Oddsmaker Name Top Favorites At The Masters

April 7th, 2010- By Bryan Cross

The 2010 Masters begins this week, as predictions say that it  could be the most watched tournament in history, with the return of Tiger Woods.  Woods has been absent from the game since a sex scandal, unveiling multiple acts of infidelity, lies and deceit.

Woods faced the Masters media and a room full of reporters on Monday afternoon, in what was a 34 minute question and answer session for which nothing was off limits.  The media fired many tough questions  at the top-ranked golf regarding his infidelity, which Woods responded to for the most part.

The session finally turned to golf, as Woods commented on the state of his game, and his expectations.  He responded “nothing has changed….still going to go out there and try and win this thing.”

Despite the events of the previous five months, USA Online Sportsbooks have installed Woods as the betting favorite to win the 2010 Masters, and collect his fifteenth career major, at 5/1.

Following Woods in the line of betting favorites is 2004 and 2006 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson, who currently ranks third in the world.  Mickelson finally broke through and won his first major after a long period of holding the title “best player never to win a major.”

Mickelson has 10 top-10 career finishes and eight career top-five finishes at the Masters.  He recorded a 5-under 31 on the back-nine of the 2004 Masters on his way to a one-shot victory over Ernie Els.

Mickelson has not had the results he would have liked to date in the 2010 season, tabbing only one top-10 finish at Pebble Beach, but his experience and knowledge of Augusta National always makes him a threat to win, as he goes for his third green jacket, going off at 11/1.

Ernie Els went nearly two years without a victory on the PGA Tour, until he recorded back-to-back wins just weeks ago at the CA Championship at Doral, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Els has had several close call in the Masters, finishing runner-up in 2000, and then in 2004.  He has three career major championships, with two U.S Opens and a British Open, but the green jacket has eluded him.  He has found his old form however, perhaps just in time to capture the tournament that he wants most.  Else has been installed at 12/1.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington comes to Augusta seeking his first Masters Victory, and is set with odds at 16/1.  Harrington’s best finish this season was third in the CA Championship.  At the Masters, he has fifth twice, in 2002 and 2008.

Harrington has played consistently this season, and possesses both the long-game off the tee and the short-game around the greens to navigate his way throughout Augusta National with the ability to be atop the leader board by the close of Sunday.

Steve Stricker rounds out the top-five favorites to win the 2010 Masters.  Stricker has made his way to the second position in the world golf rankings, and has been set with 22/1 odds to win.  Stricker has not had much past success at Augusta, with his best finish a tie for sixth-place in 2009.  But he is much improved and possesses an entirely new skill-set that have launched him atop the many leader boards.

Coverage of the first round of the Masters can be seen on ESPN beginning at 4pm Est.

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