Masters Picks: The 13 best bets to win the 2019 Masters
Kevin C. Cox
Who are your Masters picks? As the year's first major approaches, golf fans might care more about the answer to that question than they do about the status of their own golf games. No tournament evokes such buildup and this year is no different. So as we count down the weeks days hours until the world's best golfers descend on Augusta National, here's our ever-changing top-13 ranking of contenders—along with their current odds, according to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook—to slip on the green jacket this year.
1. Dustin Johnson (10/1); Last week: No. 1
David Cannon/Getty Images
Reason to pick: Did you watch the WGC-Mexico Championship?! I haven’t seen an American athlete dazzle fans in Mexico like that since Kenny Powers in Season 2 of Eastbound and Down. Also, Johnson has made it clear he will NOT be staying at the same Augusta rental house where he had his staircase accident in 2017.
Cause for concern: DJ looked unusually shaky on Sunday at the Valspar, a tournament that was there for the taking. Also, Johnson’s best Masters finish in eight tries is a T-4 in 2016. And Augusta National is known as a right-to-left course, but Johnson almost exclusively plays a cut. However, are lasers like these really cuts?
2. Rory McIlroy (7/1); Last week: No. 3
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Reason to pick: McIlroy mades a big move after winning the Players Championship, ending a frustrating run of close calls and emerging as the new Vegas favorite to win at Augusta National. He's also the only player to finish in the top 10 in each of the past five Masters. And statistically, he’s having the best putting season of his PGA Tour career while racking up six consecutive top sixes to start 2019. As they say on the mean streets of Golf Twitter, Rory comin'!
Cause for concern: Rory’s record at Augusta National in which he is always present on the leader board, but never in Butler Cabin on Sunday evening is similar to his overall record the past few years. Although he nearly made the Masters his first major title in 2011, this will already be the fifth time he tees it up there trying to complete the career Grand Slam.
3. Justin Rose (12/1); Last week: No. 2
Reason to pick: No golfer is more consistent both week-to-week and during one particular week in April. The World No. 1 has played in the Masters 13 times and his worst finish was a T-39 in his debut. He has 11 top 25s at Augusta National and five top 10s, including runner-ups in 2017 and 2015.
Cause for concern: Despite all his success here and around the world, Rose, 38, remains stuck on one major title, and is still without a green jacket.
4. Jon Rahm (16/1); Last week: No. 4
Reason to pick: Rahm nearly won in his second go-round ANGC last year, seeing his chances splash away with his second shot into the par-5 15th on Sunday. I know, because I had $20 on him at 28-to-1 odds. . . Still, the solo fourth showed Rahm has the game to be the next Spanish golfer to slip on the green jacket. Even if his will be a bit bigger than the others who came before him.
Cause for concern: He just splashed away his chances at winning the Players as well, but bounced back to finish T-6 at Innisbrook. With a pair of top-5 finishes at majors last year, Rahm seems to be over his early struggles in the biggest events. However, he still missed the cut in the other two majors in 2018 and half of his career eight rounds at Augusta National have been 73 or higher. At 24, however, all of Rahm's results remain a small sample size to draw any real conclusions.
5. Brooks Koepka (25/1); Last week: No. 5
Reason to pick: He’s the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year and he’s won three of the past six majors he’s teed it up in. The guy is a big game hunter and he’s also pretty big, so I had to put him into the top 5 despite the fact he hasn’t been fitted for a green jacket yet (Hopefully, ANGC has one with a little extra give in the shoulders and arms). Also, he's fallen from 18/1 to 25/1 (That's some disrespect, Brooks!), which makes him an even more appealing bet.
Cause for concern: Koepka is without a top 10 in three trips to Augusta, but that’s a bit misleading. He improved from T-33 in his 2015 debut to T-21 in 2016 to T-11 in 2017 before sitting out last year’s event with an injured wrist. A wrist that clearly healed before those wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Now about that odd, purposeful loss of 22 pounds, which he says has cost him 10 to 12 yards off the tee. . . That's a little more concerning. Hopefully, the weight is back by the time he heads to Augusta.
6. Justin Thomas (16/1); Last week: No. 6
Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour
Reason to pick: Arguably the most explosive player in the game, Thomas has improved in each of his three Masters starts. With the combination of his iron play—particularly his high ball flight—and aggressive style, this seems to be the major best suited for him.
Cause for concern: It’s only been three years, but Thomas’ best Masters finish was a T-17 in 2018. And a recent Sunday meltdown at Riviera shows he too is susceptible to pressure, in particular with his putting.
7. Rickie Fowler (16/1); Last week: No. 9
Reason to pick: He nearly tracked down Patrick Reed last year with a back-nine rally, coming up one shot short. The runner-up was Fowler's fourth top-12 finish at Augusta National in the past five years, which isn’t surprising considering his rare combination of power and putting.
Cause for concern: Fowler now enters his 30s still in search of that elusive first major. And while he finally won his fifth PGA Tour event earlier this season, let’s just say it wasn’t a convincing final round.
8. Tiger Woods (14/1); Last week: No. 7
Reason to pick: In returning to the winner’s circle at last year's Tour Championship and nearly climbing back into the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, Vegas has made Tiger one of the Masters favorites. Considering his current form—especially in strokes gained approach-the-green—as well as his four green jackets, Tiger's Masters odds, for once, actually seem pretty fair. Well, make that "seemed". . .
