One bad hole can spoil an otherwise great round of golf. Every casual player has been there. Jordan Spieth, an elite player, lived it last year.
One bad hole spoiled Spieth’s shot at winning the Masters for the second year in a row. He made the turn on Sunday with a five-stroke lead. But he blew it with a meltdown on the 12th tee by putting two balls in the water.
After a stunning collapse at Augusta National, Spieth finished second, figuratively and literally handing the green jacket to Danny Willett.
At 23, Spieth will prove to be resilient. He’s got supreme confidence and talent, plus a track record to indicate he will be a contender again this week. In three Augusta starts, Spieth has a 2015 win and a pair of runner-up finishes on his resume.
“Frankly, Spieth should have won last year. He butchered one hole,” said Brian Blessing, a golf handicapper and Las Vegas radio host (Sportsbookradio.com). “If you’re a player who’s that good, you put that stuff behind you.”
Spieth is that good, but he’s still the second choice on the South Point odds board at 7-1. Dustin Johnson, a winner in his past three PGA Tour starts, is the 6-1 favorite. Johnson, seeking his first green jacket, tied for fourth last year.
Rory McIlroy, fourth two years ago, is a four-time major winner but zero-time Masters winner. He’s at 8-1 odds.
“Rory’s going for the career grand slam, so this is the one that means more to him than anything,” Blessing said. “He’s actually kind of under the radar, which is weird.”
Westgate golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said Johnson tops his power ratings, followed by McIlroy and Spieth, who has five top-10s in 2017, including a win at Pebble Beach in February. Spieth is a popular pick to rebound from his Masters disaster.
“I know what Spieth’s record says there. I’m not discounting him,” Sherman said. “He started out well this year, but I just don’t have him rated consistently ahead of Johnson and McIlroy.”
The Masters is by far the most-wagered golf tournament of the year, pulling in an estimated handle of $12 million to $15 million in Nevada. The menu of player matchups and propositions is enormous.
The futures board offers shots at hitting a big-ticket payday, especially if one of the three players at single-digit odds does not cash. For bettors looking to spray a few wagers on players at longer odds, here are 10 candidates to consider:
Jon Rahm: In less than a year, the 22-year-old from Spain has jumped from No. 551 to 12th in the world rankings. He blossomed into a future star at Arizona State and picked up his first PGA Tour win in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January. His current form is outstanding, but this will be his Masters debut. Rahm’s odd vary from 10-1 at the South Point to 20-1 at the Westgate. He’s a rookie, so that makes it tougher to support him, yet he’s good enough to win.
Justin Rose: The Masters is obviously the only major played on the same course annually, so course form means a lot to handicappers and oddsmakers. Rose has a strong record, tying for 10th last year and finishing second to Spieth in 2015. He has not missed a cut in 11 starts at Augusta, and he should give bettors a good run for the money at 25-1 odds.
Jason Day: Among the favorites a year ago, Day has faded as a major threat while dealing with distractions in his personal life. But he’s a former No. 1-ranked player who has performed well at Augusta. If he finds his game this week, he could be a steal at 18-1.
Rickie Fowler: A winner in several big events, but still in search of his first major, Fowler has to show he can close the deal under pressure. He has a win and four more top-10 finishes in 2017, and he tied for fifth in the Masters in 2014. Fowler is finally getting serious and no longer dressing in pink like a teenage girl going to the prom. There’s some value on him at 25-1.
Phil Mickelson: At 46, Lefty still is a serious contender, especially on a course where he has won three times and tied for second behind Spieth two years ago. If it’s as windy as expected Thursday and Friday, Mickelson’s game is suited to handle the conditions. His iron play and short game remain razor sharp. At 20-1, he’s a reasonable gamble one more time. The betting public seems to agree, with Mickelson ranking No. 2 in ticket count at the Westgate.
Bubba Watson: The Augusta layout is tailored for left-handers. Watson won in 2012 and 2014. His current form is unimpressive, which is why he’s being overlooked this week. But being overlooked is not a bad thing, and his lofty odds at the South Point are a good thing.
“After his two wins here, I thought Bubba would be 12-1 or 15-1 for the next 10 years,” Blessing said. “I like Bubba at 35-1.”
Justin Thomas: His record in majors is mediocre at best. But his best is yet to come, being just 23 and loaded with talent. How many 145-pounders hit bombs off the tee? He outplayed Spieth and was the hottest golfer on the planet after back-to-back wins in Hawaii in January. The buzz has quieted, but he’s a quality sleeper at 30-1 odds at the Westgate. Thomas is ready to start contending in majors and close to a breakthrough.
Paul Casey: In a fourth-place finish last year, he opened with a 69 and closed with a 67. If not for one bad round (77 on Friday), Casey could have put on the green jacket. Sure, he rarely wins on the PGA Tour and he’s not a popular player, but that’s also why he’s a potential bargain at 40-1 odds.
Brooks Koepka: A big hitter with respectable course history at Augusta, Koepka is certainly capable of playing his way into the hunt this weekend. He’s entering the prime of his career after starring as an All-American at Florida State. Odds shopping is important, and Koepka is an example. He’s listed at 30-1 at the South Point and 60-1 at the Westgate.
Bill Haas: If his name pops up on the leaderboard, don’t be surprised. In 2014, Haas led the Masters after firing an opening-round 68. In 2015, he tied for 12th. He’s an underrated player (125-1 odds) with some course form and current form going for him. In March, he lost to Rahm in a WGC-Match Play semifinal in Austin, Texas.
“People like to bet a little to win a lot,” Sherman said, “and Haas is one of those guys.”
And, no, Tiger Woods at 100-1 would not have made this contender list.
Honorable mention (with best odds from South Point or Westgate): Hideki Matsuyama (20-1), Adam Scott (35-1), Brandt Snedeker (50-1), Louis Oosthuizen (50-1), Marc Leishman (75-1).