Golf tips: US Masters 2021 main contenders and ante-post punts

Paddy Power TV presenter Justin Kenny has an early look at the US Masters in April.



*Odds quoted are ante-post prices which means that if your selection does not play in the Masters for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional ante-post rules

Dustin Johnson will have hardly taken his Green Jacket off with talk of the 2021 Masters just around the corner. Thankfully it’s back in its normal slot and Augusta also announced that limited crowds will be allowed on course.

From a viewing point, last year’s Masters was spectacular and gave watching fans a real insight into the beauty of the course but also the incredible undulations present on most of the greens. Another feature was how different some of the holes looked; the 16th ‘Redbud’ springs to mind, which was the site of Tiger’s “In Your Life!” chip-in at the 2005 Masters.

Let us have a look at the market and remember – if you’re trying to pick a winner, the 2020 masters will have little bearing on the outcome of this year’s event as we are back to firm fairways and ice greens in terms of speed. It quite simply will play a different course.

Below is a guide to the to the main contenders and also a few outsiders worth a mention in our ante-post markets.

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Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson’s performances in the past 12 months have been incredible – and for me, somewhat underrated. If Rory McIlroy had achieved the same, there is no doubt he would be talked up as one of the best players ever to play the game. FedExCup Champion, voted 2020 PGA Tour Player of the Year and won the Masters by five strokes with a record 20-under par total of 268 – two strokes better than Tiger Woods (in 1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

While Augusta is made for Dustin Johnson’s game (remember, he finished tied-2nd in 2019), firm fairways will cause no problems. Perhaps one thing that is against him is history. Only three players have won back-to-back Masters – Jack Nicklaus (1965, 1966), Nick Faldo (1989, 1990) and Tiger Woods (2001, 2002) – but you get the feeling if anyone can, Dustin can.

Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm is No 2 player in the world, winner of five PGA Tour events and six more on the European Tour. His record at Augusta is incredible, with three top 10 finishes in the last three years. Rahm is yet another player who will be suited by a return to an April Masters, as all aspects of his game are superb. Rahm’s stats in terms of his short game are right up there, which are always needed around the greens at Augusta, and recent recruit Jose Maria Olazabal as a coach will certainly help in his pursuit of a first major.

One thing worth mentioning is that he is now a member of Callaway Golf, having been lured away from TaylorMade. As well as switching to Callaway Balls, Rahm has swapped out every club in the bag – including his putter. He looked good in the recent Sentry Tournament of Champions and has said he loves the move – but he would say that. It hasn’t always worked switching clubs and equipment, and Justin Rose recently springs to mind. With the Masters just around the corner, will it come too soon for Rahm to get settled after his recent move.


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Rory McIlroy

What can you say about Rory McIlroy and the Masters, other than he should have won at Augusta by now. Everything about his game is tailor-made for this course. Frustration springs to mind back in November when soft fairways and greens demanded aggressive play and surely suited Rory’s style, only for him to shoot a 75. Talk of the Northern Irishman winning quickly evaporated, but the last time Rory missed the cut at Augusta was in 2010 when he was 20 and he quickly showed his class in the second round before going on to finish Tied-5th.

The fact is Mcllroy was generally considered the best player in the world before the break, with seven straight top-five finishes before the tour halted due to COVID. Momentum this season and the return of crowds are key to Mcllroy, along with the fact he is now seemingly content in his personal life. Hopefully all the talk of Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau will spark life into Rory this season and allow him to go on and achieve greatness by finally getting his hands on a Green Jacket. If he wins one, he will win a few.

Bryson DeChambeau

Next up is rocket man himself, Bryson. All the talk in the build up to last year’s Masters was about DeChambeau. I have to say I am a big fan of what he has achieved and all credit to him. However, he lost my respect somewhat in an interview the day before the Masters when he declared to the world that Augusta plays like Par 68/69.

Since then he has stated that he was suffering from blurred vision in the first two rounds, but either way he had a terrible Masters. While I think Bryson will go on to win plenty of tournaments this Season and possibly even another major, it won’t come at Augusta. His short game and natural ability is not up to scratch to get over the line. Also, firm and fast greens will not help his incredible distance unless Augusta National cuts the trees down.


Bryson DeChambeau Masters Augusta November 15, 2020

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Justin Thomas

Like Rory, for me it’s only a matter of time before Justin Thomas wins a Green Jacket. His last two Masters have been disappointing to say the least by his standards (Tied-17th in 2018 and Tied-12th in 2019), but everything about his game makes Augusta National perfect for his eye.

With incredible distance off the tee, Thomas can strike the ball with a fade or a draw but its his natural ability and vision around the greens that makes him a master in waiting. A former major winner, a former FedExCup Champion and a former World No 1, everything is in place for him to go on and win several majors. Out early this season, events at the Sentry Tournament of Champions cost him a win there but lets hope he can learn from it and move on. Thomas for me will win a major this season – who knows, it could be the first one of 2021.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka has had a disappointing 12 months, mainly due to injury, but he has had a couple of operations on his knee and recently stated he is back to full fitness. His form in the build up to Augusta will be watched closely, but for me he has let himself down off the course in interviews and comes across cocky and arrogant. He was called out a few times by fellow professionals including Rory Mcllroy with some of his comments and his criticism of Dustin Johnson has left him with egg on his face on the back of his success in 2020.

He needs to get himself right as much mentally as physically if he is to add to his four Majors. That said, his record at Augusta speaks for itself, but the word humble is surely a requirement to win around Augusta with its history and special sporting moments. Koepka’s ego might get in his way.



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Best of the rest

Above is the top six in the betting but a couple of other players are worth mentioning at huge odds. JORDAN SPIETH was the 2015 Winner, but it seems like a long time ago now. His fall from grace has been spectacular but the driveway down to Augusta has sparked life into many a golfer in the past. It certainly won’t be for the want of trying and Spieth has recently recruited Butch Harmon to cast an eye over all aspects of his game.

I also watched FRANCESCO MOLINARI in a recent interview, and the quiet man of 2020 – due mainly to COVID concerns and also because of relocating to California from England – now seems happy with the move for his young family. While his focus for 2020 was outside of golf, he firmly stated that he is looking forward to 2021. We won’t mention the 2019 Masters, other than he could have won, and it’s also Ryder Cup Year for the star man last time out. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Finally, you can’t mention a Masters if you’re my age without mentioning TIGER WOODS… Role on April 5, and make sure you get your Holidays in early!

*Odds quoted are ante-post prices which means that if your selection does not play in the Masters for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional ante-post rules

The US Masters 2021 market leaders

Dustin Johnson
John Rahm
Rory McIlroy
Bryson DeChambeau
Justin Thomas
Brooks Koepka

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