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BlogMasters Preview and Picks

Masters

April 10 – 13, 2014

Augusta National G.C.

Augusta, Ga.

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $8 million (last year’s)

with $1,440,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Adam Scott

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 49 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with only #1 Tiger Woods not in the field due to his surgery.  There is also 90 top-1oo players in the field

The field includes 20 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2014.  Those players are #1 Jimmy Walker, #2 Patrick Reed, #3 Dustin Johnson, #4 Harris English, #5 Bubba Watson, #6 Chris Kirk, #7 Zach Johnson, #8 Matt Every, #9 Webb Simpson, #10 Ryan Moore, #12 Jordan Spieth, #14 Kevin Stadler, #15 Matt Kuchar, #16 Matt Jones, #17 Graham DeLaet, #18 John Senden, #20 Jason Day, #21 Keegan Bradley, #23 Russell Henley and #24 Gary Woodland.

The field includes 21 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #1 Jimmy Walker, #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Patrick Reed, #4 Bubba Watson, #5 Harris English, #6 Webb Simpson, #7 Zach Johnson, #8 Ryan Moore, #9 Chris Kirk, #10 Matt Every, #11 Jason Day, #12 Jordan Spieth, #14 Matt Kuchar, #15 Graham DeLaet, #16 Kevin Stadler, #18 Matt Jones, #20 John Senden, #21 Russell Henley, #22 Keegan Bradley, #23 Gary Woodland and #24 Sergio Garica.

The field includes 19 past champions: Adam Scott (2013), Bubba Watson (2012), Charl Schwartzel (2011), Phil Mickelson (2006, ’04 & ’10), Angel Cabrera (2009), Trevor Immelman (2008), Zach Johnson (2007), Mike Weir (2003), Vijay Singh (2000), Jose Maria Olazabal (1999 & ’94), Mark O’Meara (1998), Ben Crenshaw (1995 & ’84), Bernhard Langer (1993 & ’85), Fred Couples (1992), Ian Woosnam (1991), Sandy Lyle (1988), Larry Mize (1997), Craig Stadler (1982) and Tom Watson (1981 & ’77).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Masters field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Masters in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Masters.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers
Matt Kuchar
(244.17 pts)
2
(100)
T4
(80)
DNP
 
T38
(8)
T13
(37)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(22.5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Bubba Watson
(203.83 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
T2
(100)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(22.5)
Win
(44)
DNP
 
T2
(33.33)
DNP
 
T23
(9)
Matt Every
(203.67 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Win
(132)
T8
(33.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T24
(17.33)
DNP
 
T6
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
T37
(4.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Patrick Reed
(188.5 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T52
(0)
DNP
 
Win
(132)
DNP
 
T24
(17.33)
T17
(16.5)
DNP
 
T13
(12.33)
T19
(10.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Sergio Garcia
(179.83 pts)
3
(90)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T16
(34)
DNP
 
T8
(33.33)
T9
(22.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Rory McIlroy
(178.17 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T25
(25)
DNP
 
T2
(66.67)
T17
(16.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(15)
DNP
 
Matt Jones
(171.33 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP
 
T14
(36)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T59
(0)
T45
(1.67)
T12
(12.67)
DNP
 
T43
(2.33)
Keegan Bradley
(159.83 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP
 
2
(100)
DNP
 
T50
(1)
DNP
 
T12
(25.33)
T33
(8.5)
T20
(10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
T16
(11.33)
Graham Delaet
(155.5 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T8
(33.33)
T34
(16)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T33
(8.5)
T70
(0)
DNP
 
T2
(33.33)
DNP
 
T2
(33.33)
Jimmy Walker
(152.17 pts)
T24
(26)
T16
(34)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T25
(25)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T17
(16.5)
T20
(10)
Win
(44)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Jordan Spieth
(150.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
10
(40)
DNP
 
T20
(20)
T34
(16)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T5
(35)
T12
(12.67)
T4
(26.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T19
(10.33)
Dustin Johnson
(150.17 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(80)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T33
(8.5)
2
(33.33)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Luke Donald
(146.17 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T4
(53.33)
T25
(25)
DNP
 
