Arguably the principal attraction of betting in-running is the scope to 'back high, lay low'. Due to the nature of the sport - big fields, big prices, the potential for disaster holes - this strategy is particularly popular with golf punters, and rightly so.
Most events offer numerous such opportunities, and those with the bravery to take on the front-runners and favourites must surely have enjoyed a bumper payouts at several US Tour events this season. While foolish favourite backers were steaming in at short odds-on to back the likes of Kyle Stanley, Spencer Levin and Louis Oosthuizen, the shrewdies were either taking them on, or building up big-priced positions about players who would soon be challenging for the lead.
Of course, it isn't quite so simple. Every course is different, and an important lesson for punters to learn this week is that the Masters rarely offers such opportunities. Augusta is renowned as a front-runners' track, with 19 of the last 21 winners coming from Sunday's final group. Why? Because most of the birdies and eagles on what is otherwise a very tough course, arrive on four holes, all par-5s. Especially given some evil Sunday pin positions, it is set up for the man two shots clear, playing conservatively, waiting to attack the par-fives while his opponents are punished for playing too aggressively elsewhere.
That doesn't mean that money can't be made by trading players at big prices, from off the pace. That strategy would have paid off last year with final day chargers Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy, so long as bets were laid back at the opportune moment. Such successful timing is the key, and in order to get it right, you need to know the course.
How to play the front-nine
The opening hole 'Tea Olive' is usually one of the toughest of the front-nine, so it makes little sense to back your man until he's played it, or is at least safely on the green in regulation, putting for realistic birdie. Why take the risk of a bad start, especially when there are two excellent birdie opportunities on the horizon?
Now the fun begins. The 2nd is a par-5, and the 3rd is the easiest par-4 on the course. Players really need to capitalise on these early opportunities, as there will be precious few more throughout the remainder of the front-nine. Only the par-5 8th averages under par, and even that is the least generous of the long holes.
Lay players before they reach Amen Corner
Augusta's most famous stretch of holes begins on the 11th, but the trouble actually begins earlier. The 10th hole, 'Cammelia', played the hardest on the course last year, and third hardest in 2009. The 11th, 'White Dogwood', is usually even tougher. At over 500 yards with water down the left, this is a potential disaster hole. Into the wind, many players are unable to reach in two. The par-three 12th 'Golden Bell' is no picnic either, ranking seventh hardest last year and second in 2009. This is the hole likeliest to produce a triple-bogey or worse. Year in, year out, numerous challenges end in disaster during this stretch of three holes, making it the ideal time to lay.
Back players before they play the 13th
Just as holes 10-12 are where Green Jackets are invariably lost, the next three holes are where the Masters is usually won. Birdies and eagles are within range for pretty much everyone on the 13th and 15th, both par-5s that always rank among the three easiest holes on the course. Of course it doesn't always work out so simply, as there is water in play on both holes, but this is the section of the round where it makes most sense to back players to make their move. It also helps that the 14th is the second easiest par-4 on the course.
Bail out before the tee-shot on 18
After the 15th, birdies become pretty scarce once again, which explains why we've had relatively few late turnarounds in this major. The 16th on Sunday is a good risk-reward affair, offering either hole-in-one or bogey potential. While this course isn't one renowned for disastrous finishes, (compared to say a Carnoustie or Sawgrass), don't make the mistake of thinking your man's job is complete before the 18th hole, 'Holly'. If not the toughest hole on the course, ranking ninth and eighth in the last two renewals, there are still plenty of perils, particularly the bunkers that catch so many slightly errant drives. As it yields few birdies, there is little to gain from hanging on to a 'back' position.