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BlogMasters Preview and Picks

Masters

November 12th – 15th, 2020

Augusta National G.C.

Augusta, GA

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,475

Purse: $11.5 million (last year)

with $2,070,000 (Last Year) to the winner

Defending Champion:
Tiger Woods

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 67 of the top-100 and only 43 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings.  Last year they had 50 of the top-50 in the field, but because they are using the field list from last April’s Masters, these players did well after the COVID-19 break and did not receive an invite for this week’s Masters: #13 Daniel Berger, #23 Viktor Hovland, #31 Ryan Palmer, #35 Harris English #40 Sergio Garcia, #42 Joaquin Niemann, (Both Garcia and Niemann were in the field and withdrew due to COVID) and #48 Mackenzie Hughes.  Most of these players will be exempt and invited to play in the Masters next April

The field includes only 9 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2021.   Those players are #1 Bryson DeChambeau, #3 Patrick Cantlay #4 Jason Kokrak, #5 Matthew Wolff, #11 Xander Schauffele, #13 Justin Thomas, #15 Hideki Matsuyama, #17 Dustin Johnson and #19 Jon Rahm.

Those top-25 that are not playing this week includes: #2 Stewart Cink, #6 Sergio Garcia, #7 Carlos Ortiz, #8 Martin Laird, #9 Hudson Swafford, #10 Brian Gay, #12 Peter Malnati, #14 Tyler McCumber, #16 Wyndham Clark, #18 Harry Higgs, #20 Russell Henley, #21 Mackenzie Hughes, #22 Austin Cook, #23 Talor Gooch, #24 Doc Redman and #25 James Hahn.

The field includes 16 past champions: Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, ’02, ’05 & ’19), Patrick Reed (2018), Danny Willett (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Bubba Watson (2012 & ’14), Adam Scott (2013), Charl Schwartzel (2011), Phil Mickelson (2006, ’04 & ’10), Zach Johnson (2007), Mike Weir (2003), Vijay Singh (2000), Jose Maria Olazabal (1999 & ’94), Bernhard Langer (1993 & ’85), Fred Couples (1992), 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 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 Houston Open Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Sanderson Farms Shriners Hospitals Corales U.S. Open Safeway Open Tour Champ. BMW Champ. Northern Trust BMW PGA
Dustin Johnson
(322 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP Win
(66)
2
(50)
Win
(66)
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(319.33 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP T28
(22)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 7
(27.5)
T16
(17)
T25
(12.5)
Win
(132)
Jon Rahm
(276 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP 4
(40)
Win
(66)
T6
(30)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(229.67 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP T28
(22)
T21
(19.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T15
(17.5)
T3
(45)
T29
(10.5)
DNP
Justin Thomas
(221.67 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T2
(50)
T25
(12.5)
T49
(0.5)
DNP
Xander Schauffele
(221.33 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP T2
(50)
T25
(12.5)
T25
(12.5)
DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(192 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
T38
(8)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP T12
(19)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(184.83 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP T6
(30)
T13
(18.5)
DNP
Patrick Reed
(181.17 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T8
(25)
T40
(5)
T49
(0.5)
T3
(90)
Cameron Smith
(175.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
11
(26)
DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP T24
(13)
T20
(15)
T18
(16)
DNP
Sebastian Munoz
(165.33 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
9
(30)
T23
(18)
T27
(15.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP T8
(25)
T8
(25)
T18
(16)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(162.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
DNP DNP T16
(17)
T18
(16)
DNP
Matthew Wolff
(154.33 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(1)
73
(0)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T16
(17)
T44
(3)
DNP
Tony Finau
(144.83 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP 17
(16.5)
5
(35)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Scottie Scheffler
(143 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP T17
(33)
T52
(0)
T37
(8.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(35)
T20
(15)
T4
(40)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(140 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T12
(19)
DNP T6
(30)
DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(130.83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP 22
(14)
50
(0.5)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(129.67 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T8
(25)
T12
(19)
T65
(0)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(122.67 pts)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T6
(30)
CUT
(-5)
T7
(55)
Louis Oosthuizen
(113 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP T25
(12.5)
T13
(18.5)
DNP
Lanto Griffin
(109.67 pts)
T58
(0)
DNP T11
(39)
T7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP T18
(16)
T10
(20)
T58
(0)
DNP
Corey Conners
(109 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP T8
(50)
T61
(0)
T17
(22)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T33
(8.5)
T25
(12.5)
DNP
J.T. Poston
(104.17 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP 51
(0)
3
(60)
T27
(15.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
T39
(5.5)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(102.5 pts)
DNP DNP T35
(15)
T28
(14.67)
DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP T18
(16)
T33
(8.5)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Kevin Kisner
(98.67 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(36)
T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 23
(13.5)
T25
(12.5)
T4
(40)
DNP
Ian Poulter
(94.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(5.5)
5
(70)
Victor Perez
(93.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
Shane Lowry
(87 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
T13
(37)
Sungjae Im
(85.83 pts)
T50
(1)
DNP T41
(9)
T45
(3.33)
T28
(14.67)
T13
(24.67)
DNP 22
(18.67)
DNP 11
(19.5)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Brooks Koepka
(84.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Zach Johnson
(73.5 pts)
T50
(1)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
T19
(20.67)
DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.5)
DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(67.67 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T27
(23)
Si Woo Kim
(54.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T17
(22)
T37
(8.67)
T8
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP T39
(5.5)
DNP
Collin Morikawa
(53 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(1)
T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 6
(30)
T20
(15)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Justin Rose
(51.83 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(12.5)
T37
(13)
Brendon Todd
(51 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T47
(3)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T20
(15)
T8
(25)
64
(0)
DNP
Cameron Champ
(50 pts)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T24
(13)
T65
(0)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Jason Day
(48 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP T60
(0)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T38
(8)
DNP DNP 64
(0)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Paul Casey
(47.83 pts)
DNP DNP T35
(15)
T69
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP T16
(17)
T49
(0.5)
DNP
Lee Westwood
(46.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
Kevin Na
(40.33 pts)
DNP DNP T28
(22)
T45
(3.33)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T27
(11.5)
T51
(0)
T39
(5.5)
DNP
Tyler Duncan
(38.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T28
(22)
T28
(14.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T34
(10.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T48
(1)
T29
(10.5)
DNP
Adam Scott
(38.5 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T38
(8)
DNP DNP T25
(12.5)
T58
(0)
DNP
Dylan Frittelli
(36.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T11
(39)
T69
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
T34
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(8.5)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Billy Horschel
(36.17 pts)
DNP DNP 69
(0)
T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(8)
DNP 30
(10)
T33
(8.5)
CUT
(-5)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Masters

Player Houston Open Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Sanderson Farms Shriners Hospitals Corales U.S. Open Safeway Open Tour Champ. BMW Champ. Northern Trust BMW PGA
Sung Kang
(-23.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 75
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
T43
(4.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Jimmy Walker
(-20.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(-19.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP 76
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Henrik Stenson
(-18.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
WD
(-5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Nick Taylor
(-18.33 pts)
DNP DNP T63
(0)
T61
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Jazz Janewattananond
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
Gary Woodland
(-8.17 pts)
DNP DNP WD
(-5)
72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T33
(8.5)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Jordan Spieth
(-8 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T41
(9)
T38
(8)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP
Lukas Michel
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Andy Ogletree
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

This week used to be one of my favorite weeks of the year.  But because of COVID-19, I will be missing my first Masters since 1987.  It’s a bummer to think that my streak of 33 straight Masters is now ended and that I will never achieve that figure again.  It’s also strange to think that before the PGA Championship in August, the last major I missed was the 1987 Masters.  For many of us, we will miss going to Augusta National because it was a week of getting together with a bunch of old friends.  I will miss not having contact with these folks because with the golf writing field devastated by cutbacks and firings, we only saw each other once a year now.  Hopefully, with this new vaccine, life could get back to normal again, and I will return to Augusta National next April.  One more thing, my streak is gone and so is Sergio Garcia who would have played in his 85th straight major.  He was never going to break Jack Nicklaus steak of 146 straight majors, but Sergio was close to the second best streak, 87 by Tom Watson.  I was a bit worried of the streak since Sergio was about to drop out of the top-50 but won the Sanderson Farms, so I figured that he would play this week, at next year’s Masters and the U.S. Open and break the streak at the British Open at Royal St. George.  Not going to happen but hey for those on major streak watch, slipping up the list is Adam Scott who this week will be playing his 77th straight, so if things go good and he plays in all the majors Scott could catch Watson’s 87 at the 2023 U.S. Open when it’s played in Los Angeles.  So everyone hold your breath and yes Sergio I have empathy and know how you feel on losing out on your streak.  Another thing, hope you safely beat COVID and back soon.

You can see my love for the Masters. Going through the gates of Augusta is always unique.  The place is a Shangri-la or a Disneyland for golfers, a permanently happy land isolated from the outside world.  The course is extraordinary 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 the course and the facilities and ability to handle spectators.

But this week’s Masters will be extraordinary.  In past years the Masters was about the beginning of spring in which Augusta is blossoming, and since it’s the first major of the year, it’s the beginning of the best events.  One of the wonderments of the Masters is the eruptions of blooming flora as the Azaleas are in full bloom.  From the pinks to the reds to the orange accents, Augusta’s rich colors won’t be around this week.  The vivid flowers, including red and lavender azaleas, pink dogwood, and orange honeysuckle, along with the rich smells of spring, will be replaced. The prominent color for the week will be golden brown as Augusta will look a lot like it does in the fall in the northeast.  The course will still be Augusta National, but the fairways will not be as firm and quick as we know it to be in April.  The greens will always be terrifying, as the speed will be the same as in April, but shots to the green could be a bit easier as the firmness won’t be the same.