T8
(33.33)
T33
(8.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Graeme McDowell
(141 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T10
(40)
DNP
 
T9
(45)
DNP
 
T46
(2.67)
T5
(35)
DNP
 
T7
(18.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Adam Scott
(140.33 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
3
(90)
DNP
 
T25
(25)
DNP
 
T12
(25.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Bill Haas
(130.17 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T14
(24)
T6
(60)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T17
(16.5)
T23
(9)
DNP
 
T34
(5.33)
DNP
 
T43
(2.33)
Hunter Mahan
(129.17 pts)
T31
(19)
DNP
 
WD
(-5)
DNP
 
T9
(45)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(22.5)
T52
(0)
6
(20)
T4
(26.67)
DNP
 
T47
(1)
Jim Furyk
(129 pts)
DNP
 
T6
(60)
DNP
 
T20
(20)
T62
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T5
(35)
T23
(9)
T35
(5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Harris English
(128.83 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T14
(36)
T38
(8)
T16
(34)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T9
(22.5)
T10
(13.33)
DNP
 
9
(15)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Russell Henley
(126 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
T47
(3)
DNP
 
Win
(88)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Jamie Donaldson
(125.5 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T43
(7)
DNP
 
T2
(100)
DNP
 
T55
(0)
T33
(8.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T20
(10)
DNP
 
Steven Bowditch
(124.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
Win
(132)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T37
(8.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
T69
(0)
DNP
 
T75
(0)
Gary Woodland
(123.5 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T20
(30)
T8
(33.33)
T16
(34)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T33
(8.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T37
(4.33)
DNP
 
T10
(13.33)
Zach Johnson
(120.83 pts)
DNP
 
T6
(60)
T43
(7)
DNP
 
T16
(34)
DNP
 
T33
(11.33)
T33
(8.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Henrik Stenson
(120.83 pts)
T54
(0)
DNP
 
T5
(70)
DNP
 
T16
(34)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(16.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T29
(7)
DNP
 

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture Northern Trust AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Dubai Desert Farmers
Mike Weir
(-35 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T56
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
WD
(-1.67)
D.A. Points
(-31.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
T62
(0)
DNP
 
T61
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DQ
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
T59
(0)
Darren Clarke
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
T58
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
WD
(-1.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
Derek Ernst
(-22 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T33
(11.33)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
T69
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Angel Cabrera
(-19.67 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
T52
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
DNP
 
Tim Clark
(-16.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T82
(0)
DNP
 
T78
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
David Lynn
(-14.17 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
T33
(8.5)
T59
(0)
DNP
 
T48
(0.67)
DNP
 
T55
(0)
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(-10 pts)
DNP
 
DNP
 
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
John Huh
(-8.67 pts)
T37
(13)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T35
(5)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
 
CUT
(-3.33)
Martin Kaymer
(-8.17 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP
 
DNP
 
DNP
 
T58
(0)
DNP
 
CUT
(-6.67)
T33
(8.5)
DNP
 
DNP
 
T53
(0)
DNP
 
DNP
 

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Going through the gates of Augusta is always special.  The place is a Shangri-la, a permanently happy land that is isolated from the outside world.  The course is very special in being challenging but very fair, one that adds excitement and rewards for the best.  In the long run if one was to script the perfect place to hold a championship, Augusta National would be on top of the list for not only the course but the facilities and ability of handling spectators.

Because of this the Masters is held in high esteem. Just like Baseball last week, this is the opening day of the 2014 golfing season.  Yes there have been 21 events already played on the PGA Tour and 16 events on the European Tour, which means the season is half over but basically all of those are a prelude to this week.

In the events going into this week we are seeing a very cloudy crystal ball on what direction things are going.  For the first time in 20 years Tiger Woods won’t be playing in the Masters.  For the first time since 2010 Phil Mickelson goes into the Masters without a victory, which to some degree is good because he won the Masters that year.  But in a negative way, of the 21 events played on the PGA Tour we have only seen one top-ten player win, Jason Day who was 10th at the WGC-Match Play.  So we are seeing true parity on the PGA Tour this year, the only question is if golf fan like this or not.  I for one love to seeing new blood winning, but you can’t eat Filet Mignon everyday without it growing old and what has happened in the last seven weeks of golf is growing real old.

