10 picks our expert loves

Our expert likes Rory McIlroy at this week’s Masters.

Getty Images

Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from’s expert prognosticator, Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor with more than 20 years of experience, Kannon is the host of the podcast, HeatStrokes, which is available wherever you get your podcasts and at You can follow him on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer and you can read below to see his favorite plays for the Masters, which kicks off Thursday, at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Ga. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform — and affiliate — that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.

All week long, it feels like Christmas Eve, waiting and waiting, knowing it’s almost here. The Masters gets underway on Thursday, at the tournament’s historic home, Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Ga. While the weather forecast looks a little dicey, the Masters always feels like the birth of spring, a new beginning – and for many, the beginning of a new golf season. The azaleas, the dogwoods. The scents, the sights, the sounds. The flush of excitement never gets old.

This marks the 87th edition of the Masters, an invitational established by Bobby Jones, who also collaborated with Alister MacKenzie in designing Augusta National. “A tradition unlike any other.” That’s how the tournament is known. And, indeed, tradition plays a huge role in making it the grandest of all majors in the eyes of many in the game.

I often get asked which is my favorite major. My answer is something of a copout. Put the question to me in April, and my answer is the Masters. But ask again in July, and I’ll say the Open Championship.

I guess I have two favorites. On the odds-board this week, though, there are three clear favorites, set apart from the rest of the field by a sizable margin. The second-ranked player in the world is the shortest choice. Rory McIlroy is trading anywhere from 6-to-8 to 1. World number-one Scottie Scheffler checks in right around 8-1, with Jon Rahm, the third member of “the Big Three,” listed at 9 or 10-1 to win.

At no other tournament does course history matter more. Players who play well here typically do so at a more repeatable clip than anywhere else. Experience is paramount. There are so many nuances to the golf course that it takes a few laps to get used to it. Historically, it has taken most Masters champs more than six tries to win.

For much of that same history, winning has depended a lot on length. Augusta National has been a bombers’ course that also requires incredible creativity and touch around the large, extremely fast, bentgrass greens. But the course has been tweaked often to defend against the modern game, and the second shot is now more important than the first. Distance off the tee is still important, but approach shots into the greens now get top priority. Work on and around the greens remains as crucial as ever. Bogey Avoidance and 3-Putt Avoidance were two ancillary stats I looked at this week as well.

Rory McIlroy at Augusta National on Monday.

Rory McIlroy keeps facing the same Masters question. Will he find the answer?


Dylan Dethier

The stats I emphasized most this week were Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Scrambling, Driving Distance, and Strokes Gained: Par 5s. I mentioned Bogey Avoidance and 3-Putt Avoidance. Lastly, I looked at Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Par 4s from 450-500 yards, and Hole Proximity from 200+ yards.

One nice aspect of handicapping the Masters is the correlated courses. Like course history, the correlated courses have strong connections. I used Riviera Country Club (Genesis Invitational), Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance Open), and the Plantation Course at Kapalua (Sentry Tournament of Champions). I also added Southern Hills, site of last year’s PGA Championship.

To Win The Masters (and Finish Top 20)

Rory McIlroy (12-1)

The odds for the next Masters are posted not long after each year’s tournament ends. I jumped on McIlroy in mid-September of last year. Now, less than 8-1 is tough but if you can find 9 or 10-1, I still think it is a good play. The Northern Irishman has all of the course history and comp-course success, but the Masters, the one major he needs to complete the career grand slam, continues to elude him. I can’t recall a more promising year for him to get it done. He won in Dubai, in January and won the CJ Cup prior to that. He was second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, in March, and took third at the WGC-Match Play two weeks ago. Over the last 36 rounds, he is 5th in this field for SG Approach, 2nd in SG Par 5s, and 2nd in Driving Distance. There is really not much more that needs to be said about the number-two player in the Official World Golf Ranking. It’s just a matter of him finally sealing the deal in an event where he has finish positions of 8-4-10-7-5-5-2 in his career.

