It’s the most wonderful time of the year – The Masters! After putting in the hours this year grinding research for passover events like the Valero Texas Open and Honda Classic, we are finally rewarded with the first Major of the year. It’s the Super Bowl of golf and 2023 Masters odds have been shifting for months.
All the traditions and constants are what makes The Masters such a fan favorite event. With so much the same, it’s our job to identify what’s different this time around. This year, that job’s easy. LIV golf fragmented the game as we know it, making The Masters the first time since July where we can watch Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy compete versus Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson.
This is the one tournament most players on the PGA TOUR want to win most, given the history, tradition, and historical significance. And for golf obsessives like ourselves, it’s one of the few times each year we can take our casual sports friends under our wing and soak this tournament in together. I couldn’t be happier to dive into the research and preview for this year’s festivities. Without further ado, let’s get into everything we need to know about Augusta National ahead of The Masters!
2023 MASTERS ODDS: FAVORITES
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THE FIELD AT A GLANCE
As of this writing, 88 players make up the field. Should the winner of the Valero Texas Open this weekend not already be one of the 88 qualified, they will make number 89.
As is tradition (unlike any other) at The Masters, any previous winner holds a lifetime spot in the field. Top amateur players in the world also gain entry. There is a long list of qualifying criteria but, in summary, the field of entrants consists of:
- OWGR top-50 players
- Major winners over the last five years
- PGA TOUR winners since last year’s Masters Tournament
Those criteria make The Masters the most exclusive Major to earn an invite to. Tiger Woods returns for his first start since the Genesis Invitational, so Aaron Wise is the only qualified non-past champion who elected not to tee it up this week, citing mental health concerns.
Players on the LIV golf tour continue to nosedive down OWGR rankings since they cannot earn new OWGR points. 18 LIV golfers qualified by way of top-50 OWGR ranking at the end of 2022, previously winning The Masters, or winning another Major within the last five years.
LIV players make up about a quarter of the non-amateur or senior entrants. The numbers suggest there’s a good chance at least one LIV player is in the mix come Sunday. Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson are the most likely players from LIV to contend this week. But let’s not forget last year, six current LIV players – Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Johnson, and Smith – finished inside the top 15.
Augusta National is a place where course horses have shown up regardless of immediate form, so don’t be surprised to see a few LIV contenders come Sunday.
Between all the Tours, here is a breakout of where the field of 88 is sourced from:
- PGA TOUR: 52
- LIV: 18
- Amateurs: 8
- Senior past champions: 7
- DP World Tour: 3
If we remove the ceremonial group of 15 seniors and amateurs, we are essentially working with a field of 73 contenders. This year, there’s a clear “Big 3” at the top of the field between Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm. Each favorite ranges from +750 to +850. All players thereafter can be found at 20-1 or longer. That creates appealing betting value for those who fade the Big 3. Last year, 11 players opened at 20-1 odds or shorter, while in 2023, all but three players can be found with odds at +2100 or longer.
INTRODUCTION TO AUGUSTA NATIONAL
The one course each year that needs no introduction is Augusta National. But, we’ll dive on in for good measure.
The Masters has been played on these same grounds every year since the tournament’s inception in 1934. Horton Smith won with a prize of $1,500 that year and, over the last 89 years, we’ve watched that purse grow 10,000-fold – $15,000,000 went to the winner 2022. The official 2023 purse will be announced later this week.
Augusta National is a massive property, stretching to 7,545 yards on the scorecard, the longest in its storied history. A look ahead at the weather shows a daunting forecast of steady rain and scattered thunderstorms throughout tournament play. Augusta National is equipped with the most state of the art SubAir systems in the world, so there is no course better prepared to withstand some rain. But wetter conditions will naturally favor the bombers even more than usual, and perhaps open up to a little more volatility than normal.AUGUSTA WEATHER
Augusta National features some of the most dramatic undulations and elevation changes both in its fairways and around the greens complexes. It demands creativity from shot makers off uneven lies.
Amen Corner (No. 11, 12, and 13) will be prominently featured on this week’s broadcast. Tournaments have been won or lost here on these three iconic holes. This stretch includes a 500-yard Par-4, a treacherous 155-yard Par-3, and a risk/reward 545 yard Par-5 where a good tee shot can set up eagle opportunities. Rae’s Creek claimed countless victims over the years on this three-hole stretch and it never disappoints come Sunday.
