It’s been a little under four months since Dustin Johnson slipped the famous Green Jacket on but the biggest names in golf are back at Augusta National for the 85th edition of the Masters.
DJ stormed to his first Masters’ title by a record-breaking five shots on 20-under par last November and the world No.1 is the 9/1 favourite to go back-to-back.
However, Johnson’s form recent of one top 20 finish in his last four starts, coupled with the return to the hard and fast conditions that accompany the first major of the year being played in the spring, rather than the soft greens of the autumn, leaves him looking vulnerable.
Plenty of the top contenders have been in better form than Johnson recently, including Jordan Spieth (11/1 – Masters outright), who ended his title drought with victory at the Valero Texas Open last week.
The 2015 Masters champion appears ready to climb back to the top of the mountain after a major slump that saw him drop out of the world’s top 100 at one point and he’s warned the field he can take his game to new heights in Georgia.
Spieth after his victory last week: “It is pretty awesome when I look back and think there’s a next level that I’ve been at that I’m still searching for right now.”
Justin Thomas (10/1 – Masters outright) will also feel like he can contend after victory at the Players Championship last month, while the ultra-confident Bryson Dechambeau (11/1), who won the US Open last year, believes his big-hitting from the tee makes par at Augusta 68.
As far as the European challenge is concerned, Jon Rahm (12/1) leads the way as he bids to become the fourth Spaniard to win the event.
Compatriot Sergio Garcia (50/1) was the last European to win the Masters in 2017 and Rahm has his work cut out to deny a strong contingent of US contenders, especially after arriving late at Augusta following the birth of his son last weekend.
The world No.3 will need to hit the ground running and is part of one of the featured groups for the first two rounds, playing alongside Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy, with the latter 18/1 to pick up that Green Jacket to complete a career Grand Slam (Rahm 6/4, McIlroy 7/4, Schauffele 2/1 – 1st round 3 balls).
That triad go out a little after Johnson has got his title defence under way, DJ being paired with Lee Westwood and US Amateur Champion Tyler Strafaci, while the main focus of those teeing off in the afternoon is likely to be on the final trio to go out; Jordan Spieth, Cameron Smith, Collin Morikawa (Spieth 11/8, Morikawa 19/10, Smith 2/1 – 1st round 3 balls).
The action at the Masters gets under way at 13:12 UK time when the first trio go out and Betfred have a whole host of specials markets to check out before then, including the winning margin, with another four shots or more victory at 11/4.