2022 Masters Betting Picks

During the 2022 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week using odds as of Tuesday morning. Here are his thoughts on this week’s Masters.

Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.

About the tournament

The first major of the 2022 golf season is upon us as the Masters tees off on Thursday morning from Augusta National in Georgia. The Masters is already the most prestigious golf tournament of the year and there’s an extra storyline for all fans with the chance Tiger Woods makes his first professional start since being in a serious car accident in February 2021.

The Masters field currently has 91 players, which includes past champions of the event that aren’t usually seen on the PGA TOUR anymore. The top-50 players (including ties) after 36 holes will make the cut. Augusta National is a par-72 course that is 7,435 yards. The Masters is an event where course history can be weighted more than other tournaments when trying to forecast the results.

Top of the board

Majors are always tough tournaments to predict because the best players in the world are always involved. You can make a case to bet on almost every player, but obviously you can’t bet on everyone and have to knit-pick reasons not to bet the elite.

The player I can make the strongest case for is Justin Thomas (12/1). While I don’t usually like betting players before the tournament at these short of numbers, Thomas checks several boxes entering this weekend. The first thing in his favor is course history where he’s made the cut in all six of his Masters appearances and outside his debut in 2016, he’s finished no worse than 22nd at Augusta. His best finish was fourth place in the 2020 tournament that was held in November due to COVID-19. Last year, he finished tied for 21st after struggling on the weekend. I believe those experiences will help Thomas, who is very familiar with playing golf in the southeast region of the United States.

The next case for Thomas is his recent form that has seen him finish three times in the top eight over the last two months. He finished tied for eighth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and ranked second in strokes gained approach that week. A week later, he finished sixth at the Genesis Open, which is a tournament where past winners at that event have had success at the Masters. In Thomas’ last stroke play start, he finished tied for third at the Valspar Championship and once again was dialed in with his irons ranking second in strokes gained approach. Thomas has trended well in 2022 without breaking into the winner’s circle, which sets him up nice to continue to peak this week.

My last reason in the case I’ve built for Thomas is his ability to close and win tournaments. The 28-year-old already has won 14 times in his PGA TOUR career. He won his first and only major at the 2017 PGA Championship and has some other impressive wins mixed in, including his last one about 13 months ago at THE PLAYERS Championship. The knock against Thomas is his inconsistent putter, but if he can strike the ball like he did in Phoenix and Tampa Bay, then he could set himself up for a lot of short putts.

Usually when I bet a player in Thomas’ price range, I drop way down for the next set of guys to bet on. But I’m going to only drop down a tier and add Viktor Hovland (18/1) to the betting card this week. Hovland made a name for himself at his Masters debut in 2019 when he was a low amateur and accepted the award sitting right next to Tiger Woods after his memorable Masters win. Hovland wasn’t part of the 2020 field and finished tied for 21st in his return to Augusta last season, despite recording a triple bogey on his first hole of the tournament.

Hovland started 2022 off well by winning the Dubai Desert Classic back in January. It’s worth noting that Danny Willett won this event in 2016 before winning the Masters a few months later and Sergio Garcia accomplished the same double in 2017. Since coming back stateside, Hovland has three top-nine finishes. He contended at the Genesis Invitational, which I mentioned could be a predictor of Masters form. His closest call was a tied for second place finish in tough weather conditions at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Hovland has established himself as an elite ball striker with an enormous ceiling. His chipping around greens is the downfall of his game and that’s definitely a concern at Augusta, but he has the off the tee and approach potential to overcome that shortcoming.

Three other players that interest me in this range for full tournament matchups and in Masters pools are Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Will Zalatoris.

Mid-range targets

When allocating money for outright golf betting, I try to make the “to win” amount the same for all the golfers I bet, so I have more money tied up into players at the top of the oddsboard. With a lot of my funds committed to Thomas and Hovland, I have to be very selective and just pick one player from this range. Players on my radar after research are Daniel Berger, Adam Scott, Joaquin Niemann, Corey Conners, Paul Casey and Russell Henley. All these plays will be considered to bet on.

The one that will get my money in the outright market is Adam Scott (50/1). The 2013 Masters champion has only missed two cuts in 19 appearances at Augusta, so he checks the box of strong course history.

Scott also has had recent success at the Genesis where he won in 2020 right before the COVID-19 hiatus and finished fourth with Hovland this past February in Los Angeles. His approach numbers were strong that week and Scott has always strung together multiple strong putting performances this season, which is vital for success at Augusta. Even though putting isn’t usually predictive, Scott has an edge on a lot of players in the field because of his experience. He also advanced out of his group at WGC Match Play before squandering a lead in the round of 16 to Kevin Kisner. However, I think losing in that round is a good thing for the 41-year-old because he didn’t over-expend himself at that tournament.

Along with betting Scott to win, I would look to also bet him to finish in the top 5 or top 10. Another way to play him is to finish as the top Australian at +350. There are six Aussies in the field with Cameron Smith topping the odds fresh off his PLAYERS Championship win last month. Smith has a strong course history at Augusta, but he’s incredibly overvalued at 14/1 to win the tournament. I get why he’s up there off his victory last month, but he needed a magical putting performance in that final round to win and I don’t think that’s repeatable. Getting the opportunity to fade Smith and bet on Scott in the same market appeals to me. He also needs to beat out Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Cameron Davis and Min Woo Lee.

Longshots

Usually in majors the cream rises to the top and it’s not worth betting money on players deep in the odds. But sometimes it’s fun to have a few longshot tickets in your pocket and hope they are in the mix on the weekend. Two players that piqued my interest this week are Thomas Pieters (100/1) and Hudson Swafford (350/1).

Pieters is a personal favorite of mine because of how he can bomb the ball off the tee, and he has two wins within the last five months in Portugal and Abu Dhabi. He finished tied for fourth in his first Masters appearance in 2017 and finished tied for second at the Genesis earlier that year. Two weeks ago he showed his upside at the Match Play and was unlucky not to advance out of his group.

Swafford is a total longshot that I’d never expect to win, but there’s enough in his favor to bet him to finish in the top 20 or as first-round leader. He has a local connection to Augusta, as he attended the University of Georgia. He’s coming off a week at the Valero Texas Open where he led the field in strokes gained approach, despite finishing in 58th place after a final-round 76. Swafford is in the field because he won the American Express earlier this season, and failed to make the cut in his two Masters appearances in 2017 and 2021.

Tiger Woods

What’s up with Tiger? He has been practicing at Augusta and still remains a game-time decision as of this writing. Since he’s such an important player, I wanted to give my betting thoughts on him this week.

I would stay away from betting Woods at 50/1 to win the tournament outright. It’s an incredibly short number for a player who is 14 months removed from broken bones in both his legs. Maybe Woods can put together a strong round early on, but I question his physical fitness walking around Augusta National for multiple days. The 2019 win for Woods came as a surprise, but he was entering the tournament with some strong finishes under his belt that year, so it wasn’t completely unexpected at the time. This is a very different situation, and with the strength of this field, I would need a much better number to consider him outright. The possibility of a better number is impossible with the amount of betting interest on the five-time Masters champion.

Despite not liking Tiger Woods to win, I can be talked into betting him to make the cut at +100. His course history and knowledge of Augusta is valuable and this is an easier cut to make than a lot of other tournaments. I’m curious to see who he is matched up with in full tournament head-to-heads, but for now I’m going to pass on betting anything Tiger-related this week.