The simple summation would be elite, in-form players with the ability to work the ball in both directions on drives and approach shots and who possess crafty touch around the greens. the grounds favor lefties with a right-to-left ball flight, anchored by wins from Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Mike Weir, as well as a top-10 finish from Robert MacIntyre in his 2021 debut. Modifications to the tee box on the 13 places a greater emphasis on right-to-left tee shots than ever before.
The beauty of Augusta National is that many holes are set up for a left-to-right approach after a right-to-left tee shot. You have to be comfortable abandoning your stock shot shape here at times to create the most scoring opportunities.
How It Breaks Down
Augusta is a Par-72, elongated to 7,545 yards this go around. It features four reachable risk/reward Par-5s, which are the only holes on property with a scoring average under par. Players who take advantage of birdie-or-better opportunities on these four holes usually go on to find the most success. There’s certainly an advantage for longer hitters who can hold these green in two.
As we’ve come to expect from Major championship venues, the par-4s are much longer than what we typically see on TOUR. That, in part, help make Augusta one of the most challenging golf venues we see. Nine of the 10 par-4s play over 440 yards and three of the par-4s play over 490 yards.
Augusta features some of the widest fairways we see all year. Although players hit them much higher than the TOUR average rate (~70%), it’s important to hit the correct side of the fairway to set up your next shot. Augusta is still far from a second-shot course.
We also see top-five difficulty among PGA TOUR courses in terms of Par-4 Scoring, Par-3 Scoring, Putting, and Around The Green. Players who excel in long Par-4 Scoring and Short Game have been able to separate themselves here over the years.
Bentgrass makes up the greens at Augusta National, and they play extremely firm and fast. TOUR pros and caddies cite them as the most complex and nuanced greens to read. That puts an added emphasis on course experience; course history is more predictive of future success for Masters odds than any other course on TOUR.
Given how difficult these greens are to read, there is an argument that it plays to the advantage of weaker putters just as much as the elite putters in the field. Players like Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia picked up victories in recent years despite being notoriously poor putters. Corey Conners and Cameron Champ also regularly played well at The Masters despite being two of the statistically worst putters on TOUR.
2023 Course Adjustments
While the grounds at Augusta National are one of the few constants in golf year to year, it is notable that three holes – 11, 13, and 15 – incurred modifications over the last two years.
The change to No. 13 is the most notable this year. The 510-yard par-5, which has traditionally been reachable with less-than-driver, now stretches to 545 yards and is no gimme to reach in two if players choose to play more conservatively off the tee. It’s a far more claustrophobic tee shot now, and will primarily reward players who comfortably hit a right-to-left tee shot with their driver (see below).
In 2022, modifications were also made to holes No. 11 and No. 15.
The tee box on the Par-4 11th was pushed back and to the left by 15 yards. They re-contoured the fairway and removed several trees on the right. The tee box on the par-5 15th was also pushed back by 20 yards with additional re-contouring of the fairways, adding an extra club for players to challenge the green in two. These are not terribly significant changes, but they add a challenge to some of the few “gettable” holes at Augusta National.
For even more detail on Augusta National course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, Player Profile write-ups, Masters champion odds trends with their pre-tournament odds and more, visit our Masters odds page.Editor’s Note
EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Of all the tournaments on the PGA TOUR schedule, none has a more predictive course history than The Masters. Whether that be a credit to the pressure-packed atmosphere, its consistent fixture on the schedule, or the intricacies and nuances to the greens, it proves to be a course that players either thrive at with great consistency or a code they never crack. This helps narrow down the list of potential contenders.
Over the last five years, 13 players finished in the top 10 multiple times: Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Will Zalatoris, Sungjae Im, and Corey Conners. Given what we know about the sticky course history, it would be a safe bet to consider any of these players to contend once again in 2023. Conversely, notables who failed to crack the top 20 at The Masters over the last five years include Viktor, Hovland, Gary Woodland, Kevin Kisner, Max Homa, Joaquin Niemann, and Billy Horschel.
I always like to dabble in the Top Debutant prop market in Masters week. This year brings an enticing list of options including Sahith Theegala, Tom Kim, Kurt Kitayama, Mito Pereira, Taylor Moore, Ryan Fox, and Adam Svensson. I lean toward Theegala or Kitayama as top finishers among that group, but will be curious to see where odds open.
Others Excelling At The Masters
The top 10 in total strokes gained Course History at Augusta National over the last 10 years includes: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Tiger Woods, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, and Scottie Scheffler.
12 players avoided missing the cut in four consecutive trips to The Masters: Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Corey Conners, Kevin Na, Tommy Fleetwood, Bubba Watson, Si Woo Kim, and Matt Fitzpatrick. Of that group, only Rahm and Thomas finished inside the top 30 each of the last four years.
