For the past 2 years we have extensively looked into the Masters, working out who is playing the sort of golf to challenge at Augusta.
For this 2nd preview we’ve decided to take a mixture of the last 2 years but and produce a write-up that gives a few of our opinions but is more of a database for all of you out there to decide where your hard earned money should be going this year!
One of the main reasons we’ve decided to do this is that we really feel that this years event will be one of the closest and toughest to call in recent history. There are so many top, top players in ridiculous form and with the attributes to put together a real challenge for the green jacket.
Jordan Spieth – 3-time winner this season, Rory McIlroy going for a 3rd Major in a row, Bubba Watson – winner in 2015 and double Masters champion looking to retain his jacket, Jason Day finally recorded a solid victory not long ago and has a cracking record here, Dustin Johnson – WGC Cadillac champion and on his day can destroy any course, Patrick Reed – nearly a double winner this year, let alone the bundle of others in cracking form. We don’t mean to leave anyone out but we could be here for ages if we carried on!
We will then take a small peak at a few of the names who stand out in multiple categories and have a closer look at their recent Masters form.
Hope you enjoy the read and find it useful, please do get in touch with us if there’s any questions or something you simply want to get off your chest!
Our email is email@example.com and twitter @downthe18th
Happy researching and more importantly, happy punting!
– The stats in bold indicate that the player in question fits the corresponding trend
– The stats highlighted in blue indicate that this stat is from the European Tour – it’s wherever that player in question has ‘played’ the most in the corresponding category.
Rory McIlroy (6/1 various)
If Rory doesn’t win at Augusta in a few weeks’ time, he’ll win next year. And if he doesn’t win next year, then he’ll win it the year after. His game is perfect for that golf course. He’s going to win there. It’s only a question of when, he’s that good.
Darren Clarke on Rory McIlroy in the Independent this story by Karl MacGinty in the Independent.
The World number one. The man of the moment. The golfer with his sport in the palm of his hands. Rory has won the last two majors and will be looking to give himself a chance of creating history by owning all four in a row.
His form has been ridiculous throughout the past 18 months – 6 wins to his name – so the fact he is at 6/1 is more than understandable.
That is some feat to even dream about but he clearly has every chance because his game suits Augusta perfectly.
Well, to be honest it suits most tracks, but we all saw his potential here in 2011 when he went into the final day with a 4-shot lead. The idea of him bottling from that position now is simply unthinkable.
Stats: Right, so in our original trends for recent winners, McIlroy missed out in driving accuracy. He was as low as 55% for the season which is pretty poor considering how you associate him with a ridiculous game off the tee.
But his last outing at the Arnold Palmer has changed that and pushed him up to 60%, meaning he now FITS EVERY SINGLE STAT AND TREND – very ominous if you ask us…
Martin Kaymer (80/1 Coral)
I was never able to hit a draw, but now I can hit a draw without a problem, so that was the biggest thing.
Martin Kaymer talking about his own game last year
This statement makes interesting reading because the well-known ‘draw factor’ is so vital to overcome the challenge at Augusta. Martin Kaymer will surely know that the rest of his game has the perfect fitting to match this famous track, so adding a draw could be a massive help in his quest for victory.
A half decent season, barring that obvious bottle in Abu Dhabi, but as a 2-time major winner, he has all the credentials. Not the greatest form here admittedly, but if that draw is working, he could really put something together this year.
Stats: Considering his inconsistent season, may be surprising to see that he fits absolutely everything in the stats department. However, he does possess a top quality all-round game. It was still a surprise to see he ticked all the boxes, so the fact you can get him at 80’s should appeal…
Henrik Stenson (20/1 PaddyPower)
I would think Henrik is one of a few players who can win tournaments on ball striking alone. He’s certainly got the game. There are quite a few players who deserve to win majors, but unfortunately you have to win them.
Henrik Stenson’s swing coach Pete Cowen
As his swing coach Pete Cowan rightly alludes to – Stenson has one of the most incredible ball striking games in the world. If he’s on it, then he can destroy any course, even Augusta.
He may not have played particularly well here in terms of overall finishes, but he has shown brief rounds of ability around the notoriously difficult track. He lead for 17 holes of the first round in 2012 buy a quadruple bogey on the 18th completely ruined him and meant he could never quite recover.
A slight bottle at the Arnold Palmer may deter a few, especially with his odds being cut in half, but don’t discount the big hitting Swede.
Stats: In our original trends and stats method, Stenson failed to meet the requirement in putting stats, however after an outrageous performance at the Arnold Palmer, he shot right up to 2nd in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour.
This does now mean HE NOW FITS EVERY TREND of recent winners and makes him so much more backable.
Bubba Watson (10/1 various)
When you’re playing a hook it usually takes off. But that ball danced like it had a lot of backspin on it. I saw that ball hit the green, and I said, ‘Wow.’ That was something.
Not only did he play the shot, but he played the shot and ended up with control at the end of the shot – which I thought was the amazing part. That will go down as one of the great shots ever played in the game.
