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BlogMasters Preview and Picks

Masters

April 6th – 9th, 2017

Augusta National G.C.

Augusta, GA

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $9.95 million (last year)

with $1,800,000 (last year) to the winner

Defending Champion:
Danny Willett

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 72 of the top-100 and 62 of the top 62 in the latest Official World Rankings.

The field includes 21 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.   Those players are #1 Dustin Johnson, #2 Hideki Matsuyama, #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Jon Rahm, #5 Adam Hadwin, #6 Pat Perez, #7 Jordan Spieth, #8 Rickie Fowler, #9 Brendan Steele, #10 Marc Leishman, #11 Russell Henley, #12 Gary Woodland, #13 Hudson Swafford, #14 Mackenzie Hughes, #16 Justin Rose, #18 Kevin Kisner, #19 Bill Haas, #20 Daniel Berger, #21 Rod Pampling, #22 Francesco Molinari and #25 Paul Casey.

Those in the top-25 but not playing are #15 Charles Howell III, #17 Luke List, #23 Keegan Bradley and #23 Cody Gribble.

The field includes 22 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #1 Dustin Johnson, #2 Hideki Matsuyama, #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Jon Rahm, #5 Adam Hadwin, #6 Pat Perez, #7 Jordan Spieth, #8 Rickie Fowler, #9 Marc Leishman, #10 Gary Woodland, #11 Brendan Steele, #12 Russell Henley, #13 Hudson Swafford, #15 Mackenzie Hughes, #16 Bill Haas, #17 Daniel Berger, #18 Kevin Kisner, #19 Justin Rose, #21 Rod Pampling, #22 Charley Hoffman, #23 Francesco Molinari and #25 Russell Knox.

Those in the top-25 but not playing are #14 Charles Howell III, #20 Luke List and #24 Cody Gribble.

The field includes 18 past champions: Danny Willett, Jordan Spieth (2015), Bubba Watson (2012 & ’14), Adam Scott (2013), 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), Bernhard Langer (1993 & ’85), Fred Couples (1992), Ian Woosnam (1991), Sandy Lyle (1988) and Larry Mize (1987).

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 North America, Vovada.  They give odds of everyone that is easy to read and find a player.

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

One last thing, you can always find us on Twitter at GOLFstats.

But I now have a personal twitter account and will be doing a lot of live stuff from the Masters so please follow me at GOLFstatsSal.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 9.27.04 AM

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

Who’s Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Shell Houston WGC Dell Puerto Rico Arnold Palmer Valspar WGC Mexico Honda Classic Hero Indian Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Waste Management Omega Dubai
Dustin Johnson
(404 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
3
(30)
DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(314.67 pts)
T10
(40)
2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP
Rickie Fowler
(276.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP 12
(38)
DNP T16
(34)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(252.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP 10
(40)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
Marc Leishman
(220.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP
Kevin Kisner
(203.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP 11
(39)
T48
(1.33)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP
Ross Fisher
(191.67 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Russell Henley
(183 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T45
(5)
T9
(30)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Phil Mickelson
(176.67 pts)
T55
(0)
T5
(105)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
65
(0)
T16
(11.33)
DNP
Bill Haas
(172 pts)
DNP 3
(135)
DNP DNP T41
(6)
T32
(18)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(169.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 6
(60)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
T39
(3.67)
T12
(12.67)
DNP
Martin Kaymer
(165.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP T23
(27)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
Rory McIlroy
(165 pts)
DNP T30
(30)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(161.5 pts)
T15
(35)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(12)
T4
(53.33)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(153.17 pts)
DNP T39
(16.5)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Charley Hoffman
(152.33 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T24
(8.67)
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(149.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(143.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP T16
(34)
68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
Soren Kjeldsen
(143.67 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
T32
(18)
T37
(8.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(140.17 pts)
DNP T9
(67.5)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP T16
(34)
T11
(26)
DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Hideto Tanihara
(138 pts)
DNP 4
(120)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(136.33 pts)
DNP T30
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(38)
T14
(24)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
Jordan Spieth
(126.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T30
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Win
(44)
T9
(15)
DNP
Thomas Pieters
(125.67 pts)
DNP T30
(30)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T5
(70)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
Daniel Berger
(125.5 pts)
5
(70)
T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T16
(34)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(122.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T48
(2)
T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(119.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(12)
T37
(8.67)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
Gary Woodland
(115.17 pts)
DNP T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
T38
(12)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Jason Dufner
(115 pts)
T12
(38)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP T11
(26)
T23
(27)
T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(114.33 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(112.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T17
(33)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
T14
(12)
WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Alex Noren
(106 pts)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP T49
(1)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(105.67 pts)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP T20
(30)
T14
(24)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(103.17 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T45
(5)
6
(40)
T38
(12)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Hudson Swafford
(98 pts)
6
(60)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
T38
(8)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Shell Houston WGC Dell Puerto Rico Arnold Palmer Valspar WGC Mexico Honda Classic Hero Indian Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Waste Management Omega Dubai
Ernie Els
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Trevor Immelman
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Vijay Singh
(-23.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Roberto Castro
(-21.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Billy Hurley III
(-12.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T28
(7.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Rod Pampling
(-10.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T41
(6)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Daniel Summerhays
(-8.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T55
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
DNP
Jose Maria Olazabal
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Mike Weir
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(-0.17 pts)
DNP T39
(16.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
70
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
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 were 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 are held in high esteem. Just like Baseball today, this is the opening day of the 2017 golfing season.  Yes there have been 21 events already played on the PGA Tour and 14 events on the European Tour, which means the season is 40% over but all of those are a prelude to this week.

The year has really been great, we have seen Dustin Johnson win his last 3 starts and that is the reason he is a favorite.  He will be the first since Jimmy Demaret in 1940 to win three in a row before winning the Masters.  Matter of fact, Demaret won five of his six starts before the Masters (I don’t count his Miami-Biltmore Four-Ball, team event) victory so he is about the only one with a great pre-Masters record.  Now Johnson isn’t the only story.  Justin Thomas has won three times this year, the only problem of his other eight starts he has missed three cuts.  Also winning multiple events was Hideki Matsuyama, he the WGC-HSBC and the WM Phoenix Open and between the first of October and the start of February he was the hottest player on the planet.  He hasn’t played as well since Phoenix, his best finish in four starts was T-25 in Mexico, but he has a good record at Augusta and I have to think he will play well.  Looking at some other winners, we have fan favorites Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and newcomer Jon Rahm win.  Talking about Rahm, he is young but has an incredible record.  He turned pro just 40 weeks ago and already is 12th in the world rankings  Only Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have had shorter times to the top-ten.  Don’t be surprise to see him play well

So going into the Masters the excitement is at fervor pitch.

With that you have lot’s of storylines from Rory going after a major slam, can Phil Mickelson at the age of 46 do the same thing that Jack Nicklaus did when he was 46 in 1986.  People shouldn’t be surprise over the great play of Rickie Fowler, he came close last week in Houston, looking to add another victory to his Honda Classic win last month.  We also can’t forget some youngsters like Adam Hadwin, he was suppose to be on his honeymoon this week but with his Valspar win his plans changed.  He got married last week and we will see if he can keep the good play going.  Now on the negative side, you  have the story of Jason Day and his struggle helping his mom who had surgery 10 days ago try to come back from stage four cancer.  Day hasn’t played much and is mind is not on golf, so he may play but will he be able to play quality golf is the question.  Also the play of Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed haven’t been that great so could they find there games this week.

The “Buzz” for the week is who will win.  There are 94 players in the field, with 19 Masters rookies.  We all knew about the Masters rookie jinx, it’s now 38 years since Fuzzy Zoeller won but you never know, we talked about Jon Rahm, but there are other rookies with a good chance.  Don’t count out Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Hadwin, Tyrrell Hatton and Thomas Pieters as guys that could win this week.

We have read all of the stories over the years that say only a dozen or so could win the Masters, I put that number at about 30.  I am writing this on Monday when heavy thunderstorms played havoc for those not only playing but watching.  The weather got so bad they had to evacuate the course but the rest of the week should be rain free.  One thing that everyone should worry about is the wind on Thursday and Friday they will be blowing at around 25 mph, so many folks will lose the Masters early in the winds.  As for the weekend, it will be perfect with temperatures in the mid-70s and winds under 10 mph.

UPDATE on Tuesday afternoon: We are finding out now that Wednesday is going to be terrible.  100% chance of rain, it’s so bad that there could be possible tornados in the area.  The weather forecast for Thursday and Friday has also changed, good news no rain.  The bad news, it’s going to be cold, may just go above the 60s and very windy, with gusts up to 35 mph.

So buckle up and get ready for a wild week, the Masters will be interesting again.

