The Masters First Round Leader Picks, Bets & More (2024)

There are few sporting events on the planet that carry more weight than the Masters. From the green jacket to the theme music to hearing Jim Nantz belt out how this tradition truly is unlike any other — we all flock to the TV, consuming as much as possible. In years prior, it was to see if Tiger Woods could dominate the field and win again; this week it’s the same questions, just surrounding Scottie Scheffler. The latter has put together one of the more impressive streaks over the past few years, which is why he sits in the +400 outright range.

There’s no article of clothing that is given to the first-round leader at Augusta. However, we can certainly cash a nice ticket. There are few surprises — if any — at Augusta National, meaning the course rarely changes year to year. Knowing this course is as valuable a skill set as there is, including putting on bentgrass. Apparently, as proven by recent winners, putting can be optional; just ask Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia. Of course, all made putts but entered as some of the lesser putters on tour — to put it nicely.

We want course history, par-5 scoring and long par-4 scoring. Each of the 10 par-4 holes at Augusta ranges at least 440 yards, making length an issue for shorter players. Accuracy is vital, as is the ability to set up putts on the faster greens. Ultimately, having a feel for this course is going to propel someone to success.

The last thing is taking advantage of earlier tee times. Someone in the morning group is going to separate himself from the pack, be it with approach shots on longer par 4’s or an eagle attempt on a par 5 — we will target an early golfer to lead.

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The Masters First Round Leader Picks

The Keys To The Kingdom

The beauty of Augusta National is on full display throughout this golf course. Most famously we find Amen Corner, but the course is so much more than that — and difficult in many ways. The challenge of winning the Masters comes in beating the course more than this deep field. We’ve seen the LIV guys return for a shot — or another shot — at winning the green jacket, adding some intrigue to the event. Woods is back, as is Phil Mickelson, so the drama won’t settle by any means.

Getting out ahead at Augusta in the first round is best achieved by taking some risks. The majority of these guys will take them only when the opportunity presents itself, meaning they won’t actively seek to press any holes. Whether via a little extra aggression off the tee, a challenging second shot versus an easier look on the green or even stretching a par 5 for eagle — we need to target someone in the smaller group willing to take a chance.

We look at two solid first-round leader options below, taking advantage of guys who fit the course profile while taking advantage of an earlier tee time. Repeat winners are in play, as are current winners on tour. This is a course unkind to first timers, but that’s typically over four days of a grind. There’s some decent value left for a long shot to lead after one, but let’s look at the best bet first.

The Masters First-Round Leader Picks

The Masters First Round Leader Picks: Tony Finau (+4000 at BetMGM)

Finau has made the cut in each of his six Masters appearances. He’s finished 10th or better in half of them. Not many in this field know Augusta National like Finau and have had the consistent level of success. This is the one event where course history means more than any other tournament. He’s also playing great golf over his last 14 events, including a second at the Houston Open. We’ve seen seven top-20s and a top-25, with only one missed cut. That consistent play combined with Finau’s course knowledge will prove vital.

Finau jumps out with an early 9:36 a.m. ET tee time and is one of just 15 players who finished top 10 multiple times over the past five years. He meets the course criteria for scoring on par 5’s and longer par 4’s, and is one of the top 10 players gaining strokes from tee to green. His history would indicate he’s on the precipice of breaking through and winning. He will jump out early to establish a lead based off comfort with Augusta.

At 40-1 there’s some incredible value for Finau to take advantage of the earlier grouping. He’s one of a handful of golfers who can truly boast claim of knowing the ins and outs of Augusta National despite going 0-for-6 in winning. He’s hovering and knows exactly where to take some risks. There’s no waiting or biding time with Rory McIlroy or Scheffler hanging around, as Finau needs to strike early. He knows that, as history would show. We love him to lead after one and put pressure on the rest of the field with his incredible ability to strike the ball, especially on longer par 4’s.

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The Masters First Round Leader Picks: Stephan Jaeger (+9000 at BetMGM)

This is a massive number at 90-1 for any first-round leader. We are taking a player here who has shown the incredible ability to bounce back. He missed the cut at The PLAYERS, only to win two weeks ago at Houston. For the three events prior, Jaeger was losing strokes on the green — all in Florida — but bounced back in Texas. We know putting is not the most important metric this week, yet he gained 1.59 strokes on the Houston greens.

With an 8:24 a.m. tee time and a course fit despite never playing here, there’s a good shot Jaeger can take advantage of his own skill set rather than crumble. The speed of the greens is best neutralized by gaining strokes around the green, another key category where Jaeger has thrived.

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