Masters 2022 Betting Preview: Latest odds, 3 ante post tips and the events to watch for form
With the Masters just 10 weeks away, resident golf tipster @JWorsley89 has taken an in-depth look at the 2022 tournament's leading contenders in the betting, tournaments to keep an eye on for a form guide in the lead up to Augusta and three ante-post tips, two at big prices.
There are just 10 weeks before we once again witness the world’s best golfers grace the brilliance and beauty of Augusta National in the 2022 Masters.
In this ante-post preview I will have a look at the leading contenders to succeed Hideki Matsuyama in winning the green jacket. Whilst also noting which upcoming events could provide clues in the meantime and also offer a few early selections who could well shorten by the time that first group tees off on the 7th April.
It comes as little surprise that world number one, Jon Rahm heads the market at this point and barring a drop in form or a scintillating start to the year from someone else, it’s hard to imagine him not being favourite when the first group tee off on Masters Thursday.
He’s long been touted as a certainty to wear the green jacket one day and his results in the event have further enhanced this opinion. After a solid 27th on debut in 2017, he hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since. Recording finishes of 4th in 2018, 9th in 2019, 7th in 2020 and was 5th at Augusta National last year.
Picking up his first major at Torrey Pines in the US Open last year, Rahm now not only possesses the game but also the major championship winning credentials. He certainly looks the most likely winner as of now and looks to have everything in his favour to join compatriots: Seve Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia to become the 4th Spanish winner of The Masters.
The rise of Collin Morikawa over the last two and a half years has been nothing short of sensational. He possesses a win rate of just under 10%, picking up 6 titles in just 65 career starts. Among those victories are two major championships, which he picked up in the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in 2020 and added the Claret Jug to that last year at The Open Championship at Royal St Georges. Also winning the R2D on the DP World Tour last year.
His Masters record is solid. Two starts, two made cuts, with his 18th place finish last year improving greatly on his 44th on debut. He possesses the quality ball-striking to win around here and for all his short game isn’t quite upto the same standard, he’s proven time and time again that when he needs it, he can find it.
He just has IT. It being that little bit of stardust needed to win not just an abundance of silverware but to win the biggest trophies in the game. Already half the way to a career grand-slam, he’ll be a contender at every major again this year and with the way his short career has gone so far, I could easily see him adding more in 2022.
One of the highlights of 2021 was the return to form and the winner’s circle for Jordan Spieth. With a Masters history more storied than most, he looks set for a big year and should be well on everybody’s radar at the majors.
That storied history is one that saw him finish a superb 2nd on debut in 2014 and return a year later to win comfortably by four shots in 2015, leading from start to finish and becoming just the tournament’s 5th wire-to-wire winner.
For all the money in the world, it looked like Spieth would go back-to-back in 2016. Once again leading through rounds 1-3, meaning he’d been at the top of a Masters leaderboard for seven consecutive rounds of golf. He then built up a five-shot lead entering the back nine on the Sunday, before disaster struck, first bogeying the 10th & 11th but the true hammer blow came at the 12th, where he hit two balls into the water to record a quadruple bogey. Allowing Danny Willett to come through and take the title.
He has maintained an excellent record since, following that crumbling performance in 2016 with finishes of 11-3-21-46-3 over the last five years. We all know that he possesses a stunning short-game which is typically a must around Augusta, but at that point he was also a superb iron player.
I saw enough last year to tell me Spieth is back in major winning form. 2nd in The Open, 3rd in The Masters, 19th in the US Open and 30th in the PGA Championship. I think he wins one this year and it could well be a redemption gaining 2nd Masters title that comes his way.
After tasting success in Saudi Arabia at the start of the year, 2021 turned into a bit of a year to forget for Dustin Johnson. He failed to taste victory on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2014 and achieved a best finish of 6th in the remainder of the year.
With that he’s a hard player to get overly excited about at these kinds of ante-post prices but there’s no doubting his credentials if he does indeed rediscover form in the early part of this year.
Johnson is the answer to what will undoubtedly become a question on many a quiz. Who won the November Masters in 2020? Though they found a course much different and softer in 2020 than they’d find in a typical Masters in April, you can’t take away from DJ the ease in which he picked up a first Masters title, strolling home by 5 shots.
That was always on the cards for him, he’s a player with little in the way of golfing weaknesses when he’s firing, and he had a strong book of Masters form pre-2020. He’d missed the cut just once in his previous nine appearances, with four top 10s and a former best just a year earlier in 2019, when he finished runner-up. Though he did miss the cut here last year.
He’s certainly too short for my money right now but the moment he shows any form he instantly comes under consideration, such is his class and his suitability to the test that Augusta National poses.
