It’s the best major and it’s not even close.
All 87* players evaluated.
The Usual Suspects included in more ways than one
Thoughts and prayers to all fantasy players and teams. You’ll need it.
*unless I’ve overlooked someone which is entirely possible**
**I did, thanks to my man @Ath_drum for editing. Fixed now.
It was in 2016 during this tournament I started this site and where I started toying with the idea of the Emergency 9.
In 2017 I was pretty bummed out but continued to have fun.
Thanks for joining me on this ride.
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National Golf Club
Yards: 7,445 per the official scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 6,486 square feet on average
Rough: Ryegrass; 1.375″
Course Architect(s): Alistair MacKenzie (1933); Perry Maxwell & Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. (1934); Tom Fazio (2001).
Purse: $11 million; $1.98 million (winner) in 2017; prize pool announced later in the week; 600 FedExCup Points.
Defending Champion: Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose finished on nine-under-par 279 and had to play off. Garcia won on the first hole with a birdie to capture his first major championship.
- 87 players; 72-hole-stroke play.
- Top 50 and ties plus anyone in 10 shots of the lead will make the 36-hole cut. This rule was instituted in 2013.
- All groups tee off on No. 1 all four days and play the course in proper order. Split tees will only occur after extreme weather conditions.
Frys.com: Brendan Steele
CIMB: Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC: Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms: Ryan Armour*
Shriners: Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba: Patton Kizzire*
RSM Classic: #- Austin Cook*
Sentry TOC: Dustin Johnson
Sony Open: Patton Kizzire
CB Challenge: Jon Rahm
Farmers: Jason Day
WMPO: Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach: Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open: Bubba Watson
Honda: Justin Thomas
WGC-MC: Phil Mickelson
Valspar: Paul Casey
*- First-time winner
2017: Sergio Garcia; 279*
2016: Danny Willett; 283
2015: Jordan Spieth; 270
2014: Bubba Watson; 280
2013: Adam Scott; 279*
2012: Bubba Watson; 278*
2011: Charl Schwartzel; 274
2010: Phil Mickelson; 272
2009: Angel Cabrera; 276*
2008: Trevor Immelman; 280
2007: Zach Johnson; 289
2006: Phil Mickelson; 281
2005: Tiger Woods; 276*
2004: Phil Mickelson; 279
2003: Mike Weir; 281*
2002: Tiger Woods; 276#
2001: Tiger Woods; 276#
2000: Vijay Singh; 278
# not playing this week
Facts and Figures:
- Tournament Record: 270 (-18); Jordan Spieth (2015) and Tiger Woods (1997). Spieth is the only player to get to 19-under-par ever.
- Course Record: 63; Greg Norman (1996) and Nick Price (1986).
- Successfully defended: Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02).
- Multiple winners: No one has won more than Nicklaus’ six green jackets; 17 multiple winners (last: Bubba Watson, 2014).
- Wire-to-wire winners: Just five all time; Spieth, 2015 was the first since Ray Floyd in 1976.
- The Par 3 Tournament winner has never won the tournament.
- First win on the PGA Tour: Danny Willett (2016) and Charl Schwartzel (2011) are the only two this century.
- First-Time Participant winner: Fuzzy Zoeller (1979).
- Second-time winners: Charl Schwartzel, Jordan Spieth and Danny Willett are the three most recent examples of five total.
- Largest margin of victory: Tiger Woods (1997) 12 shots.
- Oldest winner: Nicklaus at 46 (1986).
- Youngest winner: Woods at 21 (1997).
- American winners: 10 of last 18.
- Euros have won two straight.
- Gary Player was the only international winner prior to 1980. The tournament began in 1934.
- English winners: Faldo (three times) and Willett.
- South African winners: Gary Player, Trevor Immelman and Schwartzel.
- Spanish winners: Jose-Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros have won twice each. Garcia joined his heroes last year.
- German winner: Bernhard Langer, twice.
- Australian winner: Adam Scott.
