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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Masters - Preview

With the Shell Houston Open in the books, it's time to get down to Masters business. If you're like me, you know the essentials by heart. Augusta National is a par 72, featuring the full lineup of par 3s and par 5s, and stretching out to 7,435 yards.

Here are the champs and bridesmaids since 2005:

  • 2005 - Tiger Woods (276) over Chris DiMarco (276 Playoff)
  • 2006 - Phil Mickelson (281) over Tim Clark (283)
  • 2007 - Zach Johnson (289) over Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods (291)
  • 2008 - Trevor Immelman (280) over Tiger Woods (283)
  • 2009 - Angel Cabrera (276) over Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry (276 Playoff)
  • 2010 - Phil Mickelson (272) over Lee Westwood (275)
  • 2011 - Charl Schwartzel (274) over Jason Day and Adam Scott (276)
  • 2012 - Bubba Watson (278) over Louis Oosthuizen (278 Playoff)
  • 2013 - Adam Scott (279) over Angel Cabrera (279 Playoff)
So what's important to know about Augusta National?
  • Length is important. Look at the winners (Woods, Cabrera, Mickelson, Schwartzel and Scott) on that list when the score dips below 280. They are all long and have the ability to dominate the par 5s. 
  • Putting is very important in terms of 3-putt avoidance, but the kings of SGP don't necessarily show up here. If you want to dive into putting stance, I might place the premium on 3-putt avoidance and putting average. 
  • Driving accuracy is somewhat important in that you don't want to be in the trees (unless your name is Bubba), but the rough isn't all that penal, so I wouldn't rely on that stat for much. Total driving with a tilt towards distance isn't a bad metric. 
  • Traditionally, performance at Doral at the WGC-Cadillac has been an incredibly good indicator of success at the Masters. That could be up for debate this year after the redesign at Doral, but it's worth a peek. 
  • Three of the four par 3s will be played with a shorter iron, but the par-3 fourth is an absolute beast. at 240 yards. 
  • Several of the par 4s are really long and very difficult. The par-4 first is a slap in the face to wake you up, and will rival the par-4 11th (the start of Amen Corner) as the toughest on the course. The par-4 seventh is deceptively tight and the par-4 ninth and 10th holes are no picnic. The third and 14th holes offer birdie opportunities should a short iron find the right part of the green. 
  • Speaking of greens, they are technically relatively large in size, but in reality most of the greens are like two or three different greens in one. Solid irons will help with 3-putt avoidance because there are certainly parts of many greens where a two putt will be nearly impossible from the wrong level. 
  • The par 5s are mostly reachable by the entire field with a good drive, with the uphill eighth being the possible exception. Scoring on the par 5s is essential. 
While course history is normally "part" of the equation, this week it takes on added value. To be sure, form and history trump any stat. 

We will return tomorrow with our normal power ranking. Until then, happy research!

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