So as we get to the first major of the year, the big question will be if the name players will finally break out of this funk and win.  We have seen great players like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar go into the final round with leads and come up empty handed.  Could that happen this week?  Could we have a Rory McIlroy leading going into the back nine and implode like he did at the Honda?  Could we see a John Senden shot a final round 76 and win the Masters like he did the Valspar?  Could we see Jimmy Walker shoot a final round 63 to win the Masters, kind of like the way he won the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this year?

These are all valid questions and ones that I can’t answer.  We are seeing a global change in golf this year, the rise of the journeymen, players you would least expect to win do the deed.  We have seen surges from players like Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, both players that have never played in the Masters, could this be there year at the Masters?  There are 24 Masters rookies, the most in the tournaments history.  That’s an unbelievable figure, a quarter of the field playing the Masters for the first time.  That gives them a one in four chance of winning, something that hasn’t happened at the Masters since Masters rookie Fuzzy Zoeller did it in 1979.  That’s a generation ago and something that was laughed off in past Masters as not ever happening again.  But this year it’s a reality, a rookie winner.

For the first time in a long time the odds are nothing but numbers on a paper, meaningless information that are being ignored.   Yes Rory McIlroy is the favorite at 10 to 1 while Russell Henley is listed as 150 to 1.  Now Henley was the guy that got, then beat McIlroy in a playoff to win the Honda Classic six weeks ago so you can see that being the favor doesn’t give you the win.    You can just about pick a name out of a hat, the odds could be better than trying to pick a winner.  So it will be interesting to see if this trend on parity continues this week and we see a Brendon de Jonge or a Graham DeLaet win.  Not in a million years did anyone think that Victor Dubuisson would be in the final match of the WGC-Accenture. Little did we think that Chris Kirk or Harris English or Kevin Stadler or even Steven Bowditch would be playing in the Masters this week.  Now we are wondering if there could be that kind of a surprise winner this week, along with names like Marc Leishman who was T4th last year or Thorbjorn Olesen who finished 6th 12 months ago.

Tim Finchem and his band of merrymen from Ponte Vedra talk about how great parity is, but if you find the “business Tim”  in a dark alley and tell him he has to tell you the truth, he would admit that deep down golf and the PGA Tour is a better product if Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els or Bubba Watson win every week.  Gosh, maybe we can have TinkerBell wave her magic wand over Tiger Woods and make the leg better.  Or better yet, maybe TinkerBell can spread some of that pixie dust over Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on Thursday morning in the first tee ceremony and have the pixie dust remove 50 years off of both of them. Arnie would probably look over at Jack with a big smile and say, “S_ _ t Jack, I feel like it’s 1960, lets just go out and see if we could beat these guys this week.”  Jack would probably start laughing and tell Arnold, “bet you a ten-ner that I can whip your butt today.”  That would be wonderful and a nice thought the think about.

Back to reality, as I write this in Augusta at lunch time on Monday the weather is awful.  Lot’s of storms with very unsettling weather that makes it look like Armageddon is on the other side of Amen Corner.  The good news is the long range forecasts say that after this storm moves out on Monday night, we will see six splendid days of weather until some rain moves in on Monday afternoon just after my plane takes into the air to fly me home to Washington D.C.  So we could have a very fast, firm course this year which Augusta officials would love to have.  Who knows maybe a nice, firm, tough course is just the remedy to awaken the Phil Mickelson’s, Rory McIlroy’s, Serigo Garica’s, Justin Rose’s, Adam Scott’s and Bubba Watson’s of the world and we can see a really special show this week.

Guess we will just have to wait and see.

Things you need to know about the Masters:

This will be the 78th edition of the Masters. It has been played ever year, except for between 1943 and 1945 when the war suspended the championship.  Ever year it is played at Augusta National, the only major played on the same course each year.

The Masters was conceived by Bobby Jones, who had always dreamed of having a U.S. Open played on Augusta National.  But with the hot summers in June, Jones approached the USGA with the idea of playing the Open at Augusta in April, but the USGA turned him down.  So Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to hold their own annual event beginning in 1934.  Roberts proposed that the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Jones objected thinking it was too presumptuous.  The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted and that title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed.