- Canadian winner: Mike Weir.
- Scottish winner: Sandy Lyle.
- Of the last 12 winners, six played the week prior. #TrendNotATrend.
- Phil Mickelson is the last player to win the Masters while winning the week prior. He’s one of only four in history.
- Rory McIlroy is the last player to win the week prior and follow it up with a major (2014 WGC-BI & PGA Championship).
- Average winning age is just over 35.
- Average first-time winning age is just over 31.
- Biggest come-from-behind margin (at any stage): nine shots; Jack Burke, 1956.
- Biggest final round deficit: seven shots; Tiger Woods, 2005 and Sir Nick Faldo, 1996.
- Lowest total by a first-timer: Jason Day; 274, 2011 (T-2).
- Most needed before winning: 15; Mark O’Meara (1998).
- Most birdies: 28; Spieth, 2015.
- Most birdies, round: 11; Anthony Kim, 2009.
- The top 12 finishers will qualify for the 2019 Masters.
If you don’t read The Confidence Factor, I can’t help you. I’m not cutting-and-pasting the text in here but I have provided the link. You’ll find STATTO stuff PLUS my thoughts on the course.
In order for me.
Jordan Spieth: I can’t ignore his mastery of this course minus No. 12. Realistically he could have three green jackets with a par or two or a bogey. That’s not the case, obviously, but he’s already closed the deal here and that will go a long way if things get tight, which they should, again.
Justin Rose: This is a case of preference, plain and simple. If you told me that I got Rose in a blind draw I wouldn’t stop smiling. He’s had a front-row seat for Spieth’s 270 in 2015 and had a two-shot lead on No. 13 tee on Sunday last year.
Dustin Johnson: It feels like unfinished business for the World No. 1 as he didn’t get the chance last year after falling and WD. Nick Faldo remarked that nobody hit it better in 2016 but a balky putter did him in. IF the weather is iffy on the weekend, I’m not sure I’d want anyone else navigating long and wet conditions.
Rory McIlroy: Except maybe this guy. Where DJ doesn’t have to worry about expectations or claiming his first major, McIlroy does have the career grand slam front-and-center this week. With his recent win at Bay Hill it’s understandable to see why that could be on the cards. Everyone has their demons here and part of the beauty is seeing which player kills them off on Sunday afternoon.
Phil Mickelson: With no questions to answer about the last time he won, Mickelson should be as free as a bird this week to make a ton of birdies. The back nine’s risk-reward sets up for the ultimate risk-reward player and that can be good and bad news for gamers. He won’t be interested in second place but he wouldn’t mind matching Palmer and Woods in the green jacket section of the annals of Augusta National. He would be the oldest champion and only the seventh in his 40’s.
Paul Casey: Like Mickelson, Casey picked up his first win on TOUR since 2009 at the Valspar Championship and is hitting on all cylinders. With three top-six finishes in the last three years, Casey has had plenty of recent close calls. He highlights the theory that premium ball-striking can go a very long way but there’s no doubting putts will need to be holed late on Sunday to claim his first major.
Bubba Watson: A wonderful wild card this week for all of the right reasons as he’s picked up two wins already in 2018. His record in general here isn’t as deep as those above him but only Mickelson has more sport coats. I’ve argued in this column for years that once he’s focused that he can win anywhere. I’ve also pointed out that he might not enjoy less-than-perfect weather. He’ll also enjoy not being the center of attention, which surely will NOT be the case this week with a monster field in attendance.
Justin Thomas: He won’t care if it plays longer than what the card says as his game possesses plenty of power. He played lights-out on Sunday at Quail Hollow to win the PGA Championship last summer so he’s the only player who can claim back-to-back majors. He’s not resting on his laurels as he enters the week
Jason Day: It’s interesting that his best finish was his first attempt in 2011. His 12-under-par is the lowest score ever for a first-time participant and included 64 and a 68. He has just three rounds in the 60’s in his last five events. He put new irons in the bag recently because he felt he couldn’t compete with the old ones. His cashed for WIN, T2, T22 and T36 with that set!
