The Masters In-Tournament Picks: It's Dustin Johnson's Time
The Masters In-Tournament Picks: It's Dustin Johnson's Time
- Current Leader: Scottie Scheffler (-8)
- Course: Augusta National
- Round 3 Start Time: 10:20 AM ET
- Purse: $11,500,000
The Masters In-Tournament Picks
We've officially reached the halfway point of the 2022 Masters, and there's been no shortage of fireworks, chaos, carnage, and a triumphant return from the greatest golfer of all time. While we can get to Tiger at some point, Scottie Scheffler deserves the headline. The newly minted number one player in the world shot a five-under par 67 in blustery conditions to post a total of eight-under par heading into the weekend. Scheffler is five shots clear of Sungjae Im, Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry, and our defending champion, Hideki Matsuyama. The three-time PGA Tour winner looked completely in control from start to finish, and as the number one tee to green player in the field through two rounds, it's hard to say that his success thus far is unsustainable. Yes, there's a chance that the putter cools down, but he has also created enough of a cushion where if he continues to strike the ball the way he has, he likely wins this tournament putting to field average the rest of the way home. Scheffler can be found as high as +115 via the OddsChecker Golf Grid.
I should preface this by clearly stating that the odds are in Scheffler's favor. Four of the previous five players with a five shot lead at the Masters through 36 holes went on to win. Harry Cooper in 1936 was the lone exception. The last player to have a five shot lead at any men's major through 36 holes and not go on to win was Bobby Clampett at the 1982 Open Championship. The only other two times a player has blown this large of a margin came in 1920 and 1936. Essentially, I don't fault anyone for being of the belief that Scheffler will run away with this thing. History would certainly back up that stance.
Yet with that being said, there's a zero percent chance I can write up Scheffler at his current number. If having to choose between Scheffler and the field, I would still take the field. Scheffler continues to prove doubters wrong week after week. Many were shocked when he backed up his Waste Management Open victory with an Arnold Palmer Invitational win just a few weeks later. He was not a popular pick to win the WGC Match Play either, and we know how that turned out. The 25-year-old was doubted once again this week at Augusta, the argument for fading him is getting more challenging by the second, but I'll still try.
I'm not going to take the angle that the moment might be too big for him. He took down the number one player in the world in Sunday Singles at the Ryder Cup, defeated Patrick Cantlay in a playoff at the Waste Management, took down a stout field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and bested Dustin Johnson, amongst others, at the WGC Match Play Championship. Yet in all of those cases, I would argue that Scheffler was the underdog and devoid of this type of pressure. This was certainly the case at the Ryder Cup, and even if Scheffler had played poorly all week, the United States team still likely would have triumphed by a healthy margin. Heading into the weekend at the next three tournaments, Scheffler was far from the player with the target on his back. The Arnold Palmer always felt like Viktor Hovland's tournament to lose, and Scheffler was even still an underdog against Johnson in their Sunday morning semi-finals match in Austin.
My only point is, I understand that it's hard to call Scheffler anything other than a prolific winner at this point, but this is still uncharted territory. The University of Texas standout has had some strong performances in majors before, but he's never had a real chance to win over the weekend, let alone been in the driver's seat.
Finally, let's not act like five stroke leads are a foregone conclusion. Already this season, Seamus Power led by five heading into the weekend at Pebble Beach and was completely irrelevant by Saturday afternoon. Daniel Berger led by five with only one round to play at the Honda Classic, and we remember how that turned out. Russell Henley led by five with only nine holes to play, and he couldn't even hang on. Are we really going to act like it's inconceivable that chaos ensues on a firm and windy golf course this weekend?
As we stand on Friday evening, my pick to win the Masters would be Dustin Johnson. The two-time major champion sits at two-under par, so he certainly has his work cut out for him over the next two days. Johnson grinded out a one-over par 73 today, and I would be lying if I said it looked like he had his best stuff. The 24-time PGA Tour winner ranked 39th in strokes gained off the tee and 57th in strokes gained approach on Friday. He was only able to piece the round together by way of an immaculate short game. With less proven players, I would normally be concerned by this. Yet with Johnson, I almost feel as if he got the bad one out of his system. On Thursday, he nearly led the field in approach, and prior to that, he made it to the semi-finals at the WGC Match Play and tied the course record at the PLAYERS Championship. Point being, I have no concerns about Johnson's form.
I strongly considered Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas for this spot, who I both have pre-tournament wagers on. I felt strongly about Lowry and Thomas prior to the start of the week, and I remain bullish at the halfway point. My only concern with both Lowry and Thomas is that both produced what felt like ceiling performances today. Thomas tied Friday's low round with a 67, and Lowry even claimed after his 68 that it was one of the best rounds of his life. We see it every week, but it's incredibly difficult to follow up an elite round with another one the next day. I think that both Lowry and Thomas will remain relevant heading into Sunday, but I still prefer Johnson. Dustin Johnson can be found as high as 13/1 on FanDuel SportsBook via the OddsChecker golf grid.
Finally, I cannot help but suggest a sprinkle on another pre-tournament wager of mine, Patrick Cantlay. I was all ready for Cantlay to be the primary feature of this column midway through today's rounds, but bogeys on three of his final five holes sent him 15 spots down the leaderboard. The six-time PGA Tour winner sits at one-over par, nine shots behind Scheffler.
One of two things needs to happen for Cantlay to have a real chance here. Scheffler either needs to shoot a 75, or Cantlay needs to shoot a 67. We've learned that both scores are certainly out there, and I would imagine that tomorrow plays about as difficult as it did today. There is slightly less wind in the forecast, but greens are continuing to firm up. Point being, Augusta remains a highly variable golf course. There was an 18 stroke difference between the best player in the field and the worst today. Three Top-25 players failed to break 77 today alone, so it's not just the amateurs and the seniors capable of imploding. Ultimately, 75/1 is just a good number on a player who still owns the best putting performance of the past decade, which un-coincidentally also came on Bent-grass greens. Four of Cantlay's six wins have come on Bent-grass, and two of them came at Muirfield Village, a course that Jack Nicklaus will be the first to tell you is his rendition of Augusta.
Less than three months ago, we were talking about Cantlay as potentially the best player in the world. Now after poor finishes at two of the most variable tournaments of the year, the PLAYERS and the Match Play, he's an after-thought. I refuse to be a prisoner of the moment on this one. Cantlay is still a Top-five player in the world, and he's worth a glance at an inflated number. For the record, Cantlay can be found as low as 40/1 at other sportsbooks, so it's clear that the 75 is off market. I'll take my chances with two of the best players in the world at fair numbers, and hope that Scheffler gives us something to sweat come Sunday afternoon.
The Masters Picks
- Dustin Johnson +1300 via FanDuel Sportsbook (Bet $100 to Win $1,300)
- Patrick Cantlay +7500 via FanDuel Sportsbook (Bet $100 to Win, $7,500)
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.