The last major of 2020 was a Masters played in November and the first major of 2021 is another Masters played in its normal April time slot. Here are four players I’m targeting this week in Augusta:
Viktor Hovland (40/1)
Everyone remembers Tiger Woods winning the last April Masters in 2019 and putting on the green jacket in Butler Cabin. Sitting right next to Woods after his win was Viktor Hovland, who was the low amateur in his first Masters appearance.
Hovland didn’t qualify for the 2020 field, but has been in great form since then. He won a December event in Mexico and then rattled off four straight top-six finishes worldwide from late January to late February. Hovland faded off after the run, but showed some life in the final eight holes of his last match at the Match Play event. That was enough for me to back him here at this number and hope he has extra motivation after not being part of the 2020 Masters.
Daniel Berger (40/1)
Another player who wasn’t part of the 2020 Masters was Daniel Berger. The cutoff to be part of that field was before last summer’s restart and he won the first event last year after the PGA Tour went on a three-month pause due to COVID-19.
Berger also has a win in 2021 and hasn’t missed a cut in three appearances at the Masters. There’s value in this number on Berger and one reason could be because of a rib injury that led him to withdraw from the Honda Classic before the event started three weeks ago.
Berger was in the field at Match Play the next week before losing a tiebreaker in group play. He played well enough there to make me think him pulling out of the Honda Classic was just a precaution for bigger events ahead.
Paul Casey (40/1)
The only Masters future I had coming into the week was Paul Casey at 60/1, which is a bet I placed on Feb. 1. It was right after Casey won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a strong European Tour field. This was the same event that Danny Willett won in 2016 before winning the Masters two months later. Sergio Garcia also won both events in 2017, so part of the bet was narrative based. I also thought it was a good number on Casey, who has eight top-20 finishes in his career at the Masters.
The 43-year-old followed up his win in Dubai with three top-10 finishes on American soil. He didn’t make it out of his group at Match Play, but I think that’s a good thing so he was able to stay fresh for the Masters. If Casey was to ever break through and win his first major, Augusta would be his best chance to do it.
Sergio Garcia (70/1)
I usually like betting on players who have strong ball striking statistics that are streaky putters. Garcia checks those boxes and won his only major at the Masters in 2017.
The Spaniard’s irons have been on fire recently, and most notably he led THE PLAYERS Championship in strokes-gained approach and finished tied for ninth. He also reached the quarterfinals of Match Play after getting out of one of the toughest groups.
Garcia missed the November Masters after a positive COVID-19 test, and missed the cuts in 2018 and ’19 following his win. But his game is in a much better place right now, and the hope is that he feels more comfortable on the Augusta greens.