Jack Nicklaus on Bubba Watson’s shot to help win the Masters playoff in 2012
One of the great mavericks in world golf. Bubba has picked up two green jackets with his unique and bombing displays. He would be the first player since Tiger to win back to back Masters and what an achievement that would be.
His season has had it’s ups and downs, but a win recent enough at the WGC HSBC will still give him confidence, along with a couple of top 10s since.
Don’t back against Bubba.
Stats: Fits everything barring greens in regulation, which is incredibly surprising. A lot of his game is built around his prowess with the irons, so that might put you off.
Or you may think it doesn’t matter at all because this course clearly suits his eye so much…
Jason Day (14/1 everywhere)
I’ve loved the way he’s refocused and rededicated himself to the game of golf. He’s playing extremely well and he’s managed his schedule extremely well coming into it.
I think he’s primed, he’s fresh and ready to go. His game suits Augusta National
Greg Norman talking about Jason Day
This recent crop of Aussies do seem to enjoy Augusta. Whilst Scott won here, Leishman and have shown plenty of promise in previous years. The latter has an enviable record considering his limited time at the top of the game, but he very much a part of this new crop of young, emerging talent.
A big factor with the 26-year old is that he’s bagged himself another win. A good win as well – the Farmers Insurance Open is never an easy title to get.
That would’ve silenced a few doubters and you cannot argue with how incredibly consistently he’s playing this season and that hasn’t really happened before coming here…
Stats: As you can imagine, fit everything except for driving accuracy. We’ve all seen him spray a ball into the middle of nowhere before, but he’s shown that on his day, his tee to green abilities can propel him to the top of leaderboards.
Patrick Reed (40/1 BetVictor)
I believe in myself and – especially with how hard I’ve worked – I’m one of the top five players in the world
Patrick Reed, talking about himself after winning the WGC Cadillac last year
A confident man who caused plenty of controversy last year with this outlandish comment. He would have upset an applecart or two after saying this, but few would have predicted his continued rise into the highest echelons of the game.
Currently 15th in the world and preparing for only a 5th start in any major, Reed shouldn’t be dismissed easily.
He went to University in the area and has previous knowledge of the courses as a junior and we saw for half a round last year how devastating he could be at Augusta.
A win at the Hyundai and nearly a double at the Valspar shows what sort of form we’re talking about here.
Stats: Misses out in two areas. He obviously missed the cut last year, but you can look past that if you consider how well he played before Amen Corner.
He also fails in driving accuracy which has seemed to be his downfall at times.
Adam Scott (22/1 Coral)
It will not surprise me if he wins more major championships than any other Australian golfer in history. Adam’s an incredible competitor. He’s not a guy that wants to sit back and relax and rest on his laurels. He has incredible fire within his system
Greg Norman on Adam Scott after his Masters victory in 2013
Adam Scott will have a big place in our hearts for many years after becoming our first big, big win when he wore the green jacket a couple of years ago.
He has gone from strength to strength since then, recording a further 4 top 10’s in 7 major outings. He may not have won this calendar year, but his form is still consistent enough to make you really think about plumping on the Aussie.
Stats: Fits everything barring putting. Completely understandable when you consider his change with the short stick recently, attempting to use the shorter putter.
We are lead to believe he will use his trusted anchor version for Augusta, so don’t be surprised to see him with it. Potentially a big game changer in whether to back him or not, so keep an eye out in pressers, on twitter and general news sites.
Jordan Spieth (12/1 Ladbrokes)
It’s clear as a bell to me, he gives you a look I’ve never seen before. It’s like a mean look, but not really mean. It’s a look of I-know-where-I’m-going.
It’s not cocky. It’s confident. It’s wonderful to watch what he’s doing.
Ben Crenshaw talking about Spieth
The next protagonist in this new bundle of leading youngsters. After an outrageous start to his professional career, who would back against him adding his first major, especially after a superb first effort at Augusta last year – pushing Bubba the whole way.
His form this season has been absolutely ridiculous and record-breaking. No one has produced more wins than the 21-year old this season (3) and he became just the fourth player since 1940 to record 2 PGA Tour victories before turning 22.
With one of the most complete all-round games in world golf and a T2 finish last year, Spieth really is one of the danger men.
Stats: Bizarrely, he fits everything but GIR. You would expect his approach stats would be right up there, but across the season he just misses out because of that.
He does have a remarkable scrambling game though, so missing the odd green won’t really effect his chances. However at 12/1, you have to be really, really, really confident on his abilities…
Jimmy Walker (30/1 PaddyPower)
He just works hard, has a lot of talent, a good demeanour. I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with this guy.
Coach Butch Harmon after his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2014
Some may argue that this is a surprise inclusion in our quick peak at some of the players from the stats table but just look at his results.
Firstly, at the time of writing, he is right in the hunt for another win in Texas, whilst he recorded 4 victories since the beginning of last season.
That’s not bad going for someone who was widely considered a journeyman! But the legendary touch of Butch Harmon has clearly galvanised the American and now a major challenge doesn’t seem far away.
By far his best performance in majors came last year with 3 top 10s – his only top 10s to date – so he is clearly on the cusp. A long game that suits Augusta and form that smells of a Major champion.
