Horses for Courses: 84th Masters Tournament

Tiger Woods has five green jackets and will be looking for No. 6 as he defends this week at Augusta National Golf Club.

In November. But first, let’s eat!

The second major of the calendar year will be played this week, in November, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The Masters hasn’t been cancelled since the days of World War II and the 2020 edition wasn’t going to be added to the list. The tournament committee decided during the early days of the pandemic that the Masters would be rescheduled to the fall

As November arrives, this will be a different Masters. Patrons will not walk the fairways or fill the grandstands built around the greens and tee boxes. Roars won’t be heard on the back nine on Sunday. But, a champion will still be crowned and a Green Jacket will still be awarded and semblance of normalcy will return to golf, at least for a week, this week, in November!

Dr. Mackenzie’s par 72 (7,475 yards) track laid over the grounds of the Fruitland Nursery usually produces a winner with five-plus appearances on the resume before slipping on the Green Jacket. Of course there are exceptions to that “rule” but after 83 tournaments, that’s a solid number. Augusta National is filled with decisions to be made and is not a “see it, hit it” golf course. Uneven lies are the trademark in the fairways. Undulation on the steep, sloping A-1 Penn Bentgrass greens mandates the ball to below the hole. Five water hazards will shape the leader board on the back nine.

Experience will take on many shapes this week. Where to leave the ball when the lie is not perfect. Trusting the putt will break to Raes Creek. When to attack with opportunity presents itself. When to accept par and move on because the wind is swirling. How to handle the pressure of holding off the best players in the world as they clutter the first page of the leaderboard Sunday.

And it sounds like Mother Nature will have her say as well as rain is in the forecast starting Tuesday night and continuing throughout the day on Thursday. The weekend is a 50-50 proposition as of this writing. Drainage conditions are “good”, but that will depend on how much rain arrives. Near record temperatures, in the good direction, should allow hands to stay warm and backs and muscles to remain loosened up.

Tiger Woods has been the guest of honor in Butler Cabin five previous times, one behind all-time leader Jack Nicklaus, and will lead the field of 92 after his victory in April of 2019. The purse last year was $11.5 million with Woods taking home $2.07 million plus 600 FedExCup points. Sergio Garcia and Joaquin Niemann have both WD due to COVID-19.

Recent Event Winners Stats
PlayerTiger WoodsPatrick ReedSergio Garcia
Score275 (-13)273 (-15)279 (-9)
Runner-upDustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka & Xander SchauffeleRickie FowlerJustin Rose
Driving Distance4466
Driving AccuracyT47T132
Greens in Regulation1T21T2
Putts per GIR14112
Putting: Birdie/Better %10130
Bogey AvoidanceT10T141
Par-3 Scoring T2T43T12
Par-4 ScoringT711
Par-5 ScoringT27117

Recent Winners and Notables

2019: Tiger Woods (-13, 275)

First winner in 14 events not to reside in the top 10 after Round 1 as he was T11. … Played from the final group on Sunday. … He was the only past champion in the final four groups. … Hit 80% GIR for the week.

Notables: Dustin Johnson (T2) posted 12-under, his best four round tournament total and his fourth consecutive top 10. … Brooks Koepka (T2) picked up his first top 10 in four starts and has played his last six rounds in 16-under. … Xander Schauffele (T2), led the field with 25 birdies, opened with 73 but played the final 54 holes 13-under in just his second tournament appearance. … Jason Day (T5) claimed top 10 finish No. 4 after tying the low round on Sunday with 67. … Tony Finau (T5) played in the final group with Woods and Francesco Molinari after his 64 on Saturday, T-Low Round of the week. … Francesco Molinari (T5) led by two with seven holes to play yet also led the field in putting and scrambling. … Webb Simpson (T5) first top 10 included 64 on Saturday. … Patrick Cantlay (T9) closed the weekend 64-68 for his best finish in three trips. … Rickie Fowler (T9) is now 24-under the last two years, better write that down. … Jon Rahm (T9) is now 24-under in his last seven rounds here. … Only seven, bogey-free rounds. … Sunday tee times moved into the morning hours Sunday to avoid afternoon weather. … Bryson DeChambeau (T29) circled nine birdies to open with 66 to share the first round lead with Koepka.

2018: Patrick Reed (-15, 273)

Seventh and final first-time major champion of the decade. … Was looking to become the first player ever to post all four rounds in the 60s but closed with 71. … Led by three after 54 holes over Rory McIlroy. … Played the Par-5 holes in 13-under (record is 15-under). … Only one top 10 in majors prior. … Entered the week on the back of three straight top 10 finishes.

