The 2011 US Masters is the most open tournament in living memory with no obvious favourite -ok so Phil Mickelson played well in Houston, but winning the week before is usually the kiss of death at Augusta. The last person to do it was, erm, Phil Mickelson...
Here's all the best spreads from the major firms, Extrabet, Sporting Index and Spreadex:
72 Hole Match Bets
Mickelson/Woods -This one isn't rocket science -Phil is peaking at the right time following a great win in Houston, whereas Tiger stands on the tee and doesn't know where it's going! Tiger also seems to have lost his magic touch from inside ten feet on the greens and thats vital on the tour's slickest greens at Augusta. Buy Mickelson/Woods 0.5-2 (Spreadex)
Schwartzel/Choi -We think that Choi's T4 at last year's Masters is a blip on an otherwise downwards spiral for the South Korean -whereas Schwartzel is definitely on the up. Top thirty finishes in all four majors last year is great form and the course will suit the South African's game.
Buy Schwartzel/Choi -0.75 - 0.75 (Sporting Index)
Watney/Kaymer -The stats speak for themselves in this selection. Both players have played there for the last three years, with Watney being 12 under par and Kaymer 12 over par. In fact, the German has never shot under par at Azalea Drive. So whilst Watney has never been out of the Top 20, Kaymer has never even made the cut!
Buy Watney/Kaymer 0-1.5 (Spreadex)
Wire To Wire Leaderboard -Sporting Index (Various points awarded -see Spin website)
The value in this market is to find those players that start well but don't always have the stamina or nerve to finish the job. We've found three players who fit the bill and are at the lower end of the market -so provide good value for us. Kevin Na (1-3) has the ability to go very low, whereas Y.E. Yang (3-5) tends to creep up on the field by surprise. Bill Haas (3-5) has been one of this season's breakout players and could well find Augusta to his liking. All of them are excellent value and worth a look.
Buy Na 1-3, Yang 3-5, Haas 3-5 -All prices available on Sporting Index
'80 Index' Leaderboard 80-60-40-30-25-20-15-10-5
Whilst he has been fairly quiet this season on the US Tour, Dustin Johnson could burst into life at any time! His prodigious length and great putting touch saw him contend in all four majors last year. This will be his third time at Augusta and could well see him break into the top ten.
Buy Dustin Johnson 5-7 (Extrabet.com)
Round 1 Leaderboard 100-70-50-40-30-25-20-15-10-5
There often seems to be an advantage for early starters on the first day and with this in mind, we like the look of these players to steal a march on the field and enjoy the lack of wind and unspiked greens:
Nick Watney (9-12 ), Dustin Johnson (7-9), Kevin Na (2-3) Sporting Index
All 3 players are out before 8.45am and we shall be investing in all these players and hoping that conditions worsen throughout the day.
15th Hole Specials (200-220) "Baptism Of Fire" (Sporting Index)
15th hole performance Index Par 5, 530 yards 1pt per birdie, 10 pts per eagle
2009 saw 9 eagles and 135 birdies at this hole-which would have added up to an impressive 225 points, last year it yielded 15 eagles and 109 birdies for 259 points! So last year's 30 yard lengthening of the hole did nothing to guard it and with the likes of Dustin Johson, Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland in the field this week it could be a free for all... This will finish close to 250 yet again. Buy @ 220
So there are our thoughts for the first round of this year's Masters -but we will be back after each round to update and run the rule over the various markets. So keep coming back each day to see the biggest shifts in the spreads...
Trading Talk – Masters Preview
Phil Mickelson has done nothing on of note on a golf course since he last slipped into the Green Jacket 12 months ago. That was until his sensational victory in the final tournament before the Masters, at the Shell Houston Open. Punters weighing up their spread betting decisions ahead of the year's first major will note that not only has this catapulted Lefty into third in the World Rankings, above his rival Tiger Woods for the first time since 1997, but also to the top of the tree in Sporting Index's Maximum Field Finishing Positions at 17-20, making Tiger (22-25) second favourite on the spread. Those selling Mickelson's finishing position will be all too aware of the similarities between the Redstone course – the location of Mickelson's return to the highest level of the podium – and Augusta, but those buying his finishing position, or indeed selling his Leaderboard Index spread, at 24, will hope that this result is simply a freak in an otherwise ordinary year for the three-time Masters winner.
Last year's nearly man, Lee Westwood, is the leading hope for the Europeans according to his finishing position spread of 26-29, ahead of World Number One, Martin Kaymer and their Ryder Cup colleague Luke Donald (both 29-32). These three also head Sporting Index's Top European Index (50-30-20-10). Those who witnessed Scotsman Martin Laird's PGA Tour triumph at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a fortnight ago will rush to buy his index spread at 6, while strong showings from Justin Rose and Padraig Harrington in their respective build ups to the Masters will also encourage buyers.
Sporting Index have hooked into the excitement of the occasion with a number of imaginatively titled group performance spreads where 25 points are awarded for any player finishing in the top 10 with a 25 point bonus if a player in the group wins the tournament. 'The Tweets' hotshots groups serial Twitterers Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy, with a spread of 26-30pts, exactly the same as the market quote for the 'Crash, Bang, Wallop!' group of American big hitters Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Antony Kim and Nick Watney.
For those spread bettors with a negatively skewed view of the world, Sporting Index offer a number of 'coldshot' spreads among their US Masters golf specials, where a group of four players are rewarded 25 points each for missing the cut, with a 50 point bonus should all four miss. Those considering a spread bet on the 'No Jacket Required' coldshot group of Mark O'Meara, Larry Mize, Sandy Lyle and Tom Watson might prefer to sell at 95 considering all have tamed the course in the past.