PGA Tour golf best bets: The Masters


It’s time to head back to Augusta, with The Masters returning to its traditional spot as the first major of the year.

Dustin Johnson is the defending champion, having won the event in November after it was delayed due to the pandemic. He is the favorite at 9-1, followed closely by Jordan Spieth (10-1), who is fresh off his win at the Valero Texas Open.

Which players are the favorites this time around, who offers good odds and what props are worthwhile?

Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Chris “The Bear” Fallica, Joe Fortenbaugh, Tyler Fulghum, sports betting deputy editor David Bearman and fantasy analyst Anita Marks offer their best bets.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill unless otherwise noted.

Bets to win

Justin Thomas 10-1; Top-10 finish (+100)

Bearman: JT’s weekend performance at The Players Championship was a reminder not to exclude him from the “top golfer in the game” conversation. In 10 non-match play events in 2021, he has finished in the top 15 in nine of them, missing the cut at the Genesis the week his grandfather died. This includes his win at Sawgrass, a third-place finish in Hawaii and top-10 finishes at the last two majors, which are technically part of the 2021 season. He was fourth at Augusta back in November, holding a share of the 36-hole lead before a weekend 71-70. His last seven rounds at Augusta National are all under par, as he has progressively performed better each year. Thomas is fifth in total shots gained and third on approach, which is always key at the Masters. With a win vs. the best field of the year a few weeks back, Thomas is primed to add his second major title to his impressive resume.

Justin Thomas 10-1; Top-10 finish (+100); Thomas (-125) over Jordan Spieth

Fallica: I think there’s been a bit too much of an overreaction here to Spieth. Winning in Texas vs. a watered-down field is one thing, contending in a major for the first time in three years is another. Thomas is in great form coming off a win at The Players and has improved his finish each year at the Masters. I expect the course to bite back after the score-fest the last couple of years, and there probably isn’t a player out there who has the ability to grind on Thursday and Friday and then go super low on moving day like JT. His iron game is among the best in the world, and I love his chances this week.

Bryson DeChambeau 11-1; Top-5 finish (+230); Top-10 finish (+100); DeChambeau (-130 at DraftKings) over Jon Rahm

Marks: The metrics needed to win at Augusta are distance, strokes gained around the green, the ability to scramble, par-5 scoring and putting. Putting will be the most important factor, considering the greens will be faster and firmer than ever. Word is that Augusta folks were not happy with the way Dustin Johnson slayed their track back in November (-20).

DeChambeau checks several boxes — along with being one of the most cerebral golfers on tour — but I’m rolling with him because of his putting skills (top 5 on firm and fast bentgrass his last 24 rounds). I like his matchup against Rahm, considering Rahm welcomed a baby into his life this past week, so he has a lot going on there. Also, I like the straight forecast of DeChambeau-Thomas (170-1 at DK) and DeChambeau-Cantlay (270-1).

Fulghum: DeChambeau’s length can’t be ignored on a course like this. In a tournament where it is imperative to score on the par-5s, DeChambeau is first in the field in par-5 scoring. His putting and short game are in impeccable form right now. If you can win with his length on a course like PGA National (The Honda), imagine what that game would look like at Augusta.

Jon Rahm 12-1; Top 10 finish (+110)

Fallica: Yeah, the new dad would be a feel-good story and will probably have a lot of support because of that angle, but Rahm has been in the top 10 each of the last three years here and was tied for the 36-hole lead last year. Rahm has been in the top 10 seven of his last nine events on tour, so his game is in just fine form — and now the thought is, his mind will be in a great spot. It’s going to happen at a major for Rahm, and this could be the one, as three of his five top 10s in majors have come here.

Rory McIlroy 14-1

Fulghum: McIlroy is one of my favorite betting values for this tournament. Nobody is talking about him, and I think that makes him dangerous. Despite never winning a green jacket, McIlroy has had outrageous success here. He has six top-10 finishes in his seven Masters appearances. It’s only a matter of time before he completes the career grand slam. I’m also taking him in daily fantasy leagues (below).