Alex Noren: I’m having a tough time getting off the Swede this week. Since arriving in the States he’s collected checks for three podium finishes in just seven events. He’s handled a monster in Torrey Pines, a tough, windy PGA National and a quirky Pete Dye track at Austin Country Club. His worst finish is T36 at Bay Hill on some of the quickest greens on TOUR. His other “bad” finish (hahaha) was T21 at TPC Scottsdale.
Tiger Woods: He should have his own column let alone a spot in the preview. He’s the most overanalyzed golfer in history and this week isn’t going to change that. His happy-go-lucky attitude is refreshing and he’s flashed the goods this winter to get everyone’s attention. Are you ready?
He’s top 23 in every the strokes-gained categories minus off-the-tee. He’s seventh in strokes-gained total and that’s without hitting any fairways (201st) and GIR (183rd). He’s fifth in scoring average. I liked his choices for tuning up for the Masters as PGA National, Innisbrook and Bay Hill are more than fair challenges.
There’s a great line from the movie The Usual Suspects that sums up how I feel on Woods this week:
Verbal Kint: Keaton once said, “I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.” Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”
My heart says storybook win, internet collapse and the “greatest Masters ever”. My wallet says another close call and another step in the process. I would gladly be wrong for him to turn it up to 11 on Sunday.
Surely he’s everyone’s TOAD this week, right?
Simple why and why not for each; no specific order
Matt Kuchar: He has the experience as this will be start No. 12 and he’s won THE PLAYERS. His last win on TOUR was almost four years ago at Harbour Town.
Sergio Garcia: He’s the last one to do it so there’s no questioning whether or not he can get over the finish line. He would be joining a hyper-elite group (Nicklaus, Faldo and Woods) that have defended at AGNC.
Ian Poulter: He’s excelled under pressure personified the last two weeks just to get in so he shouldn’t be bothered. The last player to win on TOUR the week before the Masters was Phil Mickelson in 2006.
Russell Henley: The Georgia native is trending as he gets more experience on this track. He’s improved 10 spots each of the last three years.
Daniel Berger: Too much game. Too many good performances. He’s won twice at TPC Southwind in consecutive years and never MC in two tries here. He has plenty of talent to take the next step but it will have to be his best.
Tommy Fleetwood: He’ll hit the most greens this week. I’ll copy-and-paste that for most events he plays on TOUR. As you can tell, I’ll give a little extra to guys who aren’t under the white-hot spotlight. They can go about their business. CAUTION: HE’S PLAYING WITH WOODS THE FIRST TWO DAYS.
Brian Harman: It was too long at Erin Hills (T2). It was too long at Quail Hollow (T13). He’s in fantastic nick as well. He’s 11th in strokes-gained: total and in the top 10 in fairways and greens.
Jon Rahm: Sucker bet this week based on his form but he has enough raw talent for a tenner on a cheeky EW.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: I tried to fade him put his panache pushes him out of that category. He showed up in 2016 and cashed T15 in his first and only visit. He’s the exception from the Asian group.
Louis Oosthuizen: Man, every year, every event, every everything he makes me confused. He’ll make the cut, make an albatross and finish T19. Or something.
Kevin Kisner: The 54-hole leader at the PGA Championship had a sniff before finding danger late. He played in the final of Match Play but was savaged by Watson. When he fires, he fires hot, but AGNC hasn’t lit that match just yet. Lovely outsider.
Rickie Fowler: I wish I had seen some better form heading into this week. I was more dismayed than encouraged after he took the lead in Houston and then unraveled. I’ve always maintained I think he has the deepest bag on TOUR. With one top 10 in seven starts here, I’ll keep him for THE PLAYERS or down the road a Shinnecock, perhaps.
Branden Grace: He’s too solid from tee-to-green to omit and he’s produced some majors where he was in-play late. I have him ranked too high.