Things you need to know about the Masters

This will be the 81st 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 has been 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 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 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 were 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 bermuda grass, Today Augusta National’s tees and fairways are Bermuda grass, but they are overseeded each fall with rye grass.  The greens are bentgrass that 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 comes into play on five holes on the back side and there are only 43 bunkers.

Last year Augusta played tough at 74.42 making Augusta National the 3rd hardest course to score on in 2016. In 2015 Augusta was 13th toughest course with a 72.54 average. In 2014 it was second hardest course on the PGA Tour with a scoring average of 73.946, close to two shots over par a round. 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.

One last link is our special page on Augusta Nation key fantasy stats.  It tells you the four key catagories for playing well and looks at who has the stats based on 2017 PGA Tour stats.  So link here for that page.

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 its 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 an 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, 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 will 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 continually, 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.  Gosh look at Jordan Spieth in 2015, he ranked 52nd in driving distance at Augusta in his winning year.  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 lay 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.  How many folks placed a bet on last year’s winner Danny Willett, I would say not many folks. Still players like Jordan Spieth in 2015, Bubba Watson in 2014 and Adam Scott winning in 2013 weren’t a big surprise. But nobody would have 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.  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 this week, but it’s doubtful.

I can say this and that is look at the top 30 or 40 players off the world rankings.  We hear it always about how the best players seem to win majors.  If you go off the world rankings, Ben Curtis was 396 when he won the British Open in 2003 and Shaun Micheel was 169 when he won the 2003 PGA Championship.  At the Masters you won’t find that kind of a winner, since 1988 there have been only two Masters champions not in the top-50, #56 Zach Johnson in 2007 and #69 Angel Cabrera in 2009.  Last year Danny Willett was ranked 12th going into the Masters while Jordan Spieth in 2015 was 4th going into the Masters.  In the 28 years of the world rankings, the average Masters champion has been ranked 13th.  We’ve seen four #1s win and overall 18 of the 28 winners were in the top-ten the week before their victory.  So you can expect someone who is high up the world rankings to win this week.

Last experience and wisdom are 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.  As I said earlier there are 19 first timers this year and it’s a stretch seeing one of them winning.  Experience is always important at the Masters so look for a winner being someone with a lot of experience.

 

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Who to watch for at the Masters

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T4 T6 CUT T13 T38 T38 T30

Sorry for coping out and taking the same person just about everyone else is taking. He has shown in the last month that he is nearing the same way that Tiger was playing between 1999 and 2008, unbeatable. More importantly Johnson is showing a new calm in which not much bothers him which is very important. He will have a lot of people tugging at him this week and it’s super hard when your a favorite at a major, but he can handle it all. I also like his game and his improved putting, it goes a long way.

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 4 T8 T25 T40 T15 CUT T20

Another cop-out, but have always felt he has the game to win at Augusta. Only problem with it being the last major to complete the grand slam that adds a lot of pressure. So it will come down to his putting, if he can get that together, he should win.

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T7 5 CUT T54 T27

He has a good track record at Augusta and shown in the last two years he can play the course, this would be the topping on the cake that would make him the all-time greatest player from Asia.

Best of the rest:

Jordan Spieth

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T2 Win T2

There is a case saying that he isn’t playing well now, but I don’t buy it. Jordan has shown in the last three years that the course suit’s him the best, he should of won it except for his poor play on 12. So it will be interesting to see if he could keep up the great pace.

Justin Rose

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 T2 T14 T25 T8 T11 T20 T36 T5

Watch him he has had some great rounds at Augusta National and there is a reason he has seven top-25 finishes in his last seven starts. If he can be consistent for 72 holes he can win.

Phil Mickelson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T2 CUT T54 T3 T27 Win 5 T5 T24 Win 10

Just remember Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at 46, the same age that Phil is. He has not had any great finishes this year, but has shown that he can still play great.

Paul Casey

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T4 T6 CUT T38 CUT T20 T11 T10 CUT

He has the game to play well at Augusta and has done it the last two years.

Guys to watch because they can really win at Augusta

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T12 T5 T38 T27 T38

Has shown a liking to Augusta, he played great last week in Houston and it should carry over to this week.

Lee Westwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T2 T46 7 T8 T3 T11 2 43 T11 T30 CUT CUT

His tee to green game is the best and you can see it with the fact that he has six top-10 Masters finishes. If he could just have that one super putting week he can win.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T7 CUT

Great finish last year, his game has been sharp, look for him to be good in high winds early, the question mark will be if he can hold on.

