The sweat into the cutline Saturday morning may be the most drama we get this weekend, as Dustin Johnson carries a four-shot lead into the final round at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
Johnson came out on fire in third round, going eagle-birdie-birdie on holes two thru four, then never looked back. He would add three more birdies the rest of the way, en route to a bogey-free 65 that tied the lowest round at the event.
There were five players tied atop the leaderboard following the conclusion of the second round Saturday morning, including the top three players in the world. Each would shoot under par, but none could keep pace with Johnson.
Sungjae Im, our mid-tier play from yesterday joins Johnson in the final group, as he shot a solid 4-under 68 to climb to -12 for the tournament. Abraham Ancer is tied with Im and rounds out the threesome.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Johnson having the green jacket put on by Tiger Woods. He has been the best, most consistent player in the field through the first three rounds, with just two bogeys on the week and none in his last 30 holes.
I plan to tread lightly on any bets, as I think the best upside will be in the DraftKings Showdown, where you can lock in Johnson and try to predict the rest of the leaderboard. There is still a bit of value in betting markets, too.
Cameron Smith, Dylan Frittelli and Justin Thomas make up with penultimate threesome, with Smith and Frittelli five back and Thomas an additional shot behind at 10 under par.
Johnson goes into the round listed north of minus-300 to win at most sports books, giving him a 75% implied win percentage. He closed on a similar advantage in the TOUR Championship at the end of August, but has a history of falling short, especially in majors.
Johnson squandered the 54-hole lead at the PGA Championship this past summer, as Collin Morikawa outplayed him in the final round. He played well that Sunday at TPC Harding Park, but we’ve also seen him fall apart in similar scenarios earlier in his career at three separate U.S. Open tournaments.
If you don’t have exposure to Johnson already, I would shop around and find the best number to take what could essentially be free money. If you want to see if one of the guys in his group or ahead of him birdies the first hole and he pars or worse, then maybe you can get a slightly better live number.
Bottom line, Johnson is the best player in the world. Even without strokes gained data, we know he is having the best week. Johnson has shot two-bogey free 65s over the course of three rounds, with a 70 in the middle. That 2-under round would likely be enough to get it done in most scenarios.
The best number I am seeing right now is -286 on BetMGM, and I think you could see that climb as people start to bet into it Sunday prior to his tee time.
If you’ve been following my plays this week, you know we already have some exposure to Sungjae Im at +4000 odds. So, while I like what he has done best thus far, I will turn my focus to others. For me, it’s fairly easy to target Ancer.
I know he doesn’t have a TOUR victory to his credit, but the others have just one win, so they don’t get the edge in that category. Also, while Im hasn’t capitalized, Ancer did rank 35th in final round scoring average last season and has continually put himself in position to contend in big events.
Eventually, Ancer will break through. If it’s Sunday at +1600, that’s a pretty good number for a player who will have the chance to put some pressure on the leader.
No player has won the Masters from outside of the top five in 31 years, but the best bet to break that streak has to be Justin Thomas. The No. 3-ranked player in the world starts the round six shots behind Johnson, but he’s a player capable of shooting a nine or 10 under par on any course.
Thomas is known to be an aggressive player, attacking holes and pins for birdies, and that will certainly be his mindset.
I don’t believe you will get a better number live on Thomas during the round than the +2500 currently available on BetMGM. Thomas will play the tough first hole ahead of Johnson, then roll into the accessible Par 5 second where he will have to birdie or eagle to have a chance.
If you want to root for something epic, it could come in the form of Thomas chasing down Johnson with a record round.