Chris Kirk as outright winner one of 3 smart bets

Three years in the past, Corey Conners scored golf’s final golden ticket to the Chocolate Manufacturing facility.

The story is already the stuff of golf lore. Conners performed within the Monday qualifier for the Valero Texas Open, clinched one of many final spots within the match area, then gained all of it six days later to safe the ultimate Masters invitation for the very subsequent week.

With the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Bryson DeChambeau within the area, this week’s Augusta precursor shouldn’t be devoid of leisure worth, although the true drama will come Sunday afternoon if a handful of contenders are searching for that ultimate golden ticket.

It stays one of many best underlying subplots at any occasion on the schedule. If we’re looking for narratives, we will have a look at motivation simply as optimistically as we will view nerves pessimistically. That’s what occurs when a win comes with not simply the same old spoils of a two-year exemption and a seven-figure paycheck, but in addition a Sunday evening journey to Augusta.

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Perhaps it’s extra of a romantic than sensible notion, however I’m principally — principally — trying past these already certified for the Masters who is likely to be trying past this tourney, and as a substitute specializing in those that want this one slightly extra.

Let’s get proper to the picks, beginning with an outright who’s actually been trending in the fitting course.

Outright winner

Chris Kirk (30/1): I’d anticipate this to be a preferred outright play this week.

Kirk owns the kind of type/historical past intersection we so usually search, with tChree finishes of 14th or higher in his final 4 begins and 4 finishes of thirteenth or higher in his final six Texas Open begins.

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And hey, if we’re going after a narrative, let’s actually go after one. Not solely would Kirk clinch a return journey to Augusta for the primary time since 2016 — he’s not at the moment in subsequent week’s Masters area, so he’s amongst those that wants a win to get in — he’s practically three full years from taking a self-imposed depart of absence from the PGA Tour as a result of alcohol abuse and melancholy.

Ever since final yr’s feel-good story on the Sony Open, when he completed runner-up and retained full enjoying privileges, I’ve believed Kirk would get again to the winner’s circle for a fifth time and he’s been knocking on that door these days. With strokes gained ranks of thirty third off the tee, forty third on method pictures and seventeenth across the greens, plus a optimistic placing quantity, Kirk is clearly doing every little thing at a excessive stage proper now. 

High-5 end

Branden Grace (22/1): For me, Grace epitomizes the rationale behind sticking with a participant till he pays off. There have been slight alerts that the person as soon as ranked as excessive as Tenth on the earth is able to return to one thing near that prominence.

This seems like the fitting spot for him to take that subsequent step, as he’s completed Twenty third-Tenth-Ninth-Thirtieth in his final 4 begins at this one. I’ll sprinkle some on him outright, however top-five/10 props really feel like good hedges.

High-10 end

Taylor Moore (10/1): A local of close by Oklahoma, Moore performed his faculty golf at Arkansas, all of which suggests he’s performed just a few windy rounds in his day.

In his preliminary PGA Tour season, Moore has proven that when he’s putting it nicely, he can submit some stable outcomes. Whereas his 13 begins embrace only a single prime 10, it is a place the place I’ve had him focused for some time, because it ought to go well with his type. 

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