Sam Eaton brings us his predictions for First Round Leader at The Masters.
The Masters - First Round Leader
Cameron Tringale almost gave us a nice boost heading into Masters week, but the Californian could only finish T2 on the opening day of the Texas Open.
The noise coming out of Georgia is that the 2021 Masters will be a real test for the players, with a dry spring meaning we will see much faster greens. Tougher conditions in the past have led to a few shock wins which include, Sergio Garcia and Danny Willett (2017 and 2016).
As always, the rough won’t punish you too much at Augusta, which means players can let rip off the tee without fearing the consequences, therefore driving distance will play a role this week. Other stats to consider when making your Masters bets this week include, shots gained approach, shots gained around the green and putting.
Putting isn’t normally a stat I tend to concentrate too hard on. However, with these greens apparently playing very fast, things could get very ugly for some of the weaker putters.
There are a lot in the media who put a huge emphasis on course history, but in the modern world this isn’t a massive factor.
2021 Masters Tips: First Round Leader Picks
Normally with first round leader markets, there’s plenty of value knocking about. However, due to a combination of a bigger event and more places on offer, these prices are less tempting.
Jordan Spieth is one of the main pull-outs when it comes to the statistical model, but I’ve not got much interest in backing him 18/1, I’m happy to let that one go if he wins. The same applies to Bryson DeChambeau. Therefore, I’ve opted to chase a few longer-shot winners.
Matthew Fitzpatrick 45/1 (7 Places)
Matthew Fitzpatrick is far from long off the tee. However, he will gain shots on the field off the tee. The Englishman has averaged 1.9 shot gained off the tee in his last five events.
With there being a premium on putting, Fitzpatrick’s stock rises. He’s gained 3.1 shots on the field in terms of putting in his last five events.
He’s also well accustomed to getting off to a very fast start, he’s recorded four top seven first round finishes in his last four rounds, which includes a lead at the WGC.
Matthew Fitzpatrick 1pt e/w 45/1 (7 Places - 1/5)
Paul Casey 40/1 (7 places)
Paul Casey will be one of my main picks in the winners market, and I can’t ignore the Englishman again in the first round leader betting. Paul Casey is among the best players in this field over the last three months in terms of approach, scrambling and shots gained around the green.
Casey isn’t a great putter but his flatstick is performing well. He’s gained on average 1.6 shots on the field in his last five starts. This surface is also his most preferred.
Paul Casey also has a solid Masters record, with three top 10 finishes since 2015.
Paul Casey 1pt e/w 40/1 (7 Places - 1/5)
Joaquin Niemann 50/1 (7 Places)
Like Paul Casey, Joaquin Niemann is another I’m likely to have a go at in the win market. I must admit, this price range was tricky, with part of me wanting to opt with the experienced Jason Day. However, I’m concerned about his putter on greens this quick. Niemann is a cracking young player, and as I’ve mentioned a few times his achievements and skills are over-looked due to Morikawa and Hovland. However, he’s got all the assets to win a Masters one day.
Niemann has picked up 2.8 shots on average on the field off the tee in his last five events, and is very long for such a nimble guy. He’s also picked up over three shots on the field in putting in his last two starts. Unlike quite a few players in this field who have similar stats, Niemann also has the approach game to back this up.
Joaquin Niemann 1pt e/w 50/1 (7 Places - 1/5)
Corey Conners 60/1 (7 Places)
Corey Conners is another who comes into the Masters in good form, despite never really being in contention in Texas, he still managed to finish 14th.
In the last three months, Corey Conners ranks among the best in this field in terms of gaining shots off the tee, and also approach. He’s also ranking well in shots gained on par 5s.
Corey Conners 1pt e/w 60/1 (7 Places - 1/5)
Jason Kokrak 80/1 (7 Places)
If you are looking for a player who has plenty of distance off the tee, a good putter and is pretty handy on par 4s between 450-500 yards, then Jason Kokrak is your man.
The big American has been in pretty solid form over the last couple of months, mainly due to his putter being hot. He’s recorded three top 10 finishes in a row in America.
Kokrak has gained on average 2.7 shots on the field in terms of putting in his last five events, 2.7 shots off the tee and 1.1 shots in approach.
Jason Kokrak 1pt e/w 50/1 (7 Places - 1/5)