The year 2020 will hopefully be forgotten as the Masters will be the last big event of the year.  We have been lucky and got the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in, so along with the Masters, we will have seen three of the four majors.  Still, this week’s Masters won’t create the same “buzz” it usually does.  The field is the weakest it’s ever been, yes the big names are at Augusta (except for Sergio Garcia, who was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19), but seven of the top-50 won’t be at Augusta.  Of those, one of the best players since the COVID-19 break Daniel Berger, who won the Charles Schwab Challenge and has a runner-up finish at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude and third-place finishes at the Northern Trust and RBC Heritage, isn’t playing.  The Masters gives invites to those that win a PGA Tour event in the year before the Masters, but of the 17 different winners since the COVID-19 break, ten of them including Berger, Michael Thompson, Jim Herman, Stewart Cink, Hudson Swafford, Sergio Garcia, Martin Laird, Brian Gay, and Carlos Ortiz won’t be playing this week. Still, they will all get invited to play in the April Masters.  So in a way, this week’s Masters will be a bit strange, but Augusta National made sure to honor those that qualified for what was supposed to be last April’s Masters by making sure they were still welcome to play.

On top of all that, the biggest disappointment will be the weather,  which is looking to be very wet with rain likely every day.  But let’s look at the brighter side of things, we still will have a Masters this year, yes the weekend you will have a choice of either watching football or the Masters, but we still will continue the tradition of having another Masters.

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

Lots of storylines, first there won’t be a par 3 contest this year, a shame, but it was nothing but fluff for the week.  The big story will be Bryce DeChambeau, who rambled into Augusta as the favorite.  He hasn’t played in a month, and some thought that he could put on some more weight or, in his case, muscle, but that wasn’t the case.  It also was felt that he would be using a 48-inch driver, but he has decided to stick with his 45 and a half inch driver.  He was concerned about his spin rate in practice round, but we still know he will have a significant advantage, especially with rain in Augusta’s forecast. Even at the end of the day, you have to hit greens and putt well.  In his three previous Masters, DeChambeau didn’t hit many greens, and if you look despite him ranking first in 2020 in putting inside 10 feet, he has problems on speedy, breaking greens, and that could be his story at the Masters.

The other big story of the Masters could be Brooks Koepka.  He finished T-2nd at the Masters last year, and I swore that if I could pick him at the next Masters, I would.  But that was before all of his injury problems, and the last year has been challenging for him.  We thought he could come back in 2020, but despite his runner-up finish at the WGC-FedEx and his excellent start at the PGA Championship, he didn’t play in the FedExCup Playoffs, and we thought he was finished for a bit of time.  But he returned injury free to the CJ Cup and was T-5th at Houston finishing the weekend with a pair of 65s.  So yes, Brooks could be the storyline of this week’s Masters.

So what about Tiger?  Gosh, what a great win at the Masters 19 months ago.  It was a great moment for many, and we thought that his game was ready to run the tables like the old days.  But his Masters’ win was the last great moment to the 2019 season as he struggled, and some speculated that his legs or his back were a problem.  But just like that previous October Tiger won the Zozo Championship and was 4th at the Hero, then T-9th at the Farmers but hasn’t played well since.  After watching his game at the U.S. Open and Zozo Championship, it’s evident that his game is nothing at the same level it was before the Masters win.  So I would say Tiger is not going to defend his title and will have to struggle to get into the top-25.

Can Rory get the slam?  He has not played poorly this year, but he hasn’t played great.  The reason, he is very inconsistent and hasn’t been able to have a perfect 72 holes.  It seems that he always has that one bad round that drags him down.  Still, you have to trust me when I say that Rory is very close, and yes, he can win this week.

Is Dustin the best?  Right now, he is, his game is sharp even after a bout with COVID-19.  It was disappointing that he finished T-6th at the U.S. Open, but he did play well and was very consistent, things just weren’t right for a win.  That is so important for Johnson, is it right for him to win.  Will he have the correct tee-off times at the Masters to avoid the nasty weather?  Lot’s come into play, but if you look at Johnson’s record at the Masters, he always seems to play well.  I remember in 2017 when he won three events in a row and was the favorite at the Masters.  Unfortunately, the night before the first round, Johnson fell down some stairs in his rented home and was too sore from playing.  This was terrible because you know he would have contended.  This year is the same, Johnson’s game is in great shape, and he will be in contention. The big question will he be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and will he be able to hit the right shots at the right time.  I think Dustin will be the person to beat this week.

What about the Masters’ rookies, could Fuzzy’s record be in danger?  Of the field of 92, there are 26 Masters rookies.  Have to say that normally rookies at the Masters are given very little chance.  It’s been 41 years since Fuzzy Zoeller won, and have to say that the rookie class has some possibilities. First, there is Collin Morikawa, who won the PGA Championship.  I give him very little chance because he is not that great of a putter and hasn’t played well since the PGA victory.  Then there are PGA Tour winners Cameron Champ, Tyler Duncan, Lanto Griffin, Sungjae Im, Jason Kokrak, and Sebastian Munoz.  They are good players but don’t think they will do any good this week.  Scottie Scheffler is also playing, and I think he will do well, but not as good as Matthew Wolff.  He has shown that he can play well in majors. He was T-4th at the PGA Championship and had a great final round.  He was runner-up at the U.S. Open and proved to be an outstanding player on a challenging course, and if it wasn’t for Bryce DeChambeau, Wolff could have been the U.S. Open champ.  So look for him to have a great week and contend.

Now there are a lot of young guys that could do well this week.  You have Tony Finau, who has played great in his two previous Masters.  And how about Xander Schauffele, he is perfect for Augusta, and I believe he will contend on Sunday.  Also, can’t forget Justin Thomas, who hasn’t been great at Augusta, but he could change that this week.  We also have to remember that Patrick Cantlay won three weeks ago and can play well at the Masters.  And of course, Jon Rahm could be in contention.  But of all of these, the one I think people have to watch is Xander Schauffele.

So is there anyone else?  Of course, how about past Masters winners Adam Scott and Patrick Reed, these guys can get hot and be in contention.  There is also Webb Simpson, Tyrrell Hatton, and Tommy Fleetwood.  Off the bat, I say no to Fleetwood, who has struggled since the break.  As for Hatton, he has played great the last six weeks, he won the BMW PGA Championship last month, which is the most important event on the European Tour.  He also has done well on the PGA Tour and could do well at the Masters.  Same with Webb Simpson, who has played great over the last four months, and he was T-5th in 2019 at the Masters.  Some say Hideki Matsuyama could win, yes has the most splendid tee to green game of anyone, but slips on and around the greens, so don’t think he can win.  But the long shot of the longshots could be Jason Day.  He has been hampered with back and neck problems, and yes, he is a ticking time-bomb.  Every time you pick him, you have to hold your breath because anything could happen.  An example of that was Day having to withdraw going into the CJ Cup’s final round while he was in contention.  Last week at Houston, Day was in contention and was in the final group, but struggle shooting 71 to drop down to T-7th.  Day plays well at Augusta and can win, but again can he stay healthy, and will the rain affect him, that is the big question.

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

Things you need to know about the Masters

This week will be the 84th edition of the Masters. It has been played every year, except for between 1943 and 1945 when the war suspended the championship.  Every 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 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.
  • 7,475 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 vision. 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 venue 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 create 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 in 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, Fruitland 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 an ideal 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 agreed 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 entirely 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 87 years.  In 1934 the tournament nines were different and were 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 ryegrass.  The greens are bentgrass that gives them their 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.

In 2019 Augusta had a very mild week with a lack of wind as the course played to a 71.87 average, the first time Augusta played under par for the year since 1992.  Before 2019 Augusta has played terribly hard over the last couple of years, in 2018 it played to a 72.93 average and was the 7th hardest course of the year. In 2017 it played at 73.89 and was the 2nd hardest course on the PGA Tour.  The previous year the scoring average was 74.42 making Augusta National the 3rd hardest course to score on in 2016. In 2015 Augusta was the 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 the 2019 Masters the 5th hole was lengthen.  With the land purchase that they made many years ago, it allowed Augusta National to shut down Berkman’s Road, which the old 5th tee was up against.  So they were able to move the tee back 30 yards and now make the 5th hole a real monster.  Look at the drastic increase in par numbers for the 5th hole for 2019, it played to a 4.336 scoring average and was the hardest hole during the 2019 Masters.

For a more comprehensive look at the course, look at this course overview done by Masters.Com.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Augusta National.

This is based on the most important stats for Augusta National, based on data from last year’s Masters, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2021. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The scoring average of the field at Augusta National in 2019 was 71.87, as the course ranked as the 16th hardest on the PGA Tour. It was also the first time that Augusta played under par for a year since 1992. In 2018 the scoring average was 72.93, just about a shot over its 72 par. It was the 7th hardest course on the PGA Tour. The reason for it playing almost a full shot harder in 2017 was because of the weather, lack of wind, and manageable rain on Saturday that softened the course up and made it play easier. In 2017 the scoring average was 73.89, making it the 2nd hardest course to score on that year. It’s also important to see why the weather played a factor in 2017, The weather was near perfect, but the winds did blow the first two days between 20 to 25 mph, then decreased to 4 to 8 mph for the weekend. The year before 2016, the scoring average was 74.42 again because winds were between 10 and 15 mph each of the four days. Now the year before that, in 2015 with good weather but very little wind, the course played a lot easier to a scoring average of 72.54, and is ranked the 14th hardest course that year. In looking at the weather for Augusta I can see a scoring average coming down because of the rain they will get every day, including Thursday, which is suppose to be the wettest day. This will create soft conditions, balls will not roll in the rough off the tee, flags will be more obtainable with soft greens, which will allow the players to make more birdies. But the most important factor, lack of wind. Saturday and Sunday will have the most wind at only 8 mph, which makes for easier conditions at Augusta.

One thing that is drastically different is the time the Masters is being played. This is the first time that it has gone away from its usual April dates (did play a couple of Masters in the last week of March in the 1930s). With that, it’s important to guess how different the course will be this week? The course will be softer, and the fairways will have more grass on them, so look for the course to be a lot longer than it’s April dates. The greens will also be a bit different; yes they are controlled by the underground sub air pumps that could suck the moisture out of them, thus making them firmer. But this time of year, they have to be careful not to suck too much out of the greens, so yes, the greens will not be as firm. I think the speed of the greens will be the same, so the difference this week will be the course is longer, and the greens will not be as firm. Other than that, the course will be just about the same as in April.

Now one thing that we have to look at is the claim that Augusta is great for long hitters. That is in part true, hitting it long does have it’s an advantage, especially on Augusta’s par 5s. In 2018 and in 2017, both winners Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia showed there advantage as they both ranked 6th in driving distance and played the par 5s in 7 under for Garcia and 13 under for Reed. But in looking at the past champions, it’s mixed with long hitters and short. A perfect example was in 2019 Tiger Woods ranked 44th in driving distance, the highest of champions since Jordan Spieth in 2015. It also is 2016 and in 2015. Danny Willett ranked 32nd in driving distance while in 2015, Jordan Spieth ranked 52nd. But look at the top-ten for the week, last year only 3, while in 2018 only 4, while in 2017 only 3 out of 10 while in 2016, 5 out of 14 while in 2015 only one of the 11 were ranked in the top-ten in distance, showing that there is more to Augusta than people think.

One thing is looking at the stats, Augusta National doesn’t utilize stroke gain stats, which we have been using more of, so we have to go back to the old fashion stats. So in looking at the stats for Augusta National, one thing is obvious, the course caters to those that hit lots of greens, can scramble well, can avoid three-putts and play well on the par 5s. So these are the four stats we pick for this week’s key course stats.

In looking at Augusta National last year, the course ranked 19th in greens in regulation (61.45). This has been a very consistent number for the last decade. As for importance, last year’s winner Tiger Woods ranked 1st, one of 8 players to lead that category while winning the Masters. But the previous year, it was totally different as Patrick Reed ranked 21st, which is a dramatic withdrawal because it was the 3rd highest rank of the last 23 Masters champions going back to 1997. If you look at those winners, 16 of the 23 are in the top-five like 2017 champion Sergia Garcia who ranked T-2nd. So if only 6 of the 23 are outside the top-ten, you have to say that hitting greens is very important in winning the Masters.

Our next category is scrambling, and last year, the course ranked 11th while Tiger Woods was T-50th (because he hit so many greens). In 2018 Augusta was 5th on tour while Reed was T-16th. In three-putt avoidance Augusta, the course was 6th hardest on tour while Tiger was T-22nd (only had two three-putts). In 2018 it played 5th hardest on Tour while Reed only had two three-putts for the entire week and ranked T-13th. Our last category is par 5, now for the average field, the Par 5 average last year was 4.58 and was T-33rd on tour. For the week, Tiger was 8 under for the week, which ranked T-27th. In 2018, Augusta was 4.70, and it was T-17th on tour. Reed was 13 under for the week, which is the key to how he won. You look at the history of the Masters, the best is 15 under by four different players, and there were only five different players at 14 under, so you can see that 13 under by Reed was a milestone, so playing the par 5s was very important in Reed’s victory. Since 1997 every winner has been under par on the par 5s except for Danny Willett, who played them in even par in 2016. But if you average out the winners in the last 21 years, they average 9 under, so you can see the importance of playing the par 5s well for the week.

So let’s take a more careful look at how the last five champions became victorious. Last year Tiger did it with his ironwork, he hit 58 of 72 greens to lead the field. This helped him to make 22 birdies, which were 2nd best. Now in 2018, Reed did it with his putter, he not only had the least amount of putts but also was the best in one-putts with 38. But playing the par 5s in 13 under put him over the top.
In 2017 Sergio Garcia won it with his ball-striking, he was 2nd in fairways hit, and T-2nd in greens hit. This allowed him to miss the rare putt here and there, but still enough for the win.

In 2016 Danny Willett was T-6th in greens in regulation, he was 1st in scrambling, T-2nd in three-putt avoidance, and 54th in par 5 average.

How about 2015 for Jordan Spieth. He ranked 2nd in Greens in Regulation, hitting 75% of his greens. He was T-10th in scrambling, T22nd in three-putt avoidance, and T-4th in Par 5 Scoring. One other important item that won’t be on this list but you should have in the back of your mind, making lots of birdies, in 2015 Spieth led that stat making 28 birdies for the week, while Willett was T-16th making just 13 for the week.

Again if a person can hit a lot of greens and scramble well on the ones he misses and make a good share of putts, especially in the 4 to 10-foot range, he is a can’t miss to not only contend but possibly winning.

*Greens in Regulation: Stat is a great barometer on how good players manage their games around Augusta National. Every year the players that hit lots of greens do well.

*Scrambling: So which course is tough to get it up and down on holes players miss the greens. Since all of the areas around the greens are mowed short and are left with really hard shots to get it close, scrambling is important. You are not going to be perfect, so you have to make sure you can make pars from some tough places

*Three putt avoidance: Augusta has the toughest greens in the world to putt on. They only average 6,486 square feet, so they aren’t big or small, but they are sloppy, and you can be faced with a lot of ten-foot lag putts. So when you are 30 or 40 feet away, it’s really hard to get up and down in two putts and is important.

*Par 5 scoring: This is the one place long hitters due have an advantage on, the par 5s. Three of the four are within reach of the longest hitters, and depending on how Augusta sets up the 8th hole, that could be easy or hard. But to win, it’s important to do well on the Par 5s.

Players from this year’s field with stats from 2020 Remember this is an international event with six amateurs and lot’s of players that do not play regularly on the PGA Tour, so only 79 of the field of 93 have PGA Tour stats for 2021. One other thing, the Masters is not part of the PGA Tours shotlink program, so you won’t see stats like Strokes Gained this week:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

For the link to the other 69 players with Masters stats

DraftKings tips

Of the 92 in the field, 65 have played at least once at Augusta National in the Masters.

*Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Masters since 2005:

  • Jordan Spieth is 39 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Dustin Johnson is 29 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Rory McIlroy is 28 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Justin Rose is 24 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Rickie Fowler is 22 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 18 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Jon Rahm is 18 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Tony Finau is 18 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Tiger Woods is 17 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Jason Day is 11 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Paul Casey is 9 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Phil Mickelson is 9 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Brooks Koepka is 8 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Francesco Molinari is 8 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Justin Harding is 8 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 years
  • Matt Kuchar is 5 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Louis Oosthuizen is 4 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Xander Schauffele is 4 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Charles Howell III is 3 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 years
  • Patrick Cantlay is 3 under in 6 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Henrik Stenson is 1 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Ian Poulter is 1 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Andrew Landry is even in 4 rounds, playing 1 years
  • Justin Thomas is even in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Bubba Watson is 1 over in 18 rounds, playing 5 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Tony Finau is 18 under, playing 2 years (-9.0)
  • Jordan Spieth is 39 under, playing 5 years (-7.8)
  • Dustin Johnson is 29 under, playing 4 years (-7.3)
  • Jon Rahm is 18 under, playing 3 years (-6.0)
  • Tiger Woods is 17 under, playing 3 years (-5.7)
  • Rory McIlroy is 28 under, playing 5 years (-5.6)
  • Justin Rose is 24 under, playing 5 years (-4.8)
  • Rickie Fowler is 22 under, playing 5 years (-4.4)
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 18 under, playing 5 years (-3.6)
  • Francesco Molinari is 8 under, playing 3 years (-2.7)
  • Jason Day is 11 under, playing 5 years (-2.2)
  • Brooks Koepka is 8 under, playing 4 years (-2.0)
  • Xander Schauffele is 4 under, playing 2 years (-2.0)
  • Paul Casey is 9 under, playing 5 years (-1.8)
  • Phil Mickelson is 9 under, playing 5 years (-1.8)
  • Patrick Cantlay is 3 under, playing 2 years (-1.5)
  • Matt Kuchar is 5 under, playing 5 years (-1.0)
  • Louis Oosthuizen is 4 under, playing 5 years (-0.8)
  • Ian Poulter is 1 under, playing 4 years (-0.3)
  • Justin Thomas is even, playing 4 years (0.0)
  • Bubba Watson is 1 over, playing 5 years (0.2)
  • Webb Simpson is 1 over, playing 5 years (0.2)
  • Lee Westwood is 1 over, playing 3 years (0.3)
  • Patrick Reed is 2 over, playing 5 years (0.4)
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick is 2 over, playing 4 years (0.5)
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 2 over, playing 3 years (0.7)
  • Adam Scott is 5 over, playing 5 years (1.0)
  • Jimmy Walker is 5 over, playing 5 years (1.0)
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 4 over, playing 3 years (1.3)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Bryce DeChambeau – $11,200
  • Justin Thomas – $10,700
  • Jon Rahm – $10,500
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,200
  • Dustin Johnson – $10,000
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,800
  • Brooks Koepka – $9,700
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,600
  • Collin Morikawa – $9,500
  • Tyrrell Hatton – 9,400
  • Webb Simpson – $9,300
  • Patrick Reed – $9,200
  • Tiger Woods – $9,100
  • Bubba Watson – $9,000

Have to say that the Masters could be one of the hardest events to pick.  If you look at the 14 names above, 11 of them are great choices with half of them being slam dunks to finish in the top-five.  So you have to chose well, in those below $8,400 and once you get in the below $7,500 category it’s very, very hard to pick.

I look at these prices, and my first thought is that they are more than fair.  The last thing you hate to see is a couple of guys in the $11,000 and a bunch in the $10,000 range that are over priced, but that isn’t the case.  Maybe it because the field is smaller, of course, there has to be a scale based on the number of players in the field.  So with the Master’s field at just 92, maybe this is the reason.

Another thing, one of the differences in the Masters.  Only 30 guys have a real chance of doing well, so you are limited in picks, so maybe that is why the prices are lower.  No matter we have to pick six great choices.  Before we start, the cost of the million dollars first place is still $20, so it gives you an option of picking more teams.