Xander Schauffele: He’s rather a bother in fantasy land as he keeps popping up everywhere. Winning at East Lake proves he has serious chops. Carrying it over to another big event wouldn’t surprise me.
Tony Finau: He never hits any fairways and that could hurt this week if his misses are big ones. Above-average sized greens suggest he could recover. He should be studying Thomas Pieters’ rounds from last year at this event. I hope his caddy can read greens as well.
Off the Beaten Path
Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings
Adam Scott: If he turns into the Australian Fred Couples, I’m fine with that. This is a value-based pick, not a leading role, but there’s value in missing just two cuts in 16 tries.
Hideki Matsuyama: Part of me wishes I never knew he WD while trying to go back-to-back-to-back at WMPO because that’s the only thing that makes me nervous this week. With the ammo in this field off the charts, taking a guy with a dent in the last two months makes ME nervous. I’m not waiting around to see if he runs through the back door again with 66 or 67 on Sunday.
Adam Hadwin: Ok, he’s on fire with T6, T9 and T12 in his last three stroke-play events on TOUR. His best round of four in his first Masters last year was 70 on Sunday. He was eighth in putting last year in his first Masters. Read that again.
Patrick Cantlay: If you read The Confidence Factor finding him in here shouldn’t surprise you one bit. I’m loading up. You’ve been warned.
Ross Fisher: After a four-year hiatus, the big-hitting Englishman returned last year and made his fourth cut in five tries. Some guys just play well here.
Kyle Stanley: He’s third in fairways and sixth in GIR with putting numbers that have improved over time. Don’t look at his form the last three events because you’ll jump with both feet. Let me take the bullet for all of us! Only his second time playing but he won last year and stuff is rolling down hill for him, finally. He MC in 2012 so he won’t be overwhelmed.
Charl Schwartzel: IT’S A TRAP. Well, it is. He has six rounds in the 60’s here and three of them were posted in his win in 2011. Of the other three, two were posted last year when he finished third. The five tournaments between saw him collect nothing better than T25.
Charley Hoffman: First round leader, right? He’s never missed in four tries but his uneven form keeps him in the top 30 crowd but not higher. He’s done the business before the weekend but not after.
Billy Horschel: I can make a case for his ball-striking abilities (top 50 in both fairways and GIR). I can make a case he’s played here enough times to know what it takes to post a score. I’d love to see any signs of form, which there are none, as his best finish in 2018 is T43 in full-field events. A big week of GIR could have him surprise.
Austin Cook: He’s made 11 of 12 cuts this year on TOUR and:
- 54th SG: Total
- 25 Fairways
- 67 GIR
- 12th total putting
Lovely outsider based on the stats above but his first major EVER will make it a VERY tall order just to make the weekend.
Joaquin Niemann (a): Latin American Amateur champion from Chile; No. 1 ranked amateur in the world; qualified for Erin Hills (MC); T29 at Greenbrier Classic last summer; conditional status on Web.com Tour.
Bernd Wiesberger: He’s played three times and made three cuts. He’s done so with 75, 73 and 77 in the opening round. Of 12 rounds, seven are par or better. There are also three rounds over 76. Because this is a hard course.
Patton Kizzire: Yeah, I know he’s won twice. Yeah, I know he’s top 10 in GIR and 20th in putting. Please note this is his first Masters.
Thomas Pieters: He’s rattled off 14 cuts in a row worldwide and was T4 last year. The downside is he only has one top 25 finish on TOUR in the last two months.
Bryson DeChambeau: He has the full package tee-to-green and two-putts aren’t terrible this week. He was T21 and low amateur in 2016 which included three rounds at par. He wasn’t overwhelmed then and he won’t be overwhelmed as a TOUR winner now. I should move him up but I’m trying to hide him.
Ryan Moore: With two top 10’s in his last four starts on TOUR he’s found something. This will be Masters start No. 10 and he’s 7 of 9 with one top 10, last year’s T9, as his best. I’ll point out the year before he shot 80-75 to MC. A bit extreme the last two years but he’s made enough cuts over a decade to earn a look.
