There are 97 players in the field at Augusta, but how many of those players can actually win this year’s green jacket?
Everyone and their neighbour has a tip of who they think will win the Masters, but if you take a look at the numbers, there is a rough correlation of what it takes to win the green jacket. After all, it is the only Major that takes place on the same course, therefore it should provide some trends.
I crunched the numbers and here’s my logic.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the 97 players that will tee it up on Thursday:
Potential Winners: 97
Obviously one big name is missing, but nonetheless the field is full of the game’s top players and hottest names. However, to start the cull, let’s eliminate those players that don’t get paid. It’s great that Augusta invites amateurs to play, but they are not going to win. Enjoy the Crow’s Nest guys, but goodbye for now.
Potential Winners = 91
Now we have a professional group of athletes, but it still seems too big. Another courtesy Augusta extends is inviting back past champions. So along with those names, let’s bid farewell to anyone aged over 50. After all, Jack was the oldest Masters champion winning the ’86 green jacket, aged 46.
Potential Winners = 80
Sad to lose the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Fred Couples, but this is about winning a Major on a long (possibly wet) Augusta layout. So 80 players, that still seems like a lot.
This year’s event sees the most number of first-timers (24) since the second edition of the Masters in 1935. Whilst that group, with the likes of Spieth, Reed, English, DeLaet, Dubuisson etc, has some a strong pedigree, Augusta doesn’t favour rookies. Only Fuzzy Zoeller has won in his visit to Augusta since the first two winners of the Masters. Therefore first-timers, be sure to pick up some memorabilia, try a Pimento Cheese sandwich and soak up the atmosphere, this will not be your year.
Potential Winners = 62
I myself may have a wager on a certain rookie (cough…Harris English!), but history is hard to deny. Course knowledge and being familiar with the fast, undulating greens cannot be underrated. So we have 62 potential winners.
In the same way first-timers tend not to do well, those who’ve done well here before tend to do well again. Thus, the only Masters Champion that did not make the cut the year before winning was a certain, 20-year old amateur named Eldrick Woods in 1996. Therefore, let’s scrub anyone that didn’t make the cut last year.
Potential Winners = 42
Less than half the field remains, and many of the top names have survived. So let’s dive even deeper.
A closer look at a Masters Champion résumé highlights the fact that 20 of the last 24 champions had a top-5 finish, within the season, prior to arriving at Augusta. Obviously some degree of form is important, so let’s cut those who haven’t cashed in a top-5 check this season.
Potential Winners = 22
Now we’re getting somewhere. Just 22 players remain, all with serious Masters potential. However, we can cut it further.
An even deeper look into recent form suggests that winning prior to the Masters is key. 21 of the last 25 Masters Champions had won an event within 30 events of playing the Masters. So, no recent silverware? No love here, let’s cut the bridesmaids.
Potential Winners: 15
Couple of big names stumbled there, but most of the biggest names remain, so let’s keep digging. Rather than recent form, how about recent Masters form? 21 of the last 25 champions had, at some point in their career, registered a top-20 finish at Augusta prior to winning. Sorry John Senden, but your time is up.
Potential Winners: 14
Our John Senden-less group is still pretty strong and large. How can we cut it down further? Looking at the weather in Augusta, it appears conditions will be wet and cooler than normal. For that reason distance will be crucial. A look at recent green jacket winners shows that 13 of the last 14 winners (excuse Zach Johnson) ranked inside the top-70 in driving distance in the year they won The Masters. Therefore, for our final cut, let’s lose the short hitters, ranked lower than 70th in driving distance.
Potential Winners: 8
So we have it, our elite eight. Unsurprisingly the two co-favourites, McIlroy and Scott, made the cut. However, not many would have guessed that 44-year old Ernie Els would be in with a chance this week.
For those interested in backing this group, here’s how their current odds look:
At this stage, I’d like to clarify that I expect 20% of any future winnings of bets placed based on the information contained within this blog. Be sure to tweet me Sunday night to thank me for my research!