It’s sacrilegious to compare any golf course to Augusta National, but we’ve got to try, or risk going back to 2016 for a 24-round sample size of Course History. Simply looking for courses with similar characteristics to Augusta National, I consider Muirfield Village, Plantation Course at Kapalua, Bay Hill, Riviera CC, Accordia Golf Narashino, Torrey Pines, and Quail Hollow top comps.
I wouldn’t single out any of these courses as a one-to-one comp, with the atmosphere at Augusta National standing on its own. Muirfield Village, Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, and Quail Hollow each share similar length and difficulty in scoring conditions. That tends to reward the top all-around players, though each features far more prevalent and penal rough than Augusta.
Riviera CC is another difficult test featuring a strong field which asks players to shape the ball in both directions off the tee and on approach. We’ve seen crossover winners like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and Mike Weir at both events. Although the Plantation Course at Kapalua has become more birdie-heavy in calm conditions, it does feature a massive property of wide and severely undulated fairways, bearing plenty of similarities to Augusta when not flooded.
The top 10 players in terms of SG: TOT across these comp courses are: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Shane Lowry, and Keith Mitchell.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER WITH MASTERS ODDS
- SG: T2G
- Driving Distance
- SG: ARG
- SG: APP
- Par 4: 450+ / Prox 200+
- Par 5 Scoring
- 3-Putt Avoidance / SG: Short Game (Firm & Fast Conditions)
- SG: TOT (Majors L5 Years) / SG: TOT (Difficult Comp Courses)
- Course History
We don’t have the luxury of strokes gained data easily available to model top correlated stat categories from. But there is a very clear profile of players who found repeatable success at Augusta National. Some modeled stats may need to be taken with a grain of salt when considering the 18 LIV players have been playing off the grid for close to a year.
Experience With Greens
Starting with the basic stats, SG: ARG, Driving Distance, Par 5 Scoring, Par-4: 450+, and Course History are the five main pillars I’m looking for. Past winners consistently check off at least four of these five boxes. With these greens being the most intricate and difficult to read on TOUR, there is a distinct advantage for veterans who have seen these breaks before without the aid of a greens book.
The firm and fast qualities of these greens also make SG: Around The Green and 3-Putt Avoidance crucial, as players will need deft touch to save par on a course which yields only 60% greens in regulation. Nine players rank inside the top 30 in SG: ARG, 3-Putt Avoidance, and SG: Short Game (Firm & Fast Greens): Cameron Smith, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Talor Gooch, Max Homa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Chris Kirk, Sahith Theegala, and Patrick Reed.
Driving, Par-5 Scoring
Distance is not a must, but it provides a distinct advantage to hold these greens on approach shots if players can loft a shorter club into them. The top 10 players in Driving Distance in this field are: Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Young, Cameron Champ, Ryan Fox, Min Woo Lee, Gary Woodland, Keith Mitchell, Jon Rahm, and Dustin Johnson. However, I’m more likely to weed out the bottom half of this field in Driving Distance when refining down a player pool.
The four Par 5s are the only holes at Augusta with a scoring average under par, so distance will go hand-in-hand here for players with the ability to generate Eagle opportunities. The top-10 players in Par-5 Scoring entering this week are: Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Sungjae Im, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, and Scottie Scheffler.
Long par-4s are a staple of Major championship venues. All 10 par-4s measure over 440 yards at Augusta National, so identifying the players who played long par-4s well across standard events can be a great way to identify contenders. The top 10 players on 450+ Par-4s over the last 36 rounds are: Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Taylor Moore, and Cameron Smith.
Couple these key stats with the Course History, you find just three players in this week’s field to rank above average in each: Justin Thomas, Jason Day, and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Scoring In Difficult Conditions
What makes a Major course unique from the typical week-to-week venues (legacy-defining stakes and of the world’s best in the field aside)? Major venues are designed to test a player’s all-around skillset from tee-to-green, expose the flaws in a given players game, and ultimately reward the best all-around golfer that week.
Uncertainty surrounds the recent form of the 18 LIV players, so it’s a good starting point to reference performance in Majors over the last five years to establish common ground across the entire field. The top-10 in SG: TOT in Majors over that span are: Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, and Louis Oosthuizen.
Most importantly, 12 players rank top 30 in Recent Form (SG: T2G L36), Course History, Major History, and Comp Difficult Course History: Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, and Talor Gooch.
