Dustin Johnson (Photo by Dustin Satloff)
Dustin Johnson (Photo by Dustin Satloff)

WATCH out Jordan, Jason, Rory and Adam – Dustin Johnson is on the prowl and he’s looking for a green blazer.

Yes folks, it’s time for the US Masters.

It’s when the dogwoods and azaleas are in stunning bloom and the best players on the planet line up for a tilt at winning the green jacket – the most coveted adornment in golf.

If form leading in to the April 6-9 showdown is a guide then Augusta National Golf Club officials will be sizing up a jacket to fit the broad shoulders of Johnson.

Having said that, the 32-year-old from South Carolina isn’t the favourite with the bookies – Jordan Spieth is.

Ubet has Spieth at $7.50 while Johnson is on the next line of betting at $8.50.

The bookies have done their homework.

In his last three Masters appearances, Spieth has not finished outside the top-two. He tied for second tied in 2014, won in 2015 and tied for second last year.

If that is any indication then the 23-year-old is the man to beat.

Still, Johnson has been firing on all cylinders since winning the US Open last year.

Following that victory, Johnson has won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the BMW Championship and this year he was back in the winner’s circle claiming wins at the Genesis Open, the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC Dell Match Play.

His game has no obvious weaknesses now that he has improved his touch and inconsistent putting.

With his length and strength, he can easily account for Augusta National, which stretches to 6808m.

Johnson might have a huge advantage there, but power alone doesn’t guarantee victory. Augusta National’s greens can be a minefield so carrying a hot putter into the tournament is imperative.

His form at the Masters has been credible. In 2015, he finishing tied for sixth and last year tied for fourth behind Englishman Danny Willett.

“I think we are about to see Dustin Johnson clean up,” Peter Senior told me earlier this year. “He has been so unlucky in majors and finally made one (2016 US Open) so I think that will be just the start.”

Equal second favourite with the bookies at $8.50 1 is four-time major champion Rory McIlroy.

Should the Northern Irishman win the Masters, he will join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as a career grand slam winner.

Whenever the Masters comes around, the word “Tiger” comes up.

Can the man once feared by his rivals win his fifth green jacket? Well, to win he has to play and that’s debatable after such a long layoff with recurring injuries.

Still, the bookies are taking no chances and have him at 67-1.

The “will he play” question too applies to former world No.1 Jason Day, who has had injury and illness concerns in recent times, as well as questions surrounding the health of his mother.

Day is fourth favourite at 13-1 just ahead of rising star Hideki Matsuyama (15-1) and 2013 Masters champ Adam Scott 29-1. Bookies suggest other top challengers will be Justin Thomas (26-1), Henrik Stenson (23-1), Justin Rose (31-1), Rickie Fowler (29-1), two-time champion Bubba Watson (41-1) and 2004-’06-’10 champion Phil Mickelson all at 31-1.

Lefty might be 46, but don’t bet against him because he still drives the ball well and we all know how good his short game is.

Thomas, 23, is a relative newcomer on the PGA Tour, but he already has three victories this season.

He’s relatively long off the tee and after finishing tied 39th last year will fancy his chances.

So, what of Masters defending champion Danny Willett?

At 67-1, he’s not fancied by the bookies.

Last year was his most successful on tour winning the Masters, the Dubai Desert Classic, had a runner-up finish at the Italian Open and a third at the BMW.

Then came the Ryder Cup, which started with controversy when his brother Peter stating in an article, “for the Americans to stand a chance of winning, they need their baying mob of imbeciles to caress their egos every step of the way”.

After that, poor old Danny boy never stood a chance and failed to contribute a point in his three outings.

Earlier this year, he entered the final round of the Maybank Championship in Malaysia with a three-stroke advantage over the field.

In the final round, he was the only player in top 29 positions to shoot over par and finished in a tie for fifth.

At the time of going to press, five Australians are in the field – Day, Scott, Marc Leishman, Rod Pampling and amateur Curtis Luck.

Day qualified as 2015 PGA champion, 2016 Players Championship winner, was among the top-12 in the 2016 Masters, among the first four in the 2016 PGA and is in the top-50 in the world rankings.

In his six appearances at the Masters, Day has had three top-five finishes and four top-10 results.

Scott, too qualified through a number of categories, but he has a lifetime invitation courtesy of winning the Masters in 2013.

In 15 appearances, Scott has missed the cut twice, finished in the top-5 twice and top-10 four times.

Pampling’s invitation to the Masters came via winning the 2016 Shriners Hospital for Children Open on the PGA Tour. In his three Masters appearances, he is yet to miss the cut. Pamps tied for fifth in 2005, T16 in 2006 and T37 in 2007.

Leishman will go into the event firing on all cylinders; his entry courtesy of a gutsy win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Aussie amateur Curtis Luck makes his debut at the Masters qualifying as current US Amateur champion and Asia-Pacific amateur champion.

I can’t wait for the tournament to start and the excitement that comes with the Masters.

You can almost guarantee there will be drama around the famed Amen Corner (holes 11, 12 and 13) and on the back-nine on Sunday as the magnificent risk-reward aspect of the golf course permits great things to be achieved by the best players.

For those in contention coming down the stretch, you can guarantee the nerves will start to kick in.

I reckon, the players will be twitchier than the Australian Test captain Steve Smith when he’s at the crease.

Mind you, for most players the butterflies in the stomach start on day one during the trip down Magnolia Lane.

As three-time Masters champion Gary Player said, “The Masters is the only tournament I ever knew where you choke when you drive through the front gate.”

Predicting a Masters winner is nigh on impossible, but it’s hard to go past Spieth, Johnson, McIlroy, a fit Jason Day and Adam Scott but it would come as no surprise if Danny Willett enters Butler Cabin to assist Justin Thomas, Heideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm or even veteran Phil Mickelson into the Green Jacket.

 

 

CARD OF THE GOLF COURSE

Total par-72 – 7445 yards (6808m)

 

Hole   1        2        3        4        5        6        7        8        9        Out

Par    4        5        4        3        4        3        4        5        4        36

Yards 455    575    350    240    455    180    450    570    460    3735

Hole   10      11      12      13      14      15      16      17      18      In

Par    4        4        3        5        4        5        3        4        4        36

Yards 495    505    155    510    440    530    170    440    465    3710

 

 

MASTERS ODDS AND FORM CHART

Player                Odds  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012

Jordan Spieth        7.5     T2      1        T2      DNP   DNP

Dustin Johnson     8.5     T4      T6      MC     T13    DNP

Rory McIlroy          8.5     T10    4        T8      T25    T40

Jason Day             13      T10   T28   T15   T8     MC

Hideki Matsuyama 15      T7      5        MC     DNP   T54

Henrik Stenson      23      T24    T19    T14    T18    T40

Justin Thomas       26      T39    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Adam Scott          29      T42   T38   T14   1        T8

Rickie Fowler                  29      MC     T12    T5      T38    T27

Phil Mickelson       31      MC     T2      MC     T54    T3

Justin Rose           31      T10    T2      T14    T25    T8

Jon Rahm              34      DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Bubba Watson       41      T37    T38    1        T50    1

Sergio Garcia         41      T34    T17    MC     T8      T12

Marc Leishman     51      MC     DNP   MC     T4     DNP

Tyrrel Hatton                  51      DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Patrick Reed          51      T49    T22    MC     DNP   DNP

Brandt Snedeker    51      T10    MC     T37    T6      T19

Paul Casey            51      T20    T11    T10    DNP   MC

Thomas Pieters      61      DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Louis Oosthuizen   67      T15    T19    25      MC     2

Tiger Woods           67      DNP   T17    DNP   T4      T40

Brooks Koepka       67      T21    T33    DNP   DNP   DNP

Charl Schwartzel   67      MC     T38    MC     T25    T50

Matt Kuchar                   67      T24    T46    T5      T8      T3

Gary Woodland      67      DNP   MC     T26    DNP   WD

Branden Grace      81      MC     MC     MC     T18    DNP

Jimmy Walker       81      T29    T38    T8      DNP   DNP

Danny Willett        81      1        T38    DNP   DNP   DNP

Matthew Fitzpatrick        81      T7      DNP   MC     DNP   DNP

Lee Westwood        81      T2      T46    7        T8      T3

Zach Johnson        81      MC     1        T47    T6      T9

Alex Noren             101    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Daniel Berger        101    T10    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

JB Holmes             126    DNP   T25    DNP   DNP   DNP

Shane Lowry                   126    T39    MC     DNP   DNP   DNP

Rafael Cabrera Bello126  T17    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Byeong Hun An      126    MC     DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Rod Pampling       251    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

Curtis Luck          251    DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP

 

 

T = Tied – MC = Missed Cut – DNP = Did Not Play WD = Withdrew

 

WIN: A TRIP TO THE 2018 US MASTERS.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

US MASTERS TV SCHEDULE

FOX SPORTS is serving up the most comprehensive coverage of The Masters, with a dedicated 24/7 channel showcasing round-the-clock action from Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

FOX SPORTS More (Channel 507) will become the home of golf’s most prestigious major from Monday (April 3), with the LIVE action kicking off with the opening ‘On the Range’ practice session the following day.

Fans will once again be able to watch every round LIVE and in HIGH DEFINITION, beginning with Round 1 from 4.30am EST on April 7.

PGA Tour golfer Stuart Appleby will join the FOX SPORTS team LIVE in Augusta for the first time this year, guiding viewers through the action alongside former PGA Tour player Paul Gow and host Tim Sheridan.

In addition to LIVE coverage of every round, FOX SPORTS will showcase every ‘On the Range’ practice session, the traditional Par 3 tournament, plus two additional hours of LIVE content recapping the action at the conclusion of each day’s play.

FOX SPORTS viewers will also have access to bonus Masters content available via Foxsports.com.au and the FOX SPORTS App, including featured groups, plus a LIVE feed from holes 15 and 16, and the famed ‘Amen Corner’.

Fans can warm up to the live play by reliving some of the Masters’ most memorable final rounds, including Adam Scott’s 2013 victory, plus 60-minute highlights packages of past Masters.

FOX SPORTS News will deliver all the latest and breaking news from Augusta, while Foxsports.com.au will be the online destination for rolling results, news, highlights and bonus content.

THE MASTERS – FOX SPORTS BROADCAST SCHEDULE

ON FOX SPORTS 507

MON 3 APR

Dedicated channel switches on at 12.00am

TUE 4 APR

On the Range, LIVE at 2.00am & 11.00pm

WED 5 APR

On the Range, LIVE at 11.00pm

THU 6 APR

Par 3 Tournament, LIVE at 5.00am

On the Range, LIVE at 10.30pm

FRI 7 APR

The Masters: Round 1, LIVE at 4.30am

Live From The Masters, LIVE at 9.45am

SAT 8 APR

The Masters: Round 2, LIVE at 4.30am

Live From The Masters, LIVE at 9.45am

SUN 9 APR

On The Range, LIVE at 1.00am

The Masters: Round 3, LIVE at 4.30am

Live From The Masters, LIVE at 9.15am

MON 10 APR

On The Range, LIVE at 1.00am

The Masters Final Round, LIVE at 3.30am

Live From The Masters, LIVE at 9.15am

EXCLUSIVE FEEDS VIA FOXSPORTS.COM.AU & THE FOX SPORTS APP

LIVE feed from holes 15 & 16 plus Amen Corner and featured groups.

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