Preview: 84th Masters Tournament

Tiger Woods defends his title and 91 others are in hot pursuit.

About a dozen guys, for my money, can win in one of the deepest fields I can remember.

84th Masters Tournament

Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta, Georgia

Yards (per official scorecard):7,475
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:A-1 Penn Bentgrass, 6,486 square feet.
Stimpmeter:Tournament speed.
Rough:  Second Cut:Ryegrass, 1.375 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards44/6 (in play on Nos. 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16).
Architects:Dr. Alister MacKenzie and Robert Tyre Jones (1933).
Purse:$11.5 million; $2.07 million, plus 600 FedExCup points to the winner (2019).
Defending Champion:Tiger Woods (-13).
Fact of the Week:First time to be played in November.
Fact of the Week II:Par-3 Contest is cancelled. The Par-3 winner had gone on to win the Tournament.

Notes:

  • Field of 92 players.
  • 43 of the top 50 OWGR.
  • 26 making debut.
  • 16 past champions.
  • Split tees due to lack of daylight.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Top 50 and ties make the cut. The 10-shot rule has been retired.

2020-2021  Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak*
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners:

YearWinner ScoreComment
2019Tiger Woods-13Held off a handful down the stretch for green jacket No. 5.
2018Patrick Reed-15Fourth consecutive first-time major champion at Augusta.
2017Sergio Garcia-974th major was the sweetest as it was his first win. WD this week (COVID-19).
2016Danny Willett-5Joined Nick Faldo as the only other Englishman to don the green jacket.
2015Jordan Spieth-18Tied the tournament record going wire-to-wire.
2014Bubba Watson-8Cruised to a three-shot win for his second win in three years.
2013Adam Scott-9Come on Aussie! Defeated Angel Cabrera in a playoff for first major win.
2012Bubba Watson-10Claimed his first major championship by defeating Louis Oosthuizen in playoff.
2011Charl Schwartzel-14Birdied the final four holes to win by two over Scott and Jason Day.
2010Phil Mickelson-16Three shot win = third green jacket.

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record:270 (-18); Jordan Spieth, 2015; Tiger Woods, 1997.
Course Record:63; Greg Norman, 1996; Nick Price, 1986.
Lowest Rounds – Last Year64; Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson all in Round 3.
Defending Champion(s) Event:Tiger Woods, 2001-2002; Nick Faldo 1990-91 and Jack Nicklaus 1965-66.
Multiple Winners (entered):Tiger Woods, 5; Phil Mickelson 3; Bubba Watson, Bernhard Langer and Jose-Maria Olazabal, 2.  
Oldest  Winner:Jack Nicklaus, 46, 1986.
Youngest Winner:Tiger Woods, 21, 1997.
First Time – TOUR:Charl Schwartzel, 2011. Danny Willett, 2015.
First Time – EventFuzzy Zoeller, 1979.
Odd Fact:Hole No. 14 is the only one without a bunker.
Odd Fact II:Nobody has ever posted all four rounds in the 60s.
Odd Fact III:Of the 10 winners in the previous decade, seven were first-time major champions.

Quick Thoughts

The second major of the calendar year is the second of six of the PGATOUR season.

Experience is a big-time factor. It’s just as important to miss properly than execute proper shots. Also, patience and composure is a huge factor, especially on the weekend.

No patrons on the ground should help those trying to kick in the door for the first time. It won’t hurt those folks either if Woods is lurking.

The playing conditions and course set up won’t be a question unless Mother Nature intervenes. Plenty of pine trees on the ground will give it the green “look” of spring but the flora and fauna will be a bit different.

Ball-strikers relish the chance to separate themselves. Side-hill and downhill lies are the norm and working the golf ball both ways is required.

Scoring on the Par-5 holes is a requirement as none of them measure over 575 yards and two measure less than 540 yards.

Knowing where to miss is just as important as executing the shot at hand. #Experience.

Knowing when to take your medicine as opposed to forcing the issue. #Experience.

Keep the ball below the hole, when possible, and those uncomfortable around the greens need not apply.

The world’s No. 1 player has won this tournament exactly one time since the advent of the OWGR. You get one guess!

Chalk – Betting Favorites (Bet365.com) under 30-1

Bryson DeChambeau (+750): No 48-inch driver this week but we saw the goods at Winged Foot. Different animal this week but don’t forget he’s a top-10 putter. Oh, and there was no water on the back nine (or any nine) at Winged Foot so there’s that.

Dustin Johnson (+850): Blistering finish last week should eliminate any questions of rust as he closed 66-66-65 for T2. Last four rounds here were his best aggregate but No. 1 in the world doesn’t fare well here. Hell, it’s 2020 so I’m tossing that out. Sign me up.

Jon Rahm (+1000): Birthday boy is 24-under in his last seven rounds here so I’d say he’s figured it out. With wins at Memorial and Olympia Fields I’m not sure how to count him out. Only thing we haven’t seen from him is leading one of these late in the round on Sunday.