Cause for concern: Woods is playing down his withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational for a "neck strain," but we're dropping him a couple spots (for now) while we wait to see more. Even if he is healthy, as we saw down the stretch in Tiger’s Tour Championship triumph, winning won’t come as easily as it used to for the 14-time major champ. It’s also been more than a decade since Woods’ last major win and 14(!) years since his famous chip-in on No. 16 helped lead to his fourth Masters title.
9. Hideki Matsuyama (30/1); Last week: NR
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Reason to pick: Matsuyama jumps into our final ranking, not because of something he just did, but because of a quietly solid track record at Augusta National that frankly, we've been overlooking. Because of the Japanese star's struggles on the greens, you don't usually think of him as a green jacket candidate, but he's finished in the top 20 at the past four masters. And this season, he has racked up three top 10s and is currently ranked second on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green.
Cause for concern: But yeah. . . can he make a big putt when it matters most? Although because of that great ball-striking, like with Adam Scott in 2013, Matsuyama might not have to make much.
10. Jordan Spieth (16/1); Last week: No. 13
Reason to pick: Last year, Spieth opened with 66, closed with 64 and nearly won a second green jacket. Oh yeah, he also arrived at Augusta National mired in a slump. Sound familiar? As proven by his incredible track record that includes a win and two runner-ups in his first three Masters, the young star always seems to find his game after making the drive down Magnolia Lane.
Cause for concern: But seriously, this season's slump is even more concerning after another puzzling weekend at the Valero Texas Open. Spieth’s best stroke-play finish on the PGA Tour so far is a T-30. In nine starts. Yikes. But he stays in our top 10 because, well, we're scared of him making us look bad again.
11. Phil Mickelson (40/1); Last week: No. 8
Harry How/Getty Images
Reason to pick: The resurgence of this 48-year-old is real as evidenced by his win at Pebble Beach and another close call at the Desert Classic. While his quest to complete the career Grand Slam gets the most attention each June, as a three-time Masters champ, this is clearly the major he still has the best chance to win. Also, those spectacular calves come in handy on what is arguably the most grueling walk in golf.
Cause for concern: After finishing in the top 10 at Augusta National 15 times from 1995-2015, Mickelson has gone missed cut, T-22, and T-36 since. And even with those spectacular calves, Mickelson would be the oldest major champ in golf history if he were to win a fourth green jacket.
12. Paul Casey(30/1) ; Last week: 10
Reason to pick: For a second straight week, an Englishman vaults into the ranking off a strong performance in Florida. Casey successfully defended his title at the Valspar Championship and after missing the 2013 and 2014 Masters, he's quietly gone T-6, T-4, 6th, and T-15 the past four years.
Cause for concern: Casey's win at Innisbrook was just his third career PGA Tour title. And although the 41-year-old boasts top 10s in all four majors, he's never seriously contended on a Sunday.
13. Bubba Watson (30/1); Last week: No. 12
Reason to pick: He’s won two green jackets, and he moves up a spot after a T-4 at Innisbrook, his second top-five finish of the season.
Cause for concern: While Watson’s driving stats (he’s currently third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained off-the-tee) have been stellar this season, the rest of his numbers have fallen off, particularly on the greens where he ranks 162nd in strokes gained putting.
Tommy Fleetwood (20/1)
Reason to pick: The Englishman has gone T-3 (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and T-5 (The Players) in his two Florida Swing starts. He's also made seven consecutive major championship cuts, including a T-17 at Augusta National in his second Masters start last year.
Cause for concern: Fleetwood was the 36-hole co-leader at both Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass before fading over the weekend. At No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he's also the highest-ranked player without a PGA Tour title on his résumé.
Patrick Reed (50/1)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Reason to pick: The defending Masters champ at 35-to-1 40-to-1 odds? That's pretty tasty. Keep in mind, Reed won his first major by holding off the likes of Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth while playing in the final pairing with Rory McIlroy. So the guy can get it done in a big spot other than the Ryder Cup.
Cause for concern: Reed’s win last year was supposed to be a breakthrough, but he hasn’t won anywhere since. In fact, he has just one top 10 in nine starts this season, and after a final-round 78 at the Players and an opening 77 at the Valspar, he was working with David Leadbetter on the range. With Reed seemingly questioning his own game right now, we've dropped him out of the ranking.
Francesco Molinari (20/1)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Reason to pick: You could make an argument he's been the best player in the world over the past eight months. Plus, his added length in recent years gives him a better chance of success at Augusta National.
Cause for concern: In seven Masters starts, his best finish is a T-19.
Xander Schauffele (40/1)
Reason to pick: At 25, he's already racked up four PGA Tour titles and three top-six finishes in majors in just seven starts (Plus a runner-up at the Players). Getting a top-10 player at 40/1 is a steal.
Cause for concern: His lack of experience at Augusta National. This will be only his second Masters start.
Tony Finau (30/1)
Reason to pick: The man who led the PGA Tour in top 10s last year also finished T-10 in his Masters debut. On a DISLOCATED ankle.
Cause for concern: Then again, finishing in the top 10 is pretty much all Finau does. Meanwhile, his lone PGA Tour title came nearly three years ago at an opposite-field event.
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