Full-disclosure: Out of 44 wily competitors, I’m dead last in the Covers.com staff PGA golf fantasy league. My strategy was not to peak too soon, so I feel good about where I stand.
Plus, I’ve been known to bring my A-game to the majors. I'm up three bottles of vodka on my buddy in our head-to-head majors pool that dates back to our days working in the bag room at the New Orleans Country Club in the late 1990s.
You wouldn’t believe the hustles that went on between the 70-year-old caddies, who had been making loops in the New Orleans humidity for decades. I have no doubt watching Cornell Blue and Johnny Red work it made me a better gambler. That is, when they weren’t taking a break in the “Neighborhood.” How they could track a golf ball with apple-red eyes I’ll never know, but that’s another story.
For now, let’s try to take a clear-eyed look at The Masters and the ingredients that will help us turn a profit this year.Putting
When asked what stat is most important when handicapping the Masters, Jeff Sherman, golf odds specialist for the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook, doesn’t hesitate – “Putting.”
Augusta’s greens are tile-fast with voluptuous undulations. Making sure the ball eventually comes to a stop is a major part of the equations. Paul Stankowski once practiced in his garage to prepare for the Masters.
1. Matt Kuchar (50-1) has the lowest percentage of 3-putts of players in the field this season. He’s had four 3-putts in 360 holes.
2. Bo Van Pelt (60-1) leads the field in percentage of five to 10-foot putts made at 69.23 percent and is top on Tour in putting strokes gained.
3. Y.E. Yang averages 27.75 putts per round, fewest on the PGA Tour.Weather
4. There is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms Thursday and Friday, winds are expected to be calm and below 10 mph. If rains soften the greens, scores could be lower than expected.Winning score
5. The average winning score over the last five Masters is 278.2. That number is inflated by Zach Johnson’s 1-over, 289 in 2007 - the only Masters’ champ to finish over par since 1956 (Jack Burke +1). The LVH opened the over/under on the winning score at 275.5 (-120u). Enough money came in on the under to push the juice to -135 on the under as of Tuesday.
6. Tiger Woods average score in the four Masters he’s won – 272 (-16.5).Course changes
7. There aren’t any significant ones. The par-72 layout will play at 7,435 yards, very comparable to last few Masters.Short Game
Because the greens can be extremely difficult to hold, golfers often end up with chip shots from fringe and the run-off areas around the greens.
8. Aaron Baddeley and 9. Sang-Moon Bae have each gotten up-and-down from the fringe 100 percent of the time this season. Baddedley is 22 for 22; Bae is 25 for 25.Players to watch
10. Rory McIlroy (11-2): There’s a reason his odds are Tiger-like. He hasn’t finished outside the Top 5 in four tournaments this year and took a month off to prepare. He’s -110 to finish sixth place or better at the LVH and has received some early money in his head-to-head matchup with Woods, according to Sherman.
11. Adam Scott (25-1): His back-to-back 67s on the weekend last April would have earned a green jacket most years. He started at -105 in a head-to-head matchup with Justin Rose, but was up to -130 as of Tuesday.
12. Phil Mickelson (12-1): Thirteen different golfers have won the last 13 majors. Mickelson is the last repeat winner. He played well in Houston last week and seems primed to make a run at his fourth green jacket.Odds & Ends
is offering exacta lines this year. A Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy 1-2 finish pays 20-1. Woods-Mickelson pays 35-1.
14. You can invest in both Woods and McIlroy at 5-2 odds at the LVH. Neither winning is 1-3.
15. Ben Crane has made the most eagles on par-5s with eight this year.
16. Will there be a hole-in-one? Yes +120 / No -140. There have been 19 aces at Masters, last one in 2008 (Ian Poulter). We're due.
17. Brandt Snedeker is 7-under on par 3s this season - best score in the field.
18. Twenty-two is the favorite (+110) for winning score at Wednesday’s Par 3 contest at BetOnline.co