Stats: Right, he also fits everything barring driving accuracy and that is certainly understandable. We’ve all seen him spray a few at times, but when he is on it, his drivers are ludicrously dominant.
That’s how he can win tournaments, especially with a very, very consistent game around the greens. Although at 30’s, you’ve gotta have real faith in him because there’s some top players in and around those odds that may be preferred.
Rickie Fowler (40/1 Coral)
The one thing that’s so good about Rickie if you watch him is his mind. His mind is the best part of his game. His physical game is great, but his mind is so good.
He’s gonna fight to the end, and he’s not gonna let bad swings or bad putts or whatever creep in his mind. He’s gonna just keep fighting.
Bubba Watson talking about Fowler in 2010.
It’s not been a good season for Rickie Fowler. By any means. He doesn’t actually fit the stats in 3 areas, which therefore seems ridiculous to even think about writing a Fowler spiel.
However, he has to be thought about because of how he performed in the big events last year.
4 top 5’s prove he has all the credentials and we can’t help but think his game has the perfect hallmarks for Augusta – if it’s working properly.
Stats: As we said above, misses out in 3 areas, but that shouldn’t deter you from seriously thinking about putting your money on the young American. He has already gone out to Augusta and got plenty of practice in, so it’s whether you feel he is worth it at 40/1 with Coral…
Hideki Matsuyama (66/1 Coral)
I think you’ve just seen the start, of what’s going to be truly one of your world’s great players over the next 10 or 15 years.
Jack Nicklaus on Matsuyama after his win at The Memorial in 2014
Now, we backed Hideki Matsuyama at 80/1 for The Masters about 10 months ago. We thought he was going to go on and blow away all sorts of records, therefore find himself at 33’s/40’s. Whilst he hasn’t quite delivered, you can hardly say his form and performances have been poor.
He won in Japan at the back end of last year and came so close at both the Waste Management and Northern Trust Open. He had a putt to get into a playoff in Phoenix and the ball brushed the hole, simply not wanting to drop, so he has shown his form.
Won the leading amateur at Augusta in 2011, but hasn’t shown anything again since, which may worry a few, but his game is so consistent that you wouldn’t back against him.
Stats: That missed cut here last year means he doesn’t fit everything; otherwise he would have done quite easily. Not surprising considering how talented his all-round game is, so definitely one to consider as a mid-range outsider.
Lee Westwood (50/1 various)
Lee is one of the best drivers of the ball, he has been there a couple of times coming down the stretch and he knows what it takes, he just has to get over that factor of not winning a major tournament
Ian Woosnam talking about Lee ahead of Augusta a couple of years ago
Clearly the surprise package of all the players who made the trends. In fact, we nearly had a heart attack. But, when you look at it deeper, you can understand.
The perennial bottler who will top many peoples list as the ‘best player never to have won a major’ Lee will have to do a lot for all of us to even consider putting our money on him.
Although in his last 5 outings at Augusta, his worst finish is T11 and that includes 2 inside the top 3. Ridiculous form.
As for this season, he won in Thailand at the back end of last year and has a couple of top 10s in Europe.
Stats: Obviously, he fits everything – including putting! He is actually 17th for strokes gained in America, which is just madness. He has still shown the odd bottle over the short putts recently, but there’s been a marked improvement.
Louis Oosthuizen (66/1 Ladbrokes)
He’s an incredible talent and has that unflappable temperament that you need to win big tournaments. I believe he will win more majors in his career. Ernie Els, 2012
The 2010 Open champion has one of the smoothest swings in the game. Because of his injury issues and time off, people have generally completely forgotten about Louis. But do that at your peril.
5 appearances this season and 4 top 10s. The Arnold Palmer and WGC are notoriously difficult tracks and generally contain the crème de la crème, so the fact he finished strongly in both outings, shows where he’s at when he gets on the course.
Famously came 2nd here in 2012 when Bubba beat him with that ridiculous shot in a playoff, so he’s shown he can do it round here.
Stats: Actually fits everything barring putting. He would do if it was calculated on the European Tour though and he has shown his short stick can perform when he gets in a groove.
But his game is more about the tee to green brilliance and at 66/1, you can’t help but think he’s a decent mid-ranger.
Webb Simpson (150/1 PaddyPower)
Webb had such natural instincts as well as natural talent, he learned the game from the green back to the tee. He was making 30-foot putts all the time when he was 10 and 11 years old.
Once Webb filled out, he got his distance, and then he got even better
Webb’s coach Ted Kiegiel, who has been with him since he was nine years old
Another major champion, but by far and away the highest odds of anyone in this list. You can find him at 150/1 with some, which is madness considering his background.
Admittedly, he has never really performed here, but his overall abilities could overcome the Augusta challenge if he brings his a-game.
3 top 10s this season show that he isn’t in the worst knick and widely regarded as one of the best in and around the greens.
Stats: The main reason we couldn’t help but write him down here. The only stat he doesn’t fit is the fact he missed the cut here last year.
He ticks all the other boxes and has shown that he’s got the perfect game for many courses, let alone Augusta.
But at such high odds, it may be worth looking into him at great length.