Course information:

  • August National Golf Club
  • August, S.C.
  • 7,435 yards     Par 36-36–72

While playing championship golf, Bobby Jones had always hoped that one day he would be able to build a championship golf course somewhere near his Atlanta home.  Upon his retirement after the 1930 U.S. Amateur, Jones set out to complete his dream.  In the 1920s he met New York banker Clifford Roberts, who helped Jones with his dream. After looking at several places they both decided on Augusta, Ga. as the site because it provided the best weather in the winter months.  They scouted the area for a piece of land that according to Jones plans would utilize the natural shape and slope of the property to build the course.  Jones didn’t want a course that relied on severe rough as a hazard and also hoped that he could find a piece of property that would have a stream running through so that he could build several holes around it for water hazards.  He also wanted to build a championship course that would be playable for the average golfer, one that would use mounds and slopes as hazards instead of sand bunkers.

Also helping Jones and Roberts on their search was Thomas Barrett Jr. He knew of a piece of land in Augusta that he thought would be perfect for Jones’ dream course.  He recommended a piece of property called Fruitlands Nursery.  The land consisted of 365 acres that was once an indigo plantation the family bought in 1857.  The man was Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans, who was a horticulturist by hobby.  Along with his son Julius Alphonse, an agronomist and horticulturist by profession, they formed a business in 1858 to import trees and plants from various countries.  It would be the first commercial nursery in the south and they called it, Fruitlands Nursery. Even though Berchmans died in 1883 the business flourished. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long double row of magnolias, were planted before the Civil War, and today they serve as the club’s entrance were on the property.  But Prosper’s claim to fame was that he popularized a plant called the azalea.

Upon Prosper’s death in 1910 the business stop operation and the heirs looked for a buyer.  That buyer came around in late 1930 when Tom Barrett first showed Jones Berchman’s nursery.  Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones knew he had the perfect land for a perfect golf course.  He told Roberts and Barrett that he thought the ground had been lying there all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it.

An option was taken on the property for $70,000 and it was decided to establish a national membership for the club and Jones proposed Augusta National would be an appropriate name. Jones also decided in the planning stage he wanted Dr. Alister Mackenzie of Scotland to serve as the course architect since the pair held similar views. Before coming to Augusta, Mackenzie had designed two courses in California – Pasatiempo and Cypress Point.  Jones played those courses after he failed in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur and fell in love with the courses and MacKenzie’s design.  So that was the main reason he got MacKenzie to help him.

Jones and Mackenzie completed the plans and the construction started in July of 1931. Unfortunately, Mackenzie died after the construction work was completed, before Augusta National was fully covered with grass. The course was finished and opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. A formal opening took place in January of 1933.

Since the course opened it has been changed several times in the 81 years.  In 1934 the tournament nines were different and was changed for the 1935 event.  Also the grasses have changed over the years between bent and bermudagrass, Today Augusta National’s tees and fairways are Bermuda grass, but they are overseeded each fall with rye grass.  The greens are bentgrass which gives them there wonderful speed and smoothness.

The average green size at Augusta is 6,150 square feet, which is about the average on the PGA Tour. Water that comes into play on five holes on the back side and there are only 43 bunkers.

In 2013 Augusta National was the 4th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 73.412 average playing 1.412 stroke under par.  For a more comprehensive look at the course, look at this course overview done by Masters.Com.

Here are some other storylines that could pan out this week:

  • Could an Aussie win again this week?  Adam Scott won last year and for the first time the Masters was won by an Aussie.  It was the last of the four majors that hadn’t been won by someone from Australia so that jinx is off.  This year we have seven players from Australia so you never know if this could be the year.  Now in looking at the different regions of the world, every part of it has seen a winner, with the exception of Asia and Antarctica.  Now we will never see a winner from the South Pole, so that leaves Asia and only Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), Chang-woo Lee, Sang-Moon Bae, K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang (Korea) and Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand) have a chance at erasing that anomaly.
  • Could a Brit win this week?  Damn right they could, between Rory McIlroy Lee Westwood, Luke Donald or Justin Rose they all have great chances.  It’s funny, for 20 years now we have heard on how much European golf has caught up with American golf.  Going into this week 15 of the top-45 are European, but of those six are from the United Kingdom.  So the story could be how great those from the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) could do.
  • What about Rory McIlroy?  I can’t see a player in any better state of mind than McIlroy.  He has worked hard this year and his work seems to have paid off, guess we will see on Sunday.
  •  How tough will the course play this week?  Many are saying that the ice storm from last February has taken it’s toll not only on the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole, but lot’s of trees around the course.  This probably won’t pay a factor since the fairways are very generous to begin with, it will just make it easier for the patrons to see there favorites.  As for the condition of the course, it’s always perfect and with the storms on Monday, the course will be soaked.  Augusta officials have some tricks with the subair system that can drain the greens and make them bone dry in three hours.  So with great weather look for fast conditions, if there is wind the scores could climb very high this week.
  • Since his win at the Arnold Palmer invitational last year, Tiger Woods has been ranked #1 ever since.  But with his injury it’s only a matter of time when someone will pass him up.  It could be as early as this week.  Masters champion Adam Scott, who squandered a great shot at being #1 when he lost a 3 shot lead in the final round at the Arnold Palmer, would need to finish in a two-way tie for third this week to get to the #1 spot.  Third rank Henrik Stenson would need at least a two-way tie for second at the Masters to become the first Swedish play to lead the rankings.  Finally #4 Jason Day would have to win the Masters to have any shot to be on top of the rankings.

No matter what, sit back and enjoy one of the great spectacles of golf.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Masters:

Key stat for the winner:

There are a few things that all winners at the Masters have in common.  First it’s precise ball striking, like a Ben Hogan, length and power like Tiger Woods, deft touch with a putter on the steeply contoured greens like a Ben Crenshaw and the mind and wisdom of a Jack Nicklaus.  All of these are what it takes to win the Masters.

  • Precise ball hitting is a must. With steeply contoured greens you have to position shots to the green in a area that you will set up an easy putt. That’s why players like Nick Faldo and Ben Hogan have five titles. If you look at the champions of the Masters, a poor putter usually doesn’t win.  Being able to avoid three putts is important.
  •  Now, of course, Zach Johnson having six three-putts in 2007 and Bubba Watson in 2012 with four put a dent in our theory about three putts.  In looking further back in history, both Vijay Singh in 2000 and Tiger Woods in 2001 had more in the year they won the Masters than the previous seven champions of the 1990s put together.  That doesn’t mean that we’re going to have a new trend. I will still bet that the winner this year has the least number of three putts of anyone else in the field.
  • To show you how theories don’t work all of the time, look at the theory that says you have to hit it long to win at Augusta.  Yes, Tiger, Phil and Vijay hit the ball long, but past champions like Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara and Ben Crenshaw could be the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour.  No matter what, length is very important, just look at Tiger Woods’ victory in 1997. Being able to reach par-5s with wedges is a big advantage over players hitting into the greens with long irons and woods.  But again, theories don’t work sometimes at the Masters. Just look at Zach Johnson in 2007. He laid up on all the par 5s and played them in 11 under par.  With dry, firm conditions this year brings in shorter hitters and gives them a chance.
  • Stats are great but in reality they really don’t mean much when it comes to picking a winner at the Masters.  Since 1993 the only true favorite to win the Masters was Tiger Woods who won it in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 and Phil Mickelson in 2004, 2006 and 2010.  Even Adam Scott winning last year wasn’t a big surprise. But nobody would of thought that Bubba Watson would win in 2012, it was a big surprise for Charl Schartzel in 2011, Angel Cabrera winning it in 2009, Trevor Immelman winning it in 2008 and Zach Johnson winning it in 2007.  Still in the folklore of Masters champions, some surprise champions include Mike Weir who won in 2003 and Vijay Singh in 2000.  Even bigger surprise winners have been Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer and Ben Crenshaw, who came from out of the blue to win.  You never know that has been the trend on the PGA Tour this year.  Still one thing is certain, you need to have a track record to win at Augusta.  The last time a non-winner on the PGA or European Tour won was back in 1948 when Claude Harmon, father of Butch, won his first and only individual title on the PGA Tour at the Masters.  As the old saying goes, records are meant to be beaten and who knows, maybe a non-winner will surprise us all this week.
  • Last but not least experience and wisdom is important, that’s why Jack Nicklaus has six titles. The last player to win the Masters in his first start is Fuzzy Zoeller, who did it back in 1979.  There are 24 first timers this year and I can’t imagine any of those winning.  But I never imaged Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch and Matt Every winning.  But what a great story it would be to see one of these 24 winning, but don’t put more than a dollar down on that happening.  Or would it be great, this season has been boring enough and I feel hurt the rest of the year so I don’t want to see a rookie winner.

