2024 Masters Bettors’ Roundtable: Favorites, Sleepers, Props and Best Bets for Augusta National

Is Scottie Scheffler inevitable? Which sleepers could emerge? And which LIV golfers have the biggest gripe? Our panel of golf writers and gambling experts break down the week at Augusta.
Apr 7, 2024; Augusta, Georgia, USA; Masters champion Scottie Scheffler presents awards during the
Apr 7, 2024; Augusta, Georgia, USA; Masters champion Scottie Scheffler presents awards during the / Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

Masters week has arrived, and as always there are numerous story angles and betting possibilities as we kick off the week. Here to break it down we have once again convened a panel of Sports Illustrated golf writers and editors; Bob Harig, John Schwarb, John Pluym and Jeff Ritter, plus two heavy hitters from Rotowire’s fantasy golf and gambling coverage: Len Hochberg and Greg Vara. Onto the Masters. 

Scottie Scheffler has won two of his last three events and has finished outside the top 10 exactly once in 2024. Scheffler is +400 to win at most sportsbooks, a Tiger-in-his-prime kind of price. Is there such a thing as a win price too low to bet, regardless of the player?

John Pluym, SI.com Managing Editor: No. Scheffler is the best player on the PGA Tour. He’s also one of the best, if not the best, ballstrikers in the game and can keep the ball in the fairway, which is no easy task at Augusta National. The big challenge for Scheffler? Putting. If he can stay consistent throughout all four rounds, there’s no doubt he’ll be in it Sunday with a chance to win. So far, his putter hasn’t let down the back-to-back Players champion, so why not pick up a few easy bucks. 

Len Hochberg, Rotowire.com Fantasy Golf Expert: Absolutely. Especially for a player who, as dominating as Scheffler has been, has a potentially fatal flaw. His 5-foot miss that would've sent the Houston Open to a playoff is still fresh. Imagine betting Scheffler and having to sweat out every short putt on the back-nine of Augusta National on Sunday? You not only need the cash to be Scheffler, but the stomach, too.

John Schwarb, SI Golf Senior Editor: Tiger was +250 in his prime for a reason, as Scheffler is +400 now, but it's still golf. Stuff happens. Longshots have dominated the PGA Tour this season and there are longshots this week capable of winning. I want at least around 20-1 on my money when betting to win and if I get beat by a favorite, well, that’s gambling.

Bob Harig, SI Golf Senior Writer: Golf being the unpredictable sport that it is, the idea of betting on one player over the field – as strong as someone like Scheffler looks – seems a bad bet. Even at the height of the Tiger domination days, he certainly didn’t win the Masters every time he was such an odds-on favorite. I have no problem with the idea that Scheffler looks like such a sure thing. He’s been playing terrific golf, hitting greens is a huge factor at Augusta National, and he’s been a constant contender. But he seems too good to be true.

Greg Vara, Rotowire Fantasy Golf Expert: Yes, and this number certainly qualifies. I generally stay away from anything in the single-digits, let alone a number less than 5-1 at a major, against the best players in the world. Scheffler is clearly the best player on the planet right now and perhaps if he had looked better in Houston (yes I realize he missed a playoff by one stroke) I might consider him at a single-digit price this week, but 4-1 is a hard pass considering his putting woes might be back. 

Jeff Ritter, SI Golf Managing Director: Scheffler deserves Tiger-in-his-prime odds and he looks like the one player in the field who could make this a very boring Masters, which is a compliment to him and a bit ominous for us. But 4-1 odds is crazy. Even with vintage Tiger, taking the “field” was more often the better bet. 

Since last year’s Masters, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf announced an agreement to work together and start a joint venture. But this week LIV is still very much a separate entity, and a limited number of its players are in the field this week. Which LIV golfers most deserve to gripe about not being at Augusta this week? 

Pluym: Louis Oosthuizen has played in every Masters since 2009, including a second-place finish in 2012. He’s been consistent playing in majors, too, finishing as a runner-up in all four events in his career. He broke through to win the 2010 Open at St. Andrews. Still, Oosthuizen will not play in this year’s Masters due to LIV players not receiving OWGR points. But great players should be allowed to play in great tournaments. Oosthuizen will be missed.

