The first major of the year is right around the corner with the world’s best set to hit Augusta for the 2019 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
Most golf fans – devout and casual, alike – have their eyes glued to the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas, who’ve all been at the top of their game throughout much of the past year. Here, we’ll dig a little deeper in search of value from the oddsmakers and consider only golfers priced between +5000 and +15000 as of April 5.
What is a golf longshot?
Because of the talent on the PGA Tour and at the Masters, specifically, it’s tough to ever rule anyone out in a given week as having “no chance” of winning. Looking in the right areas and far enough in advance of a Major can allow one to gain a significant edge on the public and on the book.
The sportsbooks, who keep public opinion front of mind when setting odds, will often set prices too low for the most popular golfers and those ranked near the top of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the time of the event, or someone of lesser caliber who happened to hit a hot run in the preceding weeks.
Savvy golf bettors know to forego this pricing tier and look for elite-talent players whose price doesn’t match their skill set. This includes players ranked highly in the OWGR who may be “out of form” without any wins or top finishes of late, anyone coming off an injury or someone who just doesn’t yet have the national or global attention he deserves.
Recent longshots to win at The Masters
The unique makeup of the Masters’ field has helped to create some incredible miracle winners in recent years. The field – which is variable in size from one year to the next – is made up of ANY prior Masters champion; recent winners of the other three Majors AND The Players Championship; top amateurs from the US, British, Asian-Pacific, and Latin-America tournaments; the top 12 (including ties) finishers from the previous year; top finishers from the other Majors; any winner of an event that awards a full point toward the Tour Championship from the previous year; qualifiers from the previous year’s Tour Championship; and the top 50 in the OWGR in the previous year AND at the time of the current year’s Masters.
Some of the previous longshot qualifiers who went on to win The Masters include:
- Trevor Immelman – 2008 (+15000)
- Zach Johnson – 2007 (+12500)
- Angel Cabrera – 2009 (+12500)
- Charl Schwartzel – 2011 (+10000)
- Bubba Watson – 2011 (+5000)
- Danny Willett – 2016 (+5000)
Patrick Reed’s 2018 victory just missed the cut. He closed at +4000 odds the day before the start of the tournament.
Longshots for The Masters in 2019
Here’s a look at five players priced between +5000 and +15000 who have much better chances of winning the 2019 Masters. Odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook, but highly likely to fluctuate over the coming week.
Eddie Pepperell +12000
Pepperell, 28, makes his first appearance at Augusta aiming to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win The Masters in his first attempt. The Englishman is currently ranked No. 40 in the world but has been as high as 33rd in the past year. His resume includes wins at the British and Qatar Masters, runner-up at the Scottish Masters and the Irish Open, and a T3 at this year’s Players Championship.
Billy Horschel +12000
Horschel (pictured) is one of the best putters on bentgrass greens on tour, ranking sixth in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on the chosen surface over his past 50 rounds. He’s missed the cut in two of his past four tries and didn’t participate in 2017, but he finished T17 in 2016 and is riding a streak of 12 consecutive made cuts since last October.
Cameron Smith +7500
Smith finished in a tie for fifth last year in just his second appearance at Augusta, after finishing T55 in 2016 and not playing in 2017. The 25-year-old Australian ranks 28th in the world and is 19th on tour this season in SG: Putting.
Matt Kuchar +5000
“Kuuuuuch” has been one of the hottest players in the world this year. He finished the 2018 season ranked No. 34, but he’s already vaulted his way to No. 16 with two wins and a runner-up at the WGC-Match Play. Turning 41 in June, he has top 10 finishes at all four Majors, including a T3 at the Masters in 2012. He’s been one of the best in Scrambling over his last 50 rounds.
Kevin Kisner +5500
The match play champ now sits at No. 25 in the world ranking, jumping up 25 spots in a week. He attended the University of Georgia and is a strong putter on bentgrass. He had two top 15 finishes in Majors last year.
Other bets to make
Only outright bets for the Masters are currently available with most sportsbooks, as they wait for Thursday and Friday tee times and groupings to be finalized. Many more types of bets will be unveiled beginning early next week. Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on:
- First-round leader: Who’ll be on top of the leaderboard by the end of Day 1?
- Top 5, 10, 20 finish: For those not willing to take the full risk on an outright victory for a longshot.
- Top American, European, South American, etc.: Who will beat out his fellow countrymen from a set region.
- Head-to-head: Choose between two players with similar closing odds to fare better on Day 1 or for the entire tournament.
- 3-ball: Pick between members of the same group to score lower in Round 1.
- Props: Anything from “Will there be a hole in one?” to betting on a specific golfer to make (or miss) the cut.