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Nic Ladds 6th Apr 2009 - 19:00

The Masters - we find three to topple Tiger

Well, what a couple of weeks it's been! Phil wobbles, Tiger doesn't, Casey throws his hat in to the ring and a host of fearless youngsters get ready to take on the big boys in The Masters where Mr Woods is firm favourite at odds of 7/4.

Those were on Tiger at fancy odds before his come-from-behind win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be sat smugly as sure enough, Woods won so the price collapsed.

For many still however, you will not get a better 7/4 bet in a month of Sundays. Tiger's injury has obviously not had any major negative affects, in fact if anything people have dared to mention that he is better than before his injury as his short game has improved and his driving is more accurate.

If this has any truth (and we think it does) then god help the rest of the field as an in-form Tiger goes for his fifth win at a course he loves, against a field of players with question marks against them.

He is human though (so we're told) and there may be someone lurking in the field at a tidy price who can ruffle the world number 1's barely ruffable feathers.

The obvious alternative to the market leader is his fellow American and rival, Phil Mickelson. 'Lefty' has looked in good nick leading up to the Shell Houston Open last week where he managed to come in a share of 134 and miss the cut by a mile.

He claims to have been trying some things which he is glad to have out of his system now which if true does still make him an attractive prospect.

It is ludicrously difficult to know which Mickelson will turn up however and at odds of 13/2, there may be better options at bigger prices.

Paul Casey could not be coming in to this week in better form, having won the Shell Houston Open last week to add to his Abu Dhabi title this year.

This win has boosted him up to an all-time high of sixth in the world rankings and his odds have understandably shortened for this in to 25/1.

He has finished in the top 11 in his last to visits to Augusta, as well as when he finished sixth on his debut in 2004.

If he can bring his best putting game to this year's Masters, he certainly has the ability to win here as he look a vastly improved player since his last visit.

A lot of attention will be on Padraig Harrington who is 16/1 in the betting to capture his third major in a row.

He will have a lot of pressure on him and he could be in better form coming in to this event. He is not dismissed lightly, having finished in share of 5 and 7 in his last two visits, but at the same time he has twice missed the cut so it is not certain what kind of performance 'Pod' will give us.

Sergio Garcia at 25/1 and Lee Westwood at 50/1 both need to improve their putting to put in a prominent performance at Augusta, where a hot putter is key on the lightening-fast greens.

The youngsters mentioned earlier include Rory McIlroy and Anthony Kim, both of whom look certain future winners of majors.

The pair are available at odds of 25/1 and 33/1 respectively and based on their results over the last year and raw talent, could win.

However you have to go all the way back to 1979 when Fuzzy Zoeller donned the green jacket for the last time a player won on his Masters debut as course experience is key.

For those who fancy a real shock, Zoeller himself can be backed at 500/1 to repeat his heroics of 20 years ago.

Last year's winner Trevor Immelman doesn't appeal at 80/1 due to his recent form but 2007 champion Zach Johnson does at odds of 40/1.

Johnson looks an improved player from his victory two years ago. He has excellent form coming in to the tournament, obviously can face the challenges Augusta presents and looks a lively contender to capture a second crown.

Sean O'Hair is another big fancy at 66/1 in the betting. O'Hair looked home and hosed in the Arnold Palmer when five shots clear but then Tiger chased him down to win by a stroke.

If O'Hair can keep his head the whole way through then he has the ability to win this, and the fact that he first in overall statistics makes him even more appealing.

An interesting contender at a big price is Tim Clark at odds of 100/1. Clark has some reasonable form so far this season with a couple of top ten finishes and he can handle Augusta, having finished second in 2006 and tied 13 in 2007 before missing the cut last year.

He is fourth in the overall stats which looks to give him a great chance, and when you see the price is as big as 100/1, it appeals even more.

Geoff Ogilvy at 20/1, Nick Watney at 33/1 and young Colombian star Camilo Villegas at 40/1 are just a few more who could be in the mix at reasonable prices.

While all eyes will be on Woods and Mickelson to see how the two great rivals get on there could quite possibly be first time winner for a third year running.

If Tiger is on-song, and it is looking ominously likely that he will be then the rest of the field could be playing catch-up and anyone wanting to back Tiger should get a big run for their money.

However, at a quarter of the odds for the first five places, there is plenty of value to be had on some of the world numbers 1's rivals.

So pay your money, take your choice and get ready for four days of some of the most fantastic golfing action in some of the most spectacular scenery.

Don't forget about our host of other markets including Top European Player, Top GB and Ireland player, Top 10 finish, 1st round leader, plus many, many more.

Recommendation:
Zach Johnson - 40/1
Sean O'Hair - 66/1
Tim Clark - 100/1

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In case you've forgotten just how brilliant Tiger Woods is, here's a special little shot from the great man at the 16th hole in the 2005 Masters.

 

 
 
 

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