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US Masters Preview: Can Rory McIlroy end Augusta hoodoo?

With Tiger Woods absent through injury, the 78th US Masters at Augusta National looks one of the widest open for many years, and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is Coral’s 10/1 favourite to capture the coveted green jacket.

Currently ranked number 9 in the world, he is making his sixth appearance at Augusta and his best finish to date remains a tie for 15th in 2011.

McIlroy, a former world number one and a two-time Major champion, looked in great shape when shooting a final round of 65 in the recent Shell Houston Open. He undoubtedly has all the skills in his armoury to be one of the leading contenders in this year’s contest, if able to hold it together under pressure.

Coral are offering a special bet of 3/1 (max £10) for McIlroy to finish in the top 10 for new customers signing up through mobile or online.

Defending champion Adam Scott is bidding to become just the fourth player in history to win back-to-back titles.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus first did the double in 1965 and 1966, followed by Nick Faldo in 1989 and 1990, and Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002.

Scott, 33, became the first Australian to win the title last year, after sinking a birdie on the second play-off hole to beat Angel Cabrera, and the course plays to his strengths as it suits a big hitter off the tee.

He has made 12 appearances in the Masters, making the cut on 10 occasions, and comes into the contest in good form despite squandering a seven-shot halfway lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

You can back Scott at 12/1 to win again with Coral.

There is no doubt that the main home hope is Phil Mickelson, who will be making his 22nd Masters appearance.

The 43-year-old has won it three times, finished in the top six on eight occasions and only twice failed to make the cut.

Mickelson is one of the golf’s greats, and is able to pull off shots that many others wouldn’t even attempt.

Although not the biggest hitter off the tee, his iron shots are second to none and he is deadly from the bunkers and rough.

That ability to get himself out of trouble is a major plus and, if getting ‘in the zone’ with his putting, he is capable of raking up birdie after birdie.

The one concern for Mickelson’s legion of fans is that he has suffered a recurrence of muscle problems in his back this year, but he has the mental strength to overcome any health issues, and is 14/1 with Coral to win a fourth title.

Matt Kuchar is playing some great golf this year and has six top-10 finishes to his name from nine events.

The American has won six times on the PGA Tour, but that total should really be seven coming into this event as he was leading by one shot at the final hole in the Shell Houston Open when his approach shot to the green ended up in the water, thus costing him victory.

His scoring average is one of the best on tour and, at 25/1 with Coral, looks in with a big shout of winning his first ever Major.

For those looking for a big outsider to back each-way, Fred Couples looks worth considering at the 150/1 on offer with Coral.

The 54-year-old has played in 29 Masters tournaments and only failed to make the cut once.

Couples won the green jacket in 1992, has finished in the top six on seven occasions and in the top 10 on four others.

Nicknamed “book boom” because of his long drives, he has the ideal game for Augusta and is a solid player capable of being in the shake-up, if within striking distance heading into the final round.

*Coral are also offering a bet £10, get £10 free offer on the Masters for ALL customers. Simply place a £10 outright ante-post bet and get a free £10 in-running bet (outright, top 5, top 10)