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Bolton: Understanding trends, respecting history at world’s most predictive tournament

7 Min Read

Golfbet News


    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    I’ve always said that, if every tournament played out like the Masters, I probably wouldn’t have a job. On the list of the predictable, it’s at the top, and you don’t need me for that. As a result, and selfishly, it’s one of those weeks that always feels like it’s going to set up for me to be more of a fan than a confidant.

    Every once in a while, however, something strange happens, as it did on Tuesday during Ludvig Åberg’s meeting with the media at Augusta National Golf Club. Here’s the exchange:

    QUESTION: “One of the stats that is thrown around a lot at the Masters is the fact that none of the first-timers have won since 1979 when Fuzzy [Zoeller] did it. Do you pay any attention to stats like that?”

    ÅBERG: “I actually didn't know that stat up until just now, so I guess not. But, yeah, I mean, I think that speaks to the difficulty of the golf course and the difficulty of some of the things that you might get thrown at you in the tournament. But I can't really do a whole lot about that.”

    Credit Åberg for his honesty, and you don’t know until you know, but to acknowledge learning what we already did while at that podium still is a “Huh?!” moment about the Masters.

    Åberg is one of 20 debutants in the field, so the beauty of this realization is that, in his preparation to win a major in his major debut, he wasn’t saddled with even an ounce of the weight of that history, and he made it clear that he doesn’t care about it now.

    That said, and in addition to a critical detail concerning his health as the Power Rankings Wild Card below, the advice hasn’t changed. Respect history and swerve around first-timers in your bank of units dedicated to outrights.


    The forecast since my first review of it in Monday’s Power Rankings has been reinforced in time.

    Thursday morning will not be any fun. Wind, rain and the possibility of storms will be the story. If there was a betting prop for a delay, the odds would be pretty short.

    After the worst of it passes, it’ll stay gusty. At Augusta National, which is decently protected because of its terrain, it means that swirls will be even more confounding. The weekend is measurably better for scoring by comparison with only occasional pushes. Sunday easily will be the warmest day of the tournament.

    The takeaway is simple. Even if there’s a lengthy delay, do not expect any bogey-free scores in the first round. If there’s a score in the 60s, it’ll be likely occur because of the timing of when it’s posted, which could emerge from a late group if any don’t finish until Friday morning when conditions improve. So, if you shop for first-round leaders, consider focusing on the bottom of the tee sheet for your horse.

    Power Rankings Wild Card

    Ludvig Åberg (+300 = Miss the Cut) … The 24-year-old Swede finished the Valero Texas Open with a 1-over 73, his highest score on the easiest day en route to a T14. He also played through a sore knee that he acknowledged to Swedish-language media on Monday, adding that it has flared up before and he doesn’t know why. It limited him to chipping and putting on Monday at Augusta National, but he was scheduled to play nine holes after his presser on Tuesday. He decided against participating in the Par 3 Contest, perhaps entirely to rest the leg.

    It’s important to note that he was at Augusta National the week before Valero, so it’s not like he’s cramming for his first exam, but it’s also fair to wonder if he’d play at all if it the Masters wasn’t a major. That he’s been transparent could be an indication that it’s no big deal. Not all professional athletes are uncomfortable in disclosing even the slightest thing that could attract any analysis, criticism and the like, but he hasn’t been a professional athlete for very long, so the jury is still out on how this dynamic relates to him.

    The verdict here is one of caution. If Augusta National didn’t generate as many uneven lies as it does, perhaps my expectation would be higher. However, given that he’s playing in his first Masters and hasn’t been challenged to hit any shots that matter, and now he’s dealing with a physical issue that might introduce uncommon thoughts or even doubt as it concerns his swing, the course could be relentless no matter his pedigree, talent and everything else that he’s showcased since splashing onto the scene last year.

    Other notables

    Tiger Woods (-135 = Miss the Cut) … I’m genuinely surprised that there’s a market for this bet, but it also feels like a loss leader, and that’s OK because casual bettors won’t be leaning into it, anyway. They want to see him set the all-time record of 24 consecutive cuts made in the tournament. A better prop would be a yes-no option for him completing 36 holes. Given the pure physical challenge of walking Augusta National, it’d seem like even money as a line would be appropriate.

    Viktor Hovland (+275 = Miss the Cut) … He hasn’t whiffed since the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open, he’s 4-for-4 at the Masters and the cut is favorable for all headliners to play the weekend, but the 2023 FedExCup champion arrives in a bit of disarray as it concerns his full swings. The short story is that every professional golfer experiences a moment when things aren’t coming as naturally or comfortably as what got them there. He’s in that cloud now. His statistics are reflective of only five starts but they’re not impressive, especially his go-to weapons from tee to green. The ultimate irony is if his improved touch around the green bails him out.

    Min Woo Lee … Acknowledged on Tuesday that he broke the ring finger on his right hand on March 30. It occurred when he dropped a dumbbell on it. He started hitting drivers on April 5, and has been amazed at how rapidly it’s seemed to be healing, but he also has been battling the flu – so, as the kids say, it’s been a lot. The 25-year-old Aussie is in his third start but angles in as a contrarian due to the maladies. The bet would be to miss the cut, but he’s not among the plethora of options for that result at BetMGM, and that’s understandable.


    NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore.

    • PARLAY: Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Reed (+140 = All to Make the Cut)
    • PARLAY: Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele (+400 = Both Finish Inside the Top 10)
    • PARLAY: Shane Lowry and Sahith Theegala (+375 = Both Finish Inside the Top 20)
    • PARLAY: Corey Conners, Brian Harman and Patrick Reed (+170 = All Finish Inside the Top 40)
    • Rickie Fowler (+130 = Miss the Cut)
    • Zach Johnson (+220 = Top 40)
    • Christo Lamprecht (+150 = Top Amateur)
    • Thorbjørn Olesen (+600 = Top Scandinavian)

    Returning to competition

    Danny Willett … The 2016 Masters champion has done everything he can not to miss this one. He had surgery for a tear in his left shoulder last September and hasn’t competed anywhere since. Depending on how he’s feeling before his tee time in Group 3 (of 30), he still might be able to give it a go, but even if he does, let him go it alone. The Englishman is fully exempt on the PGA TOUR through this season, so he’d be in position for a medical extension in 2025, if necessary. It’s important to note that there are no alternates for the Masters, so qualifiers aren’t “taking spots from others.” Not that guilt over something like that in another situation ever has merit, but it’s never a thought for everyone who’s eligible for the Masters.

    Notable WDs

    Bernhard Langer … Every winner of the Masters is rewarded with a lifetime exemption into the tournament, so many former champions technically qualify under the category, “Did Not Play.” The difference concerning the two-time winner from Germany is that the 2024 edition was going to be his last. And then he tore his left Achilles tendon playing pickleball earlier this year. He had surgery for it a little over two months ago. After last year’s Masters, the 66-year-old won his 46th tournament on the PGA TOUR Champions to set the circuit’s all-time high for career victories. It was the U.S. Senior Open Championship, so he’s exempt into the U.S. Open in June. If he’s able, it’ll be his 21st start in that major and first since 2005.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.

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