Patrick Reed 28-1; Top 10 finish (+240), Win group with Daniel Berger/Viktor Hovland (+180)

Bearman: Reed fails to get the respect a nine-time tour winner and former Masters champ should get, and it’s mostly his fault. Some of the questionable actions on the course and his non-welcoming stance with his colleagues tend to overshadow just how great he is on the course. Reed won here in 2018, pulled down another top 10 here in November and is a threat to contend every time he tees it up. He leads the tour in shots gained putting, gaining more than one stroke per round on the field — which if repeated this weekend at Augusta, will end up with Reed putting on another green jacket. He used his top short game and flat stick to win the Farmers Insurance in January and was in contention at The Concession before a final-day 72. It’s a virtual home game for the Augusta State grad, whether people are rooting for him or not. Getting around Augusta National’s challenging greens is what Reed does best, putting himself in position for another major title. And at almost 2.5-1 on your money, you can get Reed to do what he’s done in two of his last three visits — finish in the top 10.

Lee Westwood 30-1; Top-10 finish (+275); Top-20 finish (+125)

Fallica: Talk about a career resurgence. A pair of runner-up finishes at Bay Hill and The Players showed Westwood still has it. Sure, he was a little spent and missed the cut at the Honda Classic, but he played well in the match play and was runner-up here as recently as 2016 — one of his 12 top- 5 finishes in majors. We’ve seen players like Darren Clarke, Jimmy Walker and Sergio Garcia capture a major in almost surprise fashion late in their career, and Westwood could do the same this year, wither here or at Royal St. George’s.

Paul Casey 33-1

Fulghum: Casey has finished no lower than 12th in any of the five worldwide events he has played in the 2021 calendar year. He’s a tremendous ball striker who has had tremendous success and experience at this course. I’m also taking him in DFS.

Webb Simpson 35-1

Fulghum: It’s very simple with Simpson — this guy can putt. Thanks to his flat stick, he’s 10th in the field in par-5 scoring and first in the field in bogey avoidance. Webb often gets overlooked, but he’s as solid as any in the field.

Cameron Smith 35-1; Top-10 finish (+300)

Bearman: Anytime you have “first player in Masters history” attached to your name, it gets my attention. Smith became the first in the illustrious event history to have all four rounds in the 60s in his runner-up finish in November. No one was catching the runaway DJ train, so a tie for second was as good as it was going to get for the rest of the field. Add the fact that Smith finished T-5 two years prior and you have a youngster who has figured out how to get around this course. He finished fourth at the Genesis and T-11 at WGC-Concession, where a third-round 77 knocked him out of the lead. He isn’t among the longest or most accurate off the tee, but this is one place you can get away with that. He’s in the top 25 in total strokes gained, putting and around the green, all perfect for the challenge of Augusta National. If you’re looking for someone to break through for his first major win, Smith could be your guy this week.

Sergio Garcia 50-1

Kezirian: Garcia has had an up-and-down season with one victory and four missed cuts, but the grizzled veteran has been rounding into form lately with a T-9 finish at The Players Championship and a T-5 finish at WGC match play last weekend. Garcia’s only major win came at Augusta four years ago and he may be ready for his second green jacket. He has maintained his power since then, sporting the 15th ranked driving distance on the tour and is 2nd in strokes gained off the tee. He is also 9th in strokes gained form tee to green, but it is his putting that has left a lot to be desired. Normally, that would spell disaster at Augusta, especially with all the reports of brutal greens this weekend. But when he won in 2017, his putting stats ranked as poorly as they do now. The Spaniard figured out the greens then, and he can do it again this weekend.

Will Zalatoris 66-1

Kezirian: Zalatoris enters the weekend as a serious threat. He has been consistent this season with 10 top-25 finishes and only one missed cut. He didn’t play at Augusta in November but started the season off with a 6th place finish at the U.S. Open, showing that he’s capable of handling the big stage. His 18th ranked driving distance can help him attack this near 7,500-yard course and he is currently ranked fifth in strokes gained approaching the green, which will serve him well at the notoriously tricky approaches at Augusta. Zalatoris may very well follow the path of this year’s favorite Jordan Spieth and snag a green jacket for his first major win.