Justin Thomas’ Masters record is somewhat of an enigma. On paper, he’s perfect for the test. Excellent iron player, long off-the-tee and strong around the greens but for whatever reason you’re often left strangely underwhelmed by his performances here (a 4th in 2020 notwithstanding).
I say strangely underwhelmed as he’s never missed the cut here in 6 visits and has finished top-25 on 5 out of those 6 occasions but he’s rarely been in the mix. Even the 4th in 2020 left him 8 shots adrift of Dustin Johnson.
I’d go one step further and say his major championship record in general leaves you feeling shortchanged for a player of his calibre. Just the one title in 2017, when winning the PGA Championship. With just four top 10s in 23 other major appearances, his 2nd best effort was indeed that 4th at the Masters in 2020.
He continues to be a little in and out with the putter too, which is of added concern around here. If able to rectify that the rest of his game is tailor made for Augusta.
Upon winning The Open Championship in 2014, Rory McIlroy was three-quarters of the way towards the career grand slam, a title at Augusta the only one that alluded him. You’d have fancied his chances to have completed that by now, coming up to eight years later but victory here continues to evade him.
His record here is strong, finishing top 10 in 6 out of the last 8 renewals but he often plays much of his best golf here when the title is too far out of his grasp and rarely looks like winning over the course of the week.
In fact his best chance to win is still the infamous 2011 contest. Where he’d led/co-led in each of the first three rounds, entering the final round with a 4 shot lead before a dramatic back-9 collapse that saw him shoot an 80 to eventually finish 15th.
He had a successful 2021 campaign, picking up two titles. Firstly at Quail Hollow in the Wells Fargo Championship and then picking up the CJ Cup at The Summit. Though underperformed in the majors. His best coming when 7th in the US Open.
With most aspects of his game looking in good nick towards the end of 2021, McIlroy once again enters a new year with high expectations. A long overdue 5th major will be his main priority and with the game he possesses, there’s no doubt if he can get it right mentally, he can finally complete the career slam in Atlanta.
Other notables towards the top of the betting include Bryson DeChambeau (18/1), who doesn’t really fit the bill around here for me. Not sharp enough around the greens or in approach and this is backed up by a very modest record, where his best finish is still his debut effort in 2016, when finishing 21st as an amateur.
2019 Masters runner-up, Brooks Koepka (20/1) comes next. At his best he absolutely has the game, but his best is something we haven’t seen since that year. If he shows any kind of form in the early part of 2022, he’ll be on everyone’s shortlist and as a four-time major champion, he certainly has the pedigree to taste success here at some point.
The similar Californian duo of Xander Schauffele (22/1) & Patrick Cantlay (22/1) are both serious contenders. Doing everything well without quite possessing the fireworks off the tee that a Jon Rahm or Rory McIlroy has but have both gone well here. Schauffele has finishes of 2nd and 3rd to his name, while Cantlay’s best is 9th in 2019. He further strengthened his credentials last year with a 2nd victory at Muirfield Village in the Memorial Tournament, an event that offers one of the best comps to Augusta.
And I can’t finish here without a mention for last year’s impressive champion, Hideki Matsuyama (25/1). He’s added to that title with a victory in the ZOZO Championship back home in Japan at the end of 2021 and has started 2022 in the same fashion, winning the Sony Open last Sunday. Always touted as possessing the class to be a major winner, having now proven it I feel he garners respect at every event and would be no forlorn hope of a back-to-back winner.
Masters Form Guide
With a little over 10 weeks until The Masters arrives, we have a serious amount of golf to play in the meantime. I will obviously be interested in all form leading up to the event for the players taking part but there are some events that could point to a potential winner more than others:
Farmers Insurance Open – Torrey Pines (Start date: 26th January)
Torrey Pines and the Farmers Insurance Open has long been a good guide for players who may go well at Augusta. I think this is simply down to the difficulty of the course and the way it tests every aspect of a player’s game.
The South Course, which hosts three of four rounds at the Farmers Insurance Open is a huge 7765 yards. This puts a premium on quality, preferably long driving, much like Augusta, despite the contrasting narrower fairways and thick rough you find at Torrey Pines.
There’s also a need for strong approach play in hitting these sloped poa annua greens as there’s some pretty penal bunkering and sticky kikuya rough waiting to collect stray iron shots. Inevitably because of the tightness of the fairways and the trickiness of the rough, players struggle to hit the greens, which does indeed call on the short game to be in fine form.
Though the problems that both courses pose are different, the requirements to handle those problems are very much the same.
