Super Early Odds for the 2015 Masters Post-PGA Championship
Time does indeed fly when you're having fun. In what felt like an instant, the four majors of 2014 came to an end, and now we're looking at a brutal eight-month drought.
While the PGA Championship had drama to spare on Sunday, all it did was leave me wanting more.
So it's time to start looking toward next April at Augusta and dreaming about the contenders and storylines that are going to take over the news cycle next spring.
With Rory McIlroy going for his career Grand Slam, Tiger Woods hopefully healthy once again, and Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson trying to add another green jacket to their collections, it should be a fantastic tournament.
If you can't wait for the spring to get excited about it, here's a very early look at the odds for the 2015 Masters.
Odds to Win: 25-1
Due to his persistent thumb injury and other health concerns, it feels like it's been a lost season for Australian Jason Day.
However, even given his struggles, he managed to do just fine. He made the cut at every major, finished in the top 20 at three of them and in the top five at one, and won the Accenture Match Play Championship. That's certainly a season to build on.
The 26-year-old tied for second at the Masters in 2011 and finished third in 2013. With more experience in his pocket and an offseason to fully heal his thumb, he should walk into the 2015 Masters as one of the main contenders.
Odds to Win: 20-1
Coming into 2014, you could have made a few people in golf belly-laugh if you suggested that colorful character Rickie Fowler would be the most consistent guy at all of the majors this year. However, that's exactly what happened.
Fowler finished in the top five at every major, including a tie for fifth at the Masters, runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open and the British Open, and a third-place finish at Valhalla.
As Michael Whitmer of The Boston Globe wrote, Fowler had a good time in the first three tournaments. The fourth one, however, stung:
Coming close at the 96th PGA Championship, though? That feels much different. This one brought disappointment, because it was the only major in which Fowler actually held the outright lead during the final round.
'This is probably the one that hurts the most for me with the majors this year. The first three were a lot of fun, obviously to be in great positions and to get great finishes,' Fowler said. 'This one I felt like I could go out today and win it.'
It's not going to get any easier, but Fowler should be able to build on his great 2014 and go into next year ready to take the next step. That just might include a green jacket.
Odds to Win: 16-1
Adam Scott wears the green jacket well, and he'll be looking to get a second one to add to his closet next April.
The 2013 Masters champion had a quiet 2014 at the majors, never threatening to win any of them. However, his results were respectable—he finished in the top 20 in all of them, including a tie for ninth at the U.S. Open and a tie for fourth at the British Open.
But the Masters is a special major for Scott. It's where he won his first (and only) major, and he's finished in the top 10 there in three of the last four years. No longer the center of attention in golf circles—Rory McIlroy has certainly snatched that title back—the laid-back Aussie can head to Georgia in eight months a bit under the radar and just focus on playing his best golf.
Considering Augusta brings out the best in his game, that certainly makes him one of the top contenders.
Odds to Win: 14-1
To a much greater degree than Adam Scott, Bubba Watson is simply a different golfer on the lawns of Augusta.
The 35-year-old has only four top-10 finishes at majors in his decade-long career: a tie for fifth at the 2007 U.S. Open, a runner-up finish at the 2010 PGA Championship and two Masters wins (2012 and 2014).
The key is his long driving, which gives him a distinct advantage over the rest of the field at the Masters. In two of the past three years, he's been able to turn that advantage into a green jacket.
This season, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and the British Open and tied for 65th at the PGA Championship, but there's really no use in analyzing Watson's form on other courses. It's a new game at Augusta, and Watson will perennially be one of the top contenders.
Odds to Win: 14-1
Remember this guy? Tiger Woods would probably prefer if you forgot his 2014 campaign, which was the worst of his career. He had back surgery and missed the Masters and the U.S. Open. Then, he came back too early. In the four events he played, he missed two cuts, withdrew on a Sunday and finished in 69th place. That's not a good season by anyone's standards.
But time heals all wounds, and it's hard not to envision Tiger being a different guy once he is able to fully recover from back surgery and get used to his adjusted swing. If the Masters was scheduled for September 2014, he wouldn't be on this list. But April 2015? That seems doable.
It's hard to believe Tiger hasn't donned the green jacket since 2005. That means this coming spring will be the 10th anniversary of his last Masters win. As the entire sporting world talks about Rory becoming the new Tiger, what better time for Tiger to win major No. 15? Stranger things have certainly happened.
Odds to Win: 12-1
Welcome back, Phil Mickelson. After a subpar season, Lefty sprung back to life at the PGA Championship and gave 25-year-olds Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy a run for their money.
He ended up finishing as the runner-up to McIlroy. As Bob Harig of ESPN.com reported, Mickelson was disappointed but motivated:
Mickelson shot 15-under par at Valhalla and it wasn't enough. He had six birdies during the final round of a major and it wasn't enough. He beat every single player -- but one.
"Regardless of how I played this week, I know that I've got to address some things these next three or four months," he said. "And I think that the next four or five years, I really want to make special, and then we'll see."
The 44-year-old has three green jackets, 14 top-10 finishes and 10 top-five finishes at Augusta. He knows how to be at his best in April. Now that he's comfortable with his game again and determined to improve in the next eight months, he'll be one to fear at the 2015 Masters.
Mickelson knows that time is running out to add to his major tally. Urgency might be just what he needs to get another green jacket.
Odds to Win: 9-2
With his win at the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy has now won three events in a row, two of which were majors. Barring injury, he will enter the Masters as the overwhelming favorite. He's certainly earned it.
When you add the fact that McIlroy will be going for his career Slam at the 2015 Masters, the buzz around the Northern Irishman will be positively deafening come spring.
But with the overwhelming talent that he's always had and the fierce dominance he's showed in July and August this year, he's reached that zone where he has to be considered the favorite at every tournament he enters. He's just that good.
Winning three majors in a row is something only the greatest ever have been able to accomplish. Next April, McIlroy will have a chance to join that group. Bet against him at your own peril.