Corey Conners 80-1; Top-20 finish (+200)

Bearman: Every major, I like to give out one lottery ticket on a player I can see winning the major but whose odds tell you it’s not likely. As noted before, I use a combination of course history, recent form and course metrics when handicapping golf. If you are a weekly reader in this column, you know I was all over Conners before his third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer and seventh-place finish at Sawgrass. For those that thought it could be just a fluky couple of weeks in Florida, he followed that up with a T-14 this past week in Texas. He already has 10 top 25s this year, matching all of last year, and has five top-10 finishes. One of those top 10s was right here at Augusta, where he shot 11-under over the final three days after starting with an opening 74. His metrics are right there: top 15 in off-tee, approach, tee-to-green and total. His numbers putting aren’t great, which is what led to his downfall in the final round at the API. But if he improves on the greens, Conners is one I could see live on Sunday with a shot at cashing that lottery ticket.

Fulghum: Conners is going to be the cheap chalk in this tournament, but he’s worth it. He is top seven in the field in both strokes gained off the tee and on approach. He is in tremendous form as well, having posted top-20 finishes in seven of his last 10 events. I’m also taking him in DFS.

Gary Woodland 125-1 and -187 to make the cut

Kezirian: Woodland isn’t on many people’s radar but he deserves a bit more attention. He’s had a down year with five missed cuts, but last week he played his best golf of the season at the Valero Texas Open, finishing T-6. Is that momentum for the former U.S. Open champ? His 20th ranked driving distance will help him keep pace with 13 of the 18 holes at Augusta sitting at 440 yards or longer, and his ability to convert on long approaches can take him even further. He ranks 13th on approaches greater than 200 yards and 21st on approaches from greater than 275 yards. He is solid at consistently hitting greens as well, ranking 38th in hit green percentage when going for the green. Woodland’s long game will keep him relevant this weekend, and if he can fair decently on the fast Augusta greens, he could make a surprise run. Worth a shot at this ridiculous price but also -187 to make the cut.

Ian Poulter 125-1 and -186 to make cut

Kezirian: It hasn’t been the best of years for Poulter, who has struggled to finish in the top-20 and has missed 3 cuts. That being said, he rebounded nicely at WGC match play last weekend, winning his group to make it to the round of 16 before finishing T9, and it’s worth noting that his second best result this year was at the Masters in November where he was T25. He has historically played well at Augusta, making the cut in 14 of his 15 appearances to go along with 9 top-25s and 3 top-10s, and he could be in for more success this weekend. His short game has been his strong suit this year, as he ranks 28th in total putting and 7th in scrambling, and that will undoubtedly help him this weekend with Augusta’s greens projected to be more brutal than November’s. When Poulter puts it all together he can contend with the best, and he is a dark horse to be in contention for the win on Sunday. Worth a flyer at this price and also some props interest me, such as making the cut and finishing in the top-20.

Zach Johnson 150-1

Kezirian: Johnson has had a rocky year, thanks to a bevy of low finishes and a missed cut this past weekend. But he does have three top-10 finishes as well, including in the U.S. Open, and his play this weekend can likely match the good that we’ve seen this season. Approaches and putting are key at Augusta, and Johnson excels at both, ranking 34th in greens in regulation percentage and 9th in strokes gained putting. He may not have the striking ability to reach the greens the fastest, but he will avoid the critical mistakes on and around the green that ruin entire weekends for other players. The former Masters winner may be far removed from that first win but I’m grabbing a piece at this longshot price, which can be found as high as 225-1 at some books.


Justin Thomas top-5 finish (+230); Top-10 finish (+100); Thomas (+105 at DK) over Rahm

Marks: Thomas had a rough start to the season, but has turned it around. He finished fourth here in November, and Augusta favors right to left ball flight — which is JT’s wheelhouse. He is third in strokes gained on approach, first in par-4 scoring birdie or better and 10th on par-5s this season.

