Niall Lyons has three picks for the first day at The Masters 2022, including two three-ball winners and Viktor Hovland for first round leader.
The Masters First Round Leader
Viktor Hovland Round 1 Leader
Heavy rain arrived at Augusta on Tuesday and more is expected before round one arrives before a more settled outlook over the weekend. The course should dry out significantly on Saturday and Sunday to ensure a stern test around the greens, but up until then the chance to score heavily will be on Thursday and maybe Friday, wind dependant.
It is, for this reason, I think it may pay to play Viktor Hovland early on. With three wins worldwide in just over four months the Norwegian is one of the most in-form players in the field, yet comes in relatively quietly compared to some others around him at the same price. This is simply because of his short game. He ranks stone last on tour in SG around the green this season and it is for that reason it is very difficult to see him land the prize here.
That being said, a soft golf course will give him more of an opportunity to score and although I'd have preferred him to have an early tee time I think it's worth the gamble that he plays well early on in this event and then fades out of contention when the test gets a lot tougher over the weekend with firmer fairways and greens.
21st and 32nd in two appearances here he certainly hasn't disgraced himself despite his troubles around the greens but he is yet to shoot a score in the 60s. I think he is ready to do it here and with warmer conditions in the afternoon and a tendency for any breeze to die late on in the evening at Augusta.
1pt WIN V.Hovland 28/1 First Round Leader
Stewart Cink to win Round 1 three-ball
One of the better three ball bets on day one looks to be Stewart Cink. Cink is making his 20th appearance around Augusta and history tells us experience counts for a lot around here. Just look at Bernhard Langer. Cink has 12 top 30 finishes in that time including 10th in 2006 and third in 2008. Last year he finished a very credible 12th. And last time out at the Valspar he finished tied seventh in a fine display which was his best result this season to date.
Brian Harman finished fifth at the Valspar and then was beaten by an out of form golfer in Webb Simpson at the Match Play. Harman has only three efforts around Augusta with his best finish coming last year finishing 12th. Harry Higgs is a debutant here and struggled with his long game in Texas and it is difficult to see him turn that around on his first appearance at the Masters. At 15/8 Cink looks a solid option to get day one off to a good start.
2pts S.Cink to win three ball 15/8
Tommy Fleetwood to win Round 1 three-ball
Kevin Kisner has talked about his struggles around Augusta and looks worth taking on his first-round three-ball. The American once again showed how lethal he can be around the right track by going all the way in the Matchplay once again but Augusta is a polar opposite to that course in Austin.
Kisner has talked publicly about his lack of length really hurting him around Augusta and needing to flush four irons into plenty of greens to manage any respectable score. This has been evident in his result with only twice inside the top 30 in six tries, and two missed cuts the last two years.
Fleetwood and Berger have similar records around here but my preference at the price would be to take Fleetwood. He has played respectable stuff in Florida finishing 20th at Bayhill, 22nd at Sawgrass, and 16th at Copperhead.
His long game is in good nick and it wouldn't surprise me should he be a springer in the pack and contend this over the weekend. Berger has been the better golfer this season but in a group where all three will not be suited by the early rain, the 9/5 about Fleetwood looks the better option.
1pt T.Fleetwood to win three ball 9/5