First Look: The Masters

THE TOURNAMENT

We’ve made it… it’s time for the Masters. Many fans agree, this is the best week of the entire season. In this year’s edition we’ll see if Spieth can conquer his 12th hole demons, or if Rory can complete the career Grand Slam, or perhaps we’ll see someone else put on the green jacket for the first time. There are tons of great story lines to follow this week and it all comes on the biggest stage of the season.

This year’s field of 94 golfers is made up of the world’s best, past champions, and a few amateurs. Keep in mind the cut rule is unique at the Masters; either the top 50 and ties will play the weekend, or anyone within 10 strokes of the leader. We know the tournament, now let’s look at what is going to win us the money!

 

THE COURSE

It’s not as if Augusta National needs much of an introduction as it has firmly staked its claim as the most storied course in the United States, if not the world. The 7,435 yard layout ranks as the 10th longest on Tour, 6th among the par-72s. The superintendent and grounds crew of Augusta National do everything they can to make sure the course plays every bit of that 7,400 yards, starting with mowing the fairways towards the tee box, causing less roll off the tee.

The lack of distance from the box causes lengthy approach shots into some of the hardest to hit greens of the entire season; 61% on average. Much of the trouble to be found around Augusta National comes from simply missing the green. Although there aren’t copious amounts of bunkers, they are strategically placed, many of them greenside. Hitting the green isn’t the end of the adventure for approach shots, as large undulations come into play, forcing the ball into neighboring collection areas. Landing the ball with precision on the correct tier of the green is what separates the contenders from the pretenders at Augusta.

Once golfers are lucky enough to find themselves on the green, they will then be faced with perhaps the most demanding task for competing around Augusta National — putting. Difficult enough due to the large undulations, the fact that these greens run at over 13.5 on the stimpmeter makes putting downright hard.

This is all what makes Augusta, Augusta; the course is designed for drama. Whether it be Phil Mickelson making birdie on five of the last seven holes for his first career major, or Tiger’s incredible chip in on 16 in 2005, Augusta has provided the stage.

THE STATS

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Good Drive %
  • Greens In Regulation

Strokes Gained: Tee to Green

SG:T2G measures how well a player has performed in a tournament, minus their putting performance. Although putting will be extremely important for success in this tournament, targeting golfers who put themselves in good position off the tee and on their approach shots will prove to be vital.

Bogey Avoidance

While the winning score typically approaches double digits, much of the strokes gained come on the par-5s; the only four holes on the course with a scoring average under par are the par-5s. Three holes at Augusta National finished inside the 50 most difficult that the Tour faced all of last season; finding a way to simply make par and avoid big numbers will put golfers a distinct advantage of the rest of the field. On his way to victory last year Danny Willett made only eight bogeys the entire week.

Good Drive %

Good drive percentage is the number of fairways hit, plus the number of greens or fringe hit in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway, divided by the number of holes played. Essentially what this means is the golfer could get the ball on the green, or relatively close whether the drive was in the fairway or not. Willett won the green jacket last year despite only finishing 26th in Driving Accuracy out of the 57 golfers who made the cut.

Greens In Regulation

All of the golfers who finished inside the top 10 in GIR here last year brought home a top 34 finish, six of which were in the top 10. While GIR translates to more scoring opportunities, it also decreases the likelihood of a bogey. Being able to simply two-putt and make par is far better than being forced to get up and down from one of these tricky greenside bunkers. Willett finished T6 in GIR last year.

Josh Burkett

Josh Burkett

Josh Burkett is the lead PGA Analyst at DFSDatalytics. Josh can be reached on twitter @GWBuffalo7.

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