Enjoy reading and enjoy the week.
83rd Masters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club
|Yards (per official scorecard):||7,475|
|Greens:||6,486 square feet; Bentgrass|
|Rough: Second Cut||Ryegrass at 1 3/8″.|
|Water Hazards:||Holes No. 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16.|
|Architect(s):||Alastair McKenzie, 1933.|
|Purse:||$TBD. 600 FedExCup Points. Last year: $1.98 million (winner).|
|Defending Champion:||Patrick Reed (-15).|
|Notes:||Field of 87; Top 50 and ties plus anyone in 10 shots of the lead will make the 36-hole cut (as of 2013).|
|Notes II:||72-hole stroke play from Hole No. 1. There are no split tees.|
|2018||Patrick Reed||-15||One of three players to break par all four rounds; first major title.|
|2017||Sergio Garcia||-6||Played in the final group with Justin Rose and defeated him on the first playoff hole; first major title in his 74th attempt.|
|2016||Danny Willett||-5||Joined Nick Faldo as the only other Englishman to win; won by three closing with 67, T-best Sunday.|
|2015||Jordan Spieth||-18||Wire-to-wire winner in his second attempt tying the tournament record.|
|2014||Bubba Watson||-8||Cruised to a three-shot win for his second win in three years.|
|2013||Adam Scott||-9||Won his first major by defeating Angel Cabrera on the second playoff hole.|
|2012||Bubba Watson||-10||Claimed his first major championship by defeating Louis Oosthuizen in playoff.|
|2011||Charl Schwartzel||-14||Birdied the final four holes to win by two over Scott and Jason Day.|
|2010||Phil Mickelson||-16||Three shot win = third green jacket.|
|Safeway Open||Kevin Tway**|
|CIMB Classic||Marc Leishman|
|CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES||Brooks Koepka|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Cameron Champ**|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Xander Schauffele|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Matt Kuchar|
|The RSM Classic||Charles Howell III|
|Hero World Challenge*||Jon Rahm|
|Sentry TOC||Xander Schauffele (2)|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Matt Kuchar (2)|
|60th Desert Classic||Adam Long**|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Justin Rose|
|Waste Management||Rickie Fowler|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Phil Mickelson|
|Genesis Open||J.B. Holmes|
|WGC-Mexico Championship||Dustin Johnson|
|The Honda Classic||Keith Mitchell**|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||Francesco Molinari|
|THE PLAYERS||Rory McIlroy|
|Valspar Championship||Paul Casey|
|WGC-Match Play||Kevin Kisner|
|Corales Punta Cana||Graeme McDowell|
|Valero Texas Open||Corey Conners**|
(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)
Facts and Figures:
|Tournament Record:||270 (-18); Spieth and Tiger Woods (1997).|
|Course Record:||63; Greg Norman (1996), Nick Price (1986).|
|Defending Champions:||Nicklaus (65-66), Faldo (90-91) and Woods (01-02).|
|Multiple Winners (entered)||Woods (4), Mickelson (3), Watson (2), Olazabal (2) and Langer (2).|
|First TOUR win:||Schwartzel and Willett are the only two this century.|
|First Appearance:||Fuzzy Zoeller (1979).|
|Second Appearance:||5 in total; Schwartzel, Spieth and Willett this decade.|
|Margin of Victory:||12 shots (Woods, 1997).|
|Oldest:||46 (Nicklaus, 1986).|
|Youngest:||21 (Woods, 1997).|
|Low Round 2018:||64; Spieth, Round 4.|
|Odd Fact:||Wednesday’s Par-3 Tournament champion has never won the Masters.|
|Odd Fact II:||The Masters began in 1934. Gary Player was the only international winner before 1980.|
|Odd Fact III:||Jack Nicklaus is 58th on the all-time money list ($774,002) with his six green jackets.|
The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It will be posted here tomorrow after it publishes. Stay tuned.
Trend or Not a Trend?
|Patrick Reed||Sergio Garcia||Danny Willett||Jordan Spieth|
|Driving Distance (two measured holes)||6||6||32||44|
|Greens in Regulation||T21||T2||T6||T2|
|Putts per GIR||1||12||13||1|
|Putting: Birdie-or-Better Percentage||1||30||T36||1|
Horses for Courses
Each week I’ll put the major players in here. There are always exceptions to rules and “new” players every year so use this as a guide or tiebreaker.
