US Masters Q&A: Westwood to lead European charge at Augusta

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The 78th Masters is drawing closer and as Ladbrokes customers compile their shortlist ahead of the tournament getting underway at Augusta, we are giving you some of the best insights around with the view from the trading floor.

Ladbrokes’ Brad Barry talks the bookmaker’s offer and where the European challenge will come from, the absence of Tiger Woods, who will go off favourite and the conditions in Georgia to give you that head start over the rest!

On where the European charge will come from….

Brad Barry says: Punters seem to think the European charge will come from Lee Westwood and he has been the best backed player with us since the weekend. He was 66/1 back then but came into 50/1 and he is our worst result as it stands at this moment.

Where he sits in the market at 40/1 at the moment I don’t envisage him being the worst result for us come the start of the tournament. He is there because he drifted to such a price and then he actually showed a little bit of form over the weekend that he became attractive to punters.

But if you are ignoring Rory you are looking at Garcia to mount a European challenge but you have to wonder whether he is mentally strong enough to land a big one.

Justin Rose is still carrying a bit of an injury and I’m not sure how many chances you can give the likes of Luke Donald. While I’m not overly confident, I’m quietly confident we won’t be returning everyone’s money this year.

On who will go off as favourite for the first major of the year…

BB says: We did push McIlroy out to 12/1 as well and if anything there has been slightly stronger support for Scott up until now. The difference between the two of them you could say is that McIlroy doesn’t really have a lot of course form at Augusta.

Everybody will remember him with a big lead going into the final round and collapsing on the back nine but if you actually take a look at his finishing positions in recent years he hasn’t actually got much form at the course.

Similarly to Scott, he gave up a winning opportunity earlier this season and he is still not back to his full potential just yet. It’s very tight between the pair at the head of the market but with Steve Palmer of the Racing Post going with Rory as his headline selection that should lead to him ending up clear favourite at around 10/1.

On how the market has evolved without Tiger Woods…

BB says: This year, more so than any other, his loss to the tournament isn’t as big a loss as it might of been in recent years.

With his injuries and lack of success comparative to what it was previously I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him go off at something like 14/1 or 16/1.

It’s not like as in previous years when he was a 4/1, 2/1 or 6/4 chance and it would not have made a big difference to turnover.

If anything it’s a boost to turnover because the tournament is more open but I’m not sure the tournament executives see it that way! We’ve just had a quick comparison to last year to see where we are and the business is up turnover-wise.

On the chances of Adam Scott defending his title…

BB says: Adam Scott finished last year in great form but he gave up a really good winning opportunity earlier in the season and it seems he’s deliberately not played much in the build-up to the Masters.

He has turned down plenty of opportunities to be playing and I’m led to believe it’s his intention to come to Augusta fresh. It’s different strokes for different folks. Mickelson always likes to play the week before a Major tournament, other people like some time off. I just think Scott might be lacking a little bit of match practice and he was 10/1 but now we have pushed him out to 12/1 and it’s not been knocked over by a long stretch.

On who Ladbrokes would like to get beat this week at Augusta...

BB says: We’ve pushed the front few in the market all out because they’ve all got varying degrees of question marks hanging over them. We’ve already mentioned Adam and Rory, while Phil Mickelson is also carrying a slight injury from the last couple of weeks and he’s the most likely one.

I think Jason Day is just underpriced for the amount of times he has actually won. He also choked in the final round at the Masters last year with the tournament at his mercy.

If you consider the amount of tournaments Phil has won compared to Day and that’s the reason to take him on. The likes of Garcia and Kuchar are still unproven in Major championships and that is why they have all been pushed out. We’ll take them all on.

On how the weather and conditions at Augusta could affect the race to pull on the green jacket…

BB says: Practice may have been called off due to thunderstorms on Monday but looking at the forecast up until Friday it looks much drier.

I have just been watching the replay of last year’s tournament and it was very notable on the last day when it rained the course really softened up and it made it possible to attack the pins and the greens a lot more and it made for a very exciting finish.

If we do get rain at the weekend and the course loses some of its difficulty it should make for some exciting tournament but whether there’ll be a rainy night in Georgia I can’t really say.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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