OffshoreInsiders.com feature writer Shea Matthews previews the 2010 Masters.
Sports betting sharps around the globe have April 8 circled on their calendars. That date marks the start of the Masters. While the Masters is already arguably golfâ€™s most famous and prestigious tournament, the 2010 trip to Augusta will be extra special.
The tourney marks Tiger Woodsâ€™ uber-anticipated return and will probably be the most watched golf tournament in television history. For that reason, it feels right to preview the battle for the green jacket a week early.
Here are five key names on my radar and a tentative free pick to win.
TIGER WOODS Current odds: +350
Why he could win: Tiger has a flair for the dramatic â€“ after all, he won the U.S. Open on a broken leg. For that reason alone, we have to consider him. It would be all too fitting for him to overcome adversity and win the Masters against all odds, wouldnâ€™t it? Also, Augusta requires length off the tee and strong putting, and few combine those two skills better than Tiger.
Why not: Thereâ€™s an excellent chance that heâ€™ll be rusty. The usually steely-nerved Tiger is also more likely to have jitters at this tournament than at any other since his pro debut.
PHIL MICKELSON Current odds: +900
Why he could win: He has two green jackets to his name so we always have to consider Lefty. He has the length and aggression to make a quick run up the leaderboard at any time.
Why not: Phil simply hasnâ€™t found himself yet in 2010, posting just one top-10 finish. He doesnâ€™t offer great value and isnâ€™t playing well, so many PGA odds followers will shy away from him.
ERNIE ELS Current odds: +1000
Why he could win: There may be no hotter golfer on Tour right now. He won the WGC-CA Championship last week and was close to locking down a second straight win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as of press time. The Big Easy is tough to stop when his swing is on and golf wagering experts are taking notice.
Why not: Ernie is arguably past his prime and hasnâ€™t performed well at majors in recent years. He even missed the cut at both the Masters and U.S. Open last year, though he did finish sixth at the PGA Championship.
ANGEL CABRERA Current odds: +4000
Why: We can never rule out the defending champ â€“ especially when he sneaked up on the field so quietly last year. Cabrera is a long hitter and seems to play his best on tough courses.
Why not: His game isnâ€™t where it needs to be right now. Heâ€™s finished 25th or worse in five of his six starts this season.
KENNY PERRY Current odds: +5000
Why: Based on the scouting report, youâ€™d think Perry would have better odds to win. Some books, like Bodog, even list him as low as +8000. Perry is long off the tee and superb ball striker; he also came within a hair of winning last year, so heâ€™ll be hungry.
Why not: He hasnâ€™t lit up a course yet this year, heâ€™s pushing 50 years old and some bettors wonder if he simply doesnâ€™t have the toughness to retain a lead on Sunday in a major.
Free pick: Ernie Els. He has the right mental makeup as a multiple major winner and heâ€™s on fire right now.