If the 2012 U.S Masters is to become the Hollywood blockbuster that the PR gurus market it as, it must surely be called “THE MASTERS: UNFINISHED BUSINESS” with the lead role falling firmly at the feet of a young Mr McIlroy. We all know the story of last year; the final round capitulation from the current US Open champion was enough to bring even the most cold hearted man to tears. Every golfer has experienced days like that but very few have had to endure that cruel hand dealt in front of millions of TV viewers. However since that final round of 80 we have seen Rory’s stock soar, trouncing the field at congressional to become the US Open champion and rise to the top of the world rankings to become the No:1 golfer in the world.
I believe that this past year for Rory McIlroy has only been about one thing and one thing only, his return to this years masters and ultimately, redemption. He truly has unfinished business at Augusta and in the passing year Rory has become an even better player, improving mental strength and an improved putting stroke thanks to putting guru and now coach Dave Stockton. It is easy to see why he is a best price 4/1 jolly to be slipping on the green jacket on Sunday evening. It is not the most inspiring bet and I will be seeking a bit more value elsewhere in the field but I am convinced that, since winning the Honda classic, Rory will go on to win the masters and that the 2012 masters will be the one he is remembered for and not “that” final round in 2011.
So Rory is the winner of the masters… but it wouldn’t be wise of me to put all my eggs in one basket. Firstly because I’ve never really been one for eggs and nor can I say I’m a great lover of baskets either but more because in this game of golf, so rarely do things go to plan and something always comes along to upset the apple cart (eggs and apples, I’m getting peckish). So if Rory McIlroy doesn’t bring home the bacon (hmmmm bacon, defiantly snack time!) who else can we turn to?
Justin Rose has been having an excellent season thus far, winning the WGC Cadillac championship, T5 at the Honda classic and making 6/6 cuts on the PGA tour in 2012. His ball striking and distance control are crucial to succeeding and around Augusta he ranks 31st on tour in ball striking, 19th in Greens in regulation and 3rd in scoring average. He also has a decent record at Augusta – T36 – T20 – T11 in his last three outings – proving that he knows his way around. He is best priced 33/1 and I can’t see that hanging around for long.
The 3rd player on my list and knocking about at the 40/1 mark is Hunter Mahan, the winner of this years WGC Match play. He has also racked up 5 top 25s from 5 starts this year including 2 top 10s. Hunter has been the absolute epitome of accurate off the tee ranking 4th in driving accuracy and 2nd in total driving, stats that should set him up nicely for his second shots to the notorious Augusta greens. Hunter again ranks highly in the GIR stats at 15th and 2nd in ball striking (if only stats won tournaments hey) add to this a new found confidence with a new putter and you have all the makings of a Masters winner. He missed the cut by 1 shot last year which is forgivable when you consider a T8 in 2010 and a T10 in 2009 he certainly knows how to score here.
Now we are into the realms of hunches and guess work (as if the previous three paragraphs weren’t) as we search for those elusive bigger priced winners. My next bet, despite not being in the form of his life, has still made 6/6 cuts on the PGA tour this year. This is all about pedigree, the man is a proven winner and won the often touted fifth major, the Players Championship in 2011. He also has a solid record around Augusta. KJ Choi who pushed Phil and Ernie close in 2004 and who notched up two other top 10s at the masters in 2010 and 2011, has a solid tee to green game and an iron will to succeed. At odds of 66/1 KJ could be a terrific EW bet.
The last selection I have made is 100/1 and should be worth the shrapnel in my pocket at the very least, Bo Van Pelt finished last year T8 at Augusta. Excellent really considering that he wasn’t in any sort of form heading into the masters having missed 4 cuts in 8 events and only posting 1 top 20 finish. The season finished strongly for Bo though, breaking his duck on the PGA and picking up the winners cheque at the Asia pacific classic. He has committed to a new exercise program and looks fitter than ever and it seems to be paying off. Bo has carried forward that confidence from his first win into the 2012 season posting 4 top 10s from 7 starts. Ranking 15th in ball striking and an impressive 3rd in total putting, this lean mean version of Bo Van Pelt could well be a lively outsider for the masters.
Article written prior to the Arnold Palmer invitational.Tweet Bet £10 and receive £20 free when signing up to Paddy Power
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