NotablesRickie Fowler (2nd) closed 65-67 to miss a playoff by a shot. … Jordan Spieth (3rd) opened with 66 to lead by two and closed with 64 to post the low round of the week. … Jon Rahm (4th) opened with 75 and played the final 54 holes 14-under, including a 65, for his first top 10. … McIlroy (T5) fired 65 to get into the final group then posted 74 to only beat four players on Sunday. … Cameron Smith (T5) closed with 66 for his first top 10. … Henrik Stenson (T5) first top 10 in 14 starts. … Bubba Watson (T5) first top 10 since his two wins. … Marc Leishman (9th) picked up his second top 10 in seven starts. … Tony Finau (T10) closed with 66 in his first appearance. … Dustin Johnson (T10) picked up his worst finish in three years. …  Four players double digits under-par.

2017: Sergio Garcia (-9, 279) – Not Entered (COVID-19)

74th major championship and 19th Masters for his first major championship. … Won the first playoff hole.

Notables: Justin Rose (P2) led the field with 22 birdies, played in the final group and picked up his third consecutive top 10 (T10, T2). Led by one with two holes to play. … 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel (3rd) led the field in Par-5 scoring (12-under). … Matt Kuchar (T4) picks up his fourth top 10 in six years. … Paul Casey (6th) cashed in the top six for the third consecutive year. … Rory McIlroy (T7) and Adam Scott (T9) rounded out the top 10 of those entered this season. … Par-3 Contest was rained out. … Only 15 players under par. … Only two rounds in the 60s Round 1.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes Gained: Approach the Green

 1  Justin Thomas

 2  Collin Morikawa

 4  Tyrrell Hatton

 5  Hideki Matsuyama

 6  Webb Simpson

 7  Viktor Hovland

 9  Paul Casey

10 Gary Woodland

12 Corey Conners

17 Dustin Johnson

18 Patrick Cantlay

19 Rory McIlroy

21 Tony Finau

27 Jimmy Walker

Par-5 Scoring

1  Sungjae Im

 2  Lanto Griffin

 3  Collin Morikawa

 4  Xander Schauffele

 7  Scottie Scheffler

 8  Hideki Matsuyama

 9  Sebastian Munoz

12 Adam Long

12 Justin Thomas

15 Tony Finau

17 Dylan Frittelli

18 Corey Conners

18 Billy Horschel

20 Patrick Reed

Bogey Avoidance

1  Webb Simpson

 2  Jon Rahm

 4  Xander Schauffele

 7  Bryson DeChambeau

 8  Justin Thomas

12 Abraham Ancer

15 Zach Johnson

18 Paul Casey

19 Tyrrell Hatton

21 Hideki Matsuyama

23 Brendon Todd

24 Adam Scott

26 Brandt Snedeker

Horses for Courses
Top 5 All-Time Money Leaders  (Starts/Cuts Made) Top 10s Top 25sRecent Top FinishNotes
Tiger Woods (21/22)1418Win (2019)5 victories, first since 2005
Phil Mickelson (24/27)1519T2 (2015)3 victories (last 2010)
Jordan Spieth (6/6)463 (2018)T2 (debut) 2014, WIN 2015, T2 2016, 3rd 2018
Bubba Watson (10/11)35T5 (2018)2012, 2014 winner; T12, 2019
Adam Scott (16/18)510T9 (2017)2013 winner; top 25 last two years

Veteran Presence
Player (Starts/Cuts Made) Top 10s Top 25sRecent Top FinishNotes
Justin Rose (13/14)511P2 (2017)T2 2015; Most money without win
Rory McIlroy (10/11)59T5 (2018)Top 10 2014-2018; T21, 2019
Paul Casey (9/13)586 (2017)T6, 2016; T4, 2015
Matt Kuchar (12/13)48T4 (2017)10 for his last 10
Dustin Johnson (8/9)45T2 (2019)Last four all T10 or better
Jason Day (8/9)47T5 (2019)T2 debut 2011; 3rd, 2013
Ian Poulter (13/14)38T6 (2015)T12 last year
Rickie Fowler (8/9)35T9 (2019)2nd, 2018; T5, 2014

Figuring It Out
Player (Starts/Cuts Made) Top 10s Top 25sRecent Top FinishNotes
Patrick Reed (4/6)12Win (2018)T22 is next best
Jon Rahm (3/3)22T9 (2019)4th, 2018
Tony Finau (2/2)22T5 (2019)T10, 2018
Brooks Koepka (4/4)13T2 (2019)T2, T11, T21 and T33 trend
Xander Schauffele (2/2)11T2 (2019)T50 on debut 2018
Hideki Matsuyama (7/8)24T7 (2016)2015 solo fifth; T11, 2017
Webb Simpson (5/8)12T5 (2019)Best result last year included 64
Francesco Molinari (6/8)13T5 (2019)Led by 2 after 54 holes last year
Patrick Cantlay (2/3)11T9 (2019)Led on Sunday back nine last year
Justin Thomas (4/4)03T12 (2019)Trending; all better than 2016 debut
Bryson DeChambeau (3/3)01T21 (2016)Low Amateur 2016

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