Hochberg: There are many LIV golfers deserving of a Masters spot. Thirteen of them, in fact. And they all got a spot in the tournament. No LIV guy who isn't in the field has a legitimate gripe, though that certainly wouldn't mollify Talor Gooch. Twelve LIV guys qualified for the Masters. The 13th, Joaquin Niemann, didn't. He received a special invitation from Augusta National Golf Club. But only after he made a real effort to qualify, traveling the globe to play non-LIV events. Gooch didn't do any of that.

Schwarb: I can see the eyerolls already but I say Talor Gooch. He won LIV’s individual points race last season, and going forward the majors should award exemptions to the previous year’s LIV champion. 

Harig: Oosthuizen and Gooch have the strongest arguments. Oosthuizen, of course, won two DP World Tour events at the end of last season and would all but certainly have earned an invite via the Official Golf Ranking if LIV Golf were getting any level of points. As it is, he’s ranked 43rd in Data Golf’s rankings. Gooch has become an easy target because of his “asterisk’’ comments but he did win three times on LIV last year, and that does mean something even if we don’t know exactly what. He played in three majors last year and should have played in the U.S. Open, but hurt himself with poor performances. Through all that, he’s still 39th in Data Golf.

Vara: Honestly, I’m not sure any of them can gripe, but perhaps the early defectors might have more of a case than when they first left. Not all the information was out there on how things would work. Then again, those that left later might have been under the assumption that some type of merger was on the horizon. I think it boils down to this, the LIV players took the money and they have to live with that. There are a handful of golfers that might have been in the field if LIV were getting world ranking points, but again, they chose money over competition and they have to live with that. 

Ritter: It’s the Gooch. Like Schwarb said, he won a bunch last year and took the tour’s season-long title. He should have a spot in the field, but he made his choice to join LIV and this is part of the consequences.

Could a LIV golfer snag the green jacket? Who has the best shot?

Pluym: Absolutely. Jon Rahm took home the green jacket in 2023. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are former winners, too. I don’t think you can count any of them out, especially with their experience at Augusta. And don’t forget about Brooks Koepka, who has four top 12s in his past six Masters, including two runner-up finishes.

Schwarb: Brooks Koepka lives for majors and showed what he learned from last year’s Masters Sunday by winning the very next major at Oak Hill. He’s very close to the top of my betting sheet.

Harig: No question. Rahm and Koepka did it last year and there’s no reason they can’t be in the mix again. Same for Cam Smith and Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. Why not Joaquin Niemann or Tyrrell Hatton. Koepka seems like he has some unfinished business at Augusta National, with a couple of seconds (2019 and 2023) that left him frustrated

Hochberg: Oh, absolutely. A bunch of them have a shot. Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed all finished top-5 last year. None would surprise me by winning, save Mickelson. And then there's Joaquin Niemann and Cameron Smith, so that's six LIV guys who could win the Green Jacket.

Vara: I think this past year showed that the LIV golfers that are good enough to be at a major, can certainly win a major. With that said, I’d set that number at four of 13 with at least a decent chance of winning this week, Koepka, Rahm, Niemann and Smith. Speaking of Smith, I think this is a big year for him. When he left the PGA Tour, he was in the conversation as one of the best players on the planet, but his performance at the majors this past year saw him exit that conversation. It will be interesting to see if he can find his best form this year at the majors. 

Ritter: Each of the 13 LIV guys in the field has a shot (except maybe Phil and Sergio). I like Brooks and Cam Smith the best of the bunch. 

The Masters is the best golf gambling week of the year, and there are prop bet opportunities galore. What’s one off-the-radar prop you like this week? 

Pluym: I love the hole-in-one prop. There have been 33 aces in Masters history, the last by Stewart Cink in 2022. I’d put my money on Scheffler and Rory McIlroy.

