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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Kevin Chappell may not give his playing partners a prayer

Cameron Smith boarding the tee with self-belief

Kevin Chappell has declared himself fully fit for battle
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An illustrious gang of superstars have been stacked in the final four threeballs by Masters organisers, with Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson all teeing off extremely late for round one at Augusta National.

Enormous galleries will be following the two biggest names who are out early – Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas. Woods, seeking his 15th Major title, will accompany Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood in the 3.42pm (UK & Ireland time) match, while USPGA champion Thomas joins defending champion Sergio Garcia and young amateur Doc Redman at 3.53pm.

The best threeball wager on the card comes in a much more low-key affair, with Kevin Chappell looking a rock-solid favourite in the fourth group out. Chappell suffered some back problems in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but he has reported himself fully fit for the Masters and could play a leading role.

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Jeremy Chapman's verdict

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Top Amateur & Debutant


Chappell closed with a 68 for seventh place at Augusta last year, having arrived in poor form, so there is every reason to expect something similar this time given his bright start to the year. He was seventh at Bay Hill last month and has been swinging well. The Californian has always been one of the most accurate players on the US Tour with his approach shots, which is the key to success in the first Major of the season.

Chappell is playing in his third Masters, which gives him a significant edge over playing partner Dylan Frittelli, who is making his debut. The other member of the 2.03pm contest is Jose Maria Olazabal, an essentially retired 52-year-old, so Chappell should be long odds-on for victory.

Course guide

Player guide part one

Player guide part two

The Masters quiz

The two other threeball options that appeal are Cameron Smith and Si Woo Kim. Smith is slowly but surely becoming one of the best players in the world, with his confidence increasing since he landed his first individual title as a professional in the Australian PGA in December.

Smith made an excellent Major debut, finishing fourth in the 2015 US Open, and he was 55th on his Masters debut the following year, a performance which came when he was outside the top 100 of the world rankings. He is up to 45th, having posted five top-20s on the US Tour this year, and can assert himself over Billy Horschel and Chez Reavie in the 4.26pm gathering.

Horschel has played abysmally for ten months, while Reavie has missed three cuts from three attempts at Augusta. Smith is the only one of the trio who can approach the first tee with confidence.

The injury-prone Kim sensibly took a week off before the Masters to make sure his troublesome back was in mint condition and his second trip to Augusta should go better than the first, which ended on the Friday night.

The Korean starlet, a hugely impressive Sawgrass champion last year, has played enough decent golf this season to suggest he will make short work of 60-year-old Sandy Lyle and amateur Doug Ghim in the 4.37pm match.

K Chappell
4pts 10-11 bet365
C Smith
2pts 6-4 Coral, Ladbrokes
S W Kim
2pts 9-10 bet365

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Horschel has played abysmally for ten months, while Reavie has missed three cuts from three attempts at Augusta
E.W. Terms
Sky bet