Outside Looking In
Everyone else, in alphabetical order
Wesley Bryan: He grew up nearby in South Carolina and has taken five weeks off before his maiden voyage. He’s a wonderful putter but that will be neutralized by the learned nuances on the greens at AGNC. He’s using a driver again, which wasn’t the case earlier in the season. Oh my!
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: One good year and one bad year have me tied up. He hasn’t MC since the FedExCup Playoffs last September before last week. I’m out.
Kevin Chappell: He was WAY up the list before his back issue forced him out of Match Play DURING his match against Poulter. Guys don’t walk off the course because of a hangnail. This field is too deep to “hope” he’s okay to walk the hills and swing it 283 times.
Jason Dufner: I don’t break up streaks. He’s never cashed for better than T20 in seven tries.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: Still learning. Big final round in 2016 matched Willett’s and Casey’s for low round of Sunday.
Dylan Frittelli: One of the first-timers that would need something special this week to get noticed in this bunch.
Tyrrell Hatton: I will guarantee he will not post 78-80 MC this time around. He made two birdies last year and is supposed to be a great putter. I’m basing this completely on being mind-f*cked last time here.
Yuta Ikeda: His record on U.S. courses is worse than terrible.
Zach Johnson: He has one top 25 since his win in 2007. He has also missed as many as he’s made in the last 10 years. Not the week for marginal guys.
Si Woo Kim: There is nobody who turns up more often out of form and cashes a big check. He also follows all of those big checks with big crash-and-burns the following event.
Satoshi Kodaira: No form in this part of the world or against fields of this magnitude.
Marc Leishman: He’s struggled to replicate his excellent form of 2017 and I never believe this is a course that cures what ails. In five tries here, he has ONE great round that led to ONE great result. Being paired with Woods the first two days will NOT help in my opinion.
Haotong Li: How long before Haotong gets it rollin? I’m not waiting to find out this week. He’s won in Europe and in Asia but his winter in the States didn’t inspire me.
Yusuaku Miyazato: No form in this part of the world or against fields of this magnitude. It’s true until it isn’t.
Francesco Molinari: Similar to Dufner, six starts yet only one top 25, T19 in 2012. He’s found a sliver of form the last month for the desperate.
Pat Perez: Not everyone is going to hit the top 25. There’s just not enough room. He’s faded on his last three Sundays so he misses out regardless of his ball-striking numbers.
Ted Potter, Jr.: Since winning at Pebble Beach and claiming a spot in the field, he’s MC in four straight. He’s hardly the lefty you’re going to back this week unless you know something I don’t. He’s played once before and MC (76-73) in 2013.
Chez Reavie: Back-to-back second-place finishes pushed him into the top OWGR top 50 back in February and into his fourth Masters. Since his two consecutive large paydays he’s posted T73, T52, MC, T29 and MC at Houston last week. Reavie’s best round in four MC at ANGC is 74.
Patrick Reed: His short-game is out of this world but saving par all day long is a recipe for disaster here. He doesn’t hit enough fairways and greens for me and hasn’t matched or bettered par in his last two trips. He enters the week on fantastic form but I’m relying on ball-strikers mainly.
Shubankar Sharma: He’s been drinking out of a fire hose the last two months. I’ll let him breathe.
Webb Simpson: Anybody who has a pair of recent top 10’s deserves inspection. I get that he’s putting the lights out and scoring like a mad man. He’s going to help prove or dismiss the course form theory this week as he has none in six tries.
Cameron Smith: I have a very hard time supporting anyone who put up 80-something in their previous start here. I like Smith most weeks but this is different cloth.
Brendan Steele: He’s made 11 cuts in a row on TOUR so I’m not crossing him off. He hits it a mile and pegs plenty of GIR but this week it needs to be the proper part of the green. He closed with 69 in his sixth round overall last year.
