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Smart Long Shots at the Masters

April 6th, 2009 · No Comments

You know, even at 7/4, that Tiger Woods is at good bet to win the Masters. He’s won the event four times and has finished W, 3t, 2t and 2 in the last four at Augusta. He’s also won six of fourteen majors in the Hank Haney era, and he’s coming off a win at Bay Hill that featured red hot putting.

Phil Mickelson is still a good bet a 6/1 even though he stubbed his toe at the windblown Shell Houston with an MC. Earlier this year he missed the cut at the AT&T, then won the following week at Riviera. So he’s got the ability to bounce back strong. And he’s got two green jackets, so he’s proven he can win here.

As you go down the oddsmakers list, the case for each player not winning becomes stronger and stronger. The reasons include: never won a major, never even won a PGA Tour event, playing lousy of late (no momentum), a poor closer in the big ones, never done well at the Masters, frightened of Tiger, playing hurt, etc. etc.

Indeed, at some point the odds on players deep down the list become so high that they are shouting, “He’s got zero chance, don’t waste your money.” At 250/1 you might be tempted to toss a few bucks down on Greg Norman. Don’t waste your money. Ditto for Ryo Ishikawa (250/1), Mark O’Meara (500/1) or Ray Floyd (5000/1).

In between the good bets and the no way in the world’s are a host of good players with attractive odds of between 40/1 and 150/1. Some of these have a legitimate shot at winning if the stars and their games become aligned. I mentioned Zach Johnson the other day, and I’ll quickly repeat his case: short hitters can win at Augusta because he (and others) have done it; he’s won four times on tour in the last two years; he plays well in the clutch; and he finished third at the super tough Bay Hill two weeks ago.

Despite these credentials, one reader though I was dead wrong about Zach being the best of the long shots, offering up these names as better bets: Robert Karlsson (50/1), Kenny Perry (66/1), Ross Fisher (100/1), Alvaro Quiros (150/1), Martin Kaymer (100/1), Pat Perez (125/1), Miguel Angel Jimenez (150/1), Oliver Wilson (150/1).

I can see his logic. They may not have Zach’s resume, but then again they are excellent players, one and all, and they will give you more bang for your buck. Before you put your money down, ask the key questions:  Can you make a solid case for the player? Are they, at such long odds, really a better bet than a player like Zach, who is sort of a benchmark for the long odds players?

To sum this up, we have the solid picks like Tiger and Phil, and the super long shots with no shot like Norman and company. In between are the long shots that can, and sometimes do, snag that green jacket. If you’ve got a strong hunch about a player or two, you’ll kick yourself it you don’t put a pound or two on them to win.

Tags: 2009 Masters Coverage

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