Ritter: Aces are fun, but for serious adrenaline step up and bet “anytime albatross,” which I’ve seen at 12-1 odds or higher. There have only been four in tournament history, with Oosty in 2012 the last to do it.

Hochberg: I saw one on FanDuel I couldn't believe is true. I squinted to make sure I saw the correct number of zeros. But the prop was that Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka would finish 1-2 in any order, at +15000. Heck, imagine them going to a 2-man playoff? Entirely, entirely possible.

Harig: Easy. Tiger yes/no on making the cut. He’s made 23 in a row, tying a Masters record he shares with Gary Player and Fred Couples. A made cut gives him the all-time record, which would be fitting. But there are so many doubts about his game.

Vara: I’ve always been partial to the odds around the cut line, whether certain players will make the cut and where the line will actually fall. For the latter, weather usually plays a big role in deciding which way I lean as well as hearing the commentary from the players about the course after their practice rounds. 

Schwarb: Here’s a very un-sexy prop whose math holds up: -500 for no playoff. There have been 17 playoffs in 87 Masters, not quite 1 in every 5. And none since 2017. The “yes” playoff price at DraftKings is +350, a poor number that plays into what the public roots for, so the other side has appeal–and a big Sunday sweat.

We’re always reminded how Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 was the last Masters rookie to win. Do you immediately dismiss every first-timer in your handicapping – even Ludvig Aberg at 25-1?

Schwarb: Yes. Not sure we’ll go another 45 years without a rookie winner with so much ready-for-prime-time talent arriving annually, but for betting purposes they’re easy cuts at Augusta National.

Pluym: Normally, I’d say yes. But not this year. Wyndham Clark has played lights out since winning the U.S. Open. He’s worth laying down a few bucks.

Harig: It is rare that a major champion comes to Augusta National without ever playing the Masters, but that is the case for Wyndham Clark. So you can’t discount him. That streak will end one day and it could be this year. Remember Jordan Spieth finished second in his first appearance 10 years ago and then won the next year. Tiger Woods won in just his third try and his first as a pro. Experience is important but good play means more.

Hochberg: Yes, dismiss. Two guys in the top 10 in the world, Aberg and Wyndham Clark, have never played in a Masters. But still not biting. Heck, Aberg has never played in a major. The smaller field does make winning the Masters "easier" than winning one of the other majors. But Augusta National is so tricky, and guys who have played it year after year have a real edge. A Masters rookie could secure a top-10. But winning? Nope.

Vara: I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss them, only because we’ve seen the list of winners this year and if there were ever a time to pull off an upset, it would be now with so many top players off their game. With that said, any first-timer would have to get the better of Scheffler, Rahm and Koepka and I don’t see that happening.  

Ritter: All records are made to be broken, but to simplify the betting sheet I do eliminate all rookies. It hasn’t burned me yet. 

Who among the favorites, odds 35-1 or less, could disappoint?

Schwarb: Justin Thomas at 28-1 is a no-go. Whatever momentum he had early in the season appears gone after an MC at the Players and the ghastly third-round 79 at the Valspar, and splitting with Bones Mackay right before the Masters is a head-scratcher. 

Pluym: Bryson DeChambeau at +4000 is a no-go for me. He’s never finished better than T21 in 2016 and missed the cut in 2022, the last time he played. His game just doesn’t fit Augusta National.

Harig: DeChambeau should dominate at Augusta but even he admits the place has gotten into his head. Perhaps he will surprise me, but his best finish came in 2016 when he was an amateur. 

Hochberg: Patrick Cantlay is 28-1 and playing poorly. And he hardly ever contended in majors even when he was playing well. Also 28-1, Justin Thomas. The caddie change a week before a major is a real red flag. And we're not even sure who fired whom. There could be real disarray in the Thomas camp. Hard pass.

Vara: This is usually the toughest question for me leading up to the Masters because I feel that anyone with those odds can win, but this year is different. The answer to this question is any PGA Tour player outside of Scheffler, Schauffele and Clark. Cantlay, Spieth, Hovland, Morikawa, they’ve all underperformed this season and I wouldn’t trust any of them this week. 

