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Masters picks 2024: The signs point to Rory McIlroy

April 10, 2024
Rory McIlroy during the a practice round of the 2024 Masters Tournament held in Augusta, GA at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.

Whether you are a casual viewer of golf, a diehard fan, a DFS guy or just an outright bettor, there is absolutely no better week than this one—Masters week. Everybody’s in a pool, everybody’s got a sleeper, everybody’s going to get rich off that one prop bet they love. It’s just a great time to be alive.

Making this week that much better is the fact our panel is coming in HOT, as we’ve now picked back-to-back winners in this column. Stephen Hennessey, Pay Mayo and our anonymous caddie all hit on Akshay Bhatia at the Valero Texas Open, and Andy Lack correctly predicted Stephan Jaeger’s win a week before in Houston. We’re about to bowl an outright turkey.

Our betting panel is comprised of a caddie reporting anonymously from the grounds of Memorial Park, Pat Mayo of Underdog/Mayo Media Network, Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel, Andy Lack of RunPureSports.com, your two authors and Keith Stewart, the CEO of Read The Line. Stewart, our newest member of the panel, is our new betting content partner as well. His insights will help our betting content immensely, though Mayo remains on a bit of a heater—hitting Knapp (Mexico) and Bhatia (Valero) outright and going on a 11-3-0 run on matchup bets thus far.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 Masters.

Masters picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Joaquin Niemann (28-1, FanDuel) — The guy is just a striper. He hits a nice comfy draw, just finished top 10 at LIV Miami. The way he drives it, plus everything else about his game, should fit perfectly at Augusta National this week.

Pat Mayo, Underdog/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1, FanDuel) — Only one player currently rivals Scheffler’s form entering Augusta, and that’s the former champ, Matsuyama. Whatever issue he had with his driver in 2023 has been solved and, just like that, he found himself back in the winner’s circle for the first time in two years. He’ll always be an inconsistent putter, much like a lot of great players, but routinely gaining on the field off-the-tee, while mixing in upside spike weeks with that putter is a lethal combo with how good his irons have been and his all-world short game. He played C- golf a year ago and still managed to finish no worse than T-32 in any Major. With a win and three straight top 10s entering the year’s first major.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Xander Schauffele (14-1, FanDuel) — Schauffele has had mostly consistent success at Augusta National, and he keeps getting himself in contention. Via data golf, over the last six months, Schauffele is the second-best golfer in the field in adjusted strokes-gained – behind just Scottie Scheffler. In that span, only he and Scheffler are also both top-10 in strokes-gained/off the tee, strokes-gained/approach, and strokes-gained/around-the-green.

Keith Stewart, Read The Line: Jon Rahm (12-1, BetMGM) — The defending Masters champion is the scoring average leader of his peers at Augusta National. Jon Rahm is also the career strokes gained leader. In seven starts at Augusta, Rahm has five top 10s and a win. Many will quote the “only three have ever successfully defended…” and they are correct. I see Jon differently. He feels left out of the best player conversation. That slight will fuel him enough to take the jacket home again and give Spain a seventh Masters win.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1, FanDuel) — If there’s someone other than Scottie Scheffler who can win, it’s Hideki. Look at the stats from his past two starts: He gained over 14 strokes/tee to green at The Players and 11 strokes/tee to green last week at the Valero. Plus, he won a few starts previously at Riviera—the biggest comp course to Augusta. Hideki could easily join all the other great two-time Masters champions, and the odds aren’t crazy.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — Full disclosure – we are betting this week based on vibes alone. And the vibes / my gut is telling me it’s Xander’s time. Stop me if you’ve heard that a million times before, but for real, it’s time. Of the elites not named Scottie Scheffler, he might be the only one truly trending right now, and his history at Augusta National is as good as anybody’s. In six career starts, he’s made all but one cut and finished T-17 or better four times. Don’t listen to all the naysayers. We all said Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and, yes, even Scottie Scheffler, couldn’t win the big one either. Narrative-changing victory incoming.

Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Rory McIlroy (11-1, DraftKings) — I’ve been down this road before, and it never ends well, but there are a few signs for optimism from the Rory McIlroy camp this year. The four-time major winner is coming off his best iron week in four years at the Valero Texas Open, gaining over 7.5 strokes on approach to the field. I have long held the belief that course management and shot selection has been what’s really holding him back, and it appears that watching Scottie Scheffler’s run of dominance has rubbed off on McIlroy. The Northern Irishman keeps coming back to the word “discipline: in all of his recent interviews, which may be the key to unlocking his true potential. The “Discipline Era" is off to an encouraging start, as McIlroy made the least amount of bogeys he had in an event all season last week in San Antonio. I’m excited to see what this approach can do for him at Augusta National.

Past results: The boys are officially HOT. Following Andy Lack’s correct prediction of Stephan Jager’s victory at the Houston Open (50-1), three of our experts—Stephen Hennessey, Pat Mayo and our anonymous caddie—hit on Akshay Bhatia (65-1) at the Valero Texas Open. That’s now our biggest hit of 2024, and it gives Mayo and our anonymous caddie their second wins of the year. Let’s keep it rolling at Augusta National.

Masters picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Sungjae Im (125-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Im is starting it hit it much better and this number is just absolutely ridiculous for a guy with two top 10s and a top 20 in four starts at Augusta National.

Mayo: Sahith Theegala (55-1, FanDuel) — Top 10s in three of his past five, a lone missed cut on the season, and a silver medal at one of the biggest crossover courses to kick off 2024 at Kapalua. Plus, he’s got the magic beans gene; the most unquantifiable skill for Augusta. You know it when you see it. Spieth has it. Cam Smith has it. Bubba has it. Scheffler has it. The more difficult the shot, somehow, the better he becomes. We witnessed it in his debut a year ago when he finished top 10. He’s a better player now.

Gdula: Tommy Fleetwood (50-1, FanDuel) — A 50-1 number on Fleetwood is really interesting. He’s fresh off a T-7 at the Valero Texas Open, and while his form is up-and-down at Augusta, he’s played here seven times and made six cuts with three top 20s.

Stewart: Shane Lowry (55-1, FanDuel) — Shane Lowry finished third in the 2022 Masters. In the three starts leading up to that major, Lowry collected three top-20 results. In the last month, Shane secured three more top-20 finishes heading into this trip down Magnolia Lane. Lowry has four straight top 25s at Augusta National and is gaining an average of six strokes (total) in his last five starts. Should we get a little wind and weather, I love his chances even more.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Russell Henley (65-1, FanDuel) — Before you yell: ‘You really think Russell Henley could take down Scottie?’, hear me out. You’re forgiven if you didn’t know he finished fourth at Augusta last year. You’re also forgiven if you haven’t seen his strong form—he gained more than 7.7 strokes/approach last week at the Valero en route to a T-4 and finished T-4 at Bay Hill two starts before that. His irons and putter can get scorching hot, which is a path to taking down Scottie.

Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (50-1, DraftKings) — Four top-seven finishes in his last seven majors. Feels like I don’t need to say much more. I’m not going to claim he’s the next Brooks Koepka yet, but Koepka was similarly strong in the majors early in his career before the dam opened and he started winning them regularly. He’s got all the length in the world and has already proven he can tame Augusta National with his T-7 finish here last year.

Lack: Cameron Young (50-1, DraftKings) — If you are looking for a player at appetizing odds that can hang with the big boys from tee-to-green, it’s Cameron Young, and then it’s everyone else. Young is playing some tremendous golf this season, and he has gained over 3.5 strokes ball-striking in six straight starts. Add in the fact that he finished seventh last year at the Masters with some surprisingly strong putting, and I expect Young to play a major factor in a major championship once again.

