THE US Masters returns to its traditional April slot this week following last year’s ‘November Masters’ win for world number one Dustin Johnson. 

Conditions at the picturesque Augusta National Golf Course will play much firmer and faster than they did in November when Johnson’s 20 under-par score set a tournament record, although thunderstorms are forecast for the weekend in Georgia. 

Johnson is the 9/1 favourite to retain the green jacket, yet his form has dipped somewhat since the start of the year when he also won the Saudi International.

It isn’t easy to look past the next man in the betting either - Bryson DeChambeau.  He splits opinion in the game of golf, but there is no denying his remarkable talents and he will have his backers at 11/1. 

Jordan Spieth has rocketed towards the head of the betting after his win in last week’s Texas Open and the 2015 Masters champion looks sure to give a good account of himself this week. 

At 11/1, I’d argue there is little value in Spieth’s price as very few of the world’s leading golfers played at San Antonio. He is a decent punt at 16/1 (each-way) to be the first round leader and any potential winnings can be reinvested if the three-time major winner is in the hunt after the opening round. 

In terms of an outright winner, JUSTIN THOMAS looks like a Masters champion in waiting and his win at the Players Championship last month suggests this could be the year he slips on the green jacket. 

Thomas has no real weakness in his game and his superb iron play means he’ll give himself plenty of chances to make birdies this week. If his putter is hot, I think he wins and he is good each-way value at 12/1. 

I put up RORY MCILROY as one of my top tips for 2021 and he was 10/1 in the betting at the beginning of the year, that has changed. After a poor start to the season, McIlroy has enlisted the help of renowned coach Pete Cowan and is 16/1 with local firm Sean Graham to complete the career Grand Slam this week. 

Several punters will face a dilemma this week regarding McIlroy in that everybody will want to be have him backed when he finally wins the Masters and, at some point, he probably will.  Sean Graham are going first 10 for their each-way terms this week and I could easily see McIlroy posting another top 10 finish at Augusta so he is a solid each-way bet at the odds. 

A host of golfers caught my eye at odds of 33/1, namely Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger and Sungjae Im, but I’m drawn towards former Masters champion SERGIO GARCIA at a massive 50/1.  His record in majors since winning at Augusta back in 2017 isn’t great, but the Spaniard has returned to form this season and could sneak into a place. 

Finally, I think the price of SHANE LOWRY is too big at 100/1 since the Offaly native has won a major (the 2019 Open) more recently than the likes of Thomas, Spieth or McIlroy.