After months of waiting and counting down, now that the drama of the Houston Open is finished, it's officially Masters week. Let's pause a moment to celebrate this fact and enjoy a little dance, courtesy of Zach Johnson's caddie at last year's Masters:
Yes, it has arrived. Play that treacly theme music, prepare for azalea envy, and settle in for the week at Augusta National.
It will be hard to top last year's Masters, the combination of 14-year-old amateur Tianlang Guan making the cut after a dramatic slow-play penalty, the "Tiger droppings" mess, and the Sunday playoff between Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera. The entire four-days were manic last year, and we've already lost world No. 1 Tiger Woods this year, the first time since 1994 that we'll have a Masters without him.
So with no Tiger, who's the favorite at the top of Masters week? It's his Nike stablemate, Rory McIlroy. Oddsmakers set the favorites based on who will draw the most betting, and Woods, no matter the tournament or his form at the time, is always the favorite in any event he enters. He draws the most action.
McIlroy has assumed the "next Tiger" mantle over the past few years, and has emerged as the game's likely next great champion. He already has two majors at the age of 24, and he comes to Augusta with his game in much better shape than it was a year ago. McIlroy has contended in almost every event he's played in the first quarter of this year, and should probably have two wins (Abu Dhabi & Honda Classic). His putter looked solid on Sunday too, as he fired a final round 65 at the Shell Houston Open to match the best round of the week there.
It all easily adds up to Rory being the favorite, with defending champ Adam Scott and three-time winner Phil Mickelson right behind him. At the start of the week, here are the odds for the 2014 Masters, via Bovada:
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||150/1|
|Brendon de Jonge||200/1|
|Chang Woo Lee||750/1|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||1000/1|