PGA Odds: Phil Mickelson early favorite at Masters

By: Adam Markowitz | Monday, April 4, 2011

For years and years, it was Tiger Woods that was consistently putting on the coveted green jacket at the end of the Masters at Augusta National. Tiger tamed the links in the Peach State in 1997, 2001 and 2002 before Mickelson finally tasted victory in the event.

Both have had their share of crow to eat with the other in their presence as well. Lefty won the Masters for the first time in 2004, but the very next year, he had to put the green jacket on Woods. Tiger returned the favor the very next year when Mickelson won his second in 2006.

The scoreboard between these two still looks relatively lopsided in terms of majors won. Tiger owns four Masters crowns and 14 major championships. Phil has three Masters and just a total of four major championships. However, as we engage in Masters betting action this week, it is clearly Mickelson and not Woods who currently has the upper hand between these two.

You have to go back to 2009 to find the last time that Woods won a tournament of any kind, and his last major title dates back to 2008. Still, it's going to be really hard to go against a man that has consistently finished in tremendous fashion here at Augusta National. We don't know what it is about this course that brings out the best in Tiger, but we all see it here.

Since winning the title in 1997, Woods has nine Top 5 finishes and 11 Top 10 finishes, and he has never finished worse than tied for 22nd in this event. Woods might have missed the cut at the Open Championship in 2009, but aside from that, he has finished no worse than tied for 28th since the 2006 US Open. That was his only other non-Top 30 finish in a major other than the 2003 PGA Championship.

And then there's Phil. Mickelson has an absolutely amazing Masters streak going as well. He missed the cut in 1997 when Woods won his first title here, but the southpaw has finished no worse than tied for 24th in this event since that point, the only time he hasn't been in the Top 10 since 1999. All but one of those Top 10 finishes was seventh or better, and seven of those nine were in the Top 5.

The problem that Mickelson has is that he really doesn't have the greatest history in major tournaments aside from this one. There are a number of second place finishes, but only that one other win at the 2005 PGA Championship. Even from that point on at the PGA, Mickelson has just one finish in the Top 10, including a 32nd place finish in 2007 and a 73rd place showing in 2009.

The good news for Lefty is that he is hot right now. He looked great over the weekend at the Shell Houston Open, shooting a 63 and a 65 to finish minus-20 to win the event. It was the third Top 10 of the season for Mickelson, and his first Top 5 since finishing second at the Farmers Insurance Open back in January.

Woods has just never found his stroke. It seems as though he has essentially jumped the shark, finishing with just one Top 10 finish all season. He finished 44th in that very same Farmers Insurance Open that Mickelson finished as runner-up, and he has twice as many rounds of golf this year in the 70s (8) than he does in the 60s (4).

After his Shell Houston Open win, Mickelson is the plus 595 favorite to win this year's Masters, while Woods is the second choice on the board at plus 1050.

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