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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Moody Bubba Watson may fail to live up to the hype

Casey looks ready to hit leaderboard again

Bubba Watson beat Kevin Kisner 7 & 6 in the WGC Match Play final
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Bubba Watson has rapidly restored his golfing reputation with two victories on the US Tour since the middle of February, but it is too early in his resurgence for him to feature in match bets against the world number one.

The moody Watson could lose his form as quickly as it came. The mercurial left-hander has a fantastic record at Riviera, the first of his comeback triumphs, and the second was in the WGC-Match Play, an event which could hardly be more different to the challenge he faces this week.

Of course, Watson is a two-time Masters champion who knows how to succeed at Augusta, but his other seven appearances have been disappointing, with his last three visits yielding form figures of 38-37-MC. Less than two months ago, he was world number 117, and Dustin Johnson is much preferred in a Masters match.

In contrast to the struggles of Watson at the Cathedral of Pines in recent years, Johnson has finished sixth and fourth in his last two starts there. He missed the last edition due to injury, falling down a staircase on tournament-eve, but has rented a cottage this week to make sure no such misfortune befalls him again.


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Jeremy Chapman's verdict

The return of Tiger Woods

Top Amateur & Debutant

Specials


Johnson has not been in peak form this year, and he bowed out early at the Match Play, but he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions by eight shots in January and was runner-up at Pebble Beach in February. He has been top of the world rankings for more than a year and should be an emphatic favourite to beat Watson in a 72-hole duel.

Paul Casey has been walking with even more of a swagger than usual after winning the Valspar Championship last month and the Englishman is expecting to get his name on the Masters leaderboard for a fourth year in succession.

Casey has finished sixth, fourth and sixth in the last three Masters, and could be more dangerous than ever at the age of 40. The pint-sized powerhouse can certainly be fancied to account for Jon Rahm, who has gone slightly off the boil in the last couple of months.

From the weekend of the Farmers Insurance Open onwards, Rahm has struggled for consistency. Victory in the Farmers would have given him the world number one spot, but he carded rounds of 75 and 77 to drop to 29th place, and has since gone into his shell.

Casey is making his 12th Masters appearance and can boast seven top-20s while Rahm has only one previous spin under his belt.


Course guide

Player guide part one

Player guide part two

The Masters quiz


The other match-bet option which appeals is Phil Mickelson to beat Jason Day. Mickelson has been a standing dish at Augusta since the mid-90s and his course record is phenomenally consistent.

Lefty's tail is up after a recent win and his all-round game appears in much better nick than that of Day. Hitting your iron shots close is the key to success at Augusta and Mickelson has been doing much more of that recently than Day.

Recommendations
D Johnson to beat B Watson
3pts 8-11 Betway
P Casey to beat J Rahm
2pts 4-5 Coral, Ladbrokes
P Mickelson to beat J Day
2pts 10-11 Betway

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Hitting your iron shots close is the key to success at Augusta and Mickelson has been doing much more of that recently than Day
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