Monday's roundup: Spieth early favorite at Masters

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
Jordan Spieth is a 13-2 odds favorite to win the Masters, according to one bookmaker.

Los Angeles — The refrain is becoming a tradition unlike any other, especially after a West Coast Swing like this one.

“The Masters can’t get here soon enough.”

No doubt, the Masters is the most anticipated tournament of the year. But that would be overlooking the obvious.

Golf fans get excited about Augusta National no matter who is winning because it’s the first major championship in eight months and because, well, it’s the Masters.

What the West Coast Swing showed is that it’s getting more crowded than ever at the top, and it’s getting tougher to find a clear-cut favorite.

Five of the seven PGA Tour winners this year are among the top 10 in the world. That includes Dustin Johnson, the new No. 1. That does not include Sergio Garcia, who won the Dubai Classic on the European Tour.

As the PGA Tour heads to Florida, the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook lists Jordan Spieth as a narrow favorite (13-2 odds) over Johnson (8-1) to win the Masters, with Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama lined up behind them.

Spieth would be a leading candidate because of his four-shot victory at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, and because he has never finished worse than runner-up in his three appearances at Augusta National.

As for Johnson?

He reached No. 1 Sunday by winning at Riviera, but equally impressive is his two-year body of work — five victories (including the U.S. Open), four runner-up finishes and 60 percent of his finishes in the top 10.

Matsuyama was asked in late October after his seven-shot victory in the HSBC Champions if he wished the Masters was the following week. His playoff victory in Phoenix earlier this month only raised expectations of becoming the first Asian-born player in a green jacket.

Justin Thomas almost feels like old news. It’s easy to forget that he not only swept the Hawaii swing, he won them by a combined 10 shots and shot a 59 at the Sony Open while setting a record for the lowest 72-hole score (253) in PGA Tour history.

And remember, there are still six more tournaments to go before the Masters.

How tough is it getting? Spieth started the year at No. 5 in the world. He tied for third at Kapalua, finished third at the Sony Open, tied for ninth in the Phoenix Open and won at Pebble Beach. And now he’s No. 6.

“Awesome West Coast Swing,” Spieth said after he tied for 22nd at the Genesis Open. It was his worst finish since he tied for 30th in the British Open last summer, and his 72 in the third round ended his streak of 27 consecutive rounds under par.

St. George’s selected

The British Open will be staged at Royal St. George’s in 2020.

The Royal & Ancient, which organizes the world’s oldest major, made the announcement on Monday.

The course in southeast England will be hosting the British Open for the 15th time, and for the first time since 2011 when Darren Clarke lifted the claret jug.