Masters picks 2024: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Viktor Hovland (30-1, Bet365) — Watched him spin a few too many 3 woods on the range today. He also changed coaches multiple times recently. Not what you want heading into the first major of the year.

Mayo: Jordan Spieth (18-1, Bet365) — He’ll find a way to be relevant in some way this week, but win? With his form? You’d have to go back decades to find someone playing this poorly put on the green jacket entering Augusta. If he was better odds, sure. But you’re always paying a premium for Spieth at the Masters.

Gdula: Jordan Spieth (22-1, FanDuel) — I don’t want to root against Spieth, but I can’t get there at 22-1. His irons are just too inconsistent, and he relies too much on the wedges right now for me to want to bet him.

Stewart: Rory McIlroy (11-1, FanDuel) — Over the last eight Masters, Rory McIlroy has a scoring average of 74.8 in one of his four competitive rounds. McIlroy has five top 10s in those eight starts. Rory must eliminate his high round. With his current play, I cannot see how he will do it. If anything, McIlroy’s trend is going in the wrong direction. He’s gaining one full stroke less on the field (on average) than he was a year ago. I’m sure he will contend again, but when that off round occurs it will be another great finish and not the career grand slam.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (18-1, DraftKings) — I spent the past six months or so expecting to bet Brooks Koepka. Then he switched putters. The move to the mallet putter is a sign that he needs help on the greens. That’s not the confident, wipe-your-blade major slayer who we’ve grown accustomed to watching. I’d rather invest elsewhere.

Powers, Golf Digest: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1, FanDuel) — Let’s be clear: Hideki is playing phenomenal golf right now and he will more-than likely finish inside the top 10. But I don’t love Hideki at 20-1 when the entire world is talking about him. I like Hideki a lot more when we’ve forgotten he existed and he dips to 45-1, just like he did before his victory here in 2021. Placement bets strongly encouraged, but I won’t be betting him outright.

Lack: Wyndham Clark (18-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — I think with time, Wyndham Clark will learn to love Augusta National, but I would not be surprised if the learning curve is steep. Clark loves to hit a high, spinny cut, and there a few high leverage holes where he may feel uncomfortable with that ball flight. The new tee on number two certainly comes to mind as an example. I’ll gladly look in directions on this tier of the odds board.

Masters picks 2024: Matchups

Caddie: Ludvig Aberg (-120) over Bryson DeChambeau (DraftKings) — I know it’s his first major but Ludvig is a stud. I’ll take him over Bryson, who missed his last two cuts here.

Mayo: Will Zalatoris (+100) over Patrick Cantlay (Bet365) — Cantlay stinks right now. Worst run since he’s joined the tour. Just pick on him this week. Especially with the guy who has the most strokes gained per round at Major championships the past two years.

Gdula: Sahith Theegala (-105) over Shane Lowry (FanDuel) — Theegala has a distance edge on Lowry as well as much better putting data. Lowry has played well at Augusta, but Theegala was top 10 in his debut last year.

Stewart: Brooks Koepka (-120) over Viktor Hovland (DraftKings) — What happened to Viktor Hovland? Hovland left one coach in recent weeks and has started working with another. That’s eight in his young professional career. Seriously, how many questions could the FedEx Cup winner have? He won the U.S. Amateur and was once the low amateur at Augusta National. While he is playing the Q & A game, I’ll take five-time major winner Brooks Koepka. The most prolific major champion of this generation leaves very little to question when he is healthy. And quite frankly, Brooks should challenge Scottie Scheffler for the Masters title.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Russell Henley (-120) over Tyrrell Hatton (BetMGM) — I talked above why I like Henley as my longshot. I’ll grab him here in a matchup over Tyrrell Hatton, whose historical approach prowess should line up for Augusta—but he only has one finish better than T-34 in seven starts.

Powers, Golf Digest: Bryson DeChambeau (+100) over Ludvig Aberg (DraftKings) — I understand all the Aberg hype, but this is still his very first major championship, and it’s at a course where experience matters more than anywhere else. Say what you want about Bryson DeChambeau and his “par 67” comments, but he does have plenty of experience here. He hasn’t quite cracked the Augusta code, but it feels like a matter of time until he does.

