US Masters: Stenson and McDowell the Europeans to watch
The sight of Augusta inspires plenty of fair weather hackers to get their clubs out of the loft, but the perfectly manicured fairways don’t appear to arouse the same passions in the Europeans who get to see it first hand.
It’s now well over a decade since a European golfer won in Georgia, with last year’s Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal being the last European to pull on the Green Jacket in 1999.
However, there are plenty of encouraging signs for this year’s event, with the likes of Englishmen Lee Westwood and Brian Davis both bagging top ten finishes in the Shell Houston Open last weekend.
It’s the form of a continental European that really catches the eye though and the second place finish of Swede Henrik Stenson in Houston makes him a tasty-looking prospect for Augusta.
He finished with rounds of 66 and 68 to end just one shot behind the winner and has a decent if unspectacular record at Augusta, finishing in the top 20 twice in his previous seven visits.
Crucially, he has also produced a birdie or better on exactly half of the par fives he’s played this season. Playing the long holes well is vital on any PGA or European Tour course but at Augusta it’s perhaps even more important.
He can be backed at 50/1 to win the Masters – which is exactly the same price as Graeme McDowell.
The Northern Irishman has shown his major credentials previously with a win in the 2010 US Open and has finished inside the top ten in each of his last three tour events.
He is ranked 15th in the shots gained putting stats and, after missing two consecutive cuts at Augusta, finished tied 12th in last year’s Masters.
With both players looking good and with some meaty odds to be had on them, a cheeky punt on either of those players could end up paying out a very tidy sum.