When the Azaleas start to pop in Augusta, that means friends, colleagues, enemies are sending around Masters pools of all shapes and formats. Many of these games demand you go outside the obvious names at the top of the world rankings to compete and succeed.
In my previous article, we covered a few of the top tier players who have a chance to grab their first green jacket. Now let’s take a look at some longshots who might help you win some cash and take down a Masters pool this year.
For purposes of this article, longshots are defined as any player 100/1 or higher (odds from FanDuel as of 3/31)
Keith Mitchell 120/1
Mitchell ranks second off the tee behind only Scottie Scheffler. He has gained strokes off the tee in 47 of his last 51 events. This weapon will allow him to attack the par 5s this week at Augusta. He has quietly had some success in 2023 as he has finished 42nd or better in each of the last four designated events. Mitchell did make the cut in his only appearance in 2019 so he does have some course experience to draw on. He could make for a sneaky play especially in Masters pools.
Tom Hoge 120/1
If I asked you, “Who leads the field in strokes gained approach?” how many people would it take before you got to the correct answer in Tom Hoge? Hoge has been on fire with his irons, which boosted him to a third place finish at The Players. So we have a player in great form, whose best skill is also the skill that is most needed at Augusta. Hoge gained valuable experience in his Masters debut in 2022 and looks to improve upon his 39th-place finish.
Kurt Kitayama 120/1
Kitayama reminds me a lot of Tony Finau from a few years back. He hits the ball a mile, has all the talent in the world, and had a lot of close calls before breaking through for his first PGA Tour victory. Prior to his win at Bay Hill, he had four top-three finishes in the prior 12 months on the PGA Tour. Now that he has broken through, I look for the floodgates to open and for him to capture some more victories and maybe even contend in a major. He played great at the WGC Dell Match Play, losing in the quarterfinals 1-down to Cameron Young. This will be his Masters debut so that may temper expectations a bit as he learns the course. But this course should suit him well and his game is firing on all cylinders.
Sahith Theegala 120/1
When looking at longshot players, you have to consider upside. When Theegala is in contention it is mostly because he catches fire with his irons. Four times in the last 10 months, Theegala has gained five strokes or more on approach in an event. He finished no worse than sixth in any of those events. Theegala can deliver volatile results and might miss the cut this week, but if he has one of those hot iron weeks, he will make some noise. Not many players priced down here have the upside that Theegala presents (nine top 10s in last 14 months).
Talor Gooch 260/1
Why is Talor Gooch 260/1? Last year he came into this event ranked 34th in the world and finished 14th. Since then, he joined LIV and had a fairly successful remainder of 2022. He has finished 14th or better in each of his last six LIV events. The best part of his game is his iron play, which bodes well for this week. I’m not saying he is going to win, but his price is way too high. Gooch has great potential for a sleeper pick in your Masters pool or a top-20 bet when those odds get released.
Bonus Longhshot: Mackenzie Hughes 350/1
Hughes made a big transition in his game over the last year, similar to how Matt Fitzpatrick did a year ago with adding a bunch of distance. He went from below average in driving distance to well above average now. This added distance has given him some extra upside that I think the betting markets and general golf observers have failed to realize just yet because of his lack of consistency in results. Hughes played terrific in his last start at the WGC Dell Match Play, losing to eventual champion, Sam Burns, in the quarterfinals. Even before gaining all of this distance, he made the cut in each of the last two Masters. Now with this extra distance and in good form, look for Hughes to be a sneaky play this week.
More Masters coverage from The Fried Egg team: