Backing a debutant to win at the Masters is not normally a prudent strategy on the basis that only once since 1935 has a player tamed Augusta on his first attempt. That player was Fuzzy Zoeller 37 years ago.
Among the Augusta rookies lining up this year is Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who has only known for a little over a week that he would be competing in the Masters. The Spaniard moved into the top 50 of the official world rankings, and as a result qualified for the opening major of the year, when beating Rory McIlroy in the third-place play-off at the WGC-Dell Match Play event in Texas.
He has since kept his game sharp at the Shell Houston Open, dropping only a single shot across his final three rounds to finish in fourth spot.
It’s in his short game where Cabrera-Bello has shown improvement in 2016, averaging one fewer putt per round this year compared to each of the last four.
Meanwhile, he hits the ball far enough off the tee to threaten for eagles on the Augusta par-5s.
Cabrera-Bello’s confidence is sky high, his recent form is among the most solid of all Augusta entrants and he possesses both the long and short game to cope with the course’s biggest challenges.
At 100/1, he is certainly worth an each-way Masters dabble.
Another player who looks overpriced at three-figure odds is someone who has almost the opposite profile to the Spaniard.
Bill Haas made it through the group stage of the Match Play, beating Adam Scott in the process, before surprisingly falling at the last-16 stage to Chris Kirk. Prior to that, he lost in a play-off to Charl Schwartzel at the Valspar Championship.
These performances indicate that he too arrives at Augusta in solid form.
Where he differs to Cabrera-Bello is in experience. Haas has played at the Masters six times previously and has still never missed the cut, leading after the opening round in 2014.
Interestingly, his 12th-place finish last year is not only his best at the Masters, but also his best at any major through 25 starts. For a previous FedEx Cup winner, this has to go down as underachievement.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.