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The Masters: Sepp to strike in Augusta

Sepp Straka

Sepp Straka

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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It’s the Masters! Oh, what a great week. I’ve already burned through six different green shirts and when I call it a day, I’m headed to the store to grab the pimento cheese. While I wish I had a million ways to bet on Tiger Woods, I am keeping it just at a sprinkle on his outright and a unit on him to make the cut. For my first selections in the finishing positions market, I am backing two ball strikers who are both chasing their first major. You can find these odds on PointsBet Sportsbook.

Sepp Straka to finish top-40 (+140) and to finish top-20 (+650)

I know it’s difficult to run to the window to back a guy who’s making their first start at Augusta. Let’s face it, it’s terrifying. Nonetheless, I like Straka this week. Many golfers who struggle in their first Masters are often golfers who can’t handle the pressure. Guys who have faced little adversity or have lofty expectations live up to. Straka has faced pressure and handled it when he represented Austria in the 2021 Olympics. An event where he was the first-round leader.

He shouldn’t face much pressure here. Let’s be honest, the only people who expect him to play well this week are probably himself and his family. He should be able to play well without any issue. It helps that he has the game that fits the course profile. He’s long off the tee and is a great ball striker. His putter tends to get hot. If it does, he’s challenging for a title.

A comparable course comp with similar field strength is Riviera. At Genesis, Straka finished 15th. He gained +1.5 strokes tee-to-green and another +4.1 putting. I was impressed that he finished 15th while not gaining a single stroke off-the-tee. In his last four events, he has a missed cut and three top-20s. I like him to find a way inside the top-20.

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Joaquin Niemann to finish top-30 (-125) and to win outright (+5000)

Horse for the course! There are two events that I looked at to see if anyone had a drastic performance or gained a ton of strokes in different areas but might not have finished where they liked. Genesis and Mayakoba. Niemann won the Genesis and finished fifth at Mayakoba. He enters this week as one of the leaders in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. There is a high correlation between the winners of the Masters and their SG: T2G rankings heading into the week.

Over the last 24 measured rounds, Niemann is fifth in SG: T2G, gaining +1.4 strokes per round. Despite his slight frame, he crushes the ball off the tee. He’s also gained +1.8 strokes on approach in his last five rounds and +1 in his last 10. Niemann is a dark horse candidate to win.

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