During the 2023 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week. 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 best golfers in the world come together for the Masters, which begins Thursday at Augusta National in Georgia. This will be the first Masters since LIV Golf was formed and the players who joined the Saudi Arabian-funded golf league are no longer eligible for PGA TOUR events. However, LIV players will be allowed to play in the majors, which adds intrigue to all four of the events because of the controversy that LIV has created in golf.
The Masters field currently has 88 players, including 18 LIV players, past Masters champions and top amateurs. The top-50 players (including ties) after 36 holes will make the cut.
One of the big betting-related factors going into this week is the weather at Augusta. Rain is in the forecast during all four days and the temperature will drop quite a bit on Saturday. The tough conditions could make it a high-scoring event with more players having a chance to win.
The “Big Three”
There has been a “big three” that has developed on the PGA TOUR in terms of betting odds over the last three months. Scottie Scheffler (7/1), Rory McIlroy (7/1) and Jon Rahm (9/1) have established themselves on their own tier with great form and strong stats during this stretch.
Scheffler is trending the hottest right now, and he won the Masters last year. McIlroy is always a popular bet to win his first green jacket — as the Masters is the only major he hasn’t won in his career. With all the attention and betting support on those two golfers, Rahm sticks out to me as my pick to win the Masters at a potential price break.
It was just a month ago that Rahm was the favorite to win this event after a blistering start to the season. He won two events on the European Tour at the end of 2022 and carried that form to the PGA TOUR for the start of 2023. He kicked off the year with a win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, which is played at a course that draws comparisons to Augusta National. He then won the American Express and the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, with the latter boosting his case for this week because multiple players have had success at both Riviera and Augusta National.
It looked like Rahm’s run would continue as the PGA TOUR moved to Florida. He was the first-round leader at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after shooting a 65 at one of the toughest courses on TOUR. But he struggled during the rest of the tournament, finishing tied for 39th at the event.
The next week, Rahm had to withdraw from the PLAYERS Championship with an illness right before the second round. He shot one-under par in the first round, ranking second that day in strokes gained tee-to-green behind Scheffler, the eventual winner. Rahm was in a good spot to contend if he was healthy.
Rahm’s next start was at the Match Play, where he bowed out of the group stage. I’ll give Rahm a pass for that, as he was in a challenging group with a motivated Rickie Fowler and a Match Play specialist in Billy Horschel (Scheffler and McIlroy both reaching the semifinals of Match Play is a significant reason why Rahm is behind the two in the current Masters odds).
Rahm’s overall journey this season creates an opportunity to buy low at this price. The previous five months were great for him and he has a strong course history at Augusta National with four straight top-nine finishes from 2018-21.
Max Homa (25/1) is another player who shined early in the season when the PGA TOUR was on the west coast. He won the Farmers Insurance Open in the last week of January and finished second at the Genesis Invitational. Homa has victories at Riviera in 2021 as well as 2019’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, which is another course that past Masters champions have had success at.
Homa has struggled at the Masters, missing the cut in his first two appearances before finishing tied for 48th when he made the weekend last year in Georgia. But he has continued to improve, and his calm demeanor on the course should translate to success in major championships soon. Since I have a strong opinion on Rahm winning, I will bet Homa to finish as the top American player at 16/1.
Sungjae Im (33/1) is another standout for this week because of his all-around strong game and past success at Augusta. He finished tied for second in his Masters debut in Nov. 2020 when the tournament was pushed back seven months because of COVID-19. He missed the cut in 2021, but finished tied for eighth last year, proving that his 2020 performance was not a fluke. Im has played well this year, and I’ll look to bet on him outright as well as in the nationality props market.
The potential for rainy weather at Augusta is why I like Shane Lowry (50/1) to contend at a course he finished tied for third at last year. The Irishman’s most famous win of his career was at The Open Championship in 2019, where he won by six strokes in an event that had poor weather conditions. I did bet on Lowry two weeks ago at the Match Play because of his recent ball-striking success. While he was out of contention after the second day, he did beat Jordan Spieth — and maybe that’s a performance he can build on this week.
My first bet of Masters week was placed on Keith Mitchell (100/1) at a very intriguing number. The former University of Georgia player hasn’t played at the Masters since 2019, but he earned his way into the field this year by being in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
The highlight of Mitchell’s year was when he was in the last group in the final round of the Genesis Invitational with Rahm and Homa. He held his own and made birdie on the last hole of the tournament to secure a solo fifth-place finish and an $820,000 payout. I’m hoping the success at Riviera translates for Mitchell this week in a region of the country that he is very familiar with. I’ll also look to add a top-five or top-10 finish bet on the former Bulldog.