Round 1 of the 86th Masters is complete and the scoring conditions on Thursday may be the best these players see all week. Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon -- and again on Thursday morning -- softened up the golf course and there were some birdies to be had. The wind kicked up a bit in the afternoon and made distance judgment difficult. In the end, 73.8 was the average score of the day with the newly lengthened 18th hole playing as the most challenging hole on the course.
South Korea's Sungjae Im is your first-round leader, shooting a 5-under par 67. Australia's Cameron Smith began his day with a double bogey on the first hole. He had it to 6-under par before making a bookend double-bogey on the final hole and finishing at 4-under.
The much-anticipated start by Tiger Woods provided some fireworks as the Big Cat shot an opening-round 71, the 11th time he’s been under par after Round 1 in his Masters career. While it was certainly exciting to see Woods pull off such a round amidst his recovery from injury process, let's not get too excited just yet.
Tiger will tee off at 1:34 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, and by 3:00 p.m., the wind is expected to blow over 20 miles per hour. Tiger had the putter working today but hit a few errant tee shots and only hit 9-of-18 greens in regulation. Tiger traded as high as 150-1 to win the 86th Masters pre-tournament and was bet down to less than 20-1 before he teed off on Thursday. His current in-game price to win it is between 40 and 50-1. It will be a blood bath for sportsbooks around the country if Woods goes on to capture a sixth green jacket.
Dustin Johnson is the second favorite in the adjusted odds after firing an opening-round 69. DJ had it to 4-under and was tied with Smith for the lead until he bogeyed the 17th hole. Johnson is now around 6-1 to grab his second green jacket in less than a year and half. Cameron Smith tops the in-game board at 6-1 or less.
Joining Johnson at 3-under are 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, Genesis Invitational champion Joaquin Niemann and current world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Jason Kokrak, Corey Conners, and Patrick Cantlay are three shots off the pace at 2-under. Rounding out the Top 10 on the leaderboard and all 18 players that finished Round 1 under par are notables such as Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Daniel Berger, Will Zalatoris, Matthew Fitzpatrick -- and yes, Tiger Woods.
Each of the last 16 Masters winners finished Round 1 tied for 11th or better, and six of the last eight winners were in the Top 5 after day one. In Masters history, 76% of all winners, found themselves in the Top 10 on the leaderboard after Round 1.
Given his history at the course and the season he is having, Cameron Smith looks like a good bet to go on and win his first major championship, but he will have to deal with the late draw on Friday. DJ will tee off early and could avoid the day's most brutal wind but I would like to see his odds a bit higher than 6-1. Sungjae Im will also be in Friday's morning wave and looks like a good play at 10-1, but I'm not sure if the young man is ready to win a major with only two PGA Tour victories to his credit.
Of the players under par, I have pre-tournament futures tickets on Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay and Daniel Berger. Certainly, I am rooting for any of them to get it done but from a betting standpoint, I like Cantlay at 12-1 and Berger at 40-1 the best. Cantlay will play early on Friday and Berger will play late -- but Berger has the ball flight that should help him navigate the high winds.
If you are looking for a long shot to come off of the pace -- which as noted is very rare at Augusta -- I would take a look at Harold Varner III, who is seventh on Tour in Round 2 Scoring, and 13th in Round 3 Scoring. He is tied for 10th at 1-under par. He isn't anything special in Final Round Scoring, but with Varner currently at 100-1 in the adjusted odds to win, you may find yourself with a great number if the East Carolina Pirate happens to go low on Friday and Saturday.
Tune in to VSiN all day on Friday for Masters updates and live, in-game odds changes every 30 minutes.