2014 The Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia
Par 72 – 7,435 yards
Thursday, April 10-Sunday, April 13, 2014, TV: ESPN, CBS
Defending Champion: Adam Scott
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
In February of this year a severe ice storm did extensive damage to the beautiful Augusta National Golf Club. The most notable damage was the famed Eisenhower Tree had to be removed from it’s spot in the 17th fairway because it was going to fall down. The tree was so named because former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower hit it so many times with his tee shot, he asked the club to tear it down. However, the tree stood for almost 60 years after the request.
Two months later, the groundskeepers at Augusta National have done a fantastic job of repairing the course and restoring it to it’s majestic glory. As always, Augusta hosts golf’s first major in mid-April.
The Eisenhower Tree isn’t the only thing missing at Augusta. Tiger Woods will miss the tournament for the first time in his professional career after undergoing back surgery a couple of weeks ago. Although Tiger hasn’t won here in 9 years, his absence makes the 2014 Masters even more wide open. Some have said up to 30 golfers have a shot at winning this week.
The weather should be perfect. Thunderstorms shut down practice rounds on Monday, but temps are supposed to be in the 80’s by Sunday with no rain in the forecast. The winds should be moderate at worst.
Last year, Augusta played as the most difficult par 72 course on tour with an average score of 73.4. The driving distance averaged 287 yards last year, the longest since they started keeping that stat in 2002. Needless to say, driving accuracy went way down to 65%, a six year low. The greens are challenging to read if you don’t have Augusta experience.
Let’s take a look at some of the contenders and some head to head match-ups. All odds are courtesy of Bookmaker.
Rory McIlroy (+1045)
McIlroy seems to be still haunted by his back 9 meltdown in the 2011 Masters. He hasn’t put together 4 solid rounds since then at Augusta. He tied for 25th last year at the Masters. McIlroy has played 5 PGA events this season, and has 3 top 10s, including a tie for seventh at last week’s Shell Houston Open. His playing group at Augusta this week includes Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. I think Rory could contend this week, as he has played really well since late 2013. I can’t pick him to win, but a top 10 is very possible. McIlroy is -105 against Adam Scott and -120 against Phil Mickelson. I like McIlroy against Mickelson.
Adam Scott (+1215)
Scott is the defending champion here. He won his first major by beating Angel Cabrera in a playoff. Scott has been red hot since then with four more wins and another five top 5 finishes. He finished a solo third in his last event the Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill. Scott certainly has the talent to repeat, but no one has won back to back Masters since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002. I do like Scott at -134 to beat Mickleson and -115 to beat McIlroy. Scott will tee off with Jason Dufner and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Phil Mickelson (+1391)
Mickelson has won three green jackets and always a contender to win a fourth. Last week, he had a pulled oblique muscle but still finished tied for 12th in Houston. Mickelson has struggled in 2014 by his lofty standards with no top 10’s in 9 starts. He does have 5 top 25’s though. Mickelson loves this course, but the injury could limit him this week. He will play in a group that includes Ernie Els and Justin Rose.
Jason Day (+1450)
Day has never won the Masters but tied for second in 2011 and was a solo third here last year. Day hasn’t played since he won the Accenture Match Play in late February due to a thumb injury. He will play at Augusta. Rust could be a factor, and I can’t pick him to win despite his earlier success at Augusta. Day is -130 to beat Dustin Johnson and +109 against Matt Kuchar. I like Day against Johnson. Day will play with Johnson and Henrik Stenson.
Sergio Garcia (+2039)
Garcia has never won a major and is widely considered the best golfer not to do so. He is playing well right now with 13 straight top 20’s worldwide. He finished solo third in Houston last week. I can’t pick Garcia until he actually wins a major. He has top 15’s at Augusta the last two seasons, including a tie for 8th last year. Garcia will play with Luke Donald and Bubba Watson. Garcia is -177 to beat Stenson and -145 against Zach Johnson. I like Garcia in both of those match-ups.
Matt Kuchar (+2236)
Kuchar has two top 5 finishes in his last two starts in the Valero Texas Open and Shell Houston Open. He lost in a playoff in Houston to Matt Jones. Kuchar needed only a par to secure the win on the 18th hole, but hit his second shot into the water. Kuchar would bogey the hole and Jones made a 46 foot birdie putt on 18. In the playoff, also at 18, Jones chipped it in from the rough 42 yards away to win and secure a ticket to the Masters. Kuchar has top tens in his last two trips to Augusta, but sometimes he struggles to close. Kuchar is -129 to beat Day and -155 against Stenson. I like him against Stenson.
Dustin Johnson (+2469)
Johnson withdrew at Houston last week citing a stiff back after an opening round 80. He had been fourth or better in his previous 3 events. Johnson is third in the FedEx Cup standings with 5 top 10’s, including 3 top 2’s. Johnson tied for 13th here last year. He is very consistent and could contend this week. I like Dustin at -126 to beat Zach Johnson if the back holds up.
Bubba Watson (+2556)
Watson won here in 2012. He withdrew at Bay Hill with allergies and is making his first start since then. Watson is 5th in the FedEx Standings with 5 top 10’s and 3 top 2’s. Watson is my pick to win his second green jacket. I also like Watson at -135 to beat Zach Johnson and at -168 against Brandt Snedeker.
Other contenders and their odds include Lee Westwood (+3038), Brandt Snedeker (+3190), Henrik Stenson (+3256), Charl Schwartzel (+3257), Justin Rose (+3357), Keegan Bradley (+3672), Zach Johnson (+3866), Jason Dufner (+3999), Luke Donald (+4249), Patrick Reed (+4365), Jordan Spieth (+4459), and Hunter Mahan (+4493).