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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Masters Field 2021: Odds, Favorites and Tournament Preview

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    Michael Thomas/Associated Press

    If it feels like the Masters just happened, that’s because it did.

    The COVID-19 pandemic really did result in a “tradition unlike any other” in 2020, as the tournament was held in November. Dustin Johnson cruised to a five-shot victory and set the record for total score with a 20-under par 268. Johnson will have the chance to win his second green jacket just five months after winning his first.

    The azaleas and slick greens will likely be on full display when the 2021 Masters gets underway Thursday at Augusta National. Let’s take a closer look at the tournament odds and some of the more notable storylines entering the first major championship of the year.

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Dustin Johnson +800 (bet $10 to win $80)

    Bryson DeChambeau +900

    Jordan Spieth +1000

    Jon Rahm +1100

    Justin Thomas +1100

    Rory McIlroy +1600

    Patrick Cantlay +2000

    Xander Schauffele +2200

    Tony Finau +2500

    Brooks Koepka +2500

    (All odds obtained via DraftKings)

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Has there been a better story in golf in 2021 than the rebirth of Jordan Spieth? The three-time major champion has been in the thick of just about every start he has made in the past few months.

    Spieth started the calendar year by missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January. But he responded by finishing in a tie for fourth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and tied third at the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach before finishing in a tie for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in three of his next four starts.

    It seemed the Texan could be on the verge of a breakthrough in winning his first PGA Tour event in almost four years. That win did indeed come at this past weekend’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. 

    Spieth went 67-66 on the weekend to earn a two-shot victory over Charley Hoffman, finally ending a long and torturous drought for a player who once looked destined to be one of the game’s greats. Perhaps he still can be.

    The 27-year-old is riding a huge wave of momentum heading to Augusta National, where he has multiple top-three finishes, including a win in 2015. He is also rolling the rock quite well, ranking fifth in one-putt percentage and fourth in overall putting average. 

    Spieth can get hot and make a lot of birdies in a hurry. He also knows his way around the course as well as anyone in the field. He might be tough to beat if he can stay in the fairway and give himself the opportunity to attack more pins.

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Brooks Koepka seemed like a long shot to play in this year’s Masters just a few weeks ago.

    The four-time major champion had surgery on his right knee on March 16 and previously said his status for Augusta was up in the air.

    Though Koepka had been a bit mum on his health as of late, the rumors began to swirl. Former pro and current analyst Brad Faxon told SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio he heard Koepka could be out six-to-eight months as a result of this latest procedure. 

    Well, Kopeka had something to say about all that. The 30-year-old practiced at Augusta on Sunday and even tweeted the Michael Jordan “I took that personally” meme regarding the rumors of his timeline. He was also featured on the Masters’ official Twitter account. 

    So, how will the knee hold up this week? Koepka worked his hardest just to be able to play, saying he did “seven-plus hours every day of rehab between getting my neck straightened away and then my knee,” per Steve DiMeglio of Golfweek

    The 2019 runner-up has a track record of success at Augusta and is as dangerous as any player in golf in the major championships. The knee could be an issue, but Koepka had previously won the Waste Management Phoenix Open and come in a tie for second at the WGC-Workday Championship at Concession at the end of February.

    Perhaps Koepka can channel his pre-injury form and typical major championship hunger to win his first green jacket.

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    No player has won back-to-back Masters since Tiger Woods in 2001-02, with the first of those victories capping off the “Tiger Slam.”

    The world No. 1 was terrific in his last start at Augusta, calmly putting his challengers behind him by going 11 under over the weekend. He has the length to take advantage of the par-fives and gain shots on the field, also ranking 11th in strokes gained in approach and 10th in strokes gained around the green. 

    But Johnson has struggled as of late. He picked up right where he left off with T11 and T8 finishes at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Genesis Invitational, respectively. However, he has not cracked the top 20 in any of three starts since.

    Additionally, Johnson will face a course that could play quite a bit different in April than it did last November. That is something to monitor not just for DJ, but for the entire field. 

    All stats obtained via PGATour.com, unless otherwise noted. 

    If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).   

    Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).   

    21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

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