Dustin Johnson dominated the 2020 Masters. He set a new scoring record at Augusta at 20 under par and won by five strokes. Considering that was less than six months ago, betting on DJ to repeat is a no-brainer, right?
Wrong, precisely because it was less than six months ago. Augusta played more differently in November than it ever has. The greens were softer than ever and scoring was down across the board. Even one of the guys who finished five strokes back set a course record of his own. That was Aussie Cameron Smith, who shot all four rounds in the 60s, becoming the first golfer ever to do that at Augusta.
The Masters, however, returns to its traditional spring date this year (April 8-11), which means betting on what happened at the 2020 Masters to happen again is probably a bad idea. It’s not that Johnson isn’t the favorite to repeat. He is. It’s not that he isn’t the No. 1 golfer in the Official World Golf Ranking. He still is. And it’s not that the +850 you can get on Johnson to repeat ahead of the tournament is a bad bet. It isn’t.
It’s just that Johnson isn’t nearly as hot as he was going into the 2020 Masters, having finished tied for 54th in the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship at The Concession at the end of February 2021, and tied for 48th at The Players Championship in March. Add in the different conditions at Augusta in the spring, and you might want to consider betting on some different golfers to win the Masters this year.
In fact, you might want to consider some different Masters golf bets altogether. The following list identifies three things you should never bet on at the Masters, and three you probably should.
Three Bets to “never” make on the Masters
1. Never bet on a hole-in-one
In the 84 Masters tournaments at Augusta since 1934, there have been 31 holes-in-one. However, there have been years where there were multiple holes-in-one, which means there has actually been at least one hole-in-one in just 22 out of the 84 Masters.
Still, 22 out of 84 is better than 26%, and since the hole-in-one is among the most thrilling moments you might witness on any golf course, it sounds like getting caught up in all that excitement and betting on at least one hole-in-one being shot at this year’s Masters is a good idea. Especially considering there wasn’t a hole-in-one at the Masters in 2020, except for one that Jon Rahm skipped off the water on No. 16 during a Tuesday practice round.
However, the odds for the bet are hovering at around -175, making this the kind of bet you should actually avoid. The true odds of a hole-in-one are much greater. The bottom line is there’s no value in laying that much, particularly on something that’s not going to happen close to 75% of the time. Ultimately, the price makes the “Will there be a hole-in-one?” Masters prop bet one you should avoid.
Every hole-in-one at the Masters
Here’s every Masters hole-in-one in history, which should tell you (at the very least) that if you have to bet on a hole-in-one happening, bet on it happening at No. 16:
|1934||Ross Somerville||16||145||Mashie Niblick|
|1935||Willie Goggin||16||145||Spade Mashie|
|1954||Billy Joe Patton||5||190||5-iron|
|2012||Bo Van Pelt||16||202||6-iron|
|2016||Davis Love III||16||181||7-iron|
2. Never bet the over on 277.5
Like we mentioned earlier, Augusta was soft in the fall of 2020, especially the greens. That meant low scoring. Dustin Johnson set a new scoring record, shooting a 268 over 72 holes to win it. Cameron Smith also became the first ever to shoot four rounds in the 60s at Augusta.
The return to a spring tee-off has led oddsmakers to believe scoring will go back up in 2021, and they may be right. Especially in thinking Johnson and Smith’s records are safe for now. However, this line of thinking may have led to one big mistake.
Most sportsbooks have set the over/under on the “What will be the winning 72-hole score?” prop at around 277.5 strokes. This is possibly missing the fact that while only six golfers shot 277 or under at the 2020 Masters, eight did it when Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters, shooting a 275.
That tells us the under is a good bet and you should never bet the over on 277.5 when the winner and a host of others have proven, both recently and under similar conditions, to shoot consistently lower.
Every 277 and under since 2019
Below is a look at every golfer to shoot 277 or under at the Masters over the past two years. Look closely, as it reads a lot like a list of contenders to do it again and possibly win the 2021 Masters:
|Dustin Johnson||268||Tiger Woods||275|
|Im Sung-jae||273||Dustin Johnson||276|
|Cameron Smith||273||Brooks Koepka||276|
|Justin Thomas||276||Xander Schauffele||276|
|Dylan Frittelli||277||Jason Day||277|
|Rory McIlroy||277||Tony Finau||277|
3. Never bet on last year’s winner
The question of whether you should bet on the previous year’s winner to go back-to-back is a bit of a dodgy one. Never say never, because it has happened three times before. However, that’s just three out of 84 total Masters tournaments, which means it’s highly unlikely.
The three back-to-back Masters winners are, of course, Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02). But another 16 golfers have come in second or third coming off a Masters win the year prior. Do a little math, and you’ll quickly see that 19 out of 84 is about 22%, a much more palatable number telling you that betting on the previous year’s Masters winner to finish in the top three might not be such a bad bet.
