Five golfers to back in the 2016 Masters

Rory McIlroy in a good mood during practice for the 2016 Masters

Rory McIlroy in a good mood during practice for the 2016 Masters

Our man John Brennan on the five men worth putting a few quid on in the first Major of 2016.

JASON DAY 13/2

The Aussie is right in the mood to celebrate his rise to No 1 spot in the world after winning the WGC World Matchplay.

Day has to be the favourite all day given that he has won six tournaments world-wide in 13 starts including a Major.

He has two top-three finishes in his last five trips down Magnolia Lane and no one will be at all surprised if he finally dons the Green Jacket.

RORY McILROY 8/1 

Played better than Jason Day in their WGC semi final but was out-putted – the eventual champion using the short stick only 23 times.

Has decided not to take part in Wednesday’s Par 3 competition because he does not want to be distracted in his aim to finally win at Augusta.

Rory may just be on the way back after all his frustrations and if the four-time Major winner finds his touch on the greens he will be very difficult to beat.

BUBBA WATSON 11/1 

It’s an even number year so watch out for the giant- hitting leftie (below) who won in 2012 and 2014.

The American’s length and the natural shape of his shots give him a massive advantage at the par five 13th, where two years ago he needed only a nine iron second to hit the green.

In impressive form this season and the world No 4 is bound to be a major factor next Sunday afternoon.

JORDAN SPEITH 15/2 

Over the last couple of months has been like a bear with a sore head, griping at himself, his caddy and anybody around him.

He even shanked one at Riviera in February.

Maybe it is all a reaction to last season’s miracle of a first Masters win followed by the US Open plus 4th at The Open and 2nd at the PGA but if he putts like we know he can then anything is possible.

ZACH JOHNSON 60/1 

While we’ve given you four of the logical favourites for the Masters, here’s another golfer to consider at a decent price. Zach Johnson is 60/1, he’s the current Open champion and a former Masters winner too.

At the odds, and with Paddy Power paying out on seven places, Zach could be a zinger for us.

All odds via Paddy Power

Rory McIlroy aces 16 at Augusta as Masters preparation starts

Rory McIlroy during his practice round today

Rory McIlroy during his practice round today

Rory McIlroy began his Masters preparation in spectacular fashion on Monday by making a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at Augusta National.

McIlroy, who is looking to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam by claiming a first green jacket this week, holed out with a seven iron from 170 yards to complete a 3&2 win in his match against England's Chris Wood.

"I don't think I have ever heard a roar that large in a practice round," the four-time major winner said of the reaction from the crowd. "It was great. It was a nice practice round and a bit of a highlight. And it ended the match as well.

"I played well. I feel like my game is in good shape. We both hit just one ball (off the tee). It gets me into a nice mindset of this is how I'm going to play, so I'm going to try to do the same tomorrow, play 18 and a match with someone.

"I feel that's the best way for me to prepare. It's competitive. You're trying to shoot a score. The pins aren't in the spots where they are going to be at the weekend, but at the same time you still have to get the ball in the hole and hole putts that you feel a little bit of pressure on."

Asked about the condition of the course, McIlroy, who finished fourth last year, added: "It's not very different at all from what we saw last year.

"I feel like the way the course is now is probably the way the course played last year because it was soft and a little slow. I'm sure they are trying to get it faster and firmer as the week goes on."

Wood, who now owes McIlroy dinner, was faced with the daunting task of also trying to make a hole-in-one to keep the match alive, but joked: "I suppose it wasn't quite game over but when the crowd are chanting 'Rory, Rory' and you've got to try and hit a seven iron to that flag there's not much chance.

"I've never quite heard a noise like it – it was pretty mad. It was great fun. It was a cool moment."