If they are not on this list, they do not have a top 10 here. I’m looking at you Thomas, Koepka and Molinari!
|Patrick Reed||3/5||1||2||Win (2018)||T22 and T49|
|Rickie Fowler||7/8||2||4||2 (2018)||T5 (2014)|
|Jordan Spieth||5/5||4||5||3 (2018)||2015 champ; 70.05 avg.|
|Jon Rahm||2/2||1||1||4 (2018)||T27 (2017); 71 stroke avg.|
|Cameron Smith||2/2||1||1||T5 (2018)||T55 (2016)|
|Bubba Watson||9/10||3||4||T5 (2018)||2x winner (12 & 14)|
|Rory McIlroy||9/10||5||8||T5 (2018)||5 straight top-10 checks|
|Henrik Stenson||9/13||1||7||T5 (2018)||Only top 12 in 13 starts|
|Marc Leishman||3/6||2||2||9 (2018)||T4 (2013)|
|Dustin Johnson||7/8||3||4||T10 (2018)||3 straight top-10 checks|
|Tony Finau||1/1||1||1||T10 (2018)|
|Sergio Garcia||14/20||4||6||Win (2017)||T8 (2013), T4 (2004)|
|Justin Rose||13/13||5||11||2 (2017)||T14 or better last five|
|Charl Schwartzel||6/9||2||3||3 (2017)||MC in three of last five|
|Matt Kuchar||11/12||4||7||T4 (2017)||4 of last 7 top 10|
|Paul Casey||9/12||5||8||6 (2017)||T6 (2015), T4 (2016)|
|Adam Scott||15/17||5||9||T9 (2017)||2013 champ; 2011 T2|
|Danny Willett||2/4||1||1||Win (2016)||T39 prior, MC X 2 since|
|J.B. Holmes||3/4||1||2||T4 (2016)||T25 (2008), 50 (2017)|
|Hideki Matsuyama||6/7||2||4||T7 (2016)||5 (2015) 72.00 avg.|
|Matthew Fitzpatrick||3/4||1||1||T7 (2016)||3/3 as a pro|
|Jason Day||7/8||3||6||T10 (2016)||T2 (2011 debut), 3 (2013)|
|Brandt Snedeker||8/10||3||5||T10 (2016)||Went close 2008, 2013|
|Phil Mickelson||23/26||15||18||T2 (2015)||3x winner (04, 06 & 10)|
|Ian Poulter||12/13||3||7||T6 (2015)||7 (2012), T10 (2010)|
|Zach Johnson||8/14||2||3||T9 (2015)||Win (2007)|
|Charley Hoffman||5/5||1||3||T9 (2015)||69.2 1st rd scoring avg.|
|Jimmy Walker||5/5||1||3||T8 (2014)||4 top 30; no rounds in 60s|
|Bernhard Langer||25/35||9||15||T8 (2014)||T24 (2016)|
|Angel Cabrera||13/19||6||11||P2 (2013)||2009 champ|
|Tiger Woods||20/21||13||17||T4 (2013)||4x winner (97, 01, 02 & 05)|
|Thorbjorn Olesen||2/2||1||1||T6 (2013)||T44 (2014)|
|Louis Oosthuizen||6/10||1||5||P2 (2012)||T12 (2018) next best|
|Fred Couples||30/33||11||20||6 (2010)||1 round under par last 10|
|Trevor Immelman||9/16||2||5||Win (2008)||MC last five years|
|Stewart Cink||12/17||2||9||T3 (2008)||First appearance since 2014|
|J.M. Olazabal||18/29||8||13||T3 (2006)||Last top 30|
|Vijay Singh||19/25||6||11||T8 (2006)||Last top 25 2008; 2000 champ|
|Mike Weir||11/19||2||6||T5 (2005)||T43 or worse last 10|
|Mark O’Meara||19/34||3||11||T8 (2003)||MC 11 of last 12|
With so many first-time major champs in the last decade I could argue that ANGC is playing easier than ever.
No, it’s not.
It’s a very difficult event to win, just ask Jordan Spieth the last few years. And he’s won this before!
Luck, smarts, feel, guts = glory.
Reed’s chicken wing finishes last year. Garcia’s guts and metronome tee-to-green play in 2017. Danny Willett avoiding danger, and bogeys, to shoot 67 and steal it in 2016.
Only Spieth trousered the field, poor Justin Rose again, and became the first man to get it to 19-under, EVER.
Tee-to-green is where it all begins as you can’t get up-and-down all day. The breathers come on the Par-5 holes (until Sunday) while none of the Par-3 seem easy.