A bit surprised at the top-two picks but for argument sake they could be helpful.  First Bryce DeChambeau is the top pick at $11,200 and we can see why.  He won the U.S. Open just a couple of weeks ago and is the longest driver for the week and could make Augusta into a pitch and putt course.  Still I say pass on him, don’t think he will win and don’t think he will finish in the top-ten.  The same with Justin Thomas at $10,700, he has never played well at the Masters, his best finish is T-12th and don’t see him any better this week.  Jon Rahm at $10,500 is someone that could win, he has played well in past Masters and is a valid pick.  Rory McIlroy at $10,200 is a toss-up, it’s not that he is playing bad and can’t win the Masters, his game is a bit lost so he probably won’t win but could find his game and be in contention.  With so many others around him, I say no to picking Rory.  But I will say yes for Dustin Johnson at $10,000 and say that he is way undervalued.  In my book he is the favorite and should be the same price as Bryce, but isn’t.  I would take Dustin all day and the same with Xander Schauffele at $9,800.  He was runner-up last year and has shown us in the last couple of weeks he is a force and can do well, only a matter of time before he wins a big event.  Brooks Koepka at $9,700 is a bit of a surprise because he hasn’t been healthy, I feel he could play well but so many others around him to pick I say no to Brooks.  Patrick Cantlay at $9,600 is also a good pick, look for him to have a good Masters but at the same time he is a bit overpriced.  Same with Collin Morikawa at $9,500, he hasn’t played well since his PGA Championship win, I think his putter is not good enough to win the Masters.  Tyrrell Hatton at $9,400 is an interesting case.  He has never played well at the Masters, in 10 rounds never broken par and shows that he may not be good for Augusta.  But his game has been good, still I say no for him.  Webb Simpson at $9,300 is a better choice, he was T-5th last year at the Masters.  What more can I say of Patrick Reed at $9,200, he is a past champion that can turn it on at any time so have to wonder about him.  Tiger Woods is a sentimental choice at $9,100 I say take a pass on Tiger this week.  The same with Bubba Watson at $9,000 he just hasn’t played well of late to justify taking him

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Adam Scott is one to think about at $8,900 but I have to say Tony Finau at $8,800 is a much better choice.  Tony has done well in his two Masters visits and his game is perfect for Augusta.  Many will take Hideki Matsuyama at $8,700, I say no because he is not a good putter and can’t score well enough.  Tommy Fleetwood at $8,600 is also not a good choice, has not played well.  I like Matthew Wolff at $8,500, think he can tear apart Augusta National with his long game, but he is a rookie and hard for rookies.  Jason Day at $8,400 is a good pick just because his game looks great.  But fair warning, beware of the neck and back injury, especially if it rains.  Rickie Fowler at $8,100 is someone you might consider because he has a great record at Augusta, still his game has not been great the last six months.  Scottie Scheffler at $7,800 is another rookie with a shot, he is cheap enough to take a risk on him.  Matthew Fitzpatrick at $7,600 is a good choice, he will make the cut and possibly win you some points.

Are there any “Bargains” out there?

The big problem of taking those high price guys like Dustin, Bryce and Justin are there aren’t many low price guys to pick.  Abraham Ancer at $7,400 is a good pick to making the cut, the same with Cameron Smith at $7,300.  Matt Kuchar at $7,200 is good because you know he will make the cut the same with Lee Westwood also at $7,200.  Can Jason Kokrak at $7,000 provide you with a lot of birdies and making the cut, yes.  The same with Brandt Snedeker at $6,900 and Sebastian Munoz at $6,700.  In the super low price category Lanto Griffin at $6,600 is good and should make the cut.  Also Adam Hadwin at $6,500 will make the cut and finish 35th to 45th.  After that I only see one other that should make the cut and give you points being 63-year-old Bernhard Langer at $6,100.

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

The 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 essential.
  • Now, Zach Johnson had six three-putts in 2007 and Bubba Watson in 2012 with four which 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 argument 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 significant, just look at Tiger Woods’ victory in 1997. Being able to reach par-5s with wedges is a considerable advantage over players hitting into the greens with long irons and woods.  But again, theories don’t sometimes work at the Masters. 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 don’t mean much when it comes to picking a winner at the Masters.  Since 1993 the only real 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 years winner Tiger Woods, or the year before with Patrick Reed or 2016 champion Danny Willett? I would say not many people. Still, players like Sergio Garcia in 2017, 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 Schwartzel 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 more prominent 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 from 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 broken and who knows, maybe a non-winner will surprise us this week, but it’s doubtful.  So let’s see who could possibly be a “surprise winner” this year.  My first choice is Tony Finau, who has knocked on the door a lot since his only win in Puerto Rico in 2016. he has a nice record at Augusta.  Many think that Webb Simpson could surprise us, he is a lot like Patrick Reed who won in 2018 and Simpson has played great of late.  Be carefull of the injured, both Brooks Koepka and Jason Day have been injured but could be a winner this week.
  • I can say this, look at the top 30 or 40 players off the world rankings.  We hear it all the time 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 Tiger Woods was 12th going into the Masters, in 2018 Patrick Reed was 24th in the rankings, in 2017 Sergio Garcia was 11th, in 2016 Danny Willett was ranked 12th going into the Masters while Jordan Spieth in 2015 was 4th going into the Masters.  In the 31 years of the world rankings, the average Masters champion ranked 14th.  We’ve seen four #1s win and overall 18 of the 31 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 16 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.

Who to watch for at the Masters

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T2 T10 T4 T6 CUT T13 T38 T38 T30

He is playing the best golf and if he gets a bit lucky he will win this week. He is playing about the same as he was in 2017 when he hurt himself on the eve of the Masters. He is a man with a purpose and that is to win another major. In his last six starts has a win, three runner-ups and a total of six top-six finishes.

