For Dustin Johnson, being the No. 1 golfer in the world wasn’t enough to be the top pick among oddsmakers to win the Masters. But the 2016 US Open winner finally got to the top of the board and is now listed at 7/1 to capture the Green Jacket in April.
It took a few months for the 33-year-old to become the favorite. Just two weeks ago, Johnson’s odds of winning were at 10/1, putting him as less likely to win than Jordan Spieth, the 2015 winner at Augusta National, who had opened at 7/1.
In addition to being the top-ranked golfer in the game, Johnson recently had a productive west coast swing. He won the PGA Tournament of Champions by eight strokes in January, and then in February finished tied for second at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
But those strong finishes alone weren’t enough to sway sportsbooks. His line moved to 8/1 for winning the Masters, but still wasn’t better than Spieth. It was the 24-year-old’s performance the last two months that might have convinced those that set the lines that Johnson should be on top.
Recovering from Injury
Johnson was the overwhelming favorite at last year’s Masters at 5/1. He had won three events leading up to the first major of 2017, and many thought it was going to be his year.
But a fall down some stairs at a rental house he was staying at derailed his chances. The accident occurred the night before the first round and he sustained a lower back injury. He tried to ready himself, but had to withdraw.
It cut short a promising season. He returned in May and finished in the top 10 at three events, but missed the cut at the US Open and tied for 54th at the British Open. A tie for 13th at the PGA Championship in August did little to take away the feeling that this was a lost season.
“Obviously I had the injury at Augusta,” Johnson said assessing his year. “But that kind of threw me off there, I struggled for awhile after that.”
Before Johnson dominated a field of 2017 tournament winners in Maui in January, he talked about how he was ready to put last year behind him and focus on 2018.
“I feel like the game’s starting to get back to close to the form it was when I was playing so well there at the beginning of last year,” he said.
Johnson’s odds may be the best value compared to others near the top of the list. Rory McIlroy is at 12/1 and has struggled in three PGA Tour events. He missed the cut at Pebble Beach, tied for 20th at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Southern California and finished tied for 59th at last week’s Honda Classic.
A pick that might pay off is a little further down. Justin Thomas is 18/1 and has quietly put together a nice run the first two months. His worst finish is a tie for 22nd at the Tournament of Champions. Since then he has ended up no lower than 17th in four events and last week won the Honda Classic.