Bomb it and wedge it tight and birdies will flow, as long as the weather cooperates.
Experience counts here as well as pars and bogeys cannot turn into doubles or worse. Avoiding bogeys never hurts.
The average winning age is right around 32 and the average of attempts before winning is six.
(OWGR ranking first; Sagarin ranking last)
3 Rory McIlroy (2)
With the career grand slam on the line here annually until it isn’t, the Northern Irishman has only one option to eliminate that line of questioning: win. He now has all of the scar tissue necessary along with the maturity that goes with playing in 10 of these. His worst finish in 2019 in seven events is T9 so form isn’t the question. His victory at THE PLAYERS, another track where he came close multiple times, should serve as mental blueprint.
2 Justin Rose (6)
Only two Englishmen have won this event (Faldo and Willett) yet him making it three would be about as surprising as Abramovich giving Sarri the boot after this season. SOCCER JOKE SORRY NOT SORRY. Remember when I and everyone else were concerned about his new clubs? He’s finished outside the top 20 ONCE THIS DECADE at ANGC. Of his last eight, seven have cashed T14 or better including T2 and second twice in the last four years.
1 Dustin Johnson (1)
For the third year in a row he enters the first major of the year ranked No. 1 in the OWGR. He’s posted17-under the last three events as he’s also rattled off his best three finishes. With six top-10 finishes in eight stroke-play events (two wins) form is hardly a concern. I can’t be the only one who finds it strange that neither of my top three have won this event before.
12 Tiger Woods (5)
Hello, old friend. He’ll look to join Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Mark O’Meara as the 40-somethings that have won here. His name surely would NOT look out of place on that list. This will be his first time in sometime that he arrives completely healthy and that is beyond fascinating. He hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. That was difficult to type. There are PLENTY of 40-somethings in with a shout this year. PLENTY. Here’s an interesting take.
32 Jordan Spieth (52)
The biggest decision of the week features the recent course historian (T2, WIN, T2, T11 and third last year) that has done absolutely nothing in 2019. His stroke average is 70.05 on this track but I can’t remember the last time he put four rounds together anywhere. The simple answer is his form doesn’t make this equation work. The deeper dive will ask if he really is THIS GOOD at Augusta. Nobody said this would be easy. I’ll have my OAD column posted Wednesday for more details/solutions/answers.
11 Paul Casey (14)
Lucky for all of you, I’ve already burned him so he’s prime to be a top choice this week. His streak of finishing inside the top six ended last year at three with a T15 paycheck. He’s already defended his title at Innisbrook and should have won at Pebble Beach earlier this year. ANOTHER 40-SOMETHING.
16 Matt Kuchar (21)
Something Mark O’Meara-ish brewing here? He’s already won twice and was just beaten for a Match Play title two weeks ago. Rarely in trouble off the tee, his premium short game will cover up any blemishes. The list of 40-somethings to win is something.
9 Jon Rahm (9)
He’ll be in the conversation here for the next 25 years so time to get comfortable around here. Picking the brains of Olazabal and Garcia can’t possibly hurt and should shorten his learning curve. His attitude this week is probably the biggest X-Factor but his talent can change his mood quickly! His 54-hole lead at THE PLAYERS and playing in the final group on Sunday showed this variable (76, T12).
17 Bubba Watson (36)
He’s won twice and T5 in the last seven editions. All of his other results are forgettable so there is an element of risk. If I’m going to “risk it” with Watson, this will be one of the weeks. He embraces everything that goes with a green jacket and his more than comfortable among the Georgia pines.
5 Justin Thomas (4)
Playing in the final group at WMPO and Genesis plus T9 in Mexico City didn’t carry to Florida. He ended the Florida Swing with nothing inside the top 20. Last year he arrived in SCALDING HOT form and cashed T17, his best finish in three tries. If you notice, his three “poor” finishes are all on Bermuda. Ain’t no Bermuda this week, folks! His debut was 298 followed by 290 and 284 last year. #Trending.
7 Rickie Fowler (3)
Ok, here we go again. Easily on the list of “best to never win a major” and he’ll drive gamers crazy until he does. For my money, his game fits best at a U.S. Open layout where he can utilize his full bag. The results at each event are eerily similar. First-time major champs have feasted in this decade at ANGC. T12 or better in four of his last five here.
14 Jason Day (19)
Only one Aussie, Adam Scott, has slipped on the green jacket but this track and examination suits his game perfectly. Smash it as far as possible, find it, knock in on or close and then use his fantastic short game to take advantage of scoring opportunities. He’s moved up my list because of the wind in the forecast and his ability to feast on Par-5 holes.
