What next for Garcia?

Sergio Garcia pulled off a tremendous feat to win the his first major at the 74th time of asking when he got both arms in the green jacket at Augusta. 

It was one of the all-time great sporting stories, as the perpetual nearly man became the champion at long last. It was harsh on Justin Rose, who led for most of the last day, but he can take huge positives from his performance and should enjoy a great 2017.

Attention now turns to the remaining three majors of the year: the US Open, The Open and the US PGA. Garcia and Rose have understandably both seen the odds on them winning those majors plummet after their strong showings at Augusta. Jordan Spieth, pre-tournament favourite for The Masters, has gone in the opposite direction thanks to a poor showing on a course he previously excelled on.

The betting for the remaining majors of the year is now headed up by the usual suspects, the world’s top ranked players. A review of bookmaker odds shows Dustin Johnson is 8/1 favourite to win the US Open, ahead of Rory McIlroy on 17/2, Jordan Spieth on 10/1 and Jason Day on 14/1. The Big Four lead the betting for The Open, in exactly the same order.

Finally for the US PGA, McIlroy is the 7/1 favourite ahead of Johnson, followed again by Spieth and Day. Already bookmakers have released odds for next year’s Masters, and those four all head the betting again.

But an interesting trend is that all four majors last year were won by a first-time major winner: Danny Willet in the Masters, Johnson in the US Open, Henrik Stenson at The Open and then Jimmy Walker in the US PGA. Now with Garcia winning his first ever major, that makes five in a row to be claimed by a newcomer to the elite club of major winners. It shows how fantastically competitive the sport is right now, and it might pay to look for top players that have not yet won a major and back them for the remaining three of the year.

Johnson, Stenson and Garcia were probably the biggest names in golf not to have scooped a major, but there are still some heavy hitters that have not yet tasted the ultimate glory.

Foremost among them is Rickie Fowler. He is extremely talented and not that long ago he finished in the top five of all four majors of the year, joining only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers ever to have pulled off such a feat. The fact he has been in contention for majors in the past should stand him in good stead, as well as his victory in the Players Championship. At 28 he should be approaching his prime now and looks a good option for picking up that elusive major this year. Fowler is 33/1 to win the US Open, 28/1 to win The Open and 35/1 to win the US PGA. At those odds you can back him each-way and still make a healthy profit if he finishes in the top four or top five.

Perhaps once you win a major you take your foot off the pedal a bit, and it is the golfers without a major to their name that desperately battle to earn one. Hideki Matsuyama is 20/1 to win each of the remaining three majors of the year, the fifth favourite in each case after the Big Four, and looks an interesting choice. At just 25, he has become the world’s fourth-ranked player and shown remarkable consistency. You can alternatively back Matt Kuchar at the 66/1 to 80/1 mark and at 38, his time is running out quicker, so he may well drive himself on.

Brooks Koepka is similarly priced, as are Lee Westwood and Paul Casey, while Brandt Snedecker, Branden Grace, Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and John Rahm are all options. You could even back all of them and make a profit if any one comes in. Current form shows the Big Four will not win the remaining majors of the year, so predicting which of these upstarts will seize glory is the way forwards.