US Masters Preview: Cool Hand Luke the value

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The US Masters gets underway at Augusta today, and Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy head the market at 11/2 and 13/2 respectively.

Woods has had the bookies running scared after landing the Arnold Palmer, but that was not a strong contest and his odds looks extremely skinny.

OK, he does have a brilliant record at Augusta and is a class act at his best. But in my opinion he is still a long way off getting back to anywhere near his best and I feel that his odds are based more on reputation than anything else and that he should be at least double the price on offer.

To me he has to be taken on.

McIlroy is undoubtedly a brilliant young talent, and having won his first major is the type of player that will go on racking up success after success.

But it is hard to forget the nightmare he endured in this event last year when he had a fantastic opening three rounds and looked to have the event at his mercy before falling to bits on the final day.

The Irishman is sure to have learned plenty from that disaster, but it’s hard to feel that he will not have flashbacks during this year’s event and at the odds on offer he doesn’t look much value.

A far better bet is surely Luke Donald, who is currently the World number 1 due to some great successes and his consistency over the past year.

He is one player who constantly delivers at the highest level and is ice cool under pressure. For the last 3 years Donald has been in the top 10 at least for putting and scrambling and these are two skills are essential at Augusta.

At 15/1 he looks sure to give you a terrific run for your money, and represents solid each-way value.

Of the outsiders, I am tempted to have a small play on Martin Kaymer at 70/1.

The Former World number 1 warmed up for this with an unbelievable hole-in-one at the par-three 16th here earlier in the week.

The German tried his luck with a trick shot during a practice round and wowed the crowds by skipping the ball across the pond near the 16th green and watched as it trickled down the hill and into the pin.

He’s known as one of the most unflappable players in golf but it’s fair to say that this course has got inside Kaymer’s head and he has missed the cut in the last four years.

However his career away from Augusta has been filled with success, and it is surely only a matter of time before he conquers the course which has haunted him.

The 27-year-old has already racked up 10 European Tour wins and, in 2010, made the leap to major champion after taking victory in the USPGA at Whistling Straits.

That success helped him become world number one in early 2011, and he again showed his brilliance by winning the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai last November.

Recommended bets: 3pts each-way Luke Donald (15/1 bet365, 1/4 odds 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt each-way Martin Kaymer (70/1 Boylesports, 1/4 odds 1,2,3,4,5,6)

*Coverage of the Masters begins at 7pm on Sky Sports 1

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