Brandt Snedeker

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 CUT T37 T6 T19 T15 CUT T3

Of all the majors this is probably the best for him to win.

Rookies that could come through this week:

Jon Rahm

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Boy he has shown us a lot in the last three months. Think that Augusta will be right up his alley and he will contend.

Tommy Fleetwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

His game seems to improve every time he tees it up. This course won’t scare him because he has the game to do well on it.

Tyrrell Hatton

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Guy seems to be getting better ever week.

Not this week:

Jason Day

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 T28 T20 3 WD T2

Has too many problems, dealing with his injuries and now a very sick mother. Still Ben Crenshaw won in 1995 with a heavy heart so you never know.

Bubba Watson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T37 T38 Win T50 Win T38 42 T20

Game is not very solid right now. Combination of losing a lot of weight and changing to a different ball are some of the reason why he will struggle this year.

Danny Willett

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win T38

Always hard as the defending champion, his game has been lacking of late.

Comments

  1. Geoff H says:

    Totally agree on DJ. Hottest golfer on the planet and well deserved favorite going into the Masters. But….. Are you concerned at all with his fade? Have you seen him making any adjustments coming into Augusta other than crushing his short game? Also, any advice on a hot day one leader other than Dj or Spieth?? Haas? looking for a longshot.
    Last question: Are you going to provide daily updates this year??? Love the content!!
    Thanks again Sal!!

  2. Remember a famous fader that won six Masters? His name is Jack Nicklaus. Doesn’t matter if you fade or draw the ball, if your good you will win. Honesty I don’t think that the players are worried over fades and hooks, more worried that they are saying we could have gusts up to 35mph on Thursday and Friday.

    As for the daily updates probably not. Not enough page views, but I will be doing a lot of live stuff on my new twitter page
    GOLFstatsSal
    So please follow me and we can talk during the week.

    Sal

  3. Micahel M says:

    Sal – for low ball hitters – give me a few that fit that…..and a few that don’t. Leaning toward Rickie – but I think he hits it high? Thanks.

  4. you didn’t mention Sergio, isn’t he a great ball striker with high winds. is his putting going to be the problem? dp you think t-times will make a difference( d.j. last t-time Thursday)

  5. Micahel M says:

    I’ve already played Sergio (and DJ) in my league – so can’t use him.

  6. Michael C says:

    Low ballers: Grace, Kjeldsen, Furyk, Henley, Knox, Scott, Casey, Speith….great for rounds 1 & 2…..but with all this wind, weekend conditions should be firm & fast!

  7. Sorry a bit late in getting back to you all. For low ball hitters Rickie is pretty good, Justin Thomas also. Normally to do well at Augusta you have to hit it high so that shots come down softly on the rock hard greens. But with high winds on Thursday and Friday it will pay to play it low.
    As for Sergio, he would be one of my last choices for Augusta, just too poor of a putter to win. Yes maybe a top-ten.
    One last thing, all the really great players and ball strikers can do anything, hit it high or hit it low under the wind.

  8. Micahel M says:

    Sal I read all your posts and went with Rickie. He’s hot and you mentioned experience at the Masters as a key.
    Good luck all.

  9. Hi Sal,
    Day seems to be a new man after the fantastic news he received about his mother on Tuesday. Does that change your opinion about him this week?

  10. It will help and if it’s the truth, his mind will be clear and he can think about golf again. Who knows, sometimes something like this rejuvenates players and makes them stronger. Perfect example is Ben Crenshaw in 1995, he was really close to Harvey Penick, who was his teacher for decades and some ways a 2nd dad. Crenshaw’s game was awful, he was way past his prime and frankly would be lucky to make the cut. For some odd reason the death created a different attitude in Crenshaw that even today he will tell you help him win that Masters. After his victory I only think he had one more top-ten on the PGA Tour and missed almost every cut in events he played. Even on the Champions Tour he was a basket case and never won.
    The point is something simple as this could carry him to new heights. Frankly it just gives me something else to think about, but I don’t think he will be ready to play good golf this week.

  11. Brady H says:

    Sal, my guy on the course thinks that Tommy Fleetwood has a good chance of posting a course record this weekend. Any thoughts?

  12. Brady H.
    Guess you didn’t see my DraftKings picks for the Masters, but he is one of my six guys and I think that between him and Jon Rahm they will be low rookie this year.

  13. For everyone l am at a dinner and finding out about Dustin Johnson’s fall down some stairs and could be in trouble for playing on Thursday. I am in the process of changing all of my DraftKings picks to Rory.

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