By Hennessey and Powers
Jordan Spieth. Photo by Golffile
Millions of eyes will be on Augusta National this week, but even more so, everybody will enter Masters pools, DFS lineups and betting cards—and predicting the outcome of the Masters can be quite lucrative. Thankfully, you have landed upon the best collection of betting experts in golf.
Golf Digest’s betting panel consists of three of the most respected data scientists in the industry: Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network/DraftKings, Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel and Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com. We’re fortunate to have an anonymous tour caddie giving his picks every week on tour—and our caddie got bold this week. He saw Jordan Spieth’s victory last week, and that has led our caddie to a bold prediction (scroll down for all our picks). Of course we also have Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, whose ownership projections and premium platform is a great asset for any serious DFS player.
This panel has been hitting outright winners at a hot stretch lately. In the past nine weeks, we’ve predicted five winners—it’s been a pretty unreal stretch since the Waste Management, where two of our experts hit Brooks Koepka. On outright bets, we’re up 145 units alone in that nine-week span (if your typical bet is $10, that's one unit. In that case, we'd be up $1,450 on your $10 outright bets). If you’re reading this column, you know how tough it is to predict golf tournaments. That’s why we’re proud to boast about the best collection of experts in golf handicapping.
Reports from Augusta National are that the conditions will be firm and fast this week, so keep that in mind as you make your picks. Our experts have crunched all the historical, long-term and short-term data to make their best bets for the week—scroll down for their complete analysis.
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Jordan Spieth (10-1) — Coming off the win last week and with his history at Augusta, there’s no way Spieth loses. Yes, I’m guaranteeing Spieth slips on the green jacket for a second time this week.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Brooks Koepka (25-1) — Is he healthy? That’s unknowable, hence the discount on the odds. Reports out of Augusta are that the knee isn’t affecting his swing that’s good enough for me to back him at over double the price of the other favourites.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Xander Schauffele (22-1) — I always love Xander, and I get that he hasn’t won in quite some time, but if you block out the names and narratives and look at the data, Schauffele is firmly part of the elite tier that includes Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm over the past year or two (or really whatever sample you look at). Schauffele is more than double the odds of those others and has a runner-up at Augusta. It just makes sense to like him at this number.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Cantlay (22-1) — Cantlay has been in complete control of his game for six months, and there are no signs of slowing down. Since his victory at the ZOZO, he has played seven more times and during that stretch, he’s shot the course record twice and only missed the cut once. He hasn’t finished outside the top 20 and he’s gaining on average a staggering +1.70 strokes/tee to green since the start of 2021, the best mark in this field. It should be no surprise that Cantlay has contended at the Masters, finishing T-17 and T-9 in his past two trips. This is the time he breaks through and dons the green jacket.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Jon Rahm (12-1) — All things point to Jon Rahm for me this week. His past three Masters starts: T-7, T-9 and a fourth-place. He held the 36-hole lead in November, and until his topped fairway wood at the par-5 eighth, he was right on Dustin Johnson’s heels. We expect Augusta to play firm and fast this week—which plays into Rahm’s hands: His past two Ws (Memorial and BMW in 2020) were on two of the toughest, firm-and-fast venues we’ve seen. Don’t forget: It’s five years since Danny Willett won the green jacket after his wife had their baby … Rahm will ride into Augusta on a similar high this week.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Justin Thomas (10-1) — If you’re going to bet a favorite, this is the week to do it. For me, all signs are pointing to JT, who is in peak form and has steadily improved at Augusta National in each of his five appearances (T39-T22-T17-T12-4). That tells me he’s getting more and more comfortable with the place each time he comes back, which usually eventually leads to victory for the game’s elite. DJ, Phil, Sergio, Adam Scott, etc. All those guys knocked on the door multiple times at Augusta before busting it down. JT busts it down this week for major victory No. 2.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (12-1) — The Spaniard not only has the baby swag going for him, but he ranks first in FanShare’s long-term form guide for the week and second in short-term form. Plus, his off-the-tee game and putting on bentgrass greens means he ranks third in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking.
Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is RED-HOT. Our experts have now predicted five of the past nine winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. As we’ve said, our crew gets hot and tends to stay hot, so don’t miss out on our picks! Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open last week. At The Players, Christopher Powers called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1) as did Rick Gehman. That’s each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Masters 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: C.T. Pan (250-1) — He’s coming off a third-place finish at the Honda, where he gained almost four strokes on the field with his approach play. And don’t forget he had a top-10 in November at Augusta. This is worth a flier.
