Steve Palmer's first-round-leader and golf betting tips for the Masters
Aussie ace Cameron Smith looks poised for a strong start at Augusta
Golf tips, best bets and player analysis for the first round at The Masters at Augusta National, Georgia.
Where to watch
Sky Sports Main Event and Golf, 2pm Thursday
Patrick Reed to beat Viktor Hovland (tie no bet)
3pts 11-10 Betfair, Power
Collin Morikawa to beat Brooks Koepka (tie no bet)
3pts 4-5 Betfair
Louis Oosthuizen to beat Joaquin Niemann
3pts 19-20 Betfred
Cameron Smith first-round leader
1pt each-way 40-1 general
Patrick Reed upset the market leaders to win the Masters in 2018 and the most controversial character in the modern game could easily cause a stir again at Augusta this week. The Texan seems a value outsider in a tie-no-bet 72-hole match against Viktor Hovland.
Reed has seven Augusta appearances under his belt, so has a huge advantage over Hovland in terms of experience. The Norwegian is making his first Masters start as a professional having finished 32nd as an amateur in 2019.
Reed has finished in the top 13 in the last four Majors and a five-shot Farmers Insurance Open victory in January at Torrey Pines - a US Open venue - has bolstered his confidence levels. His incredible short-game skills are an enormous asset given how firm and fast the Augusta greens are playing this year. Hovland, in contrast, is poor around the greens and will probably struggle to identify the often seemingly implausible lines which must be taken to allow for the immense breaks.
Two other match-bet options which appeal are Collin Morikawa to beat Brooks Koepka (tie no bet) and Louis Oosthuizen to outscore Joaquin Niemann.
Morikawa, competing with Justin Thomas for the right to call himself the best iron-player in the sport, can approach the tiny Augusta dancefloors with confidence. Koepka, who had knee surgery last month, has admitted that walking around this extremely hilly venue will be uncomfortable for him. The Floridian seems far from certain to complete 72 holes.
Oosthuizen, a seasoned Majors performer who has won the Open and finished runner-up in the three Stateside Majors, should know too much for Niemann. The 22-year-old missed the cut by four shots in his only previous Masters start.
First-round-leader punters typically make a beeline for early starters in regulation events, but in the Masters the later Thursday starters have tended to perform better. Given temperatures are set to be much higher later on the first day - and hardly any extra wind is forecast for the afternoon groups - it may again be the second set of starters who produce the day-one leader.
In fact, the final threeball of Morikawa, Cameron Smith and Jordan Spieth (7pm) could be a strong candidate for the lowest-scoring group of the day. Smith, who relishes Augusta and usually carries a hot putter, is worth backing at 40-1 to end the day on top.
Get Steve Palmer's tips on each day of The Masters, only on Racing Post Sport. Check out his Masters outright tips, specials betting for the tournament, an in-depth player guide and course guide for the biggest golf Major of the year.
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