27 Sergio Garcia (34)
What a difference a year makes. Fresh off T4 at Valspar and T9 at Match Play, a new baby shows up and Garcia posted 81-78 in his defense. He’s had a busy 2019 with a DQ in Saudi Arabia, a rules disagreement with Matt Kuchar at Match Play plus five top-10 paydays from just nine starts. This is a literal free roll for the Spaniard as he won’t have anything but golf to worry about this year. I bet he takes advantage.
22 Phil Mickelson (51)
Mickelson will bother the gut-feel players as the three-time champ enters the week frozen in form. I’ve learned more watching his short-game videos that his on-course performance but if there is a place for the switch to flip, ANGC surely is it. He knows every nook and cranny, break and swale but he’s also turns 49 in June. We’ll see if age is just a number but there are only a few events that will bring him to a boil and this is easily one of them.
8 Francesco Molinari (11)
This will be his ninth event here if you count the time he caddied for Dodo after he won the U.S. Amateur in 2006. Also rocking new sticks, his 64 to close at the API was boss as he saw off plenty of his Ryder Cup brethren and hopefuls that Sunday. Bouncing back from T56 at THE PLAYERS he blew away the field in Match Play until he ran into Kevin Kisner in the semifinals. He carries absolutely no burden this week as he’s already a major champion but his best finish here is just T19.
26 Hideki Matsuyama (25)
A solid tier-2 pick for me, he just doesn’t make enough putts over four rounds for me. The argument is ball-strikers who hit more greens and fairways just need a good round or two of putting. What happens if they don’t have four great rounds of ball-striking? There are no absolutes in our business. Last year was just his second year in five (2014) where he did NOT claim a top 15 in any major. He’s 183rd SG: Putting so he better hit it closer than most! Fits the pedigree of late 20’s first-time major winner that has worked here over the last decade.
4 Brooks Koepka (15)
For those gamers who believe in trends the two-time U.S. Open and three-time major champ is starting to figure it out at Augusta National. He missed last year’s festivities with his wrist deal and has had a slow start in 2019 due to his “fasting”. His T2 at Honda fell short of a playoff by a shot but his last three outings haven’t caused any reason for gamers to perk up. Closed 71-69 for T11 in 2017 on his last visit, his two best rounds from 12. Form is temporary, right?
10 Xander Schauffele (26)
Worst finish of the four majors last year came at AGNC as he was T6 at Shinnecock Hills, T2 at Carnoustie and T35 at Bellerive. Too many greens, birdies and all-around game to omit based on four rounds. His temperament seems to be perfect for the big occasion as well.
20 Louis Oosthuizen (24)
T2 at Valspar at a beaten Quarterfinalist at Match Play is the evidence that he’s primed and ready to go this week. He gave it a sniff losing to Watson in a playoff in 2012 and has rattled off five paydays in the last five years. Not many have won at both St. Andrews and AGNC but he could add his name to that list.
29 Adam Scott (37)
Checks off the box of superior ball-striker that has won here in spite of the putter. With 15 weekends from 17 tries there’s no questioning his ability to get it around here. Flashes of brilliance at Torrey Pines, Riviera and TPC Sawgrass balanced out by MC at Sony, Honda and T61 at Pebble. If you need a guy to make a cut, here’s your man and he’s played in the final group in half of his last four starts on TOUR.
13 Tommy Fleetwood (10)
Wonderfully consistent with just three rounds of 24 in stroke play above 72. A disappointing final round and final group at THE PLAYERS with Jon Rahm gave him another sniff at his first win on TOUR. He’s in the top 10 in scoring average and fifth in Strokes-Gained: Total.
33 Ian Poulter (18)
He’s MC once in 13 tries reinforcing his ability to grind it out. He’s never been accused of being long off the tee or accurate but, like Kuchar, gets the ball in the hole. Perfect support staff.
19 Marc Leishman (12)
Fits the first-time major winner profile here and his value rises if the weather doesn’t cooperate. With four top-four finishes this season including a win, he makes an very interesting “next tier” guy. The only Aussie to win the Masters is Adam Scott.
28 Cameron Smith (46)
It’s amazing what one low round here can do. It’s even more amazing when it comes on Sunday as Smith found out last year. His 66 moved him to T5 and his best finish in two tries. He was on a tear until he ran into Bermuda during the Florida Swing. He won’t have to worry about that this week! With his short game, bump him up.