Jordan Spieth (25-1)

Just after the New Year, I took Spieth at 25-1. I’ve seen him as low as 16-1, but have also seen him drift up closer to 20-1, and even a tick higher. A Masters savant, Spieth at 25-1 was an auto-bet for me, and I don’t think 20-1 or better is that bad of a bet, either. Some of the correlated course history for Spieth is not quite as strong as it is for Rory, but it’s very solid. The course history is almost unmatched with five Top 5 finishes, including a win. Over the last 36 rounds, Spieth is 11th in SG Around the Green and 10th in SG Par 5’s. The current form is there, too, with three Top 6 finishes in his last six starts.

Tony Finau (25-1)

For a while, Finau was the best player who couldn’t close the deal but he won three times in 2022, most recently at the Houston Open last November. He hasn’t finished worse than Top 25 in any event this season. The comp course history is excellent and he’s finished 10th at Augusta along with a 5th place finish when he was in the final pairing with Tiger Woods in 2019. I like the length off the tee for Finau, with the expected softer conditions the players may experience, given the rain they have been getting in Augusta, and what they are expecting this weekend. Over the last 36 rounds, Finau ranks 4th in this field for SG Approach.

Xander Schauffele (26-1)

As I write this, there are some better odds than this available on Schauffele. I’ve seen as high as 30-1. He owns an incredible resume in major championships with multiple Top 5 finishes, including a second and a third at the Masters. Coming in, Schauffele has a 3rd at the American Express, 13th at Torrey Pines, 10th in Phoenix, a 19th at The Players Championship, and he just finished 5th at the WGC-Match Play. Over the last 36 rounds, he is 11th in this field for SG Approach and fifth for SG Par 5’s. He looked like your winner in 2021 before he dunked his ball in the water on the 16th hole on Sunday, giving the green jacket to Hideki Matsuyama. I think he’s primed to rebound and be right there again.

phil mickelson collin morikawa shake hands

At the Masters, LIV’s war with the PGA Tour feels different than you’d think


Dylan Dethier

Hideki Matsuyama (50-1)

Speaking of Matsuyama, yes, I think he could be champion for the second time in two years. He is fresh off a Top-15 finish last week at the Valero Texas Open, telling me that the neck injury that caused him to concede a match at the WGC two weeks ago is on the mend. Prior to that, Matsuyama finished 9th at Torrey Pines and 5th at The Players Championship. He has finished Top 20 at The Masters in seven of the last eight years. His work around the greens is exceptional. Over the last 36 rounds, he is third in this field for Scrambling and 13th in SG Around the Green. With “the Big Three” being so short on the odds board, I believe we are getting some inflated prices on other top-notch players in the field. Case in point here.

Justin Rose (75-1)

The Masters is not a “catch-up” golf tournament, meaning one must start out well on Thursday to have a chance on Sunday. At least, that is what history has told us with the majority of your Masters winners coming from the group that finishes Top 10 after the opening round. Rose has been your first round leader at The Masters four times. He finished Top 10 in the tournament six times and was twice runner-up. He has a win earlier this season at Pebble Beach and just took sixth at The Players Championship last month. Over the last three years at The Masters, he is the best putter in the field on these greens and over the last 36 rounds, he ranks 15th for SG Par 5’s. Better numbers on Rose can be found as I’ve seen some stores dealing prices in the mid-80’s.

Tommy Fleetwood (80-1)

We finish off our outright (and Top 20) card with another Englishman, one who is looking for his first victory on American soil. Fleetwood is one of only four players in this field who ranks in the Top 25 on Tour for SG Approach and SG Around the Green. He has been getting progressively better at the Genesis Invitational – Riviera being one of our correlated courses – with finishes of 37th, 28th, and 20th in February. Fleetwood was 27th at The Players Championship and then took third three weeks ago at the Valspar. His short game is exceptional and he hits a ton of greens in regulation historically at Augusta. Also, we spoke about needing a few laps around this track before going on to win. This will be Fleetwood’s seventh crack at the  Masters, having already bagged three Top 20 finishes here in his career.

Full Tournament Head to Head Matchups (YTD 21-9-2)

Danny Willett (-135) over Harris English
Scottie Scheffler (-135) over Jon Rahm
Jason Day (-130) over Cameron Smith

Who Chirp users think will win

masters chirp

Scottie Scheffler – 31.37%

Rory McIlroy – 24.25%

Jon Rahm – 12.8%

generic profile image