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Late surge on Matsuyama to grab Masters glory

Augusta battered by wind and rain

Hideki Matsuyama is a popular choice
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Heavy rain and thunderstorms battered Augusta on Wednesday, drenching the famous course on the eve of the first Major of the season.

Tuesday was the only official practice day in which players could get a full session of work in at the Georgia venue, meaning the 19 Masters debutants are going into competition with less knowledge of the layout than they would have hoped.

Augusta has a state-of-the-art, underground SubAir suction system which can dry the course more quickly than most, but soft conditions can be expected for at least the first round. A pleasant weekend is forecast.

Hideki Matsuyama took over at the top of Coral’s liabilities, the firm reporting the Japanese star as a consistently popular selection at 20-1. Spokesman John Hill said Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were their main bogeys.

“We’re happy for Jordan Spieth or Jason Day to pick up the Green Jacket,” said Hill. “They are the two players in the top five of the betting who we appear to have on our side. Matsuyama has played well at Augusta over the last couple of years and if he wins, we will be licking our wounds late into Sunday night.”

Bet365 are fearing a Johnson victory, while Marc Leishman, Tyrrell Hatton and Daniel Berger attracted significant late each-way support.

Spokesman Steve Freeth added: “We’ve hardly taken a bean on former Masters winners Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel and Adam Scott. Punters aren’t expecting that trio to tame Augusta again.”

McIlroy is available at 9-1 with Betfair and as short as 7-1 elsewhere.

The Northern Irishman is hoping that his thorough preparation at Augusta will finally deliver the missing piece of his Grand Slam dream.

“I’ve played here a good bit over the last couple of weeks,” said McIlroy. “And I’ve played well. I’ve shot some good scores and I feel like I know what I’m doing around here. It’s all there and I know it’s all there – it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.

“Even driving down Magnolia Lane this morning for the first time this week, it didn’t feel that special because I’ve done it so much in the last couple of weeks. The more you can make Augusta National feel like your home golf course, the better. Just being comfortable with your surroundings and playing it as if it were your home course.”

McIlroy is available at 9-1 with Betfair and as short as 7-1 elsewhere
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