Golf betting tips and free bets: SIX expert picks for the Masters including one returning champion and 100/1 long shot

So who is going to make room in his wardrobe this year for the  most coveted item of clothing any golfer could hope to pull on – the green jacket reserved for Masters winners?

It is surprising to see SEVEN men in the betting ahead of World Match Play champion Scottie Scheffler, who is generally available at 16-1.

That was the new world No 1’s third win in his last five starts. But the bookies seem to think Scheffler has peaked too soon, and the man he replaced at the top of the rankings, Jon Rahm is a clear favourite at 10-1.

They may be right about Scheffler, but Rahm’s struggles with the putter this year have been well documented, and Augusta is no place to turn up if you are short of confidence on the greens.

The pressure on Rory McIlroy to complete the career Grand Slam becomes more intense every year, which is why I’ve bypassed the Rahm-Scheffler-McIlroy trio, while trying to identify six of the best for Augusta.

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Masters tips

Hot shots: Dustin Johnson, 14-1; Cameron Smith, 16-1.

Johnson looked like he might do us a favour before running into Scheffler in the Match Play semi-finals. But his performance still provided more evidence that the 2020 Masters champion is nearing top form again.

Yes, DJ’s Augusta triumph two years ago came in November, when conditions were a lot softer than usual. But the greens were as fast as ever, and Johnson’s winning score of TWENTY under par beat Tiger Woods’ tournament record by two shots. 

For my money, an in-form DJ has to be on the short list for the next few years at least, especially when he is hitting his wedges so well.

Smith was third to Johnson in 2020 and rattled off another top ten last year. So there is no reason to think he will not be in the mix again this time.

The mullet-headed Aussie should also benefit from deciding to take a break after his impressive win at the Players Championship.

He is probably the best putter on the planet at the moment – and while the Masters is not just a putting contest, it certainly helps. 

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Mid price:  Will Zalatoris, 33-1; Sam Burns, 40-1.

Zalatoris would probably have beaten Hideki Matsuyama last year if he had performed even half-decently with the putter. Despite that handicap he was still a clear second best, just a shot behind the Japanese star.

His efforts at the Match Play, where he won his group before eventually losing in the quarter-finals – suggested he has definitely improved in that department, even if you still wouldn’t want to bet your life on him holing a six-footer.

But Augusta is not just about putting – let’s face it, Matsuyama is another player who often looks like the shortest club might go off in his hands at any moment. 

It is recognised as a second shot course, which is why the top ball strikers feature so strongly. It would not surprise me if Zalatoris finally got his first PGA Tour win on the biggest stage of all.

Burns chose to skip the Match Play, which started just three days after he successfully defended the Valspar Championship title.

That was his third win in the space of 12 months, and he also posted four other top three finishes since the start of 2021 to break into the top ten of the world rankings. Challenging for Majors is the next step on his upward curve.

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Long shots: Tyrrell Hatton, 50-1; Kevin Kisner, 100-1.

Hatton has often complained that Augusta makes him tear his hair out – but lots of things provoke that sort of reaction in the English hothead, and he has won on plenty of courses that supposedly don’t fit his eye.

His closing 68 last year lifted him into the top twenty for the first time, and should have convinced him that he CAN perform at the Masters. 

Hatton is easily the most naturally talented of the latest generation of English golfers, and has already gone close in Abu Dhabi Dubai and at Bay Hill this year. That makes him very tempting at these odds.

This is a ‘home’ match for Kisner, who was born down the road in Aiken, and studied at the University of Georgia. That allowed him plenty of opportunities to play Augusta, and to learn its intricacies.

You wouldn’t think so from looking at Kisner’s Masters record – missed cuts in the last two years, and a best finish of reid 21 in six attempts.

But one day he is going to translate his World Match Play prowess – a win and two seconds, the most recent one less than two weeks ago – into an assault on a big stroke play title. At three figure odds, it is worth taking a punt on it happening now.

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