If you’re one of the 88 players in this week’s field at the Masters — including 18 LIV Tour players and 16 players making their debut — consider yourself lucky.
After all, this is the event everyone — and we mean everyone — in the world of golf wants to play. The other three majors are certainly impressive in their own rights, but it’s the Masters that gives players goosebumps the first time they drive up Magnolia Lane.
The hallowed grounds are as challenging to play as they are visually stimulating, and there are times when those two intersect, like the par-3 12th hole.
With patrons (remember, it’s not fans) stacked up 15-20 deep as players tee off, this simple-looking, gorgeous hole suddenly becomes more of a test. At 155 yards, depending on the day, it’s no more than a wedge for most of these players.
Add in the wind, the temperature and how aggressive players want to be, and all of a sudden the collar gets a little tighter and the palms get a little sweatier.
Tiger Woods, who has won here five times, was famously asked if he ever felt comfortable on the 12th tee. His answer, with his usual laugh, was simple: “Yes…on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.”
Also read: Scheffler, Rory Sit As Favorites on 2023 Masters odds boards | How To Bet The Masters
That hole has impacted the Masters more times than players care to remember–both positively and negatively. Hit the green and walk away with a birdie or par, and you’ve picked up a shot on much of the field.
Dunk one (or more) in the water or have other problems on the hole (long into the foliage is no good and a couple of bunkers can cause problems), and you’re scrambling to keep focused in closing out the round.
To say it’s a tough golf hole would be an understatement. But with the chance to don that green jacket, it’s a test everyone wants to take on.
That’s just one of 18 challenges the players will face over four days of golf’s version of the first days of spring. Let’s get to 2023 Masters predictions and best bets.
Masters Odds 2023
As always, shop around the best sports betting apps for the best odds on your plays.
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Will the Moon and Stars Align Again?
Four years ago, we wrote the following when we went looking for the Masters winner and it still holds true today, with a little update about who we’re talking about.
So now we come to the question of who’s going to win in 2019?
Will it be one of the hot golfers keeping up strong play? Or will we see a surprise winner with someone having one of those memorable weeks?
Well, somebody’s got to say it: Yes, the moon and stars can align, and we will see Tiger Woods (at a way-too-low 14-1) back in that green jacket.
We’re going with those same sentiments in 2023, but with a different player in mind.
His name: Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy’s Game is in Form Right Now
We feel everything’s aligning perfectly for McIlroy this week. At +700 and the co-favorite with defending champion Scottie Scheffler, it’s time for McIlroy to finally get that Masters win at Augusta and complete the career Grand Slam.
McIlroy’s game is on point coming into this week. But, and we’ve got to be honest here, he still might have some demons buried deep in his mind that we hope won’t pop up this week.
Ever since that fateful 10th hole in the 2011 tournament, where a snap-hook saw his title chances go up in smoke, McIlroy has been battling the mental part of his game when it comes to playing at Augusta National.
He’s got six top-10 finishes in 13 starts at the Masters (including a second-place finish last year), but he’s still looking for that first win that will put him in rarified company. He will join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods as winners of the Grand Slam.
At the age of 33, he’s still got plenty of time and talent to win here.
The problem recently seems to be his confidence when he drives up Magnolia Lane. Most other weeks he plays, there’s no doubt his focus is razor-sharp. It only seems to be at Augusta National where that little bit of doubt can come into the picture.
Is he thinking about how well he’s playing in 2023? Or do thoughts about past missed chances to wear that green jacket creep into his mind?
Neither question has an easy answer.
On the positive side, he comes in as the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world (behind Scheffler) and he’s got a win, a second, and three top-10s in this wraparound season.
He’s coming off a third-place finish (beating Scheffler) in the Match Play event, so there is a lot of positivity coming into this week.
But then we look deep inside his mind, and hope he’s thinking ahead with each shot rather than looking back to those “what could have been” moments.
We feel like McIlroy gets over those mental problems this week — and becomes all smiles as Scheffler slips that green jacket on him.
Scottie Scheffler’s Game Still on Point
The only problem is that Scheffler may decide to spoil the McIlroy party and keep that jacket for himself for another year.
Except for a missed five-foot putt in the semifinals of the Match Play event, we might be talking about one of the best runs of golf in a long, long time.
Scheffler’s miss opened the door for Sam Burns to eventually cruise to that Match Play title, and Scheffler wound up fourth for the week. Had Scheffler won, he would have had three wins this season and be heading into this week’s Masters, as the defending champion, full of confidence.
Now, he’s still going to be confident as one bad putt does not ruin a solid week of play. He’s just going to be upset he didn’t seal the deal at the Match Play.
Never doubt a golfer who comes into an event knowing he might have let one slip away – or one who is looking to defend a title. Scheffler has already proven he can do that this year.
Just Enjoy Tiger Woods This Week
There’s a loyal band of Tiger’s fans who will bet him to win any and every golf tournament he enters. He’s a great value at +6000 to win if we thought he might wind up with another green jacket.
Bettors will look back at that 2019 victory and say: See, we were right to never doubt him. That’s all well and good, but let’s take a minute to look at the last 10 years of his career.
He’s got 82 PGA Tour wins. But only three of those have come in the last 10 years–the 2018 Tour Championship, the 2019 Masters, and the 2020 ZOZO Championship.
Then came his car crash in February 2021, and his battle shifted to even walking again let alone swinging a golf club at a PGA Tour level.
To his credit, he’s made one of the most impressive comebacks in the history of any sport. He can still swing it with the best of them.
But, and here’s the tough part, for him to put up four solid rounds this week while walking around a very hilly Augusta National is asking a lot even for a player of his caliber.
We’re not going to join those fans betting him to win, but we will take a look at one prop pick featuring Woods in a separate story later today.
Also read: Five Bets to Make (or not) on 2023 Majors | Longshots who can win Majors in 2023 | McIlroy, Rahm Lead Odds to Win 2023 Major