There is an infinite number of ways to splice the data this week and hone in on top candidates to play at The Masters. To me, the perfect formula consists of a player who is above-average to the field in Masters & Major History, Driving Distance, Par-5 Scoring, and P4: 450+, and Top-30 in Recent Form (SG: T2G) & SG: ARG.
Only four players satisfy that criteria: Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: PATRICK CANTLAY
Everything about Patrick Cantlay – the demeanor, the well-rounded skillsets, the resume – suggests he’s due to breakout in the Majors. 23 Major starts into his career, we’re still waiting for that to materialize. His best career finish is a T3 at the 2019 PGA Championship, where he finished six strokes behind Brooks Koepka. Although Cantlay has three career top-10 finishes in Majors, we’ve never really seen him in serious contention to win.
At risk of sounding naïve and repetitive with this narrative, I’m going to dive into a few of the reasons I think this year will be different for Cantlay at Augusta.
It’s important to measure Cantlay’s current form now versus year’s past. The only blemish on his resume is a lack of success in the Southeast, often skipping the Florida Swing and disappointing at THE PLAYERS. This year, however, he’s turned a corner with a career best T19 at THE PLAYERS and T4 in his debut at The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
He’ll enter this week in the best driving form of his career, ranking No. 2 in the field SG: OTT with a stretch of three consecutive starts where he’s gained 4+ strokes off the tee. He’s also climbed up to No. 1 in Par-5 Scoring this year, a skillset that will be at even more of a premium with the latest efforts to toughen them up.
Of the other elite names at the top of the board this week like Scheffler, Rahm, Schauffele, and others, Cantlay’s Augusta resume is undoubtedly the worst, which will be reflected in his odds. Over six career appearances, Cantlay has a T9 and T17, but no other finishes better than T39. The positive spin on it – unlike Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler and Hideki Matsuyama (the previous two Masters champions), failed to crack the top 10 over their previous four Masters appearances before winning.
Performance in Major-Like Moments
With a nickname like Patty Ice comes an expectation to be unflappable under pressure. Seemingly every other opportunity outside of Major championships, Cantlay delivered. He won the TOUR Championship, he won in the FedEx Cup Playoffs in back-to-back years at the BMW Championship, and his Match Play record between Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups is on par with anyone in the world right now. With finishes of T14 and T8 in his last two Major starts, it looks like momentum is finally starting to build.
After the Big 3, there’s a jumbled group of four or five players who could be considered the next favorite: Cantlay, Thomas, Smith, Spieth, Schauffele. Cantlay is the official OWGR No. 4, and the player I believe to have the best chance to win this week, if not Rahm, Rory, or Scheffler. Not every book has been consistent on that evaluation, so I see plenty of value in backing Patrick Cantlay to don the green jacket this year.
THE 2023 MASTERS ODDS: WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Last year, Tiger Woods’ return dominated headlines. While Tiger’s return is big news once again, it’s undoubtedly overshadowed by the coupling of LIV and PGA TOUR players for the first time since The Open. Much speculation will be made behind how competitive the LIV players will be after a full season of exhibition-style 54-hole tournaments. I haven’t been watching LIV personally, but I’m happy to see all of the most deserving players teeing it up in one place against each other.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind and DFS pricing and odds already released, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 Masters odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by actualized pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
In my model this week, I’ve put an emphasis on SG: T2G, SG: ARG, Par-5 Scoring, Par-4 450+, and SG: TOT (Majors L5 Years), followed by a more balanced mix of SG: APP, Prox 200+, Driving Distance, Course History, SG: TOT (Comp, Difficult Conditions), SG: Short Game (Firm & Fast Greens), and 3-Putt Avoidance (Fast Greens).
According to my model (and the consensus odds to date), Scottie Scheffler is the No. 1 threat to maintain his hold of the green jacket. While there is clearly a Big 3 of favorites, I believe Scheffler is a clear and deserving favorite over Rahm and McIlroy who are still chasing their first career Masters win, and Scheffler’s form looks surprisingly even better than it did before rolling into Augusta as World No. 1 for the first time last year.
After Scheffler, the rest of the top-10 is rounded out by Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas.
As it currently stands, I managed to remain patient and have not placed any futures bets, hoping to see some value when odds adjust Monday. Unless some generous odds randomly emerge on Scheffler, I am leaning towards Patrick Cantlay as the man to start my card with, but also eying Cameron Smith, Tony Finau, and Will Zalatoris as my favorite players outside the Big 3 this week. Be sure to check back in later this week for more updates.
We’ve got a long weekend of Masters odds content ahead. Thank you for reading this far, best of luck navigating 2023 Masters odds!
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