There simply is nothing better than The Masters. The tournament starts on Thursday. It is worth a wager or two at your favorite sportsbook.
Paul Casey (40-1): Augusta National is a good fit for Casey. Over the years, many golfers like Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods had the right game and eye for this golf course and would do well in this tournament regardless of how they were playing. Since 2004, Casey has been in the top 10 here four times and the top 20 six in 10 tries at Augusta National. He was fourth last year and sixth in 2015. The 39-year-old English golfer is ranked 16th in the world.
Dustin Johnson (6-1): Johnson is in the prime of his career and now playing better than anyone by a large margin. This is the reason he is the heavy favorite to win. He won his last two tournaments, including the important Dell World Golf Championship Match Play in Austin two weeks ago. Johnson won the US Open last year, finished fourth in the Masters and ninth in the British Open. His game and demeanor are perfectly suited for this course. He leads the PGA in top 10 finishes but at 6-1 may be too short to bet. But if you do bet him, you can almost guarantee he will be in the hunt late on Sunday.
Matt Kuchar (66-1): Ten of the last 20 Masters winners made the cut the previous year but finished outside the top 20. Kuchar finished 24th in 2016. From 2012 thru 2014, Kuchar was third, eighth and fifth in this tournament. He’s made the cut all seven years he’s played in it. He’s ranked 21st in the world and, at 38, still has a few more years of high quality golf. He’s a fan favorite having played collegiately at nearby Georgia Tech. He’s 66-1, a tad low given the top-heavy strength of this field, but a respectable play given his affinity for the course.
Bernd Wiesberger (125-1): The most successful Austrian-born player ever. This 31-year-old has seven professional wins while playing on the European tour. He’s been in the top seven in eight of his past 13 tournaments and was 17th in the Dell Match Play. He’s ranked 41st in the world, finished 22nd in the Masters in 2015, 34th in 2016. The long odds fit the profile from an age and past performance standpoint.
Always Dreaming, a Todd Pletcher trainee, took the Florida Derby in easy fashion. He stalked the pace and drew away by five lengths. Favored Gunnevera closed from far back and got up for third in a sneaky good effort that reminds me of Thunder Gulch in 1995. He won the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby before a flat fourth in the Blue Grass. Most of the public got off him and he ended up winning the Kentucky Derby at 25-1.
Pletcher had runner-up Patch in the Louisiana Derby, won by favored Girvin. The Louisiana prep races have been soft and it isn’t expected either of these runners will make a difference in the Kentucky Derby.
We head into the final two Saturdays of prep races. This weekend has the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass. Then the following Saturday is the Arkansas Derby and the Lexington Stakes.
Top Horse Play
The horse racing Play of the Week comes in the 7th race at Will Rogers Downs on Tuesday. It is a maiden special weight for three-year-olds going six furlongs on the dirt.
No. 2 AMERIPOINT had a miserable trip in his debut. He dwelt at the start and was some five lengths behind the field early.
He was rushed up a bit and then went wide on the turn. He did have a little bit of finish, which validated the strong workouts coming into the race. He also gets a big rider change to Lindsey Wade. Ameripoint is 10-1 on the morning line.
Post time for race 7 at Will Rogers on Tuesday is 1:44 PST.