After 18 holes, Adam Scott is still the favorite at the 2014 Masters. Scott started the week as a co-favorite with Rory McIlroy, both listed at 10/1. But the defending champ's perch one shot off the lead at 3-under has pushed him into a position as sole favorite. Scott is now 11/2, and the way his game looked on Thursday, it's likely he stays in that spot on top when we hit the 36 hole mark. Scott had just one hiccup in his round, a double bogey off a water ball at Rae's Creek on No. 12. Other than that, he poured in five birdies on the way to an impressive round of 69.
Following the Aussie is McIlroy and Bubba Watson, who are both now 8/1. Rory played well enough on Thursday and is in fine position, finishing at 1-under. McIlroy's game is in a totally different spot from last year, when he was struggling to make cuts and even finish tournaments while a spate of off-the-course disruptions and adapting to new equipment bogged him down. Now he's back to contending in most of the events he enters, and his game is suited for Augusta with his high ball and ability to easily work it right to left.
Bubba is another player back to world-class form, adding a win and two second-place finishes in the first quarter of this year. Riviera was his first win since that 2012 Masters victory, ending a fairly long and frustrating stretch for Watson. After getting that first major, he seemed to cruise (understandably) a bit, cuddling up with his green jacket and not worrying about winning again right away. Now he's clearly trending in the right direction, playing at a place where's comfortable, and on a course that seems to favor lefties. Bubba was flawless on Thursday, rolling in three birdies, two on the easy par-5s, and not carding a single bogey. For my money, he's the best choice out of these top three guys.
The current leader, Bill Haas, has the 5th-lowest odds at 16/1. Haas has long been one of the steadier players in the world, and it's a bit of a surprise he hasn't popped up more at the top of leaderboards at the majors in the last four or five years. He's got the family history and familiarity with Augusta, but it's hard for me to see him holding off some of the guys around him. On a less distinguished leaderboard with no Adam, Rory, or Bubba, I'd take him in a second but there's 54 holes to play and it will be tough for him to keep shooting in the 60s.
Here are your updated odds with three more rounds to go: (via Bovada)
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||80/1|
|Brendon De Jonge||500/1|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||1000/1|