It’s normal service resumed with a return to an April Masters.
Last season’s schedule disruption due to Covid-19 saw the 2020 Masters being played in November. While it was a most welcome bonus to get the tournament completed at all, there is simply nothing in the golfing world like the allure and magic of an April Masters.
The Masters is one of four major championships in professional golf. Unlike the other majors, the Masters is held each year at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club.
The tournament is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour and the Japan Golf Tour. The field of players is smaller than those of the other major championships because it is an invitational event held by the Augusta National Golf Club.
Bobby Jones designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. The layout is one of the finest and most visually spectacular courses in the world. Augusta is home to the famous stretch of holes known as Amen Corner (Holes 11-13).
For a tree-lined course, Augusta National is deceivingly wide off the tee. History tells us that there is a premium on scoring on the Par 5’s making Driving Distance an advantage but not absolutely crucial. Zach Johnson laid up to all the Par 5’s when he won in 2007. Also, with a number of right to left doglegs, an ability to shape tee-shots is a distinct advantage.
Players will need to be dialled in with their iron play to hit the greens and more importantly the right part of the greens to setup birdie opportunities. But by far and above the most important attribute is putting. Any player aspiring to don the Green Jacket will need to putt brilliantly on the lightning-fast sloping greens.
Course knowledge cannot be under estimated. Those with experience of the undulating greens are usually separated from those making their debut. Invariably greens will be missed making Scrambling a key stat to consider this week. Augusta National is not a catch-up course so a fast start is imperative.
2020 US Masters | Dustin Johnson
Last November, Dustin Johnson captured his second major title in winning the 2020 US Masters. His winning score of -20 (268) broke the tournament scoring record by two strokes. He finished 5 shots clear of both Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im with Justin Thomas a further three shots back.
“Well, I proved that I can get it done on Sunday with the lead at a major, especially in tough conditions”Dustin Johnson
DJ topped the pile for the week in both Greens in Regulation and Putts per GIR. He squared only four bogeys for the week and was -11 for the Par 5’s.
2019 US Masters | Tiger Woods
2019 saw one of the most emotional finishes in Masters tournament history. Tiger Woods emerged from the pack to win his fifth Green Jacket and first since 2005. The victory put him just one behind Jack Nicklaus’ record of six wins at Augusta.
Tiger closed with a final round -2 (70) for a winning total of -13 (275) one shot clear of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. It was Tiger’s 15th Major championship victory with his last coming at the 2008 US Open.
Tiger topped the field for the tournament in both GIR (80.6%) and Putts per GIR (2.107). He finished the week -8 for the Par 5’s, -1 for the Par 4’s and -4 for the Par3’s.
“To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in 1997 and now I’m the dad with two kids there”Tiger Woods
2018 US Masters | Patrick Reed
In 2018, Patrick Reed closed with a final round -1 (71) for a total -15 (273) to win the Green Jacket and his first major. He finished one stroke ahead of Rickie Fowler with Jordan Spieth a further shot back.
“Any time trying to close off a golf tournament is really hard but to close off my first major at a place that’s so close to me, being where I went to college, means so much”Patrick Reed
Reed was the ninth first-time major winner in the past 12 Masters. He finished the week T13 for Driving Accuracy, 6th for Driving Distance (2 measured drives), T21 for GIR and 2nd for Putts per GIR.
2017 US Masters | Sergio Garcia
In 2017, Sergio Garcia became the third Spanish winner at Augusta National with a birdie on the first extra hole following a sensational battle with Justin Rose.
The pair had finished tied on -9 after closing rounds of 69. Rose overturned an early three stroke deficit to lead by a shot after 16 holes. However a bogey at the 17th opened the door for Sergio who narrowly missed a chance to win with a birdie on the 18th.
The players returned to the 18th with Garcia emerging victorious after holing a 12 foot birdie. The Spaniard was 6th for Driving Distance, 2nd for Driving Accuracy, T2 in GIR and topped the field for Putts per GIR. He racked up 1 eagle, 14 birdies and carded only 7 bogeys for the week. Garcia finished 20th for Birdies and T1 for Bogeys.
2016 US Masters | Danny Willett
In 2016, Danny Willett was the surprise winner of the Green Jacket. He was the first European to win at Augusta since José María Olazábal’s victory in 1999. Going into the final round the Englishman was level par, three shots behind the overnight leader Jordan Spieth.
Spieth led by five shots as he approached the 10th but dramatically dropped six shots in three holes. This included a card wrecking quadruple bogey on the Par 3 12th.
Willett capitalised on Spieth’s misfortune and completed one of only two bogey free final rounds shooting a -5 (67) to capture the title. He finished the week T32 for Driving Distance, T26 for Driving Accuracy and T16 for GIR. For the week he had 51 Pars, 13 Birdies and 8 Bogeys.
2015 US Masters | Jordan Spieth
In the 2015 Masters Jordan Spieth emerged victorious. He finished -12 for the week on the Par 5’s and won with a record-setting performance. He tied Tiger Woods’ tournament low -18 after breaking the 36 and 54 hole scoring records along the way. He was T2 in GIR, T10 in Scrambling and 1st in Birdies shooting 28 in total.
US Masters Winning Formula
The following table details some key stats for the past three champions of an ‘April’ Masters.
|Greens in Regulation||1||T21||T2||8|
|Putts per GIR||14||1||12||9|
|Putting: Birdie or Better %||10||1||30||14|
In a nutshell, hitting Greens in Regulation is paramount, Scrambling is challenging, Par 5 Scoring is crucial and racking up pars on the Par 3s and Par 4s is sufficient.
US Masters Betting Tips
Justin Thomas 11/1 (Enhanced Win Only) – his last four results on the hallowed turf at Augusta National read T22-T17-T12-4. Places third in this week’s Current Form table thanks to his victory at the PLAYERS Championship. Comfortably tops the pile in this week’s Stats Analysis table, he is also 3rd on Tour for Strokes Gained Approach-The-Green and 2nd for Scoring Average. Fair to say he ticks a lot of boxes and some. Stars are aligning for JT. Standout pick and looks set to add a Green Jacket to his 2017 PGA Championship.
Patrick Reed 28/1 (E/W) – has a Green Jacket in his locker already, winning here in the 2018 edition of the Masters. Already a winner this season, capturing the Farmers Insurance Open back in January. He followed up his victory with a Top 10 in the WGC at The Concession. Even with abysmal Proximity stats, he still manages to squeeze into the Top 30 in this week’s Stats Analysis. More notably he heads the Tour in the Strokes Gained Putting category and is 2nd for Birdie Average. Not short on confidence, his game is tailor made for Augusta National. Value pick at top end of market.
Brian Harman 80/1 (E/W) & 4/1 To Finish Top 20 – has had two previous visits to Augusta National in 2015 and 2018 finishing a modest T67 and T44 respectively. That said, his Current Form is anything but modest. His last two outings have yielded an impressive T3 in the PLAYERS Championship followed by a T5 in the WGC Matchplay. Places inside the Top 10 in this week’s Stats Analysis which is noteworthy considering this week’s field strength. Augusta has been kind to lefties (Phil, Bubba, Weir). With game and confidence on the upward trajectory he could be worth an each way punt.
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