The Longshot: Cantlay can finally land a Major at Augusta

The Longshot: Cantlay can finally land a Major at Augusta

Patrick Cantlay is our choice to end his search for a Major win at Augusta.

THERE will be some added spice to the US Masters this year. We will see Middle East meet West as a whole raft of LIV golfers and PGA Tour players collide for the first major of the season.

After watching Cam Smith finish tied for third last year, being tied 10th the year before and runner-up to Dustin Johnson on his debut (when he became the first golfer in Masters history to shoot four rounds in the 60s) I fully expected to be tipping him this year.

After he won the Open at St Andrew’s with a stunning final round he looked to be on a path toward multiple major victories.

Then the Aussie joined LIV golf. Smith has missed the weekend in the last two tournaments he participated in with cuts.

There isn’t much point in postulating on whether partaking on the LIV Tour will have a major negative impact on the long-term career prospects of those who have opted to join it. Time will tell.

However, we’ll find out very shortly if not competing in 72-hole competitions with a cut and sitting out the usual events that run up to Augusta will have interrupted the progress of hot prospects like Smith (16/1) and multiple major winners like Dustin Johnson (25/1) and Brooks Koepka (50/1).

For now, I wouldn’t touch them with an extendable golf-ball retriever.

We have Rory (8/1) again trying to complete a Career Slam.

Missing out at St Andrew’s at the 150th Open will have stung a lot for the Down man, but it would be nothing compared to retiring without ever slipping on a green jacket.

Offaly man Shane Lowry was joint third with Smith last year behind McIlroy and is rated a 45/1 chance.

While Waterford’s Seamus Power is 125/1

Scottie Sheffler was imperious and unflustered during his victory procession last year but isn’t great value at 15/2 if you fancy him repeating the trick this year.

Scheffler cruised into a five-shot lead on a windswept Friday then and made it all look all far too easy after that. It was a lead he never relinquished despite early Sunday pressure from Smith.

However, looking through past results, since 1960 only Jack Nicklaus (1965/66), Nick Faldo (1989/90) and Tiger Woods (2001/02) have defended their Masters title.

Even from an each-way perspective, since Tiger (50/1 this week) defended successfully in 2002 only he himself in 2006 and Jordan Spieth in 2016 have finished in the top five when trying to hold on to their crown.

And three of the last six winners have missed the cut the next year.

So maybe give Scottie a miss, although of the top three in the betting he would be the best bet.

What of joint second favourite John Rahm. I do think he will win here eventually, but at 8/1 is maybe too short to back.

Recent winning prices have been 16/1 (Scheffler), 50/1 (Matsuyama), 9/1 (Dustin Johnson), 16/1 (Woods), 55/1 (Reed), 45/1 (Garcia), 66/1 Willett, 12/1 (Spieth), 28/1 (Watson), 28/1 (Scott) and 55/1 (Watson).

Tony Finau has been in the top-10 in three of the past five years. And he could have won on his debut in 2018 if not hampered by a dreadful ankle injury he caused himself when celebrating a hole in one (similar to our own Aidan Walsh at the Olympics in 2021).

He was tied-35th last year but some years things aren’t going to click for you at Augusta and 28/1 this time around looks like a decent shout.

Highs and lows down magnolia memory lane

GOLF’S biggest tee party begins this Thursday with the US Masters again being held on the pristine turf of Augusta National.

I’ve been tuning in since Sandy Lyle won in 1988 and I’m pretty sure I’ve never missed TV coverage of the back nine on a Sunday.

Although I could have done with avoiding Bubba Watson’s maiden win in 2012, having lumped an obscene amount on Louis Oosthuizen when he hit the green and the left-hander landed in the trees in the playoff that year.

I’ve made peace with the fact it’s unlikely I will ever make it there as a spectator. There is a lottery for tickets each year (you can enter for a brief window between June 1 and June 20 for the 2024 event) but it’s about as likely you will be selected as it is of anyone getting hole in one on the 12th.

The first time I backed the winner was back in 1999 for Jose Maria Olazabal’s second victory. Then I had to wait two decades before bagging two in a row, when I selected Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama in 2020 and 2021. The latter will always be memorable because as the Japanese golfer was beginning his final round I decided to check the cash-out options of my bet on a leading Irish bookmaker’s website (think unfunny ads).

Instead of informing me of the amount I would win when I pressed the cash-out button, it immediately paid out instead - a figure less than half of what I would eventually have won.

Yes, I did press a cash-out button, but I also did presume doing so would mean I was going to be shown the current value of potential winnings and not immediately have it paidout. Why would any punter cash out without knowing that figure? Cue many, many and extensive livechats with their customer service that evening, meaning I missed all of what should have been a most satisfying and entertaining final round. They maintained I was in the wrong.

Although it is lovely to win a few bob, what I really appreciate more is the excitement of watching your choice in the hunt and I never intended to cash in my chips with Hideki.

I immediately closed my account with that bookmaker and will never lay a bet with them again.

Atlas of Augusta

I’VE never been there but according to all reports, Augusta National is a strange place.

TV coverage suggest it is a bucolic location, carved out of sweeping countryside perhaps.

But no, it is located slap bang in the second largest city in the state of Georgia and just a driver and three wood from a busy interstate highway.

It’s actually well worth checking out the location on Google Maps, not simply to check out its less than salubrious surrounds, but to get an idea of the course map, especially if you switch your view to a satellite terrain to get a better sense of the layout among the azaleas.

Rough justice

THE Masters has long been associated with Southern gentility, having only shook off overt racism and sexism far too late in the day.

There are still some strange traditions and customs like the caddies forced to wear the same green hats and white jumpsuits as the ground staff (interestingly multiple winners only get one green jacket).

Spectators are allowed to bring collapsible chairs to sit on, but they are not allowed to have armrests.

And they are not to be called spectators either, or fans, with TV commentators ordered to name them only as “patrons”. And they are told to refer to the rough only as “the second cut”. CBS announcer Jack Whitaker referred to the gallery at the end of the 18-hole playoff in 1966 as a “mob” and was banned for the next five Masters Another CBS broadcaster, Gary McCord was never asked back after 1994 for saying: “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax.”


BARCELONA meet Madrid in another El Clasico tomorrow evening, the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. The Catalans won the first game over a month ago 1-0 at the Bernabeu and have also beaten their greatest rivals 2-1 in La Liga since then. It seems unlikely Madrid will close the gap in the league so European glory will again be their major focus and 15/2 on a 1-0 home win is advised.

The Bet

I’M going to opt for Patrick Cantlay to win his first Major at the Masters this year. His best finish was a tied-ninth in 2019 and recent from among the azaleas isn’t astounding - a +7 and +8 in the past two years.

But I could see it being a shootout with him and Sheffler and his hunger for a maiden Major getting him over the line at 20/1.

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