Masters Takeaways: Can anyone catch Rose?

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Will Gray
·5 min read
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There wasn't much attention paid to Justin Rose in the Masters betting market.

To be fair, there was good reason for his anonymity. Rose hadn't been seen since withdrawing during the third round at Bay Hill more than a month ago, citing a back injury that also knocked him out of The Players the following week. He entered this week ranked No. 41 in the world, good enough to gain entry into an elite field but also his lowest ranking since May 2010.

So when the oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook opened Masters week betting, they slotted Rose at +6000. When they didn't get much action, they bumped him to +8000. Before the tournament began, they bumped him again to +9000.

Now, the question facing the rest of the field is simple: can anyone catch him?

Rose went absolutely unconscious Thursday, tearing up an otherwise difficult course. After starting 2 over through seven holes, he played his next 10 in 9 under to race away from the field. His 7-under 65 not only was the best of the day, but it put him four shots clear of the field on a day when only 12 players broke par.

Rose has some Masters history, notably in 2017 when he lost here to Sergio Garcia in a playoff. Now he's a prohibitive +350 favorite to win, as his odds crumbled during his afternoon hot streak. Along the way, PointsBet took a sizeable piece of action: one bettor put a $20,000 live wager on Rose at +500, meaning he'll win $100,000 if the Englishman holds on.

Jordan Spieth is now second behind Rose, following a 71 that included a triple bogey on No. 9 and an eagle on No. 15. Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson have both drifted from their pre-tournament position but remain within striking distance on the betting board:

Updated Masters odds (via PointsBet)

+350: Justin Rose

+800: Jordan Spieth

+1100: Jon Rahm

+1200: Patrick Reed

+1400: Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama

+1800: Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson

+2200: Xander Schauffele

+2500: Brian Harman

+2800: Tyrrell Hatton

+3300: Collin Morikawa

+4000: Brooks Koepka, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Will Zalatoris

+5000: Jason Kokrak, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey

Round 2 Plays

Webb Simpson (+1800) to win

I'm on Rahm pre-tournament so I'll stand pat there, and I'm not sold that Spieth will continue to get bounces like he did today on No. 15. If history is any indication, the recipient of the green jacket Sunday began with an under-par round today, so that limits our potential options for a mid-tournament add. But one player that has my attention is Simpson. I think the tough conditions this week will put Augusta National experience and major championship acumen. Simpson fits the bill on both fronts, with a U.S. Open title to his credit and two straight top-10 finishes here after years of struggle.

Simpson got it to 4 under and briefly held the lead before a watery double on No. 16. He left a few out there, three-putting for par on No. 2 and bogey on No. 5, but still turned in a 2-under 70 that left him behind only three players. His stat line was predictably solid, and while he hasn't made much noise in his last two starts he did put up a T-6 at The Concession against an elite field just six weeks ago. I think he'll put another solid score on the board Friday and this number will only continue to shorten, especially if Rose comes back to the pack a little.

Jimmy Walker (-102) over Larry Mize and Brian Gay

Walker will have plenty to play for Friday, looking to keep alive his made cuts streak in what could potentially be his final Masters appearance. He's made it to the weekend each of the other seven times he has played this event, and this marks the fifth and final year of exempt status stemming from his 2016 PGA Championship win. After a 3-over 75 in the opening round he'll have a little bit of work to do, and I expect the task will receive his full attention. Walker hit only nine greens in regulation but was ahead of the field average in putting, a promising sign if he's able to solidify some of the ball-striking.

His two playing partners already have their bags packed. Gay struggled to a 78 that featured seven bogeys and a double, and his 277-yard driving average simply leaves him too far behind the field to compete. It's a similar story for Mize, as the 1987 champ put the worst score of the day on the board with a 12-over 84. It's tough to see either one bouncing back on a course that will once again be a demanding test, so I'll side with the guy who has a little more to play for.

Jim Herman (+186) over Stewart Cink and Ian Woosnam

Cink is a -170 favorite in this group, and I'm of a mind that there are few situations where Stewart Cink merits a -170 line. A large part of it is due to Woosnam's injury status, as the Welshman opened with 76 but then shared that he's dealing with a muscle tear in his right groin that could potentially force him to withdraw. It's no surprise to see him as a +930 longshot in this group, given there's no guarantee that he'll even finish the round.

So then it boils down to Cink and Herman, as Cink (74) got the better of Herman by two shots Thursday. Herman is making his second Masters appearance and missed the cut in his prior trip, so there's admittedly not a ton of good vibes to go off here. Cink was marginally better on the greens than Herman in the opener, but the two played to a draw through the first 15 holes before Herman closed with three straight bogeys. This is more of a numbers play, as I feel like I'm getting almost a 2:1 return on a matchup that feels more like a coin flip once Woosnam is taken out of the equation.

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