- Alf Musketa, ESPN Chalk
Once again the sports world and the sports betting public will concentrate on the greatest golf event at Augusta National. For the casual sports bettor this tournament will offer more odds, head-to-head matchups, round-by-round props and winning score props than any other golf event. This is the Super Bowl for golf bettors, and it's just a shame that Tiger Woods isn't able to participate this year.
We would have relished the chance to bet against Tiger in almost every matchup we could have found. And betting against players rather than on them, especially those who are struggling with their game, is a key handicapping factor to beating matchups. Your focus should be on current form because I firmly believe that Augusta will expose any weaknesses in one's game, mainly a player's short game.
There are very few changes to the golf course this year (no, I'm not going to elaborate on the Eisenhower Tree removal). More than likely Augusta will favor bombers off the tee. Yes, Zach Johnson and Mike Weir were short hitters who won, but Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera stand a much better chance at another green jacket. Rain early in the week will soften the track a bit, but the tournament days look to be sunny or partly cloudy with little wind. That should bring the field close together.
We'll see a record 24 rookies or first-timers teeing it up at Augusta this week, and some of those are multiple winners already on the PGA Tour this season. Are they worth a futures-book bet? Does experience play too much of a factor that first-time starters should be bet against in matchups?
I'll answer those questions and more as we break down my contenders, long shots, top matchups and props this week at Augusta.
Note: Odds courtesy of William Hill.US Las Vegas
Phil Mickelson (10-1)
When Mickelson plays well the week before a major, he is deadly. He won the 2013 British Open after winning the Scottish Open the week before, and, last week in Houston with his T-12 finish, I saw signs of brilliant approach shots and short game magic that will make Mickelson contend at Augusta again. Sure, he's not 100 percent with a muscle injury and has not won yet this year, but, with three wins, seven top-10s and the best scoring average (68.5) in the past 10 years in this event, he has to be near the top of my contenders list.
Alf Musketa breaks down the best bets for Augusta this week. He sees Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed as strong contenders and Angel Cabrera as a solid long shot.