AUGUSTA, Ga. — Here are the skills a golfer must possess to win the Masters Tournament: poise and patience, power and precision, toughness and touch.
Each spring, Augusta National Golf Club measures, examines and challenges a golfer from head-to-foot, driver-to-putter, consistently ranking as the most difficult test in professional golf. Winning the green jacket requires endurance and excellence.
A good break or two is also helpful.
What can we learn from the form and performance of recent Masters champions to help project this year’s winner?
History tells us the champion will have an elite week on approach shots and around the greens. He’ll do most of his scoring on the par 5s. There will be past major success on the resume and his previous Masters experience likely includes promising finishes.
Masters 2023 leaderboard: Get the latest news from Augusta
The golfer’s recent tournament play has been solid if not spectacular, featuring consistent ballstriking. It’s been said many ways, but a golfer who is searching for his game when he drives down Magnolia Lane can’t expect to discover the secret on these grounds.
There are other factors on a course known for exposing weaknesses in a swing or soul.
Above average driving distance is necessary on a course measuring more than 7,500 yards and certain to play even longer this week based on the weather forecast – rain, stiff wind, and temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 80s. Golf’s inherent variable on steroids for the first major championship of the year.
So, with a hat tip for research provided by golf data experts and handicappers Ron Klos of Betsperts Golf, Dave Tindall of Betfair Golf and Justin Ray of Twenty First Group, plus our own digging, here’s the info required to win an office pool or fantasy group, maybe a wager or two.
Trends and course history are more important at Augusta National than most places. For myriad reasons. Most important, it’s the only major championship played at the same course from year to year. Players play the tournament in different conditions. They’re constantly learning and taking notes. Once they become comfortable, confidence grows. Some figure it out faster than others. Others never do.
Cam Smith has. He leads the Masters field over the last three years in Strokes Gained: Approach, cumulative scoring and rounds in the 60s.
Rory McIlroy has too. He’s third in Masters scoring over the last 10 years and has 17 top-10s in major championships since his last win in 2015.
But neither is invited to the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night. Neither are past contestants like Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Greg Norman and David Duval, who all seemed certain to earn a green jacket.
OK, onward to the metrics. The LIV Golfers won’t be well represented here. We’re not picking on them. The stats just aren’t available.