Ritter: For the exact reasons mentioned above, I’m also out on JT and can’t go with Cantlay.

Who among the long shots, odds 50-1 or higher, could surprise?

Schwarb: Nick Taylor at 130-1 has the heart and the putter to make some noise, who can forget his Super Bowl Sunday at the WM Phoenix Open? This is only his second Masters start but the first one was a T29. Would definitely look at him in the top-20 markets.

Pluym: Rickie Fowler. He’s 80-1, and has finished in the top five in every major without a victory. He finished second to Reed in 2018, so maybe this is finally his time to slip on a green jacket.

Harig: Tom Kim. He’s not had a great year – he’s not had a top-10 finish since a victory in Las Vegas last fall. But it’s hard to believe he is higher than 100-1. He had a great tournament at The Open last summer.

Hochberg: When it comes to picking, leave personal biases aside. Which is another way of saying, how in the world can Patrick Reed be 80-1? Not only has he already won a Masters, he's been top-10 three of the past four years. Clearly, the man knows how to play this course. And I almost believe he'd get greater joy from pissing everyone off by winning than from the satisfaction and sheer joy of winning.

Vara: I’m going with Nick Taylor as well. He doesn’t have the track record at the majors that would suggest a breakthrough win this week, but as mentioned previously, he did finish T29 in his only start here and his form has never been better. Perhaps we get one of those, “he has no idea he shouldn’t be winning the Masters” type of moments from him this week. 

Ritter: I remain in the “avoid rookies” camp, but I’m seeing new Valero champion Akshay Bhatia at 110-1 to win – for which I’ll pass – and +650 to ride his current heater to a top 10, for which I’m absolutely in.

There can only be one: who wins the green jacket and why? 

Pluym: Koepka. He’s been close twice, losing to Tiger and Rahm. He’ll finally put it all together on a Sunday, giving LIV another victory over the Tour’s best.

Schwarb: Hideki Matsuyama. The supreme ballstriker won at the Genesis and was T6 at the Players. He’s 142nd this season in strokes-gained putting but I can overlook that at Augusta for a past champion. He’ll edge out Koepka and don the green jacket for a second time. 

Harig: Koepka is lurking like usual. He never looks stressed and that has been the case again at the LIV Golf events he’s played. You figure he’s highly motivated to get a sixth major, especially one he felt he let get away last year.

Hochberg: I get the feeling Brooks Koepka has been thinking about the 2024 Masters ever since he blew the lead in the 2023 tournament. Jon Rahm has been hungering to return to the spotlight of the biggest tournaments being played on the best courses. And Scheffler is the overwhelming favorite for a reason. But I'm not brave enough to back a player who will make every 5-foot putt a harrowing adventure. Rahm will repeat as Masters champion.

Vara: Most people will say they “hate going with the chalk” but I actually don’t mind it. I’ll stick with Scheffler with the hope that his putting issues won’t resurface this week. That’s a big gamble of course, but think about it this way. He’s clearly the best ball striker on the planet, so whether or not the putter is cooperating, he’s going to be in the mix. He just needs that putter to be average, not spectacular, just average. I think he can manage that this week. I still wouldn’t bet him at 4-1 however. 

Ritter: My brain says Scheffler and Koepka are obvious, and obvious rarely wins at Augusta. My brain also remembers all of Rory’s various goblins at Augusta and will remember to stay away from him this time. So just down the betting slip sits Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Genesis in February and has finished outside the top 12 exactly zero times since then. I see him in the 25-1 range and I like that a lot. 

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John Schwarb


John Schwarb is the senior golf editor for Sports Illustrated whose career has spanned more than 25 years covering sports. He’s been featured on ESPN.com, PGATour.com, The Golfers Journal and Tampa Bay Times. He’s also the author of The Little 500: The Story of the World's Greatest College Weekend. A member of the Golf Writers Association of America, John is based in Indianapolis.