Mayo: Matt Fitzpatrick (45-1) — He’s added distance in 2021 and has actually averaged the sixth-most strokes per round off the tee this year. And the results have followed. Fitz has finished no worse than T-11 in four stroke play starts in the U.S., with his best coming at Riviera, the closest comp course to Augusta.
Gdula: Joaquin Niemann (50-1) — Niemann would have to buck the trend of limited course history at Augusta—just a missed cut in 2018 when he played as an amateur—but is a substantially better golfer now than he was back then. He’s also become a pretty strong bentgrass putter and a top-20 tee-to-green golfer since the restart.
Gehman: Phil Mickelson (100-1) — I’m certainly one to listen to the metrics and that means it has been a nearly year-long fade of Mickelson. However, Mickelson appears to have found something with his irons and wedges, gaining strokes on approach in four of his past five starts. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, it’s been over two years since he last accomplished that feat. There’s no better time for him to figure out his game as he heads to Augusta National for the 29th time, with his 15 top 10s and three victories.
Masters 2021 picks: 13 best bets to win at Augusta National
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Paul Casey (40-1) — Per my guy Rick Gehman, only three players have gained more than 1.5 strokes per round on average tee to green this year: Cantlay, Morikawa and Casey. Casey’s had scorching hot finishes: a fifth-place at the Players, 10th at Bay Hill, fifth at Pebble and eighth at AMEX … plus a win on the European Tour. For a guy with five top-10s at Augusta, maybe this is time to shine in the major spotlight.
Powers, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (55-1) — An absurd price for a former Masters champ and a player who has not missed the cut in this event since 2009. Nobody rises to the occasion at majors like Adam Scott, who called himself a “good bet” this week as our guest on the Be Right podcast. That would have been enough for me, but the fact he seemed to fix his driver issues at the Honda is a plus, too. That week, he gained an absurd 10.5 strokes tee-to-green and 7.2 on approach, resulting in his second-best finish of 2021 (T-13). These major weeks are the weeks he prepares for, the weeks he hopes to peak for. You’d be a fool to not bet him at this number.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Day (40-1) — Day ranks 11th in this field in SG/tee to green over the past two months, so he’s playing some excellent golf. The Aussie has made his past five cuts, so it’s safe to assume there are no injury issues at present. With three top-five finishes at the Masters, it’s not surprising he ranks 10th in our course-suitability ranking.
Masters 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Rory McIlroy (14-1) — His time will come, but it would be a shock if this is the year.
Mayo: Collin Morikawa (30-1) — Usually my favorite player to bet, the lack of reps at Augusta coupled with a wonky short game leave me on the outside with him this week. He’s valued like an elite in the betting market, and rightfully so, but this isn’t the course for him, at least in 2021.
Gdula: Collin Morikawa (30-1) — Morikawa is the first name on the board I reach where I have concerns, so I’m not going to bet him. He’s not super long off the tee, which is a negative for Augusta, and his 70-74-70-74 in November here with modest stats across the board doesn’t indicate he’ll turn it around this week.
Gehman: Tony Finau (33-1) — Recent form has not been great for Finau, who missed the cut at The Players and then saw an early exit from the WGC-Match Play. In his last five rounds alone, he’s lost a total of 8.92 strokes to the field. If that’s not troublesome enough, Finau’s weakest link has always been his putter. If there’s ever been a place that punishes a struggling putter, it’s Augusta National.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (14-1) — The guy’s been lost … and it’s not like it’s just the past couple events. The iron play’s been non-elite. The putting has been below average. If this number drifts to 18- to 20-1, I wouldn’t be fading him, but at this number, I’d invest my money elsewhere.
Powers, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (9-1) — Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus. Nick Faldo. Those are the guys who have gone back to back at Augusta, and none of them faced the added pressure of pulling off the feat in a span of six months. That, combined with the single-digit odds and the fact he’s not playing well right now, are all the reason you need to stay away.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele (22-1) — Sure, Xander has a second-place finish to his name here, but Augusta really doesn’t suit his game. We have him ranked 37th in our course-suitability ranking. And his very recent form is a slight concern with a missed cut at The Players and a 39th-place finish at the WGC-Concession.