Best value bets at Augusta

Dave Tuley
ESPN Staff Writer
ESPN INSIDER
4/4/17

LAS VEGAS -- Sports betting is a "what have you done for me lately?" business. Bettors are greatly influenced by what they've seen most recently.
It's not that much of a surprise that world No. 1 Dustin Johnson has been bet down to an 11-2 Masters favorite at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook (after going as low as 5-1). World No. 2 Rory McIlroy is 7-1 along with 2015 Masters champ Jordan Spieth (8-1) as the only other golfers at single-digit odds. World No. 3 Jason Day is next at 15-1 and is mostly followed by past major winners as bettors certainly feel more comfortable backing those that have been there and done that.


One notable exception is rookie Jon Rahm at 20-1, though he fits the "recent form" category with one victory, two seconds and nine top 10s in just 17 PGA starts, plus taking Johnson to the final hole of match play in the World Golf Championships two weekends ago. He's being lauded as the sport's next superstar, but all the value has been sucked out of his odds in my opinion.

Last summer, I took over the golf major beat here at ESPN Chalk and promptly won with Johnson as my best value bet at 12-1 in the U.S. Open. I followed that up with Henrik Stenson at 25-1 in The Open Championship (aka British Open). Stenson was my third choice, but just like NASCAR, it's OK to have multiple win bets as long as the payoffs are high enough.

My goal in these sports in using around three players (sometimes four; often I've used only two) is to find players who are likely to outplay their odds and to hit enough winners to show an overall profit, which is what I've done so far.
Here are my top value plays for this weekend's Masters. Odds are from the Westgate SuperBook as of Tuesday morning, but as always shop around for the best number:
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Value plays

Tyrrell Hatton (50-1): If you like Rahm, then consider Hatton as a better alternative, as he's 50-1 and higher at most books. He has only played in four PGA events but has two top-five finishes and has been no worse than 17th in any tourney. He's No. 15 in the world compared to Rahm at No. 12. It's certainly no easy task winning the Masters as a first-timer, but I'll take my chances with Hatton's game at 50-1.

Rickie Fowler (20-1): When discussing the unwanted title of "best golfer to have never won a major"' Fowler is usually mentioned along with Sergio Garcia (30-1) and Lee Westwood (60-1). Of those, I like Fowler's chances best to become known for more than his creamsicle-colored outfits. He's been in contention many times in the majors and comes into this weekend in good form as he's finished in the top four in three of his last five tournaments, including a win in the Honda Classic and a third-place finish last week in the Houston Open at 16-under.


Zach Johnson (100-1): I'm going to deviate from my M.O. of looking for first-time major winners to find value. As stated earlier, I'm not going to bet someone who has won a major before if he's in the 10-1 to 20-1 range, but give me 100-1 and I'm interested. Johnson won the Masters in 2007 in inclement weather as it only took a score of +1 to win the green jacket. The advanced weather forecast calls for cold, windy and possibly rainy conditions, and that certainly raises the chances for Johnson, who is from Iowa and also scrambled to the 2015 British Open title.

Note on head-to-head matchups: I'd certainly look to take my value picks against similarly-priced opponents in matchups (again, these odds are from the Westgate as of early Tuesday morning) such as Fowler -105 vs. Jason Day, Hatton -110 vs. Brandt Snedeker and Johnson EVEN vs. J.B. Holmes. Other books may have different matchups, but the same strategy applies.
Good luck this weekend, and every weekend.