Die-hard fans, casual viewers, recreational sports bettors, and Jordan Spieth agree: Nothing in golf beats The Masters.
“I like to always call it our Super Bowl,” Spieth said at a Monday press conference.
The Super Bowl is the biggest sports betting event each year, and The Masters will likely be the most heavily bet golf tournament of 2023.
“It’s always the top golf betting event of the year,” Jeff Sherman, SuperBook Sports’ vice president of risk, told Sports Handle. “It’s usually double what we do on the U.S. Open.”
Golf’s premier event begins Thursday morning, and weather could play a significant factor throughout the week. Rain is in the forecast Friday through Sunday, and temperatures could dip into the high 40s and low 50s over the weekend. Cold weather and a soft course could benefit some of the game’s longest hitters, like four-time major champion Rory McIlroy.
Three betting favorites
While McIlroy’s chase for the career grand slam is always a hot topic, the discussion around this year’s contenders starts with the defending champion, Scottie Scheffler. The 25-year-old hasn’t slowed down since winning last year’s Masters, picking up two wins this PGA Tour season and another three top-5 finishes.
Scheffler (+700 to win The Masters on FanDuel), McIlroy (+700), and Jon Rahm (+950) have separated themselves from the golfing world this year with superb play. Those three are the betting favorites across America’s major mobile sportsbooks.
“It’s been like that for a few months now, so it was pretty easy shaping that coming into this week,” Sherman said.
SuperBook Sports offers a prop bet on one of those three to win at +225. Bettors can take the field over those three at -265.
Tiger on Rory winning the Masters and the career slam: "He will. It's just a matter of time."
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) April 4, 2023
In a major with a competitive field, bettors might understandably look down the odds board for top-level players outside the Scottie-Rory-Rahm realm with juicier odds.
“Obviously, from a betting perspective, we are paying a premium to take these guys. And while I think the odds are right in line with where they should be on these guys, it’s just not a play I typically make,” Action Network contributor Chris Murphy told Sports Handle.
Plenty of other contenders
Outside of the top three betting favorites, plenty of enticing wagering options remain. Golfers like Spieth (+1800 on BetMGM), Justin Thomas (+2000), Collin Morikawa (+2200), and Jason Day (+2500) are major champions with odds longer than +1500.
Spieth has tremendous course history at Augusta National, finishing in the top three five times in his career, including a victory in 2015. But Joshua Perry, also an Action Network contributor, likes Morikawa’s odds (+2800 at FanDuel) this week.
“He’s elite with the irons and has improved at Augusta in each of his stops,” Perry told Sports Handle. “This is a course that can take a few years to figure out, but I think he’s made steps in the proper direction. It’s really just the putter for him that remains a concern. But being a good putter really hasn’t been a prerequisite to winning here, and if it shows up, he can look like the best player on the planet.”
Other non-major champions are in solid form, including Patrick Cantlay (+1900 at FanDuel), Tony Finau (+2400), Xander Schauffele (+2500), and Max Homa (+3400). Those four often headline lists of “best players yet to win a major” and have all won at least five PGA Tour events in their careers.
Perry likes Cantlay’s game, and believes he’s capable of contending this week.
“I think Patrick Cantlay has established himself as the next guy in line,” Perry said. “He has no flaws or weaknesses. Everything about his game is consistent, and he appears ready to make that leap fairly soon.”
Can LIV golfers contend?
A narrative exists in golf media that leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf will hurt a player’s chances of winning a major championship. LIV Golfers have a path to significant on-course earnings regardless of their performance, perhaps disincentivizing consistent practice.
Will that hurt players like Dustin Johnson (+2200 on PointsBet) and Cameron Smith (+2500), the 2022 Open Championship winner? Smith admits the field strength for the average LIV event isn’t as good as the average PGA Tour event, but he doesn’t feel players from his new tour should be counted out this week.
“There’s a lot of chatter about ,‘These guys don’t play real golf; these guys don’t play real golf courses,’” Smith said Monday. “I’ll be the first one to say the fields aren’t as strong … but we still got a lot of guys up there who can play some really serious golf.”
Smith has finished in the top 10 at The Masters three consecutive times.
The betting odds don’t give quite the same level of love to the elite-level LIV golfers as they do PGA Tour stars. Sherman says the LIV players have dropped off the radar of some bettors since leaving the PGA Tour.
“The odds are pretty high up there for these guys just because of the lack of interest,” Sherman said.
Brooks Koepka recently saw his odds (+4000 at DraftKings) shorten across sportsbooks because he won the most recent LIV event, but he’s still not nearly as highly touted as his PGA Tour counterparts.
Brooks Koepka is a winner again! He claims victory at #LIVGolf Orlando for his second win in his last 6 events. Heading into Augusta in great form! @SmashGC pic.twitter.com/bk9pM0PCea
— LIV Golf Updates (@LIVGolfUpdates) April 2, 2023
Murphy thinks whatever LIV-PGA Tour drama exists this week could provide extra motivation to some players, particularly former Masters champion Patrick Reed, who has odds to win of +7500 at FanDuel.
“He is a guy that seems to thrive on being the villain and really steps up his game when the controversy is the highest against him,” Murphy said. “He is one player that I expect to get a little extra boost this week, knowing that everyone is rooting against him, and if he brings his best, he still has a game that can compete against any field.”
Reed finished in a tie for third at the most recent LIV Golf event, and he owns three top-10 finishes (including a victory) in his last five appearances at The Masters.
Tiger Woods returns to Augusta National this week hoping to replicate the magic he created when he won in 2019. Woods’ biggest obstacle is his health, as his surgically repaired right leg struggled to hold up during the 2022 major season. He has played just one PGA Tour event in 2023, finishing in a tie for 45th in the Genesis Invitational in February.
Tiger Woods said his game and endurance is better now than it was at the 2022 Masters, but also noted that his leg aches more this year.
— Underdog Golf (@Underdog__Golf) April 4, 2023
Despite limited starts, arguably the greatest golfer ever still draws plenty of attention from fans and bettors.
“That’s never going to go away. … You’re always gonna find support for him no matter what his circumstances are,” Sherman said. “He’s just a liability at Augusta every single year.”
Perry recommends looking at Woods markets outside of winner bets. His odds to win are +8000 at DraftKings, but bettors can take him to make the cut at -165. That wager only requires decent play for two days, and it doesn’t bank on his body holding up for four consecutive rounds in chilly, wet weather.
“He can definitely make a cut around here and have a really good round or two,” Perry said. “It’s best to check his made cut options or potentially find a favorable matchup if you’re looking for Tiger action.”