Functioning Form/Long Shots
21 Patrick Cantlay (13)
He hasn’t figured it out in his first two trips although the first was as an amateur. This will be a big decision for the metric folks this week as he checks plenty of boxes. Taking it to the big stage at a major is the next step in his development. One top-25 finish in five starts in majors (T12, Carnoustie).
24 Kevin Kisner (42)
Enjoyed a week off after winning the Match Play on his preferred surface of Bermuda. This week is rye and bent and just miles from his native Aiken, S.C., so there is another added annual distraction. He’s rattled off 10 made cuts on TOUR and I’d expect another this week.
39 Henrik Stenson (40)
It took 13 attempts but the Swede FINALLY hit the top 10 last year as he shared fifth with Cam Smith. Not only was it his first top 10 but it was just his second top 15.
45 J.B. Holmes (107)
Power can go a long way here as he demonstrated at Riviera. Chilly form since that win pushes him down here.
50 Brandt Snedeker (43)
In Todd Anderson you trust? He’s gone close here twice before with disappointing results but has 12 wins to his name. Cashed in eight of 10 here as well.
102 Jimmy Walker (82)
He’s never missed in five tries and four have gone for T29 or better. Perfect fit for a deep roster.
46 Charles Howell, III (19)
The Augusta native hasn’t MC in 2019 and returns for the first time since 2012. Of his nine starts five have cashed in the top 15.
88 Charley Hoffman (115)
Almost stole it at Valero last week, a place where he annually romps. He’s been in the mix after big Round 1 performances over the last few years.
59 Keith Mitchell (87)
He’ll use his prodigious length to attack the Par-5 holes and perhaps make a bit of noise. There’s always one first-timer that is noisier than the others and last year it was Finau, a similar bomber.
34 Keegan Bradley (28)
Just one MC since his win at the BMW last September.
58 Si Woo Kim (75)
He’s going to be the death of me. If he can keep it on the planet and let his short game flow, he’ll surprise again this week.
36 Matt Wallace (61)
I’m stretching here but he’s been steady on his first run on TOUR. He’ll be an afterthought for most in his first event but I’m looking.
6 Bryson DeChambeau (7)
Chilly late winter and early spring after winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in late January. Augusta National’s cheat code won’t be found in yardage books or on cartographer’s rendition of the greens. Might be too many computes banging into one another under that Tam-o-shanter! I feel that Augusta favors the feel player. You feel me?
18 Patrick Reed (22)
It’s impossible to focus on golf while defending here plus I’ll let David Ledbetter settle in. His Valspar performance didn’t help anything.
15 Tony Finau (8)
No top 10 in 2019 and a putter that can struggle is a bad combo in my eyes.
30 Alex Noren (79)
The Sagarin number is telling.
25 Webb Simpson (16)
Never cracked the top 20 here in seven previous trips.
23 Gary Woodland (17)
Too many pesky putts to hole here.
Past Champions – Outside OWGR Top 100
102 Charl Schwartzel
456 Trevor Immelman
478 Vijay Singh
832 Bernhard Langer
1294 Fred Couples
1551 Angel Cabrera
1748 Mike Weir
2002 Jose Maria Olazabal
2002 Ian Woosnam
2002 Sandy Lyle
2021 Larry Mize
910 Viktor Hovland (No. 1 amateur Golfweek rankings): U.S. Amateur champ from OK State; MC Mayakoba; 13th 2018 Aussie Open; 2019 API 40th; MC FIO. Runner-Up European Championship.
Devon Bling (No. 45): U.S. Amateur runner-up from UCLA (sophomore); will also play Pebble Beach for U.S. Open; lost to Hovland 6 & 5; hits it a mile, good iron player.
564 Takumi Kanaya (No. 41): Asian-Pacific Amateur Champion; only other ASPAC Japanese champion is Matsuyama; 20 years old.
Kevin O’Connell (No. 66): Mid-Amateur Champion; 30 years old; accuracy is his calling card.
2022 Alvaro Ortiz: Played at Arkansas; brother Carlos is on TOUR; came close to winning in two of the last three years before winning LAAC this year. First Mexican to compete at the Masters since Victor Regalado in 1979.
1421 Jovan Rebula (254): Ernie Els’ nephew plays at Auburn; British Amateur champion, first Saffer since 1966; won at Royal Aberdeen; on the Auburn athletics website he lists his favorite golfer as Henrik Stenson. Oh.