Brooks Koepka

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T2 T11 T21 T33

I think in the course of this preview I have laid out by thinking on Brooks, and it should start with: “beware of the injured golfer.” Yes he has been hurting most of the year, but it seems that the hurt stop a few weeks back and after he shot 65-65 over the weekend at Houston I knew the writing was on the wall, Brooks will contend this year.

Xander Schauffele

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T2 T50

Have been very impressed with his game since the break, he can win this week. Only played Augusta twice, was T-2nd last year and T-50th in 2018. His game is perfect for Augusta

Best of the rest:

Jon Rahm

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T9 4 T27

Has won on two tough courses at the Memorial and BMW Championship. That and the fact that he has played well at the Augusta, was 4th at the Masters in 2018 and T-9th last year. His 29 under on the Par 5s in his 12 rounds is also impressive.

Justin Thomas

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T12 T17 T22 T39

He has been up and down all year, still that could be good as he goes under the radar scope this week. The thing that worries me the most is his record at Augusta is not the best, in four starts his T-12th last year is his best.

Patrick Cantlay

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T9 CUT T47

Game finally came around with his win at Zozo Championship

Jason Day

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5 T20 T22 T10 T28 T20 3 WD T2

Again we say beware of the injured player. The key for Day is to be healthy again. Augusta is a course he always plays well on in nine starts been in the top-10 four times including a T-2nd in 2011, 3rd in 2013 and T-5th last year.

Solid contenders

Rory McIlroy

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T21 T5 T7 T10 4 T8 T25 T40 T15 CUT T20

Ok, Rory has disappointed us all year even though his game wasn’t that bad. We know he can regain all the magic in a heartbeat, maybe that week is this week. Looking for that one win in the Masters to complete the Grand Slam. Has been in the top-ten in five of his last six starts, best was 4th in 2015. One thing in his favor, he was T-8th at the U.S. Open.

Webb Simpson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5 T20 CUT T29 T28 CUT CUT T44

Parts of his game shows that he could be good at Augusta, hits a lot of greens, good scrambler and plays well on the par 5s. Was T-5th in last year’s Masters.

Tony Finau

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5 T10

One of those guys that can surprise us at the Masters, was T-5th last year and T-10th in 2018. Has played well in the last three months, best was T-3rd at the 3M Open.

Tiger Woods

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
Win T32 T17 T4 T40 T4 T4 T6 2

Purely a sentimental choice. Augusta is probably the only major course he can contend on, hasn’t been in contention since winning the Zozo a year ago

Long shots don’t win the Masters, best rookies with a chane:

Matthew Wolff

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Like the fact that he was 2nd at the U.S. Open and T-4th at the PGA Championship. Be interesting to see how his game fits at Augusta, his length will help him a lot.

Scottie Scheffler

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Was T-4th at the PGA Championship and was 5th in the FedExCup Playoffs.

Jason Kokrak

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Can give it some stick and putts well, he could surprise us all.

Those that I don’t have much faith in:

Bryson DeChambeau

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T29 T38 T21

has made the cut in his three Masters starts, but in all of them he didn’t hit the ball well into the greens and could have a tough time on the greens. Sorry you just don’t go spanking the ball at Augusta and get away with it.

Hideki Matsuyama

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T32 19 T11 T7 5 CUT T54 T27

Was 5th at the Masters in 2015 and T-7th in 2016 and has been playing well of late. His problem, his game is good from tee to green, but has a tough time on the greens.

Collin Morikawa

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

He will be considered the best of the Masters rookies. But his game hasn’t been sharp since winning the PGA Championship and he is not a great putter which could haunt him this week at the Masters.

Comments

  1. tommcgarvey@gmail.com says:

    Sal, that’s a magnificent preview. I enjoyed that so much and I learned things as well which is awesome for an avid golf fan.

    I have a question, will the rain make the greens receptive? I’m aware they have lots of control over the greens at Augusta but if they are receptive it changes things a lot I think.

  2. Tom,
    It all depends on how much rain the greens get. If it’s just a drizzle they can still keep the greens firm enough and Quick. If they get a steady rain, they can draw the wettness but the greens will still be wet which means soft and will lose speed and some of the sharp breaks you see when they are dry and firm. Another effect that could happen on shots from the fairway is the skipping effect in which it’s hard for the ball to dig into the wettness and has a skipping effect, looking like a poor shot into a green that bounces over the green. Even though caddies are good in keeping clubs clean and dry, sometimes in a shot water will get between the club and ball at impact which will create a knuckle ball effect, which players can’t control the spin of the shot and this isn’t good.
    On the whole rain is mostly a friend for players, it does make the course longer but they don’t have to worry about teeshots bouncing into rough, something that happens on firm fairways. And in most cases the greens are like you say receptive to shots and putts are easier with the speed reduce.
    In looking at the forecast
    https://weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/l/bbca42712170a9e1fbb4e9d12b62d9f488c314a9bb06b3303b7964f54c018dca
    it looks like rain is going to hit today starting about 2pm and be steady throughout the night and be 90% chance through noon. It will get better in the afternoon and go away by 2pm. Friday and Saturday should be ok, but rain will hit again on Sunday morning. So it could be a wet Masters and we need to see who are the “mudders” out there, those that play well in rain and poor conditions.

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