.
Other names that will pop out are Brooks Koepka, who about 3-4 years ago was looking like golf’s next great treasure. Unfortunately injuries set him back a bit, but Koepka is a machine who seems to be getting his groove back. Koepka has won the U.S. Open twice and the PGA Championship twice — he was runner-up to Woods in the 2019 Masters and you know he’d love another shot.
Meanwhile, 2020 winner Dustin Johnson is always a threat as he’ll look to have another run after putting an otherworldly -20 two years ago. Another former winner, 2015’s Jordan Spieth, will also look to try on the green jacket again, after he choked away his chance to repeat in 2016. After being deemed golf’s “next big thing” about 4-5 years ago, Spieth has cooled off a bit. But, he’s still a fan favorite, and at only 28 you have to think he still has 2-3 more majors in him.
As far as dark horse picks go, there’s Max Homa, another fan favorite whose game has gone from average to impressive, pretty quickly in the last couple of years. Patrick Cantlay is another; sure Cantley is currently ranked fifth in the world, but he doesn’t hold the name recognition as some other guys around him in the rankings. Still, he’s proven to play the back nine at Augusta quite well. If he can get off to a hot start, watch out. Another dark horse is Si Woo Kim, who has made the last four cuts at Augusta and has improved every year, finishing 12th in 2021. With five top-20s in the FedEx Cup this season, he’s silently been one of the hottest golfers out there.
There’s plenty of other names of players who’ve been on the tour awhile and haven’t quite gotten that jacket that should be able to compete, names like Xander Schauffle is always worth watching, as is star golfer Rory McIlroy and South African Louis Oosthuizen. Also keep an eye on the current number one golfer Scottie Scheffler and a man who has been one of golf’s hottest in Collin Morikawa. Morikawa won the PGA Championship in 2020 and The Open Championship in 2021. While Augusta hasn’t been friendly to him, expect the 25-year-old to compete.
Picking The Masters winner is never an easy task. So many men are competing and there have been so many times, even in the past ten years, where a surprise competitor has emerged victorious — all while the favorite has been abysmal. If I had to throw a lucky guess out there, I’d go with Koepka. When he’s on, he’s on and even though the last two years haven’t been easy for him, it feels like the calm before the storm. He’s come close to a Masters title before and he’s hungry to show the world that he still has plenty of his 2018-19 talent left.
Best The Masters Pick: Winner Brooks Koepka +1900
Are you interested in finding out more on the latest golf news? Then make sure you visit our golf hub page, we’ve got all the details you need!
*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.