Henrik Stenson: 12 events, T14 is the best of the bunch. If this is the deepest, “bestest”-ever Masters of recent memory, I’m not hitching my wagon to anybody I HOPE is going to play the best tournament of their life.
Jhonattan Vegas: The early part of 2018 started hot but he’s cooled since. Metrics point me away, quickly.
Jimmy Walker: It’s interesting to see he’s never MC in four tries but he’s never posted a round in the 60’s either. His on-going battle with Lyme disease is well documented and hasn’t helped his performance. For every flash of brilliance it seems like there are three rounds of grinding to go with it. I’m not sure AGNC is the scene for a break-out performance.
Gary Woodland: In his last four appearances he’s signed for 85, 77, 76 and 80.
Don’t put the “mental” in sentimental this week. Each that goes by these guys move exponentially farther away from their day(s) of glory.
Danny Willett: A shoulder injury, a long road to recovery and life as a Masters champion has been difficult for the 2016 winner. His last top 10 was in February of 2017 and he WD at Bay Hill last time he was entered. There’s nothing in there that points to hope this week for a big result. If he’s not hurt, making a cut isn’t ridiculous.
Fred Couples: He’s in The Confidence Factor this week even though he’s only played one event this year and that was in January. He knows this place inside-and-out but it’s his health you’re gambling on this week.
Bernhard Langer: His domination of the PGA TOUR Champions hasn’t carried over to Augusta. I believe there’s a lesson in that. In 2016 he played in the penultimate group on Sunday and finished T24 after 79.
Larry Mize: The hometown favorite has made the cut in three of the last four years without posting a round better than 72. I’d start here if you’re required to pick from this group.
Angel Cabrera: Don’t even look up his recent form. You can thank me later. If there’s a switch he can flip this week, I can’t wait to see it.
Vijay Singh: His best finish on TOUR this year in five starts is T73. The other four are MC. He’s 18-over in his last two appearances.
Mike Weir: The lefty made the cut at Corales two weeks ago and collected a check for T73. It was his first weekend on TOUR since 2014.
Trevor Immelman: He played three events last year and one this year on TOUR.
Mark O’Meara: His T22 in 2015 broke a streak of eight Masters in a row going home early. He’s 25-over in his last two appearances.
Sandy Lyle: After rattling off two straight in 2013-14 he’s MC in the last three. The last two include rounds of 81 and 83.
Jose Maria Olazabal: He hasn’t made a cut anywhere in the world since 2015.
Ian Woosnam: He’s played annually since 1988. His last weekend was 2008.
In order of preference if you’re into that type of thing.
Doug Ghim (a): Runner-up to Redman at the U.S. Amateur;
Recent college results:
- February 1-3 Amer Ari Invitational (Hawaii): 68-71-69, T13;
- March 4-6 Querencia Cabo Intercollegiate: 69-70-71, 6th;
- March 18-20 Valspar Collegiate: 73-68-67, 6th;
He’s not playing No. 1 for Texas but he looks to be running into form.
Harry Ellis (a): 2017 winner of The Amateur Championship and English Amateur; MC in 2017 at The Open; plays on all the major Euro Am teams; senior at FSU;
Recent college results (in chronological order):
- Won Mobile Sports Authority event in February (college) 69-67-69;
- T6 at his home course Seminole Intercollegiate 72-68-72;
- T36 Querencia Cabo Collegiate (massive field) 72-72-75;
- Began T4 (72) at Southern Intercollegiate but 75 in the second round dropped him to T16;
- T38 (73-72-74) Valspar Collegiate March 18-20.
Doc Redman (a): Clemson sophomore won the 2017 U.S. Amateur, defeating Doug Ghim; T17 Puerto Rico Classic 73-73-70 (college event) in his last start.
Matt Parziale (mid am): He’s a firefighter. Thank you for your service. My friend Spider Miller played as the Mid-Am champ in 1996 and 1998. Enjoy the story that goes with the player.
Yuxin Li (a): He’s 17, left-handed and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion from China. Donate your money to charity instead.
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