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Former Champions make up outsider contenders for US Masters title

| 07.04.2016

Simon Sinclair | April 4, 2016

The waiting is over and this year’s first golf Major is upon us as the world’s best will converge on Augusta for the US Masters next week.

Jason Day won the last title of the 2015 season with victory of the PGA Championship, and he is expected to battle current Green Jacket holder Jordan Spieth all the way for this crown.

However, there are plenty of options that could spring a surprise at Augusta come Sunday evening.

Watson to rekindle old magic

Masters Golf

One name that should never have been out of contention for the Green Jacket is that of two-time champion Bubba Watson.

The 37-year-old always seems to rise to the occasion at Augusta, with his only two Major wins coming on the course in 2012 and 2014.

However, Watson fared poorly in his defence last year, finishing well out of contention down in 38th place, leaving him with something to prove this time around.

He has been building into form nicely since the turn of the New Year with a win at the Northern Trust Open, while he finished second at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Watson failed to fire at the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play last week, failing to reach the last 16 stage, although that will mean he is well rested for his challenges at the US Masters.

The Florida-born left-hander has odds of 12/1 with Coral to win the tournament for a third time, which would elevate him into the company of players such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson.

Due to his form it could be an enticing option, although a safer bet may be an each-way stake for a top-six finish.

Oosthuizen desperate to add second crown

Match Play Golf

Louis Oosthuizen was the losing party when Watson clinched his first Masters title back in 2012, with the South African being defeated in a play-off.

The 33-year-old announced his arrival to the world with a stunning win at The Open in 2010, emerging out of nowhere to record an outstanding seven-shot victory.

Since then the South African has always been a competitor for the Majors, although he has fallen narrowly short of adding to his solitary crown.

Along with his defeat in 2012 to Watson, Oosthuizen was narrowly beaten by Spieth at the US Open last year by one shot at Chambers Bay, while weeks later he missed out in another play-off in The Open to American Zach Johnson at St Andrews.

The bitterness of those narrow losses will have eaten away at the South African, leaving him desperate for success at Augusta, although he has failed to contend in Georgia for the past three years.

Oosthuizen has been in decent form this season and he reached the final of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play last week, only to be crushed by Day in 5&4 scoreline.

At 33/1 he is an outside bet for the title, but is a very intriguing option for an each-way punt.

Mickelson eyes return to glory

Match Play Golf

Mickelson has enjoyed great success at the Augusta course throughout his career, with 15 finishes inside the top 10.

The 45-year-old was only outdone last year by the brilliance of Spieth as he attempted to launch a charge to secure his fourth crown, only to lose out to his compatriot by four strokes.

Other than Woods and Nicklaus no other player in the history of the professional of the game has enjoyed such dominance on the course, while he also seems to relish the final day pressure.

Mickelson’s form appeared to desert him last season following his failure at the US Masters, but he will be keen to prove to the new rising stars around the game that he still has what it takes to win a major.

He has been in decent form since the turn of the year on the PGA Tour without adding a title to his grandiose collection, although the American did finish fifth at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

‘Lefty’ has odds of 22/1 to wear the Green Jacket for a fourth time in his career, but due to his outstanding record at this course it would be prudent to add an each-way option onto the bet.

Johnson to end major misery

Houston Open Golf

Dustin Johnson has become the nearly-man of the PGA Tour following his narrow defeats in Majors over the course of his career.

The 31-year-old’s implosion at the US Open last year on the back nine cost him his first title as Spieth profited from his mistakes to clinch the crown.

Johnson has always managed to put himself in strong positions to make a charge, but come the final day has not been able to handle the pressure to get over the line.

His frustration will have been palpable, although he still has plenty of time on his side to achieve glory and has great ability with all his strokes on the course.

Johnson has been in solid form this season with top 10 finishes at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Northern Trust Open and the Houston Shell Open, while he also reached the quarter-finals of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play.

The South Carolina-born star is expected to be well in the mix at 20/1, but considering his past failings a safe bet would be to cover a top-five finish.

Rose to notch second crown?

Bay Hill Golf

Justin Rose has been extremely consistent at the Majors over the past three years of his career following his triumph at the US Open in 2013.

The 35-year-old broke his duck at Merion Golf Club by beating out Day and Mickelson on the final day on a tricky course in Philadelphia.

Rose was in contention for the Green Jacket last year, placing in second four shots behind Spieth, despite carding a solid final round of one-under.

The South African-born Englishman maintained his form throughout the season, placing in sixth at The Open and fourth at the PGA Championship, although he was unable to add to his solitary success.

Rose has been in decent touch in 2016, notching three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, but he would have been frustrated by his poor final round of one-over at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He failed to reach the knockout phase of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, meaning that he will be desperate to make amends at the first Major of the season.

Rose has not missed the cut at Augusta in the 10 tournaments he has competed in, which means that he has always been in the mix on the final day, making a good case for an each-way bet, with his odds of winning the competition at true outsider at 30/1.


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Simon Sinclair