Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, April 7
Cutoff time for this event is April 8 at 8:00 AM EST.
Streaming Subscribers: Watch on Sky Sports Golf Channel in the UK Sports group or the Sky Sports Group beginning at 7:45 AM EST on Thursday and every day thereafter.
If you’re thinking that it’s barely been a matter of weeks since we were last in Georgia then you’d be right, sort of. The decimation of the schedule in 2020 saw The Masters moved to November, where Dustin Johnson took advantage of some agreeable conditions to post the lowest score in the tournament’s history. While the November edition of the tournament, won by Dustin Johnson at -20, revealed a soft and easy golf course that was there for the taking, this more traditional April timeslot should ensure Augusta shows its teeth once more.
In other words, it seems highly unlikely that Augusta will relent so easily this week, with red hot temperatures leading into the tournament enabling course officials to get the track running as fast as ever. Even the threat of some rain during the course of the week is abated by that infamous sub-air drainage system. For those not in the know, Augusta features sweeping tree lined, doglegging fairways that are protected not so much by rough but by pine straw, which isn’t too bad to play from when dry.
However, the Bentgrass greens run at around 13.5 on the stimp – that’s as fast as you are likely to see anywhere, and these are protected by shaved run-off areas that can leave devilish up-and-downs for those unfortunate not to hold the surface. With some almighty hills and elevation changes, The Masters is a physical battle as much as a mental one, and whoever is presented the green jacket by DJ come Sunday evening will have certainly earned it.
A relatively fair weather forecast sets the scene for a fantastic week at Augusta National, and while one of the favorites with the bookmakers is likely to prevail, that’s not to say we can’t have a few darts at the outsiders
The 2021 Masters Field & Preview
As it stands, there will be 88 players teeing it up this week at The Masters. As ever, at least 20 of them don’t have a chance in hell of slipping into the Green Jacket, so the likes of Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Larry Mize can just enjoy a leisurely couple of rounds at the famous course. At the other end of the spectrum, all of the big guns are here, as Dustin Johnson looks to defend the trophy he won in November.
From the minute the players drive down Magnolia Lane, they will feel the weight of history on their shoulders – this is still golf’s greatest tournament, and no mistake. From the gorgeous flowers and botanical brilliance comes the occasional brutality of the golf course itself – designed by Bobby Jones and Alister McKenzie way back in 1933. Naturally, it has been tweaked over the years to combat the changes that the sport has seen, but on the whole, their original vision remains undiminished.
There are so many defenses to Augusta, it’s difficult to know where to begin. At 7,475 yards for its Par 72, the layout is a decent length and remember that the grass grows in the direction of the trees laterally across the fairway – thus, it plays even longer. There are significant hills, drops and elevation changes, while the thick tree lines and some severe doglegs require strategy and placement of the highest order. Water and sand are less of a concern – although those eyeing up the dangerous 12th hole might question that, although the super-fast Bentgrass greens – with their devilish run-off areas – leave some nerve-jangling rescue chips back on to the putting surface for those that miss out.
It’s an incredible golf course, and one that befuddles players nearly a century after its original build. Of course, it’s a fitting venue for the sport’s greatest prize.
What We’re Looking For:
The criteria for a November Masters were far removed from what we are looking for in April. The hot weather leading into the event ensures that Augusta will play fast and hard, and even if the rain does come, the course’s famed sub-air systems should take care of that. The traditionally fast greens will certainly be the key consideration this week.
We’re looking for a drawer of the ball – there is a clear edge for those who can shape the ball from right to left, and the ideal candidate will hit their approaches in nice and high for a smooth landing. The forecasted wind isn’t set to be all that dramatic, so dropping bombs from above will be key.
Avoid some of the nasty chips and scrambles at all costs, and make hay on the Par 5s – some things at Augusta never change regardless of the month of the year, and remember that Augusta is a young man’s golf course – there really aren’t many Masters champions crowned after they pass 40. We should also mention the psychological pressures of winning The Masters – the fear and the excitement of edging towards the Green Jacket. Make sure that any potential winners you choose (or draft) have the mettle to cope with the possibility of changing their life forever.
To Win Outright: These are played at BET365 because of their cashout option.
Webb Simpson 35-1
Given his natural game, it seems amazing that it took Webb Simpson so long to get to grips with Augusta National, but after a fallow period at the venue, he has since banked consecutive top-10s and with good reasons. Without a weakness through the bag, Simpson is an excellent iron player and even when he misses the greens he has the class to get up and down more often than not. His high ball flight allows him to plonk the ball down from a great height on these slick greens, and while he isn’t the longest off the tee, that doesn’t always have to be an impediment at Augusta when your long irons are so good. Likely to be a low percentage pick this week given a perceived lack of form, Simpson could repay his backers in plentiful fashion. Some of his key stats include that he ranks 6th ON TOUR in Scoring Average, 8th in SG: Around-the-Green and 13th in SG: Putting. Those are some pretty nifty marks for this track (Risking 0.3 units to win 10.5 units).
Matt Fitzpatrick 45-1
In his last five trips to Augusta, Matt Fitzpatrick has not missed a cut and has a T7 and T21 to his name. Right now, Fitz is playing golf the likes of which he has rarely delivered in the past. The Englishman simply has no weaknesses and with three top-10s and a T11 in his last four stroke-play starts, he heads to Georgia in red-hot form. Indeed, it’s hard to make a case against him, and while we are yet to see Fitzpatrick contest a major, he certainly has the game to take care of business. He ranks 25th ON TOUR in SG: Putting, 27th in SG: Tee-to-Green and 33rd in Birdie Average (Risking 0.2 units to win 9 units).
Corey Conners 80-1
There are plenty of golf people smarter than us who truly believe that Corey Conners has the game to go to the very top of the sport, and that Augusta might become a happy hunting ground for him. Curiously, the Canadian is better at putting from long range than close up, but even so, his tee-to-green game is outstanding and will surely reward him many-fold in the years to come. T10 here in November, Conners is a fantastic shot-shaper who won’t be concerned by the faster conditions this week (Risking 0.2 units to win 16).
Will Zalatoris 80-1
Will Zalatoris probably won’t win but I would be sick if he did and we missed him. The young phenom is one of the leaders in "Strokes Gained: Total" and has played solid golf all season long. He's also top 20 in "Driving Distance," which is big here. The issue is experience. Like Collin Morikawa last year, no matter how well you are playing, this course takes some learning to beat. Whether he’s ‘ready’ to win on the PGA TOUR yet remains to be seen, but one thing that is for sure is that Will Zalatoris can hang with the big boys. He’s delivered top-10s at the U.S. Open and the Farmers Insurance Open, plus top-20s at the Phoenix Open and the Genesis, and they all came in excellent company too. While it is a leap into the unknown of sorts with a player unheralded at this course, Zalatoris did win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020 and so he has the profile of a champion. At the very least, throw a couple of bucks on him because he’s on the verge of a massive splash (Risking 0.2 units to win 16).
Head-to-head Matchups for the Masters 2021
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Jordan Spieth -106 over Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is overpriced while sitting 12th in the OWGR. He’s sixth by the betting odds and fifth by DFS salary. Of course Rory can go off at any time but on a really fast track and in poor form, we’re going to trust that he’s a decent fade. Rory also changed swing coaches amid a stretch of play that has seen him miss the cut in two of his last three non-WGC events. Jordan Spieth is back. Who has got it wrong this week – the sportsbooks or Fantasy Sites? Always go with the sportsbooks getting it right. The bookies make Jordan Spieth a short 12-1 poke, and while we wouldn’t recommend a hearty wager at such short odds, it’s still fair to say that Draft Kings/Fan Duel have underdone him. For a bargain outlay, one can get a proven winner in excellent form, and a guy who clearly enjoys life at Augusta – a win here in 2015 and runner-up finishes to sandwich that are evidence aplenty. It’s wrong to suggest that Spieth is the betting favorite this week because he simply isn’t, however the price here to beat Rory is one of the true bargains this week. Jordan Spieth has his swag back and it’s not just because of last week’s win. His body language said it all and now he’ll enter this week with a clear head and plenty of confidence while trending the right way for weeks (Risking 2.12 units to win 2).
Robert McIntyre -115 over Danny Willett
MacIntyre makes his Masters debut at the ripe age of 24 and says, “I’m not at all nervous. I just want to get going.” MacIntyre, who hails from the small coastal town of Oban on the western edge of the Scottish Highlands, has a background in the sport and a warrior’s attitude to match.
MacIntyre struck up a friendship with the 2018 Masters champion in Turkey a couple of years ago and has found a useful ally and sounding board. They played the front nine together on Monday. “I think I gained his respect early on because I played well [in Turkey],” he said. “That’s what I feel you have to do with the top guys. Around this place he [Reed] has got a not bad record. He knows where to go. Me and Mike [caddie Mike Thomson] didn’t have a clue about certain things and he just told us little secrets, which we’re going to use this week.”
Watch out for this kid though. This is a man who went from being outside the world’s top 600 in 2018 to finishing sixth in his first ever major at the Open 10 months later, who posted a video of himself driving up Magnolia Lane this week accompanied by The Gunna Sound Ceilidh Band, whose grandfather, Dougie MacIntyre Sr, was regarded as among the best shinty players of all time and whose father and uncle scored all three goals when Oban Camanachd won its last league title in 1996, the year he was born.
“Obviously it’s my first time here so you’re not really expecting too much,” he concluded of his hopes this week. “But I’m here to compete. I’m here to give myself a chance to win on Sunday. And if I play the way I know I can play, I don’t see why I can’t.”
Robert McIntyre is a talented lefty on a track that has rewarded so many in the past and now he’s a tiny price on a pro that plays about once a month these days and usually misses the cut? Yeah, we’ll bite. We found this wager being offered at Pinnacle so dig in if you have an account there (Risking 2.3 units to win 2).
Others to consider for H2H, Fantasy or to win outright:
Joaquin Niemann 60-1
A consistently strong performer on Bentgrass greens, Joaquin Niemann has the kind of look and feel of a future major winner. Whether the Chilean gets it done this week remains to be seen, but he’s actually an excellent fit for this golf course with his outstanding approach play and reliable recovery game. While not absolutely on fire, Niemann has finished inside the top-30 of each of his last three stroke-play events, and that is slightly under the radar form that could be rewarded with a strong showing in Georgia.
Abraham Ancer 80-1
If we’re talking about perennially good performers on Bentgrass greens, then Abraham Ancer has to come into the conversation as well. That’s not just on the back of his T13 here in November either, because the Mexican performs well on the surface wherever the PGA TOUR takes the players. Top 25 in each of his last three stroke-play outings, Ancer is another whose best form is not a million miles away.
Jason Kokrak 100-1
When you look at all of the evidence, Augusta National is the perfect set-up for Jason Kokrak. He loves fast Bentgrass greens – always a happy starting point when handicapping The Masters – and he is an excellent shot-shaper off the tee as well. An excellent grinder of a score, Kokrak finished in the top-10 in consecutive weeks at Bay Hill and TPCS Sawgrass, and that really is a mark of his quality – perhaps he can make that really count in his second trip to Augusta.
Carlos Ortiz 175-1
Ortiz won the Vivint Houston Open in the fall swing against considerably weaker competition. He has stayed hot since and is up to 47th in the OWGR. He’ll make his Masters debut and looks to follow suit of the likes of Im and Pan from the fall. Only 11 golfers are averaging more strokes gained on the average pro over their last 20 rounds. He’s tied for 10th in par 5 scoring, 21st in par 4 efficiency, and 13th in both 3-putt avoidance and bogey avoidance.
Mackenzie Hughes 300-1
Hughes is back to No. 51 in the OWGR following a Round of 16 exit from the match play. He’ll make his first appearance at Augusta since a missed cut in his 2017 debut. An expert putter, he’s second on Tour in 3-putt avoidance while also tied for 23rd in par 5 scoring. In terms of flyers that will be lightly drafted, he might be worth a look.
Open an account today at and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
PGA Wagers (Risking 5.32 units - To Win: 0.00)