We don’t need to go too far back to find crossover form, as last year’s Farmers Insurance Open winner, Patrick Reed won The Masters in 2018. Other notable winners of both include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Jose-Maria Olazabal. With 2020 & 2019 champions, Marc Leishman and Justin Rose, both also possessing strong records in The Masters without winning.
As does this year’s favourite, Jon Rahm, who won the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open but backed that up and then some as he picked up the US Open, that first major title, at this very course last year.
Genesis Invitational – Riviera Country Club (Start date: 17th February)
The Genesis Invitational’s Riviera Country Club may well be my favourite comp course. Not as long as Augusta at 7322 yards, though does play to a par 71. The fairways are wide, greens heavily contoured and run-offs aplenty. Though the most important link is the firmness of which the course is usually set up to play. Much like the intended conditions at Augusta National.
Three of the last five winners there are Masters Champions. With 2020 champion, Adam Scott (his 2nd Genesis title) winning The Masters in 2013, 2018 champion, Bubba Watson (his 3rd Genesis title) a two-time Masters winner, in 2012 and 2014 and 2017 champion, Dustin Johnson winning The Masters in 2020.
Again going further down the line we find Phil Mickelson, the three-time Masters Champion has won here at Riviera on two occasions.
It’s a course which often tests every facet of your game. Both the ball-striking and short game have to be on point to be successful at The Masters, much the same as here.
Arnold Palmer Invitational – Bay Hill (Start date: 3rd March)
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is of interest for a number of reasons. Bay Hill is a lengthy championship level course at 7454 yards, where wide fairways and large slopey greens are again the order of the day.
It also attracts a strong field most years, meaning we will get to see plenty of the world’s best going up against one another.
Tiger is an API master, winning here 8 times but it’s a little pointless to use him as an example of course suitability, as he was liable to play well anywhere. Of the last 5 winners we have Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari and Marc Leishman, all possessing Masters form.
Bar the Matt Every back-to-back wins in 2014/2015 winners here are usually of the highest order. It’s safe to assume that we’ll get another high class winner of the event this year, giving whoever that winner should be a great launching pad going into the Masters.
THE PLAYERS Championship – TPC Sawgrass (Start date: 10th March)
Finally we come to THE PLAYERS Championship, the PGA Tour’s flagship event and undoubtedly the biggest event to come before we head down Magnolia Lane.
In terms of the courses, they’re not overly similar. This is a short 7189 yard par 72 with more danger off the tee and much smaller greens. Though in the prestige of the event, in which it attracts one of the best fields and is played at the same iconic course every year, there are many similarities.
It does warrant a more varied leaderboard than that at a Masters, as it’s a course where the shorter hitters aren’t overwhelmed like they typically are at Augusta but there are quality performances littered throughout from players who have either tasted success in Augusta or gone close.
Amongst the two runners-up in 2018 are Charl Schwartzel, who won the Masters in 2011 and Xander Schauffele, who as mentioned above has recorded finishes of 2nd and 3rd at Augusta in just a handful of starts.
Louis Oosthuizen was runner-up in 2017, as was the case at the 2012 Masters when he lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson after Bubba hit THAT shot out of the trees on the 10th. With 2015 Players Championship runner-up and the 2008 winner, Sergio Garcia collecting a green jacket in 2017.
Though the course itself may not offer huge clues, the quality of event and player’s ability to play in such quality an event will and represents the last real elite stroke-play event before we head to Augusta.
Masters 2022 Ante Post Tips
My aim in trying to find someone antepost is to not only look for someone who can go well here, but also someone whose price I think could shrink before the start of the event. Hence why nobody in the top 5/6 in the betting is of interest. Many won’t get much shorter, if shorter at all and could well drift.
Though there’s a player just outside those half a dozen, who had a strong finish to 2021, has had a strong start to 2022 and who I feel is going to be a big player in majors this year and that is Patrick Cantlay.
Even though he was a three-time PGA Tour winner before the start of 2021, there’s a strong sense that the two titles he won and the way in which he won them was a real breakthrough in the reigning FedEx Cup champion’s career.
Firstly he took full advantage of Jon Rahm’s unfortunate withdrawal to win last year’s Memorial Tournament. Though wasn’t gifted the title and had to get past a determined Collin Morikawa in the process, providing a tense and exciting finale to an event which would’ve otherwise finished with a procession for the rankings topping Spaniard.
He followed that with a solid run of form before winning the BMW Championship, the 2nd of the 3 season ending playoff events, in an enthralling battle with Bryson DeChambeau. In which he produced a frankly ridiculous putting performance, the best recorded putting performance of his career, gaining just under 4 strokes a round, to eventually overcome Bryson in a playoff.
He’d previously been considered a little timid in contention but with those two immense playoff victories there appeared a newfound steeliness in Cantlay and one which should carry him forward in improving on a surprisingly modest major record for a player of his ability.
Both his standout major performances came back in 2019. When he finished 3rd in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black and he also recorded his best Masters finish to date, hitting the top 10 in 9th place. Outside of those he has just two other major top 20s in 17 events.
His Masters record is similarly solid but unspectacular, though he did pick up Low Amateur honours back in 2012. He has a 17th place finish in 2020 to go with those two performances and two missed cuts, including last year.
Not everyone can be a Collin Morikawa though and it takes most players time before they start winning the biggest events in golf. Cantlay’s progress has been excellent and he’s gone from a player with the potential to win majors to a player who looks absolutely primed and ready to win them.
Amongst his 5 tour wins is a double at Muirfield Village. With it’s wide, tree-lined fairways and run off areas around the large contoured bentgrass greens, it has always rated amongst the best comp courses for Augusta.
Also possessing form at the aforementioned Riviera Country Club, where he’s gone 4-15-17-15 in the last four years, adding further confidence as to his suitability for this event.
He’s a quality ball-striker, possesses a great short game, and whilst he may not be longest off-the-tee, he’s certainly not short. He had every technical quality to be a Masters winner and with the improved, gritty mentality he showed last year, he may have just completed the final piece of the jigsaw.
Like Cantlay, Matthew Wolff enjoyed a strong finish to 2021 which offered huge promise as to what he can accomplish this year.
He finished last year with form figures of 17-2-5-11. Only denied by an inspired Sungjae Im on the Sunday of the Shriners Open, to finish solo 2nd by four shots. Once again having a great chance at victory the last time we saw him in the Houston Open, arriving on Sunday just a shot behind overnight leader Scottie Scheffler, before succumbing to a final round 72 and an 11th place finish.
This was the end to a turbulent year for the likeable Californian, who’d previously been very open about his mental struggles. Though he looked in a much better place in the latter part of 2021 and looked close to returning to some of his very best form.
His record at The Masters is short but checkered. He missed the cut by three in 2020, thanks to a really poor 2nd round 77. Returning in 2021 to once again miss the cut but was ultimately disqualified at the end of round 2 for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Now two effective missed cuts in two appearances doesn’t scream 2022 Masters champion but both of those performances came within 8 starts of one another, thanks to the November Masters in 2020 and as documented, his head wasn’t in a great place over that period.
His general major record outside of the Masters has been excellent. Playing three events and finishing top 15 in all 3. The first a 4th place finish in the 2020 PGA Championship, before he chased home Bryson DeChambeau in the US Open to finish 2nd in the same year. With a rather admirable 15th place finish in last year’s US Open his most recent major performance. I say admirable as it was his first start after a 10 week break because of his aforementioned struggles, following the DQ at Augusta last year.
Every part of his game was firing over the course of his strong finish to last year, as a stereotypically high class ball-striker it was incredibly encouraging to see his short-game in largely good condition.
If able to kick off 2022 the same way he ended 2021, he’ll be a contender over these opening events of the year and I could see him being a much shorter price at Augusta by the time April comes around. In which I fully expect him to put to bed his poor history in the event and show he does indeed possess the right attributes to handle the test.
Max Homa has missed the cut both times he’s played at Augusta and has a sketchy major championship record in general. With a best of 40th in last year’s Open Championship and only two made cuts in 9 majors played.
Though there’s something about his game, and the courses he typically plays well, that throw him up as a player with Masters potential. Considering some of his most favoured events come before we head to Augusta, he’s certainly one who could shorten during that period.
Being a California boy he’ll play most events in the forthcoming California swing and he has history in playing them well, particularly the two mentioned above in my events to watch.
He won the Genesis Invitational last year, which followed on from a 5th place finish there the year before. He’s also recorded finished of 18th and 9th in the last two renewals of the Farmers Insurance Open. Further to this are 24th and 10th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the last two seasons. Meaning he’s 6/6 for top 25s in 3 of the events to watch mentioned above over the last previous two years.
A 6th place finish at the Memorial Tournament last year offers further encouragement, as does his victory in the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. What all these courses have in common is that they’re amongst the most championship like courses at regular season events. With most of them holding multiple major champions. He simply turns up at most courses in which form often points to Masters potential.
He finished last year strong, with a victory in the Fortinet Championship in his fourth last start of 2021. If able to go well at these early season events in which he has a great record, this typically strong ball-striker could well shorten in price in time for The Masters and like Wolff, put to bed a poor record on a course which for all intents and purposes, looks like it really should suit his game more than it’s appeared so far.