Las Vegas’ Nick Watney Could Be Best Golf Bet at The Masters

Image April 8, 2009 (UPDATED 9:00 AM PST April 10) –Las Vegas resident Nick Watney has made every cut so far this PGA Tour season, won the Buick Invitational, and challenged for a few other titles. And, oh yeah, he finished tied for 11th at the 2008 Masters.  The Las Vegas Hilton Superbook listed him at 40-1 the day before the tournament, a pretty good value for one of the best players in 2009. "He opened up a long time ago at 250-1, but his good form recently plus his good finish last year has the public looking at him," said Jeff Sherman, Race and Sportsbook Assistant Manager and golf odds expert. "The public stated looking at him when he got to about 80-1." After two rounds, Watney was at -3 and in a tie for 11th, still in the hunt. His odds remained 40-1 to bet entering the third round. LIVE SCORES/RESULTS.

Watney is one of three golfers with deep ties to Las Vegas who are playing in The Masters, but the only one who has odds that are dropping. Former UNLV Rebel Adam Scott's odds have gone from 30-1 to 60-1 at the Hilton because of his recent disappointing play, while another former Rebel and 3-time Ryder Cup team member Chad Campbell has gone from 100-1 to 125-1 (After the second round, Campbell, who was the co-leader, was 7-1 to win). But who knows, throwing a bit of cash at the Vegas pros could lead to a pretty nice payday come Easter Sunday. Sherman says that The Masters is bny far the biggest golf betting event on the golf calendar, and that those that know the game like to bet golfers who have a history of playing well at golf's premiere tournament.

"People tend to go with guys who have had previous success at Augusta and Watney is a perfect example," said Sherman, who also operates GolfOdds.com. "He finished tied for 11th last year in his first Masters and that could lead people to think that with a little more experience combined with recent good form make him a good value." Sherman said that other players who fit that criteria are Retief Goosen, who is 20-1, and Padraig Harrington, winner of the last two majors, who is 15-1. Goosen was 17th last year while Harrington was 5th. Harrington has made the cut in seven of nine appearances, and finished in the top 10 three times and the top 20 five times. Goosen has made the cut in 8 out of 10 appearances and finished in the top 10 four times and the top 20 seven times. His best finish was second place in 2002 and 2007.

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Campbell has made only two of five cuts but did finish in a tie for third in 2006. Scott has made six of seven cuts at The Masters, but his best finish was a tie for 9th in 2002. He hasn't finished in the top 20 since, and finished in a tie for 25th in 2008. Watney fired rounds of 75-70-72-71 last year, and is ready to take another crack at Augusta in 2009, especially the tough putting surfaces. Watney had a total of 124 putts in 2008, 12 more than winner Trevor Immelman, and the third-highest total of any golfer who made the cut.

Image "I didn't make many putts, but I didn't three-putt all that much," Watney said in article on augusta.com. "I think I putted OK for my first tournament. It was kind of a microcosm of my whole year. I didn't putt very well last year." Watney, who is coached by Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, has worked with Harmon on that aspect of the game and is having a solid 2009 with the putter. In 2009, Watney ranks 16th on the PGA Tour in total putts per round and in 25th for putting average. In 2008, he was ranked 154th and 127th respectively.

"Hopefully, if I can improve on that and continue to hit it well, maybe I improve on the 11th place, too," Watney said. "We worked a little bit on stroke," he said of his sessions with Harmon. "Butch gave me a putting track-type thing. But also more on my routine and confidence and simplifying it as far as picking a target and hitting it at that target. If I make it, great. If I miss it, I did all I could do." Watney spends a lot of time at the Butch Harmon School of Golf that is located at Las Vegas' Rio Secco Golf Club, a Rees Jones resort course. For a complete listing of the odds for the 2009 Masters go to GolfOdds.com. Also, there is a listing of several proposition bets.

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