Mar 28th, 2019
Rory McIlroy installed as favourite for The Masters
Rory McIlroy has been installed as the favourite to win The Masters after making a blistering start to the year. The Northern Irishman has secured five straight top-six finishes and he produced a superb performance to win the Players Championship earlier this month. He has not won a major tournament since 2014, but he could be about to finally end the drought after rediscovering his best form. However, he faces stern competition from the finest players in the world and it looks set to turn into a thrilling battle for supremacy at Augusta.
The very best betting sites have made McIlroy the outright favourite to win the tournament, followed by Dustin Johnson. The American has also made an excellent start to the year and his victory at the WGC Mexico Championship will have done the world of good for his confidence. Yet neither man has ever won The Masters and longer shots have thrived here in recent years. In fact, the last four Masters have gone to a player that had never previously won a major in his career.
Jordan Spieth won the first of his three majors here in 2015, and then Englishman Danny Willett shocked the world by clinching victory in 2016. Spanish veteran Sergio Garcia finally picked up an elusive major in 2016 as he prevailed in a playoff with Justin Rose. Last year, Patrick Reed played like a machine as he saw off the challenge of Rickie Fowler and McIlroy, never looking rattled as he finished -15 to win his first ever major.
Rory McIlroy has often been in contention heading into the final day of a major in recent years, but he has always fallen away. He will hope that trend is finally drawing to a close after his composed performance in the Players Championship, but he will need to be a lot stronger mentally if he is to prevail at Augusta this year. Johnson has been arguably the best and most consistent player in the world for the past three years, but he has just one major to show for it: the 2016 US Open.
Golf is a thrillingly unpredictable sport and many fans would rather back long shots to secure victory. Some of the most popular outsiders this year include Kevin Kisner and Jim Furyk. The trend that has seen players win a maiden major at Augusta may well continue Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm has to be at the front of the queue. Both men are brilliant on their day and they have the hunger and desire to succeed, so they will be dangerous this year. Bryson DeChambeau and Tommy Fleetwood are also knocking on the door and it would not be surprising to see either man don the famous green jacket this time around.
But there are some magnificent stars standing in their way, including world number two Justin Rose, the supremely consistent Justin Thomas and Spieth, who is struggling for form but has a strong record at Augusta. Brooks Koepka has been routinely written off at big tournaments and consistently made a mockery of such projections. Then there is the intriguing case of Tiger Woods, who finally looks ready to content once more for majors. He is the joint third favourite with the bookmakers, alongside Rose, and that leaves him ahead of such luminaries as Rahm, Thomas, and Fowler. It would make a great story for him to return to Augusta and clinch a famous victory at The Masters. This tournament has served up a huge amount of excitement, drama, and unpredictability in recent years and we should expect the unexpected once more in 2019.