Justin Thomas (+1100): Warmed up 22-under, similarly to Rahm, T2 at Sherwood and won in Memphis so yeah. With a major trophy already on his mantle, he doesn’t have THAT THOUGHT running around in his brain. He’s buddies with Spieth so that’s gotta be good for a shot a round! His last three have been better than his debut so he’s figuring it out.

Rory McIlroy (+1200): I see what you see with his iron play. Toss in the ol’ Career Grand Slam pressure for the fifth year running and I’m not buying. Not at this level. Can he win? Absolutely. Figuring it out in the rain at a major gives me pause.

Xander Schauffele (+1400): His record is major events and majors is outstanding and I don’t see why it doesn’t continue. Like a couple on this list he’s still looking to bed his first major but nothing bothers him it seems. He’s played 13 majors and has seven top 10 finishes including T2 here last year.

Brooks Koepka (+1600): Good news/Bad news last week in Houston. He closed 65-65 to suck all the value out of his balloon so I hope most of you took futures action on him. Up and down the hills of Augusta will test the stamina. So will the top-heavy field.

Select Next Tier (25-1 and up)

Hideki Matsuyama (+2500): The jump from +1600 to +2500 show the gap to the next level. Gave it a sniff at a “new track” Olympia Fields (T3) and T2 at “new track” Memorial Park last week. I don’t trust his putter here.

Patrick Cantlay (+2500): Had the lead on Sunday last year so he knows. Won his last time out at Sherwood so he’s warmed up. Closed 64-68 last year for T9. Yes, please

Tyrrell Hatton (+2800): I can’t get this out of my head for some reason. I know, I know, he’s been EXCELLENT since API. Can you name his two worst finishes since the restart? PGA Championship (MC) and US Open (MC). I’m splitting hairs with a field like this.

Patrick Reed (+2800): The “chicken wing” from 2018 still stands out in my head as he used everything he could to get it around that week. For those of you who don’t remember,  he’s not a huge fan of hitting a cut so his dramatic follow thru helped him keep it on the planet. I’ll remind you his best finish otherwise is T22.

Tony Finau (+2800): I also remember Finau dislocating his ankle in the Par-3 contest in his maiden voyage and going on to claim T10. He was in the final group last year in his second edition. The best part is he’s not putting or playing Bermuda this week! In his last 10 majors he’s hit the top 10 including the last three.

Bubba Watson (+3000): Form is of no concern as he rolls in on consecutive top 10s. The two-time winner was quiet before and after his two wins until T5 in 2018 and T12 last year. I’m not CRAZY about Watson in the elements (Google: Mud Ball) but his lifetime contract with Ping he signed this week might mellow him out.

Collin Morikawa (+3300): Says all the right things, won his first major, etc. Stripes it as well but there’s more nuance to Augusta than just striping it. Check who HASN’T won a green jacket here for that argument.

Webb Simpson (+3300): Winning the first one is always the toughest. His T8 at Winged Foot was just his fourth top 10 in 36 starts in majors and he’s a US Open champion. I’ll stick him in for a top 20 and hopefully not sweat.

Jason Day (+4000): He made me eat it last week but stumbled in the final group for T7. Big greens in Houston helped as he was T5 but was only 28th SG: Putting. His short game and bomb-and-gouge is always interesting around here. My Aussie mate Ben Everill loves him this week and not many know him better.

Matthew Wolff (+4000): Kids these days, eh? Two majors, two top fours. Should have won in the Vegas playoff. His length won’t care how wet it is! I’ll let him prove it ONCE before I’m on him for eternity.

Tiger Woods (+4500): It won’t be cold, so that’s a plus. But if the thunderstorms bring stop-start-stop start it won’t favor him. I haven’t seen any clues since the restart that his game is ready to take off. Nobody knows how to play this place better though. Hard to separate the heart and wallet especially at these numbers.

Adam Scott (+4500): Missed Sherwood with COVID and has been slow to get it up to speed.

Longer Shots – Top 20 or Each Way Tickets

Jordan Spieth (+6600): We’ll see if it’s really Horses of Courses. If not here, when?

Rickie Fowler (+7000): His last top 10 was in February but his past history here needs inspection, especially the last two years.

 Cameron Smith (+7000): Trending in the perfect direction and has a prior top 5 here. No MC in three visits but the wet track, if that’s the case, won’t help. Superior short game.

Jason Kokrak (+7500): If he hits it like he did at Winged Foot and Shadow Creek, he’ll be in with a shout. T17 or better in six of his last seven includes that first victory.

Francesco Molinari (+10000): Missing the cut in Vegas on 5-under and T15 in Houston after closing with 66 shows he’s not completely rusty after seven months off. The scar tissue of arriving on the grounds will be something but the chance to make it right should win that battle. Toss in zero expectations from anywhere and he’s free.

Corey Conners (+15000): Rolls in on four straight and three top 25s. No problem getting it tee-to-green in any conditions and this is visit No. 3 so the game plan should be developing.

I’ll have others at Covers.com

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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