As Tiger Woods sits at home, the rest of the PGA’s best-of-the-best prepare for the 2014 Masters beginning on Thursday, and the field is wide open with the 14-time major champion recuperating from back surgery.
Yes, the 38-year-old Woods hasn’t claimed a major in six years and news has instead turned to when his drought will end rather than when or if he will break Jack Nicklaus’s long-standing record of 18 majors.
However, Woods still strikes fear into the heart of players in every tournament he enters and if he had played this year at Augusta, a place he’s won four times before and where he owns the all-time stroke low, he’d certainly be the favorite ahead of fellow stars in defending champion Adam Scott and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
The threat of Woods rediscovering his early 2000s form has been temporarily lifted, and thus opens the door for the entire field.
Scott and McIlroy are Las Vegas’s top picks to tame the Masters at 10/1, with three-time winner Phil Mickelson next up at 12/1, Jason Day at 14/1, Sergio Gargia at 16/1 and Matt Kuchar at 18/1, according to betting Web site Bovada.lv. The line moved a bit in the last week, when McIlroy was initially the outright favorite to wear his first green jacket at 7/1.
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The 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship winner, McIlroy saw himself drop from Masters contention last year after a third round marred by double-bogeys on the 11th hole, the most treacherous and longest par four at Augusta measuring 505 yards, and the 15th hole, the longest on the back nine.
Scott, who bested Argentinean Angel Cabrera in a two-hole playoff last year for his first Masters and major win, has taken 10 total PGA events in his career and has finished in the top five three times in five events played this season. Last year, he finished nine-under par, brushing off three straight bogeys from the third to fifth holes in the second round with exceptional play in the back nine, where he misfired only once with one bogey during the entire tournament.
After Scott and McIlroy, Mickelson is the only other favorite to have won a major let alone a Masters, though everyone has at least placed in the top five at Magnolia Lane. Day was third in 2011, Garcia tied for fourth a decade ago when Mickelson sewed up his first Masters victory and Kuchar came up two strokes shy of champ Bubba Watson in a tie for third place back in 2012.
Whether favored or not, hopefuls will need their final score to hover around 280 strokes for a chance at donning the green jacket. Since the tournament began in 1934, 32 players have totaled 279 strokes or lower in order to win the Masters. Also in the last five years it’s been a necessary score with Scott’s 279 strokes last year the high, and Mickelson’s 272 strokes in 2010 the low.
Bovada has set the odds for a final score of 274 or lower at 11/8, between 275 and 278 at 7/4 and 279 and over at 9/4.
Other prop bets include the likelihood of a hole-in-one, as well as an albatross, the name given to when a player scores a three under par on a hole. The chances anyone knocks in a hole-in-one are slim at 10/13, while the albatross appears more attainable at 12/1.
Tickets are sold out but single-day, two-day and four-day badges are available through several outlets. Through VividSeats.com, a one-day badge can run from $267 to upwards of $3,500 for the first round. However, it makes a huge price jump to $4,400 for the final round on Sunday. The two-day badge costs roughly $4,000, and escalates to nearly $7,800.
Dates: First round starts Thursday, April 10 and last until Sunday, April 13