Patrick Cantlay top-5 finish (+400); Top-10 finish (+175); Cantlay (-120 at DK) over Rory McIlroy

Marks: Cantlay loves the cerebral challenge of playing Augusta. He also loves putting on fast and firm greens. He is seventh in strokes gained around the green, 21st off the tee, third in scrambling, 11th in par-4 scoring and 15th in par-5 scoring this season.

Xander Schauffele top-5 finish (+400), top-10 finish (+175)

Bearman: It’s unfortunate for Schauffele that, despite his stellar resume, he is slowly being mentioned in the same light as Tony Finau as guys that contend but don’t finish. The big difference is the X-man does have four PGA Tour wins, compared to Finau’s one B-flight win. However, it has been over two years now since his last one in Hawaii in January 2019 with, like Finau, a whole bunch of close finishes. Schauffele has 16 top 10s and an absurd eight runner-up finishes since last tasting victory. His resume at majors is outstanding with seven (!) top 10s in 14 appearances, including a runner-up finish at Augusta in 2019 behind Tiger Woods. He also has the metrics to slip on the green jacket this week, as he is second in strokes gained overall and 10th in putting. But, much like Finau, it’s hard to take him to win when he hasn’t lately and continually plays bridesmaid. He also struggled recently per X-man standards with a T-39 at Concession and missed cut at The Players to end a long streak of making cuts. I am still going to play him top 5 (+175), top 10 (+400) and in matchups because he can still win you money even without the winner’s check.

Dustin Johnson top-10 finish (-115)

Fallica: No need to get too cute here. Sure, he hasn’t played the way we have come to expect lately, but his last five trips here have resulted in a win, T-2, T-10, T-4 and T-5. Sometimes you just have to take what the book gives you.

Jordan Spieth top-10 finish (+100)

Bearman: This one is simple. The value is long gone on picking Spieth to win the Masters, as he was as high as 50-1 to win when odds first posted last year. Coming off the Texas win, he will be the most popular pick across the board this week. I won’t participate in the short-value, public play. However, you can’t dismiss how well he is playing and the success he has had here, with the 2015 win sandwiched between two runner-ups. Dismissing him completely would be poor betting, so I am going to hop on his hot play and take him to contend with another top 10. He may very well win again, but at 10-1, there just isn’t any value left.

Marks: Sign me up for the Spieth hype train. I’ll take him at plus money to finish in the top 10 because it is extremely difficult to win two weeks in a row on tour, let alone the latter being a major. Spieth’s track record at Augusta speaks for itself — a win, two runner-ups and a third.

Tony Finau top-10 finish (+250); Top-20 finish (+110); Finau wins group with Xander Schauffele and McIlroy (+225)

Fallica: I don’t like where Rory’s head is right now and there’s always added pressure when he heads to the Masters in search of the career slam. He could post another backdoor top 10, but his game doesn’t suggest that right now. Xander is always a popular pick, but he has just the one top 10 here. Finau has been in the final group here and has seven top 10s in majors since 2018. Everyone laughs because he hasn’t been able to win a major, but if you play him in this fashion and in top 10/20 markets, you’re ahead of the game with some nice plus money over the last couple of years.

Paul Casey top-10 finish (+300); Casey (+100) over Tony Finau

Bearman: With Sergio Garcia winning the Masters in 2016, the active mantle for best to not win a major is likely reserved for Lee Westwood, but Paul Casey is not far behind. The Englishman has come very close before with 10 top-10 finishes in majors, including five top 10s at Augusta. More recently, Casey went T-6, fourth, T-6 at the Masters from 2015-17 and then T-15 in 2018 and held the first-round lead in November after an opening 65. He knows his way around the hallowed grounds and has been a staple of mine to pick in big-time events due to being one of the more consistent ball-strikers in the game. He’s 12th on approach over the last 50 rounds, and if he can get his putter going, he has just as good a chance as anyone this week.

