The 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Course begins this Thursday and runs through Sunday. Reigning champ Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm enter the tournament as favorites. Meanwhile, legendary veterans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will attempt to remind the world of their greatness.
Which skills are required to thrive on this course? Which player will earn the immense honor of the green jacket? Course attributes and best bets are below.
2023 Masters Best Bets
Given Augusta’s characteristics, which players are best situated to capitalize on their offered odds?
John Rahm Winner & Top 5
Rahm is tied for second on the Tour this year with six Top 10 finishes, and he leads with three wins (per pgatour.com). He also ranks first in scoring average, birdie average, and total strokes gained. The 28-year-old is playing arguably the best golf of his career.
He placed T27th last year because of a 77 in Round Three, but Rahm encouragingly closed out the tournament strong with a 69 in Round Four. Besides being generally one of the most talented players in the field, Rahm’s skill set encompasses the necessary traits for Augusta.
He ranks 12th in average putting strokes gained, 17th in average around the green strokes gained, and 4th in average approach the green strokes gained. No other player on the Tour is in the Top 20 for all three categories. That approach statistic is especially attractive because of Augusta’s characteristics. Plus, while driving won’t be the main force for success here, his utterly elite off the tee production will assuredly behoove him.
Overall, Rahm is rightfully one of the favorites here, and I expect him to make a strong push for that green jacket. +900 and +210 both hold solid value in terms of the expected value of the bet.
A 66-FOOT PUTT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 30, 2020
Jason Day Top 10
The former world number one has struggled in recent years because of a stubborn back injury, which led him to subsequently change his swing mechanics. This significant endeavor is paying huge dividends as Jason Day owns six Top 10 finishes this year and appears ready to storm his way back to the top. The Masters is a prime course to announce his return because of his excellent short and iron game.
Day is the only player besides Rahm who ranks in the Top 25 for average putting strokes gained, average around the green strokes gained, and average approach the green strokes gained. He can navigate Augusta’s treacherous fairways and greens better than most. He’s also proven his ability to thrive on this course; Day owns three career Top 5 finishes and four Top 10 finishes at Augusta.
Day carries more risk than most, but a Top 10 finish at +220 is definitely within his grasp considering his rejuvenation and career success.
Augusta National Course Attributes
Augusta has larger greens than the typical PGA Tour course; however, players will need every extra square inch possible. The greens possess constant elevation changes, cruel contours, and a tricky steepness. To make matters worse, their firmness causes the ball to roll further than expected – a nightmare when added to the unforgiving angles.
A pitch or chip that misses by mere inches can be the difference from a relatively safe birdie putt and an exceedingly difficult shot. Putts made outside of 15 feet will be cause for celebration. Perhaps the biggest key to a successful round is fairway iron play from the 120-170 yard range.
As a result, Augusta ranks second on the Tour in putting difficulty, second in around the green difficulty, and seventh in approach difficulty (per datagolf.com). The short and 8-9 iron game will be absolutely crucial here, and off the tee proficiency won’t be as much of a factor compared to other courses.