The first major of 2013 is here, and for golf bettors it's one of the best opportunities to wager on matchups, props and future book odds. There are roughly five times the normal number of PGA Tour matchups available at sports books, along with round-by-round props and plenty of chances to hedge your bets if needed.
The Augusta National Golf Club is a par 72 and can stretch out to 7,435 yards. Each year the committee makes changes to the course, but for handicapping purposes, they are not significant enough to mention this season. One thing to keep an eye on is the weather. If the early forecasts are accurate (40 percent chance of rain Thursday and 50 percent on Friday), soft conditions will make the course play very long and we can begin to eliminate or bet against the short hitters such as Tim Clark, David Toms and Ben Curtis.
But the big storyline heading into Thursday is, of course, the play of Tiger Woods, who has won three tournaments this year and reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking. At 3-1, he is the odds-on favorite to win at Augusta, but does he represent the best betting value?
Let's take a closer look at the odds. Here are my contenders and long shots to win the first major of the year, along with some matchup advice and prop bets.
Odds courtesy of William Hill Sports Book, Las Vegas
Tiger Woods (3-1)
There is no better player in golf from the fairway to the flag, and if Tiger finds the fairway consistently on the six-plus holes at Augusta that require a draw (holes that are set up with a dogleg that bends right to left), the rest of the field will be playing for second place.