2023 Masters Preview: Best bets, odds, gloomy weather forecast, TV and course info

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FILE - Scottie Scheffler celebrates after putting on the green jacket after winning the 86th Masters golf tournament, April 10, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. Scheffler goes after the second leg of Grand Slam when he plays the PGA Championship on May 19-22 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

If you’re a golf enthusiast who loves weather delays, water hazards in the middle of the fairway, rain jackets and a whole mess of a plan, we have a major treat for you. As in, the soon-to-be weather-plagued first major tournament of the year.

It’s Masters week, and Mother Nature decided she wanted a front-row seat. As of Tuesday afternoon, the weather forecast calls for rain all day on Friday and Saturday, which likely means a lot of sitting around followed by a lot of trying to rush in as many holes as possible.

Barring a completely incorrect forecast, there’s a better than even-money chance that this tournament will run past its scheduled end, which is currently late afternoon on Easter Sunday.

Who does this favor? What about the big three of defending champ Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, who are the overwhelming favorites at +850 or lower? What are the intricacies of Augusta National? Who are the favorites we like? Who are the longer shots with the best chance to make a run?

Let’s dive into these questions with a full breakdown of The 2023 Masters:

THE COURSE

Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

Note: Course information, in part, aggregated from Andy Lack, who writes a weekly tournament preview for RickRunGood.com.

2022 winner: Scottie Scheffler (-10) defeated Rory McIlroy by three strokes.

Designed: In 1933 by Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones with multiple redesigns, including in 2008.

Length: Par 72, 7,545 yards (35 yards longer than 2022, all of those yards come at the par-5 13th hole)

Hazards: Rough shorter than most courses, bunkers deeper and water comes into play on five holes.

“Amen Corner:” Possibly the most famous three-hole stretch of holes in the game of golf, the 11th through 13th holes at The Masters provide an insane challenge for even the world’s best golfers. The 12th hole, in particular, has water in front of it, is surrounded by bunkers and it forces players to be incredibly accurate onto a peanut-shaped, horizontal green.

If a golfer is lucky enough to make it onto the green with his tee shot, what thoughts are going through his mind as he crosses the Hogan Bridge wondering what sort of undulations he’ll have to putt through to get his ball in the hole?

Oh, and then if you’re lucky enough to escape 11 and 12 with par or better, you get to head to 13, where a 545-yard par 5 (which is up from 510 yards in 2022) will dare you to try and reach the green in two shots. If you fail, you face the risk of an embarrassing double bogey or worse that just might eliminate your chances of winning the tournament – or even making the cut on Thursday or Friday.

WEATHER FORECAST

(according to The Weather Channel)

Thursday: Cloudy and a 20% chance of rain with a high of 86 (winds S 5-10 mph)

Friday: Rainy (80% chance) with a high of 74 (winds N 10-15 mph)

Saturday: Rainy (100% at least some point in the day) and much colder with a high of 53 (winds NE 10-15 mph)

Sunday: Cloudy with likely periods of rain (60%) a high of 62 (winds NE 10-15 mph)

TV INFORMATION

Thursday: ESPN+ from 8:45 a.m. until 7 p.m. with featured hole and group coverage, as well as live overall coverage on ESPN from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday: ESPN+ from 8:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. with featured hole and group coverage, as well as live overall coverage on ESPN from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: ESPN+ from 10:45 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. with featured hole and group coverage, as well as live overall coverage on CBS from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday: ESPN+ from 10:15 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with featured hole and group coverage, as well as live overall coverage on ESPN from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

BEST BETS

OUTRIGHT WIN BETS

Cameron Smith (+3500 at DraftKings)

The bet: $30 to win $1,050

Our take: Yes, yes I have a LIV golfer at the top of my list, and have already been asked by a couple of my buddies if I am feeling OK. But this isn’t LIV, and I don’t hold grudges when it comes to money (not usually, anyway).

Earlier in the blog, we talked about the course and some nuggets from Andy Lack of RickRunGood. He also has some trends for The Masters that I always hold true when finding who I am going with at the top.

Smith ranks sixth in the world, has played well as of late, and has three top-5 finishes at Augusta over the past five years. Also, with the weather forecast, it reminds me of Smith winning The Players Championship in 2022 under similar conditions. Some people love Rory here. I like Smith.

Rory McIlroy (+750 at DraftKings)

The bet: $20 to win $150

Our take: What I generally do for majors is put $30 on my No. 1 bet, $20 on my No. 2 and $10 on No. 3. And if I don’t take one of the favorites with my overall No. 1, I often take that spot at second almost as a hedge.

That hedge can only be one of three golfers this week: Scottie, Rahm or Rory. The reason I am most high on Rory is because of his success in bad weather and his past success in it. Also, the fact he can drive the ball better than anyone else – especially in these kinds of conditions – has me also watching to see if I can get a bargain (or sort of) on him live during the tournament if he doesn’t start out so great.

Because as long as this guy is within three or four shots of the lead going into the final round, he is capable of winning.

Will Zalatoris (+4400 at FanDuel)

The bet: $10 to win $440

Our take: This is way more than a hedge; this is flat-out value for a guy who has finished sixth and second at Augusta in his only two tournaments here in 2022 and 2021. And while he hasn’t played great golf the past few weeks since finishing fourth at the Genesis, there’s just something about The Masters.

Suddenly, Zalatoris’ putter comes alive here, although he is anything but one of the world’s best on the greens. Add in the fact he is one of the Tour’s top drivers, and he could have several eagle putts this weekend.

OTHER BETS

Cameron Smith to finish top 10 and top 20 (+240 and -105 at DraftKings)

The bet: $15 to win $36 top 10; $21 to win $20 top 20

Justin Rose to finish top 10 (+400 at DraftKings)

The bet: $10 to win $40

Max Homa to finish in top 20 (+100 at DraftKings)

The bet: $30 to win $30

Tony Finau to finish in top 5 (+400 at DraftKings)

The bet: $10 to win $40

Other players to watch: Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Joaquin Niemann and Harold Varner.

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