My clubs haven’t seen the light of day since a trip in December and offseason boozing means I probably don’t fit into my plus fours any more. We’ve had cold, wind, rain and snow in the northeast and I can feel my handicap growing with each day of swing atrophy. Golf withdrawal is killing me. Good thing I can park my fat drunk ass in front of the new big screen and watch the Masters this weekend. I don’t plan on doing any work Thursday or Friday either – gotta’ love the high speed internet at work. (It’s not just for pornography…)
I haven’t done much this work week either, unless you count the “investment research” for this weekend’s slate of opportunities. One of the many great things about Augusta is that we all know and love the course. Even if you haven’t played it, every serious golf fan can map out the bends in each fairway and the tiniest undulations in each green. Hopefully this year will bring the excitement of Tiger’s chip dying into the 16th hole or a 46-year old Jack Nicklaus burying putts down the stretch en route to Green Jacket #6. Maybe McIlroy wins the Slam, maybe we have a first time winner. Truthfully, I don’t care. I just want to make some money and with that cold, calculating and heartless view of the most storied tradition in professional sports, let’s look at the 2015 Masters:
The weather forecasts are useless. It will be hot. Real hot. Humid too. None of that matters. What does matter is the threat of serious rain. Not quite pair the animals and build a boat kind of rain but real rain. Thunderstorms are in play all week and weekend. With the storms comes wind – it could be wet and the resulting course miles longer than usual or it could be hot and dry with the ball flying forever. This is a tournament that always favors bombers – the question is whether they should be over-weighted because of weather? Probably not – no need to over-emphasize all the guys that are already prohibitive favorites.
Hit it far. Hit it right-to-left. Extra value for second shots. Know the quirks and where to land everything. Keep your head down on those putts and don’t race it past the hole. Score on the par fives. I repeat, make hay on the par fives otherwise just go home.
Short field, small cut. First timers enjoy the walk. Odds are you’ll be watching on TV Saturday and Sunday. Yes, there are rare exceptions, some even place high on the leaderboard, but this is a course that seriously favors experience. Betting the cut is an interesting proposition this year. The top 50 plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead gets to play the weekend. That has presented an opportunity the last few years because fields have been growing. The list of invitees now includes several amateurs and a cadre of players from tours most people have never heard of. Banking on MCs from the aging past champions and the representatives of the Latino-Australia-Asian-Martian-Hooters-International Muni Senior-Subsaharan Africa-Special Olympics Tour means the better players have an above average chance of making the cut. In prior years, odds were short but value prices were still available. The books have caught up. The availability of these bets is shrinking and the lines are getting ugly. Rory is -800/+500 make/miss. I don’t like either side. Mahan to miss at +180 almost looks attractive but that’s only because all the other lines are awful. An ugly chick is an ugly chick, even if it’s 4 AM and she’s the last one in the bar with all her teeth. If you learn nothing else today, stay away from ugly women. You’re welcome.
Too Much Wood
I talk about it all the time so just deal with it. Vegas lines suck. Everybody is over-valued. I like all the usual suspects:
• McIlroy — best player in the world. If he shows up, he wins. Great stage, great course, great story, great set up. Great bet, right? Guess again. I’m not paying +800.
• Spieth — best player right now. I think he has contended in everything for the last three months. He is putting the lights out from 10 to 25 feet. Plus, he can scramble, he loves pressure shots, there’s a chip on his shoulder after second place last year. And so on, and so on. I am afraid of fatigue – too many weeks in contention, lots of golf, lots of stress. +800 is just too tight.
• Bubba — intriguing at +1100 but he’s not a great value. He’s always one bad bounce away from checking out. A lip out or a bad break or someone taking his picture could set him off and I have trouble betting a guy with little upside and a lot of excuses, two prior wins notwithstanding. He’s also a prick but I promise, there is no personal bias here. (Sorry Bubba, I’m just trying to be a better person. I’ll cry in front of the camera, mention God and all will be forgiven. That’s how it works, right?)
• Day — No question he can win. I like him a lot. Just not enough at +$1350.
13.5 to 1 is not a bad return but I look to throw down a half-dozen bets here and there’s not enough juice in it after you factor in the losses. My rant takes up a lot of time so I won’t delve too deeply into the math. Just trust me on this one – if you take the top five guys to win, you’re guaranteed four losers and a best case of a short win. You’re better off betting those guys in top-5 or top-10 bets with shorter odds and looking to hit a few times. It’s a better play.
Guys are also over-valued in head-to-head. I like Jimmy Walker but I cannot justify laying 147 against Reed, 127 against Kuchar and 149 against Rose. How about when both guys are over-valued? Fowler -104 versus Holmes at -108? Too much belief in Fowler’s major performances from 2014 (he’s nowhere near that player right now) and too much credit to Holmes’s win at the SHO (the guy plays only a fade on a course that demands a draw, not to mention the typical post-win let down). And the king of overvalued is back. How can anyone take Tiger at +2000? I am a Tiger fan. I’m rooting for him and nothing would surprise me but how can you put serious action on the guy when he hasn’t finished a tournament since last July? What you do in these cases is just stay away. Ugly chicks, remember?
I looked for some guys to fade but the lines were not favorable. If you’re the kind of guy that likes the Don’t Pass Line, look to McDowell, Dufner and Leishman. I was looking for action on Leishman (his wife was recently placed in a medically induced coma – I don’t think his head will be in it this week) and there are no offers at the moment. Dufner is also going through a divorce (Amanda, what took so long? I know you weren’t waiting for a Green Card) and McDowell is too busy opening restaurants to worry about practice.
The Early Action
Now, let’s try to find some value.
Prop Winners (1 unit unless otherwise noted):
Dustin Johnson +1650
Jimmy Walker +2300
Phil Mickelson +2600 ¼ unit
Brandt Snedeker +4100 ¼ unit
Patrick Reed +4100 ¼ unit
Paul Casey +5900 ¼ unit
Billy Horschel +7400 ¼ unit
Head-to-Head, Tournament (1 unit unless otherwise noted):
Johnson over Scott -110
Mickelson over Scott +123
Mickelson over Stenson +123
Reed over Rose -103
Woods over Westwood +150
Casey over Oosthuizen +106
Casey over Matusyama +105
Poulter over Furyk +127
Cabrera over Kaymer +101
Els over C Hoffman +123
Horschel over Bradley +107
Moore over Woodland -106
Random Prop Bets (1 unit unless otherwise noted):
Low player from Continental Europe – Dubuisson +440
Woods to make the cut -115 (2 units)
Round 1 action will follow tomorrow when the lines are posted. Good luck to all and enjoy the Masters.