Punters are clamouring to back Rory McIlroy for glory at The Masters early next month at Augusta National after he delivered a superb performance to land his first title in 18 months. The Northern Irishman’s.
<p>Punters are clamouring to back Rory McIlroy for glory at The Masters early next month at Augusta National after he delivered a superb performance to land his first title in 18 months. The Northern Irishman’s trophy drought ended in sensational style this past Sunday when he carded a final-round 64 to seize the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.</p><p>McIlroy birdied five of the final six holes to finish three shots clear of Bryson DeChambeau, with a rejuvenated Tiger Woods a further five shots back. It was McIlroy’s best performance since 2016 and it came at the perfect juncture as we are now less than a fortnight away from The Masters at Augusta.</p><p>McIlroy is surging with confidence ahead of the big tournament. He jumped from 13th to seventh in the world rankings and said: “It’s huge. The shots I was able to hit under pressure, coming down the stretch, the two five-irons into the par-3s on the back nine, the wedge shots, the putts, the drive on 16, the three-wood on 18 after the last three-wood I hit on that hole I hit out-of-bounds left on Thursday. All these little barriers you have to overcome, whether it be physical or mental. Yeah, it’s huge for my confidence going into Augusta. I kept saying I didn’t need a win going into the Masters to feel like I had a chance. Thankfully I’ve now got one.”</p><p>Punters have bought into the confidence and backed him to land The Masters. He is now as low as 15/2 with some bookmakers to win the first major of the year, and best priced at 9/1 with Sky Bet, Betfred and Bet Stars. That makes him the favourite to win the tournament, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson priced at 10/1 with Sun Bets, 888 Sport and Boyle Sports.</p><p>Woods’ resurgence continues and he is also 10/1 with various bookmakers, while Justin Thomas is 12/1 with Sky Bet and Betfred, Jordan Spieth is 14/1 with Unibet and Justin Rose is 16/1.</p><p>That leaves McIlroy at the head of an elite group and the oddsmakers clearly feel he will carry momentum into The Masters. It is the only major he is yet to win, and it would be his first since 2014 if he could pull it off. Golf is crying out for a star like McIlroy and many fans will hope to see him return to his brilliant best for a prolonged period of time after a pretty wayward 18 months.</p><p>Seven of the last eight major winners were first-timers, and there are several leading stars without a major to their names who will be vying for glory at Augusta. That list is headed by exciting youngster Jon Rahm, the consistent Hideki Matsuyama and the popular Rickie Fowler. But most of the attention will be on the elite, established superstars.</p><p>Spieth has a fantastic record at Augusta, and he will be a real threat at the tournament. He won The Masters in 2015 and nearly won it again the following year, only to hit a quadruple bogey at the 12th on the final day and lose out to Danny Willett after throwing away a comfortable lead.</p><p>Never write off Johnson, who is blessed with phenomenal power off the tee, while Thomas was named Golfer of the Year for 2017 and is certainly in with a strong chance. But the real excitement will surround Woods and McIlroy. It would be a fairy-tale return to greatness for Woods, while McIlroy would also be coming in from the wilderness. They are two of the most talented players the game has ever seen, and they can expect fervent support at Augusta, so it will be fascinating to see how it pans out.</p>