Sungjae Im top-10 finish (+300); Top-20 finish (+120); Top player from Asia (+138 at DK)

Marks: Im checks all the boxes that trend for winners each year at Augusta: not too old, not too young, ranked in the top 20, has had previous success on this track, has shined on the Florida swing and is coming in hot. Im’s putting has been on point, ranking 30th on tour this season, and putting will be a huge factor in scoring this week.

Hideki Matsuyama top-10 finish (+333); Top-20 finish (+120)

Fallica: Matsuyama is another guy who once you stop playing him to win majors and focus on the top 10 and top 20 markets, you’ll fare a lot better. He has five top 20s and two top 10s here in the last six years, and while his putting will madden you, he seems to have found his game in Florida and I’ll back him for a T-17 finish.

Victor Perez top-10 finish (+900); Top-20 finish (+350)

Fallica: Perez got a look at the course last year and while the conditions will be different this year, it might help mentally and with his lines. Perez played great at the Match Play and had a Top 5 earlier this year overseas. At 9-1 for Top 10 and 7/2 for a Top 20, why not?

Patrick Reed top-20 finish (-110)

Marks: Reed is one of the best putters on tour and in fact leads the tour in strokes gained putting. He also is fourth in par-4 scoring, and T-5 on the par-5s.

Daniel Berger top-20 finish (+110)

Marks: It looks like Berger has recovered from his back issue. The worst he has finished at Augusta was 32nd, and the way he has been playing since June, I want to believe a top-20 finish is a walk down Magnolia Lane.

Sungjae Im top-20 finish (+120)

Bearman: Much like Smith, Sungjae finished runner-up to the DJ runaway train back in November. It was his first appearance, so he isn’t normally someone I would look at this week, but it’s hard to argue his consistent performance. He has made the cut in all stroke-play events since the calendar turned to 2021, including an eight-place finish at the Honda Classic a few weeks back. He’s 26th on tour in strokes gained putting and 17th overall over the last 50 rounds on tour.

Webb Simpson top-20 finish (+120)

Marks: Simpson finished T-10 in November’s Masters. His putter will help him stay toward the top of the leaderboard; he is ranked 13th in strokes gained putting this season and dominates on the par-5s.

Fortenbaugh: This is a bet based on experience, as Simpson will be making his 10th trip to Augusta National and has shown impressive growth in recent years. The 35-year-old has finished T-20, T-5, T-10 in his last three Masters appearances and has put together a solid season on tour to date, finishing T-17 or better in three of five stroke play events this year.

Matthew Fitzpatrick top-20 finish (+150)

Marks: Fitzpatrick is a golfer who thrives on fast and firm greens, and he ranks 27th in strokes gained putting this season.

Will Zalatoris top-20 finish (+200); Top debutant (+110 at DK)

Marks: The human ATM of golf when it comes to finishing in the top 20. His game fits Augusta to a tee. He is 18th in driving distance, fifth in strokes gained on approach and 26th off the tee this season.

Jon Rahm (-125 at DK) over DeChambeau

Fortenbaugh: I love the fact that Rahm and his wife welcomed a healthy baby boy to the world on Sunday. Becoming a father changes your perspective on life, and I bet nobody in this week’s field is feeling less pressure than Rahm, who has finished T-9 or better in each of his last three trips to Augusta National. On the flip side of this matchup we have DeChambeu who, along with Rory, is probably feeling the most pressure of any golfer in the field given all his boasting prior to last fall’s Masters before stumbling and ultimately posting a T-34 finish. Remember, for all his length, DeChambeau can struggle on the approach and has never recorded a top-20 finish in four trips to the Masters.

Justin Thomas (-115) over DeChambeau

Fortenbaugh: To put it simply, I think both golfers have a similar ceiling, while DeChambeau has a much lower floor. That’s why I have no problem laying -115 with Thomas, who is 5-for-5 in made cuts at Augusta National while showing steady improvement with each start (T-39, T-22, T-17, T-12, 4). Thomas checks plenty of boxes heading to Georgia this week, highlighted by his elite putting and win at TPC Sawgrass just a few weeks back.