 

Who to watch for at the Masters

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T25 T40 T15 CUT T20

The kid has worked very hard on his game, his life is in a great place right now and he does well at Augusta. It looks like he is everyone’s favorite specially after finishing the Shell Houston Open on Sunday with a 65.

Justin Rose

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T25 T8 T11 T20 T36 T5 T22 T39

He has lot’s of experience in tough situations proving that he can play well, Merion last year is a perfect example of that. Yes he has been coming on slow after some injury concerns but I really think he will surprise us all. Look at his record at Augusta, he has led after the first round three times, shows he can play the course.

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T12 T35 T45 T38 CUT CUT 46 CUT T4 T28 8

We talk about him winning a major, we have seen him in contention before, we have seen total frustration but I have to think that just one of these days he will back into a win, could be this week.

Best of the rest:

Lee Westwood

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T3 T11 2 43 T11 T30 CUT CUT 44

We have talked about him many times before and he still doesn’t have a major victory, great Masters record for a guy that hasn’t won it, don’t be surprise to see him contend and possibly get lucky this week.

Matt Kuchar

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T3 T27 T24 CUT

He has had terrible Sunday’s two weeks in a row, still he is playing great and has done well at Augusta so we can’t forget about him.

Adam Scott

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
Win T8 T2 T18 CUT T25 T27 T27 T33 CUT T23 T9

Really hard to win back to back. Yes he is a special talent and even though we’ve seen very little of him you know he will do great.

Zach Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T35 T32 CUT 42 CUT T20 Win T32 CUT

Another past champion who could be a factor this week. A bit concern that his game has been poor of late, but anything can click in a moment on the range.

Solid contenders:

Phil Mickelson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T54 T3 T27 Win 5 T5 T24 Win 10 Win 3 3

Showed us and probably himself at Houston that he can play well good again, never, and I say it again, never count him out.

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T50 Win T38 42 T20

Have been thinking about him ever since he won at the Northern Trust. But on the same breath we have to realize he has allergy problems and with a lack of rain those problems could come up and grab Bubba, so take him at your own risk.

Brandt Snedeker

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T6 T19 T15 CUT T3 T41

Saw him on Feherty a couple of weeks ago and had a vision that he could be the man at Augusta this year. Loves the place and has played well, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him do well.

Patrick Reed

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Ok, I have drunk the Patrick Reed Cool-Aid, it’s now time for him to prove that he is one of the top-five players in the world. Just remember we have seen both Ben Curtis and Keegan Bradley win their first major start so anything is possible.

Long shots that could come through:

Hideki Matsuyama

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T54 T27

Since the first time I saw him play at the Masters in 2011 have always thought he could be a factor in this tournament. Don’t be surprise to see him shine this week.

Russell Henley

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT

Like his game and if the putter gets hot he could do some damage this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T6

Finished T6th in his first Masters, I like him and will bet a dollar or two on him.

Timing is not good:

Jason Day

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
3 WD T2

I thought after he won the Match Play that this could be the year for him to win a major. But with a thumb injury that we don’t know much about I can’t see him winning his first major this week.

Dustin Johnson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T13 T38 T38 T30

Has the game, has the length but this may not be the right week for him.

Comments

  1. Have a feeling about Scott Stallings a dark horse. Has the length off the tee and though not a consistently good putter he’s very good when he’s on song.

  2. Sorry but Stallings has not been very impressive since the San Diego win. Just look at his record
    http://www.golfstats.com/search?yr=2014&tournament=&player=Scott+Stallings&tour=&submit=go
    guys that miss the last three cuts in a row don’t win the Masters the next week.

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