Steam-train starts for Stenson and Sneds bode well for Masters
Making Masters predictions in mid-February seems a little hasty, but checking the mercury of both main tours could give potential punters an advantage in maximising ante-post prices.
While the likes of Jordan Spieth – last year’s unstoppable winner – and Career Grand Slam-chasing Rory McIlroy won’t see much, if any fluctuation from starting prices of 5/1 and 6s respectively, plenty will.
Horses for courses never rang truer than at Augusta National, where players tend to get it, or don’t, but unlike the ubiquitous duo mentioned above, form will play a big role come April.
Finding the right blend of dependable Masters performances in previous years, sparkling current form and a little bit of luck, can pay handsome dividends as Valentine’s Day is thankfully shelved for another 12 months.
Two players leaving nothing to Lady Luck early in their respective 2016 seasons are former FedExCup champions Brandt Snedeker and Henrik Stenson the man who succeeded him in 2013 en-route to a tour double.
Both men are currently enjoying the status of highest earner on the PGA Tour and European Tours respectively.
Boasting a win at the Farmer’s Insurance Open and two other top-three postings in five starts, Snedeker heads the FedExCup standings, while Race to Dubai leader Stenson is no worse than sixth in three starts, following the AT&T Pebble Beach and Tswane Opens.
But what about their Augusta form and the skills it takes to win it? In both these respects the omens are good.
Snedeker may have endured an off year in 2015 when missing the cut, but up until then he had displayed an affinity for Augusta National, finishing 3rd in 2008 and then letting a share of the 54-hole lead agonisingly slip away to a place sixth in 2013.
Guess what? The predatory putter leads the PGA Tour in final rounds this season.
Meanwhile, Stenson has been Mr Consistent on the glassy greens down in Georgia, posting three consecutive top 20 finishes and five in ten starts overall.
Playing at his double-tour winning best those numbers can easily be improved upon for a player who has never had trouble getting distance off the tee, regarded as a must by many Masters aficionados.
This year, signs Stenson is heading back towards the heights can be found in key stats for driving accuracy, where he ranks 15th, and GIR, where his 80 per cent is only .01 per cent down on McIlroy on top of the pile.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.