US Masters Golf Betting

2012 Masters Preview

As each year’s first major championship, the Masters is always golf’s most anticipated tournament. It helps that the host site, Augusta National Golf Club, is one of the game’s most beautiful and history-rich venues.

The Masters is different from golf’s other majors (the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship) in many ways. For starters, it’s the only one contested on the same course every year. It also has the smallest field, which is further diluted by the presence of aging former champions who may play the Masters until age 65.

Then there’s the course itself. Augusta National has always been a haven for long hitters thanks to its sheer length (now 7,445 yards) and relatively short par 5s, which give bombers a built-in advantage. Jack Nicklaus, one of history’s longest drivers, won a record six Masters titles, while Tiger Woods has four.

It also helps to hit very high iron shots to hold Augusta’s firm, undulating greens – one reason low-ball hitters like Lee Trevino have fared poorly here over the years. Likewise, those massively sloped, incredibly fast surfaces eliminate any golfer lacking a deft short-game touch and velvety putting stroke.

Long story short, the Masters favors a small group of players whose skill sets match the course’s precise demands. Thus, every era produces a batch of superstars who dominate at Augusta (Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Ballesteros, Faldo, Woods, Mickelson et al). Even so, recent years have seen several unexpected winners, including Mike Weir (2003), Zach Johnson (2007), Trevor Immelman (2008) and Charl Schwartzel (2011)

Here’s a breakdown of the top players slated to compete in the 2012 Masters:

Horses for the Course

Tiger Woods: Four-time winner itching for 15th major title
Phil Mickelson: Has three victories, sterling record at Augusta

Recent Winners

Charl Schwartzel: Defending champ shows staying power
Trevor Immelman: Playing better with hand injury healed
Angel Cabrera: Seems to catch fire in majors
Zach Johnson: If wedges are on, he’s got a chance
Vijay Singh: Augusta brings out the best in aging champs

Close but No Green Jacket… Yet

Lee Westwood: Can he finally close deal in a major?
Luke Donald: Game’s best putter never out of the picture
Jason Day: Has every ingredient needed at Augusta
Ernie Els: Time running out for re-dedicated star
Rory McIlroy: Hungry for redemption after 2011 meltdown
K.J. Choi: Quietly contends often at Augusta
Adam Scott: Carries good feelings of last year’s T2
Anthony Kim: Struggling to find game in early 2012
Brandt Snedeker: Wouldn’t be shocking if he dons green jacket

Have the Game to Tame Augusta

Nick Watney: Seems destined to win here; is this the year?
Bubba Watson: Has length, creativity to excel
Dustin Johnson: No reason he shouldn’t win a Masters or two
Gary Woodland: Extreme length makes him a factor
Sergio Garcia: Resurgence would be complete with Masters win
Martin Kaymer: Has a major under belt, skills to spare
Kyle Stanley: Big hitter coming into his own
Alvaro Quiros: Enormously long off tee — enough said
Geoff Ogilvy: Has all the tools; what about desire?
Rickie Fowler: Only a matter of time until he breaks through
Ryo Ishikawa: Immense talent seems well-suited to course

Always a Threat

Steve Stricker: Never count out great putter
Jim Furyk: Mixed record at Augusta in 14 starts
Justin Rose: Could make good darkhorse pick
Paul Casey: If he’s healthy, figures to be a factor
Ian Poulter: Underrated ballstriker, fearless competitor
Matt Kuchar: Few players are more consistent
Bill Haas: Rounding into long-predicted form
Webb Simpson: Rising star could cement status at Masters
Keegan Bradley: See Simpson, Webb
Hunter Mahan: Too often overlooked, could sneak onto leaderboard
Aaron Baddeley: Short-game prowess his best weapon
Retief Goosen: Playing better after protracted slump
Lucas Glover: Like a box of chocolates – just never know
Graeme McDowell: Game rounding back into form
Luis Oosthuizen: 2010 Open champ another solid darkhorse
Y.E. Yang: No fear in this little guy
Rory Sabbatini: 2nd in 2007 Masters, ugly record otherwise
Padraig Harrington: Returning to prominence after rough couple years
Fred Couples: Uncanny knack for contending at Augusta
Mark Wilson: May be game’s most underrated player

Don’t Be Surprised

Thomas Bjorn: Resurrected career in 2011
Ryan Moore: Has around-the-greens moxie to contend
Jason Dufner: Journeyman becoming a consistent threat
Edoardo Molinari: Europeans know how good he is
Francesco Molinari: Carbon copy of brother Edoardo
Sean O’Hair: Looks like he’s back on the upswing
Chez Reavie: Finished 2011 season on high note
Ross Fisher: Solid performer a bit off in early 2012
Martin Laird: Scot hits it long — big plus at Augusta
Patrick Cantlay (amateur): Amazed in 2011 pro events
Stewart Cink: If scores are high, he’s got a chance
Jonathan Byrd: Often spotted lurking on leaderboards
Charles Howell III: Augusta kid in field for first time since 2008
Henrik Stenson: Affable Swede only so-so in past Masters
Brendan Steele: Coming off fine rookie season
Bo Van Pelt: Hits it a ton, gaining more confidence
Johnson Wagner: Emerging as consistent threat in 2012


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