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Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler among favorites in wide-open Masters

Updated April 8, 2017 - 11:12 pm

A chip and a chair.

That’s what Jordan Spieth said his second-round 69 at the Masters gave him — a chance, in poker parlance — after he took a quadruple-bogey 9 in the first round.

The 23-year-old Texan didn’t hold anything back in Saturday’s third round, as he fired a 68 to climb to two shots off the lead entering Sunday’s final round.

Spieth, who has finished second, first and second in three Masters appearances, is in a three-way tie for fourth at 4 under with UNLV products Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore, who will be paired together Sunday.

Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are tied for the lead at 6 under, Rickie Fowler is third at 5 under and former Rebel Adam Scott is fifth at 3 under.

“Eight guys can win it, and it’s wide open,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “I’m hoping one of the Rebels comes through. Three of the top seven are Rebels. That’s impressive.”

Rose, who birdied five of the final seven holes for a 5-under 67, is the 5-2 favorite to win the Masters after the odds were adjusted Saturday night. Spieth is 3-1, Fowler 4-1 and Garcia 9-2. Scott and Moore are 15-1 and Hoffman 25-1.

“Our only liability is on Justin Rose,” said Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman, who opened the 2013 U.S. Open champion at 25-1 in August and lowered his odds to 9-1 after the first round.

“He’s got a good Masters history and was playing well coming into the tournament. He was the one guy I liked myself.”

A green jacket would fit perfectly in Fowler’s colorful wardrobe, and handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) likes Fowler’s chances to win after taking the popular 28-year-old at 20-1 odds before the tournament.

“Maybe this is just his time,” Reynolds said. “He’s been close. In 2014, he placed in the top five in all four majors, and he was really putting well, and we’re seeing that this week. He’s making a lot of tough putts he was missing last year, and those are the type of putts you have to make to win a major.”

Fowler and Spieth, who are paired together in the final round, are the leaders in money wagered and ticket count at William Hill.

“Rickie, of all the guys on the (PGA) Tour, has got a great attitude and a great personality,” Bogdanovich said. “It’s pretty easy to root for Fowler. Everyone loves him.”

Garcia never has been a fan favorite, but is on the short list of best players never to have won a major. The Spaniard has the worst average (74.92) of any player in the third round of the Masters since 1990, but exorcised those demons Saturday with a 2-under 70.

“Throughout his career, he just hasn’t been a finisher,” Sherman said. “He’s been through this so many times.”

Bogdanovich said Garcia, 37, is noticeably more relaxed on the links.

“He’s just older. He’s getting married, and he’s not wound as tight, and the fans aren’t heckling him as much,” he said. “He’s aging gracefully. He seems like a different person.”

Reynolds said Moore and Hoffman, who each opened at 150-1 odds to win the Masters, will be more comfortable playing together.

“It could be a blessing in disguise for those two guys,” he said. “They don’t have to play with a guy who has won major championships.”

Of the three former UNLV players in contention, Sherman said Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, has the best shot.

“Because he’s won here before,” he said.

Scott closed at 30-1 odds before the tournament and was at 60-1 after the first round.

Spieth trailed by 10 shots after the first round. If he completes the largest comeback in Masters history, he would be the first major champion in 121 years (1896 British Open winner Harry Vardon) to erase a double-digit deficit. It’s tough to bet against him at Augusta National.

“He has such command on this course, it’s just unbelievable,” Sherman said. “It’s hard to keep him down. His confidence level is at an all-time high when he gets here.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

 

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