The list of Masters winners to fall just short of back-to-back green jackets includes some of the best golfers in the history of the game. It also tells you how close Nicklaus was to adding to his record total of six Masters titles:
- Ben Hogan won in 1953 and finished second in 1954.
- Doug Ford won in 1957 and finished second in 1958.
- Arnold Palmer won in 1960 and finished second in 1961.
- Gary Player won in 1961 and finished second in 1962.
- Jack Nicklaus won in 1963 and finished second in 1964.
- Arnold Palmer won in 1964 and finished second in 1965.
- Tom Watson won in 1977 and finished second in 1978.
- Jordan Spieth won in 2015 and finished second in 2016.
- Gene Sarazen won in 1935 and finished third in 1936.
- Sam Snead won in 1949 and finished third in 1950.
- Sam Snead won in 1954 and finished third in 1955.
- Cary Middlecoff won in 1955 and finished third in 1956.
- Arnold Palmer won in 1958 and finished third in 1959.
- Jack Nicklaus won in 1972 and finished third in 1973.
- Jack Nicklaus won in 1975 and finished third in 1976.
- Tiger Woods won in 2005 and finished third in 2006.
Ultimately, it depends on the odds you can get, but the statistics indicate that you should never bet on the previous year’s Masters winner to go back-to-back. At the same time, consider betting on that same Masters Champion to finish in the top three the very next year.
In other words, it’s a “never” on DJ to win again 2021, but an “always” on an each-way bet for him to finish in the top three or top five.
Three Bets to “always” make on the Masters
1. Bet on an American to win
The No. 1 thing you should always bet on at the Masters is an American winning it. That’s because an American has won a whopping 62 of 84 Masters tournaments – a 73% clip. Clearly, that’s not the kind of number you should be betting against too often.
Unfortunately, to bet on something that’s likely to happen almost three quarters of the time, you’ll have to lay out something close to -190. So, be careful with bet sizing, as big bets don’t offer big rewards, but they can deliver big losses at those odds.
At 27%, the other side is still real and certainly capable of delivering a devastating blow to the bankroll of anyone thinking an American winning the Masters is a sure thing. In other words, you should always bet it, but never bet it too big.
2. Bet on multiple golfers in the outrights
Here’s an easy “always” for you. In fact, the odds are so juicy on most golfers ahead of round one, betting on multiple golfers to win the 2021 Masters is almost a no-brainer.
Did you know that two weeks ahead of the 2021 Masters, you can bet $100 each on these players to win and if any of them does win, you’ll still make a profit:
- Dustin Johnson (+850)
- Bryson DeChambeau (+900)
- Justin Thomas (+1000)
- Jon Rahm (+1100)
- Jordan Spieth (+1200)
- Rory McIlroy (+1400)
- Brooks Koepka (+2000) and
- Xander Schauffele (+2000)
Limit your selections, or swap out any one of these golfers for a bigger longshot and your potential profit will rise accordingly.
Put together the group any way you like, but always make sure you’re betting on multiple golfers to win the Masters, as long as the odds allow you to still make a profit if one wins.
3. Bet on the 54-hole leader to go on to win (depending on price)
And finally we have the toss-up that is the “Will the 54-hole leader go on to win the Masters?” prop. “Yes” sits at around -130 ahead of the 2021 Masters, mostly because Dustin Johnson helped even things out over the past 12 Masters tournaments in 2020.
He got the job done to become the sixth third-round leader to win the green jacket out of the past 12. Before that, third-round Masters leaders had been 5-6 since 2010, when third-round leader Lee Westwood finished as the runner-up and a year ahead of third-round leader Rory McIlroy’s most memorable collapse.
Interestingly enough, Johnson was beginning to develop a bit of a reputation prior to the 2020 Masters, having previously lost four third-round leads in majors. Here are how the past 12 third-round Masters leaders have finished:
- Dustin Johnson (Win)
- Francesco Molinari (T5th)
- Patrick Reed (Win)
- Sergio Garcia (Win)
- Jordan Spieth (T2nd)
- Jordan Spieth (Win)
- Bubba Watson (Win)
- Ángel Cabrera (2nd), Brandt Snedeker (6th)
- Peter Hanson (T3rd)
- Rory McIlroy (T15th)
- Lee Westwood (2nd)
Recent history tells us the 54-hole leader is as likely to go on to win the Masters as not. That makes it difficult to tell whether you always or never bet on it. In this case, you should probably let the price make your decision for you. Laying -130 on what looks like a 50/50 prop isn’t terrible. After all, sportsbooks are entitled to some semblance of a vig. However, the +100 you can get on the no is clearly a better bet and vig-free.