The Masters: An in-depth look at the leading contenders for Augusta National glory

Which of the favourites has the best chance of adding a Green Jacket to their wardrobe this week in Georgia?

The head of the market is an interesting one for this year's first Major Championship of the year.

World No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson has gone off the boil, while Grand Slam-seeking Rory McIlroy has been stone cold ever since lockdown started.

Bryson DeChambeau has a poor course record and Brooks Koepka a poorly knee.

Jon Rahm, in contrast, has no such worries, but he does have a new baby to deal with.

Perhaps the only one of the favourites riding a wave as he arrives at Augusta is Jordan Spieth, who has been improving all year and claimed a first win since 2017 at the Texas Open on Sunday.

It makes for an intriguing top of the market in a week when the course is expected to be fast, firm and testing.

Let's take a closer look at the leading contenders and their odds.

Dustin Johnson 9/1 Paddy Power

The defending champion, but that's a heavy burden because very few players go back-to-back at Augusta National. It's also tricky because he'll be attacking a course that is firmer and faster than in November - much less likely to yield to Johnson's low-scoring brilliance.

That said, he's not finished outside the top 10 in his last five visits to the tournament and was tied second last time the event was held in April. His long hitting and superb wedge game are also clearly a good fit for the course.

The biggest worry is his form. He won in Saudi Arabia in February, but has gone backwards ever since. Indeed, from 10 consecutive top 12 finishes to three failures to make the top 30.

Bryson DeChambeau 11/1 Bet365

Pretty much the exact opposite of Dustin Johnson's case.

The huge hitter has no concerns with form: he was a brilliant winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and also highly impressive in THE PLAYERS Championship when third. His group stage knockout in the WGC Dell Match Play can also easily be forgiven.

But his form at Augusta National much less so. He's played there four times and is yet to land a top 20. Moreover, he's only twice gone sub-70.

Jordan Spieth 11/1 Bet365

Only the Texan's biggest fans were backing him at 66/1 last November.

In all of 2020 he landed just two top 10s and his last ten starts didn't even reap one top 25. In 2021, however, he's transformed that form landing six top 15s, a stretch that continued with victory in last week's Texas Open.

Spieth proved in Texas that he's back.
Spieth proved in Texas that he's back.

In the Masters he hasn't found the top 20 since 2018, but up to and including that year he finished second, first, second, T11th and third. He loves the sweeping, super-fast greens and has a huge chance this week.

Jon Rahm 12/1 Bet365

Last week there was a chance that Rahm might miss the tournament. Now, after the birth of his first baby, he has the chance to emulate Danny Willett in winning a Green Jacket days after welcoming a son.

His Augusta form is strong, taking in T27th on debut in 2017 followed by fourth, ninth and seventh. What's extra notable is his ability to go low: he has seven sub-70 scores in his last 11 attempts.

Form-wise he hasn't won since August, but he still has five top 10 finishes in seven starts in 2021. Beware Superdad.

Justin Thomas 12/1 Bet365

Ignore the awkward performance Thomas put in last time out in the WGC Dell Match Play and instead remember the sublime manner in which he swept all before him with a brilliant 64-68 at the weekend to win THE PLAYERS Championship.

It was a reminder that, at his best, Thomas is a magnificent player who attacks with deceptive simplicity.

Thomas was brilliant at Sawgrass.
Thomas was brilliant at Sawgrass.

He had early problems at Augusta, breaking 73 just once in his first six laps, but since then he has added two top 20 finishes and claimed a best effort of tied fourth in November.

Rory McIlroy 18/1 Bet365

Is the Northern Irishman too big a price to ignore?

Nobody could argue that his form is exciting. His last three strokeplay rounds are 76-79-75 and he lost heavily to Ian Poulter in his first match at the WGC Dell Match Play. But the other side of the coin is that world class players need very little to flip the switch and new coach Pete Cowen might provide that flip.

And with as many as ten places available the fact that McIlroy would have landed a return in six of his last seven Masters starts has to be interesting at the very least.

Patrick Cantlay 22/1 BetVictor

The American finished T47th on debut back in 2012 and then missed the cut in 2018, but since then his Masters returns have been a different kettle of fish.

He was ninth in 2019, ending the week with laps of 64-68, and he then added T17th last November.

When he was last seen on the course he played brilliantly in two matches at the WGC Dell Match Play, but lost the third and was knocked out. Remember the high quality and recall that he's also finished second and third already this season.

Brooks Koepka 25/1 Bet365

Newly engaged so going up against Rahm in the fight for family inspiration.

The really big question with Koepka surrounds the state of his knee which was operated on just a few weeks ago. Before then he won in Phoenix and was second in Florida.

At his best Koepka is superb in Majors.
At his best Koepka is superb in Majors.

If he is fit, and he was reported as looking a little wary out on the course, then he'll be looking to build on finishing second and seventh in his last two courses starts.

READ MORE: The Masters: The dark horses who can challenge for this year's Green Jacket

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