Fri, Apr 7, 10:16am by Staff Writer
Charley Hoffman has surged into favouritism for the US Masters after a brilliant seven-under first round gave him a four-shot lead over the rest of the field at Augusta National Golf Club.
On a day where the scoring average was 75 – the highest it has been since 2007 – Hoffman defied the windy conditions to post nine birdies and take the second largest first-round Masters lead in the tournament’s long history and the biggest first-round lead in any major since 1985.
His round is being hailed as one of the best seen at Augusta, as he birdied every single one of the par 3s, while the best in the world floundered. He is now $7 favourite having only managed to finish top 25 in a major on one previous occasion from 22 attempts.
Rory McIlroy is at even par and is second favourite at $9.50 after Dustin Johnson’s dramatic withdrawal on the day of the tournament after he fell down stairs on the day before the tournament.
Pre-tournament favourite Jordan Spieth is $19 after a three-over round which included a nine on the par five 15th.
In terms of the Australians, Marc Leishman is the best placed at one-over and at $41 after a consistent round was let down by a wild approach on the 18th green.
Jason Day is still the shortest price of the Aussies at $26 having carded an opening two-over round, the same as Rod Pampling, while Adam Scott is at three over and is out to $67. Aussie amateur Curtis Luck had a six-over 78 in what will be a massive learning experience for the 20 year old.
Hoffman’s extraordinary opening round effort historically puts him in a great position to win the Green Jacket. The past 11 Masters winners have been within four shots of the first round lead (or in the lead). There are only two players in that category this year, Hoffman and McGirt.
In that period, two first round leaders, Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Trevor Immelman in 2008, have gone on to win.
In that 11 years, not only has no player come from further back than four shots after the first round, but they have all been within the top 10 at that stage. That doesn’t augur well for an Australian winner in 2017.
The last player to defy that pattern was Tiger Woods (remember him!) who shot a two-over first round in 2005 to sit seven shots off the pace. He beat Chris Di Marco in a playoff with the rest of the field seven shots behind.
US Masters Market (after first round) (Sportsbet Odds)
Hoffman, Charley $7
Mcilroy, Rory $9.50
Rose, Justin $11
Garcia, Sergio $17
Mickelson, Phil $17
Westwood, Lee $19
Spieth, Jordan $19
Fowler, Rickie $21
Day, Jason $26
Rahm, Jon $26
Henley, Russell $26
Others: $26 or Longer
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