Lack: Tony Finau (-120) over Wyndham Clark (DraftKings) — This is an easy one, as I’m getting my top 10 as a short favorite against my fade of the week. I’m going to roll with the experience in this case. I love the way that Tony Finau is striking it right now, I believe that he has unlocked something with his driver, and I expect him to continue his run of strong play at Augusta.

Matchup Results from the Valero Texas Open: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Putnam (-120) over K.H. Lee); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Glover (-110) over T. Kim); Powers: 1 for 1 (Matsuyama (-110) over Spieth); Stewart: 1 for 1 (Matsuyama (-110) over Spieth); Lack: PUSH (Conners (-120) over Homa); Mayo: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 11-3-0 (up 7.74 units); Gdula: 8-4-2 (up 3 units); Lack 8-5-1 (up 2.4 units); Hennessey: 7-4-3 (up 2.08 units); Caddie: 8-5-0 (up 1.74 units); Powers: 7-6-1 (up 0.88 units); Stewart: 7-7-0 (down 0.55 units)

Masters picks 2024: Top 10s

Caddie: Eric Cole (+1400, DraftKings) — Cole is a great drawer of the ball, which always plays here. I also just really like the guy and will be rooting hard for him this week.

Mayo: Shane Lowry (+360, DraftKings) — The Irishman’s tee-to-green game is among the world’s best, but the putter simply lets him down far too often. Yet, he’s one of three players with top-25 finishes each of the past three years and he comes in averaging +5.4 SG/approach over his past three starts. He’s won a major before, maybe he can just luck into a few putts over the weekend.

Gdula: Joaquin Niemann (+230, FanDuel) — Niemann’s form is hard to pin down because of his LIV Tour status, but my recency- and field-adjusted data has him as the fifth-best golfer in this field over the last year – behind only Scheffler, Schauffele, McIlroy, and Rahm.

Stewart: Xander Schauffele (+150, Bet365) — The knock against Xander Schauffele is that he cannot win. Of course, his critics may be right, but in 2024 Schauffele has six top-10 results. In six starts at Augusta National, he has three top 10s. The Masters rewards the most well-rounded players and Schauffele is gaining an average of seven strokes (total) per start. Schauffele has taken his game to another level and even though we all won’t agree on his green jacket potential, a top 10 seems inevitable.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (+340, FanDuel) — We don’t need CY to actually win, just continue his great form in majors. He was top three at Southern Hills and runner-up at St. Andrews, plus he finished seventh here last year. If it’s a little softer after the Thursday rain, that plays into Young’s hands.

Powers, Golf Digest: Will Zalatoris (+320, DraftKings) — Willy Z cooled off considerably in Texas, but let’s just call that a lookahead spot. We know his eyes were always firmly on the Masters, and his strong start to 2024 coupled with his good history here leads me to believe he’ll pick up a third straight top 10 in as many starts at Augusta National this week.

Lack: Tony Finau (+320, DraftKings) — Some of the season-long stats and disappointing performances to start the year are a little misleading in Tony Finau’s case. Before the Houston Open, Finau switched driver shafts and finished runner-up, gaining over five strokes off-the-tee. I’m going to ride that wave and take what I saw in Houston as evidence that he’ll be a getting a lot more out of his talent in the weeks to come.

Top-10 results from the Valero Texas Open: Everybody: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Mayo: 3 for 14 (up 2 units); Hennessey: 3 for 14 (up 1.25 units); Caddie: 3 for 14 (up 0.5 units); Lack: 3 for 14 (down 2.2 units); Gdula: 2 for 14 (down 3.5 units); Powers: 2 for 14 (down 7.6 units); Stewart: 1 for 14 (down 9.67 units)

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME. 

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for numberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13. 

Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also the head of golf content for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports