FOX sports betting expert
“Bear Bets” are actual bets that Chris “The Bear” Fallica actually makes.
The week that golf fans and weather have been waiting for all year is finally here. It’s MASTER WEEK!
Defending champion Scottie Scheffler is the current betting favorite at +700 on FOX Bet. The last player to win back-to-back championships at the Masters was Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002.
Speaking of Woods, Augusta is very dear to him. Tiger has won this event six times including his unlikely victory in 2019. His odds are good at the moment +6600 to win everything.
Since this is the biggest tournament of the year, let’s dive into the bets I’m making on the event.
Rory McIlroy Top 10 ranking (-125)
McIlroy finished in the top 10 of every major last year and has seven top 10s in the last nine Masters. While forecasting the weather is unpredictable, I think you need to factor it into your handicap. And McIlroy is someone you should support because having a player who has a long carry on the driver when the ground is soft is a huge plus. Slower greens also help McIlroy, who is sometimes held back by his putter. He’s out late Thursday and early Friday so we’ll see how the end of the draw goes. But I’d be shocked if McIlroy wasn’t back late Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler Top 10 ranking (-135)
The defending champion’s worst finish this year is 12th and there’s no reason to believe he won’t benefit from the softer conditions and staunchly defend his title. He’s finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven majors and has gone under par six straight rounds at Augusta National. Some may not like the fact that my approach to golf betting isn’t to “bet a little to try to win a lot”, but it’s in these non-outright winning markets that I make the biggest part of my job.
Tiger Woods finishes +2 (T-54th) in Round 1 of the Masters
Tiger Woods missed twice in the first round of the Masters yesterday.
Phil Mickelson miss the cut (+105)
Mickelson has missed just three Masters cuts, but he’s only played one round under par in his last six rounds at the Augusta National. He’s also missed the cut in five of his last six PGA or Asian PGA Tour events and beat just seven players in the Orlando LIV event. Unfortunately, this time it feels like a short stay in Augusta for one of the greats.
Adrian Meronk make the cut (-160)
Meronk is a long hitter with a very good game around the green. Both will help him this week. He’s had some solid finishes worldwide this year – 17th on the Match Play, 14th on the Honda, along with two top 10 finishes on the DP World Tour. He is in the fifth group with Kevin Kisner and Louis Oosthuizen as of Thursday, which should be a very enjoyable round of golf for him on his first trip through Augusta National.
Sunjae Im -122 over Max Homa
Everyone is loving Homa this week and maybe he’s going to have a great tournament as it looks like he’s made the leap to the next level of player with a win, a second place finish and two more top 10’s this year. But it also enables people to get a nice price fading Homa, Since an opening round 70 in the Fall 2020 Masters, he’s gone 75-74-74-74-73-77-78 here, with two missed cuts and a T-48 last year.
He may have figured out the course by now, but he was up against someone here who had already figured out the course in Sungjae Im. He has two top 8 finishes in three Masters and has played well in Match Play and The Players Championship. I will lay the small number with the favorite in this matchup.
Min Woo Lee +6500 wins, +500 top 10, +210 top 20
Lee is a guy I’m willing to throw a pre-tournament dart at in the outright market because if he starts well +6500 will be long gone. The 24-year-old Australian made a good impression at the majors last year, finishing 14th at the Masters, 27th at the US Open and 21st at The Open.
To break down his Masters even further, his map featured 18 bogeys and a double bogey – he had 17 par-breakers for the event – champion Scottie Scheffler had 21. He went into the final round of the Players Championship as a solo runner-up a final lap 76 dropped him to sixth place. It’s clear he’s got game and I’m playing him in the top 10 and 20 markets too.
Sunjae Im First round leader +4000, +4500 to win
I’m sixth on the PGA Tour with a 68.75 first-round points average and a nice 10:54 start time when most eyes are on 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama and Open Champion of 2022 – and LIV graduates – Cameron Smith will be directed. I’ll just put his head down, brood, ignore the circus, and he might just go out and shoot 67, which might put him in the early mix. This was last year’s line-up, where he led after the first round.
Smith has finished nine of his last 12 rounds in the top 10 (11 of 12 in the top 13) at the Masters.
Each of McIlroy’s last four first rounds at the Masters has been above average (73-76-75-73).
Brooks Koepka missed the cut in each of the last two Masters, posting a combined 11-over par in those four rounds.
Only two of Jon Rahm’s last 10 laps at Augusta have been underperforming. Everyone came on Sunday for the past two years.
Since winning in 2019, Tiger’s weekend rounds have been 78-78-72-76. So there can be opportunities to bet against him or to overplay his round – if he makes the cut.
Bryson DeChambeau has shot 75 or worse in five of his last six rounds at Augusta. He has opened at 76 for each of the past two years.
Just once in seven Masters has Justin Thomas opened with a better than 73 – he opened in 2021 with a 66. However, Thomas has recovered well in round two and has blasted a round in the 60s in the last five years.
Six consecutive majors and nine out of eleven majors have been won by a player in their 20s. The last player not in his 20s to win a Major – 50-year-old Mickelson at the 2021 PGA Championship.
Sixteen of the last 17 Masters champions were in the top 10 after round one. The only exception – Tiger 2019 (11th). The last Masters champion to finish worse than 11th after round one was Tiger in 2005.
Five of the last six Masters champions either led or held a stake in the 54-hole lead. Each of the last three led to the finals with at least three shots.
The last seven Masters winners have either been ranked #1 in the official world golf rankings or outside the top 10. The last player to rank in the top 10 to win, rather than #1, was Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Of the five players in the Masters era who completed the career grand slam, each required three or fewer starts in the required major to win the slam and exit after winning their third different major. McIlroy’s ninth attempt at a career grand slam will come at the Masters. So while McIlroy seemingly has a lot more shots to finish the career slam, history says if you don’t finish it fast, you never will.
Looking for the most important Augusta statistic? Twenty of the last 24 Masters champions have placed in the top 9 greens in the regulations this week, including each of the bottom six. Seventeen of the winners finished in the top 5 of the week, with seven at the top. When in doubt, go with a man who approaches solidly.
From 2008 to 2018, only two players with odds less than +2000 won the Masters. We saw many long shots with names like Trevor Immelman (+15000), Ángel Cabrera (+12500), Charl Schwartzel (+10000) and Danny Willett (+5000) taking home the green jacket. However, that has changed in the past four years as a top 3 betting option has won three times, with Matsuyama winning at +4000 in 2021. There are currently only five players under +2000 – the fewest since 2014. The names are what one would expect – McIlroy, Scheffler, Rahm, Cantlay and Spieth. Recent history suggests one of them has an excellent chance of becoming the 2023 Masters champion.
Chris “The Bear” Fallica has been involved in sports for almost three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, soccer, golf, tennis, MLB, NHL, and horse racing, betting on such events “occasionally.” Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the top 10 in the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He is a multiple qualifier for the NHC Handicap Championship. Remember, “The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!” Follow him on Twitter @Chrisfallika.
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