Tyrrell Hatton to miss cut (+175)

Bearman: If it seems like Hatton is a guy that you love to pick but who fails to deliver in big events, you are correct. With wins at the Arnold Palmer and overseas at the BMW PGA Championship last year, as well as this year’s Abu Dhabi, Hatton is now eighth in the world rankings. But don’t let that draw you in. He missed the cut in all three majors in 2020, had one top 20 in 2019, did decent in 2018 and missed the cut in all four majors in 2017. Oh, and he missed the cut at The Players Championship last month. What does that tell us about his game? Not much, other than he has not played well at the world’s top events, missing the cut in them all over the past year. Getting almost 2-to-1 on my money for him to miss the cut is worth it for me to grab.

Bubba Watson to miss cut (+225)

Fallica: Watson has missed the cut in three of his last five stroke play events and finished 54th in another. He has won twice here, but he missed the cut in 2017 and finished 57th last year. He has also missed the cut in eight of his last 15 majors. Maybe he’ll score enough on the par-5s to hang around for the weekend, but I’m willing to take a chance here that he’s one of the few players who don’t play the weekend.

Webb Simpson wins group with Collin Morikawa/Matthew Fitzpatrick (+175)

Fallica: Fitzpatrick has never contended in a major and has just one top 10 — a backdoor top 10 at the 2016 Masters with a Sunday 67. He hasn’t been in the top 20 here since. There will be a lot of Morikawa love, but how much did he really learn about the greens last fall in those conditions? But I’m sure it helped his sight lines. Simpson has been in the top 20 each of the last three years, and his second shot golf approach should take big numbers out of play. I like him in this trio.

Shane Lowry top Irish player (+200)

Marks: I had the pleasure of having Mike Adams, Director of Instruction at Medalist and Fiddlers Elbow, on my golf show this Tuesday. Mike is hands down one of the best golf instructors in the world. He shared on the show that he spent time with Rory recently on the range, and that his swing is a complete mess, and expects Rory to struggle big time this week. Meanwhile, Lowry ranks in the top 35 in strokes gained around the green, and tee to green. After speaking with Mike, this just might be the BEST BET on the board.

Corey Conners top Canadian (-175 at DK)

Fallica: Conners essentially has to beat Mackenzie Hughes in a head-to-head, assuming Mike Weir doesn’t have a time machine to go back to 2003. Hughes has played the Masters once, in 2017, when he missed the cut at +15. Conners finished 10th last year and 46th the last April Masters in 2019, as well as posting three top- 15 finishes in his last four events on tour.

Hole in one on No. 16 (+110); Hole in one in final round (+138)

Fallica: There have been fireworks Sunday on No. 16 for a while now, and this will give you a reason to perk up on Sunday afternoon when out of nowhere Jim Nantz says, “let’s go to 16 and check in on Dylan Frittelli,” whom we haven’t seen a shot from all week.

DFS lineups

At DraftKings

Fulghum’s picks

Rory McIlroy ($10,200)

Jordan Spieth ($9,400): Spieth is fresh off an impressive win at the Valero Texas Open and is in the best form we’ve seen from the three-time major winner in three or four years. He has a tremendous track record at this course — even when he was struggling. He’ll be chalky, but he’s worth it.

Cameron Smith ($8,200): Smith is coming off three straight top-17 finishes on tour, and although this course won’t play the same way it did in November, Smith finished second then to Dustin Johnson and carded four rounds in the 60s.

Paul Casey ($7,700)

Louis Oosthuizen ($7,500): Oosty is a player you want in your lineups when the majors come around. He has made seven straight cuts at The Masters, with six top-30 finishes over that span.

Corey Conners ($6,900)

Marks’ picks

A) Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Will Zalatoris, Si Woo Kim, CT Pan

B) DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Zalatoris, Jason Kokrak, Pan

C) Webb Simpson, Im, Daniel Berger, Cameron Smith, Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris

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