Masters Odds: ‘Stupid’ Zalatoris Surges Toward History

Masters Odds Betting Will Zalatoris
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

On Thursday night, two hours after Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, and Paul Casey exited the 18th green to complete the first round of The Masters, Kyle Porter of CBS Sports tweeted, “For 16 straight years, nobody not named Tiger has come from outside the top 10 after Round 1 to win.”

That meant, if the non-Tiger Woods streak reached 17 years, the 2021 Masters champion would be one of the following golfers:

  • Justin Rose
  • Brian Harman
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  • Patrick Reed
  • Webb Simpson
  • Will Zalatoris
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Kim Si-woo
  • Jason Kokrak
  • Shane Lowry
  • Jordan Spieth

In my mind, the 12-golfer list was really a six-golfer list:

  • Justin Rose
  • Patrick Reed
  • Webb Simpson
  • Jason Kokrak
  • Shane Lowry
  • Jordan Spieth

If the streak hit 17 years, the winner was one of those six golfers. Through mere-exposure, in which repeated exposure to a stimulus leads to a preference for familiarity, my brain said two-time Masters runner-up Justin Rose, 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed, two-time top-10 Masters finisher Webb Simpson, Jason Sobel’s underdog pick Jason Kokrak, 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry, or three-time major winner Jordan Spieth would accept the green jacket from Dustin Johnson on Sunday.

That’s stupid.

It’s only one piece of selective history. Xander Schauffele almost did it in 2019, as did Rickie Fowler in 2018, and Lee Westwood in 2016. And three days before defeating Westwood in 2016, Danny Willett was tied for ninth (with three other golfers) after the first round. 

The subconscious elimination of six golfers was stupid on Thursday night and more stupid on Friday night when four of my six contenders finished the second round well outside the top 10: Lowry (21st), Reed (32nd), Simpson (40), and Kokrak (48). 

Will Zalatoris, meanwhile, is one of only two golfers in the field with consecutive rounds of 70 or better (Harman) and enters the weekend one stroke behind Rose. And with the 24-year-old in position to become the first Masters rookie to win a green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, at least my stupidity has company.

“Kind of the joke that I’ve been saying with my family is if I’m stupid enough to think I can play here, then I’m stupid enough to think I can win it,” Zalatoris said this week. 

The former ACC Player of the Year burst onto the professional scene with a sixth-place finish at Winged Foot last year. Zalatoris entered this weekend with only one professional victory (on the Korn Ferry Tour) and +6600 odds to win The Masters. After an opening-round 70, he was still buried at +4000, double the odds of Webb Simpson (+2000), with whom he was tied in fourth place. 

Over the last 10 years, no golfer with odds worse than +3500 entering the second round won the tournament. And only Charl Schwartzel (+3500) and Danny Willett (+3000) were lower than +2000. After a second-round 68, Zalatoris is now in second place on the leaderboard and +1200 in Masters betting, only trailing Spieth (+400), Justin Thomas (+500), and Rose (+650). If he wins, he’ll be the fifth winner that opened the third round with odds of +1200 or worse. 

Since 2011, the pre-third-round favorite has won only four times:

YearPre-3rd FavoriteWinner (Pre-3rd Odds)
2020Jon Rahm (+350)Dustin Johnson (+450)
2019Tiger Woods (+600)Tiger Woods (+600)
2018Patrick Reed (+300)Patrick Reed (+300)
2017Ricke Fowler (+350)Sergio Garcia (+600)
2016Jordan Spieth (+225)Danny Willett (+3800)
2015Jordan Spieth (-180)Jordan Spieth (-180)
2014Bubba Watson (+150)Bubba Watson (+150)
2013Jason Day, Woods (+500)Adam Scott (+1200)
2012Rory McIlroy (+330)Bubba Watson (+1200)
2011Rory McIlroy, Woods (+300)Charl Schwartzel (+5000)

“It’s a childhood dream to obviously be in the final group of a major on a weekend, especially here,” Zalatoris said on Friday, 16 years after he attended the 2005 Masters and saw Tiger Woods defeat Chris DiMarco. Woods’ fourth win came three days after an opening-round 74 left him in a tie for 33rd place. 

That was the first of Woods’ two Masters wins after starting the second round outside the top 10, and the first of 16 straight tournaments in which a non-Tiger golfer didn’t win after starting the second round outside the top 10. Zalatoris was a daydreaming 8-year-old when the streak began. Now he’s a stupid 24-year-old looking to continue the streak.

Zalatoris and Rose are scheduled to tee off at 2:20 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can view full Masters odds here.

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM

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