Masters 2021 betting preview: Can Dustin Johnson keep rolling?

Jay Busbee
·6 min read

No event on the golf calendar draws action quite like the Masters. With good reason: Every one of the top players in the world tees it up, and most of those are still in the mix come the weekend. Every Masters betting slip is a little slice of hope, and hope can take you a long way in the betting game.

So let's break it down here for the season's first major. Check out Yahoo Sportsbook for how to get started wagering where it's legal near you, and as always, bet with your head, not over it. Now on to the tee...

The best way to bet golf

Every Masters features dozens of players who could have the tournament of their lives and win a green jacket. Every Masters also features some humiliating, heartbreaking collapses ... sometimes on Thursday, sometimes on Sunday afternoon. For that reason, it's not always a smart play to bet a single player to win ... that is, unless that player is Dustin Johnson. 

The defending champ is a +900 bet at BetMGM (lay down $100 to win $900), the best odds in the field. And it's not hard to see why ... he has a run of Top 5s in the Masters, and he also has that green jacket. It's not quite chalk, but it's the closest you'll get under the pines. 

The other favorites

The winner generally comes from inside the top 10 players heading into the Masters, and with that in mind, give a close eye to players like Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, who all sit at +1100. Following his recent run of top-10 finishes, everyone's in love with Jordan Spieth (+1100), who's coming off a significant win at the Valero Texas Open. Will we get the Spieth who decimated the course in 2015, or the Spieth who self-destructed in 2016? We won't know until Sunday afternoon.

One player who ought to come with a warning label: Rory McIlroy (+1800), who has spent the first part of the year angry at himself, his swing, his swing coach, the universe ... a whole raft of targets. McIlroy lacks only the Masters for the career Grand Slam, but he hasn't won a major since 2014 and remains an iffy proposition this year. 

Looking for a winner? You could do worse than picking this guy. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Looking for a winner? You could do worse than picking this guy. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The sleepers

It's rare that an actual long shot wins at Augusta, but middle-of-the-field picks can occasionally pop up and surprise ... and they can definitely play their way to a Top-5 finish. 

If you favor past performance at an event, you'll want to give Cameron Smith (+4000) a good look. Over his past three Masters, he has notched fifth- and second-place finishes, and he is on a decent run of success this season. 

If, on the other hand, you want to live dangerously, take a look at Will Zalatoris (+6600), who's strong in all the right statistical categories and is riding a hot run this year. On the flip side, he has never played in a Masters; how might that affect his chances?

Sleepers at Augusta tend to be better plays for top-10 or top-5 finishes than victories; with the exception of Danny Willett in 2016, most players who put on the green jacket Sunday night don't exactly come as a shock. Proceed accordingly. 

The prop bets

It's Augusta, the most-watched and most glorious golf tournament of the year, so you can always count on a few prop bets to liven up the mornings when you're watching a live stream. Think anybody's going to go bogey-free for an entire round at Augusta National? DeChambeau, Rahm and DJ all lead the way at +300. (Poor Ian Woosnam is the trailer here at +5000.)

Will the tournament end in a playoff? Some say yes (+350), some say no (-500). Think an American will take home the green jacket? That's a -165 play, while a European is +275 to win and the rest of the world is +350. You can bet on your favorite (or least favorite, if you're sadistic) player to win, finish in the top 5, miss the cut, lead after each round, drain a hole-in-one ... whatever your heart and your BetMGM account desire. Except for a bet on Tiger Woods, of course. 

As always, you can find the latest odds through the Yahoo Sportsbook

The statistics 

Augusta tends to reward players who have walked its fairways a few times, so winners often — not always, but often — tend to have played multiple rounds (and stumbled on a few Sundays). This much is always true, though: You need to be long off the tee, yes, but even more so, you need to be strong around and on the green. Augusta's greens undulate like the ocean in a hurricane, and a deft touch on the approach and a sure stroke with the putter will save crucial strokes over the course of the week. 

So if you're looking for some clues on where to lay extra coin, look at the PGA Tour's statistics and wager accordingly. In the Shots Gained: Putting category, Patrick Reed (+2800) is ranked at the top, and he has won at Augusta once before. Xander Schauffele (+2000) ranks inside the top 10 here, too.

Backing up from the pin, the Shots Gained: Around the Green category turns up Patrick Cantlay (+2200). If you're looking to bet bold, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+10000) leads this category.

And a little further off the green, take a long look at the Shots Gained: Approach category, a crucial skill to keep shots from sliding off to oblivion. Leading this category: PGA champion Collin Morikawa (+3000). Could that one major in hand offset his inexperience at Augusta? The key, though, might lie two slots lower with Thomas. Every one of his five years at the Masters, Thomas has improved his finish at Augusta. A fourth-place finish last year means there's not much more room to improve without adding to his wardrobe. 

No matter which way you bet, you're in for a ride. Augusta has a way of making even sure things a nervous bet on Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the play! 

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee, and contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com. 

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