It’s April and that can mean only one thing… spring has sprung and so too has the The Masters tournament.
After two COVID-hindered tournaments – with 2020’s edition delayed until November and last year’s event featuring a smaller number of patrons – the August National Golf Club is back to its normal ways for 2022.
So, what can we come to expect from this weekend? Our resident golfing-guru and previewing-mainstay David Kristiansen has you covered…
Course: Augusta National
Length: 7.435 yards (Par 72)
Greens: Bent grass
Architects: Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie
DK: The majors are back baby! After we got spoiled with no more than a couple of months between majors over the last couple of years, we have now had the regular gruelling 9 month wait for the images of Magnolia Lane.
With Tiger on site, all eyes are (rightfully) on him and what that will do to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who have been used to having the pressure put on them in Woods’ absence, is an interesting question.
Add to that an out-of-form Jon Rahm – with the putter at least – and the two most in-form players Cameron Smith and Scottie Scheffler being new to the pressure of being one of the favourites at a major, and you have one of the most wide open Masters in some time.
Everyone has watched Augusta countless times on TV, but exactly what skills are required to be able to put on the green jacket come Sunday night?
Generally, I do not put too much weight in course history at regular tour stops, but it can’t be overlooked that since 1937 a rookie has won just once and that the same guys can be seen high on the leaderboard year after year.
Augusta is known for huge elevation changes and uneven lies, so we are looking for a top iron player that can play all the shots and especially control his distances in the swirling winds that the course is known for.
It does not hurt to be able to flight it high and land it softly on these treacherous greens ether.
The only 4 holes that averages under par are the four par 5s. So, the guys that rank high in par 5 scoring will have my eye.
The rough will be down this year as well. A tournament that a now defamed and not competing Phil Mickelson has won 3 times and Spieth contends every year is not a tournament where you need to be straight of the tee.
This year will see some changes to the course with added distance and even more short grass at a few of the holes, just adding to the narrative that approach far outweighs being straight off the tee.
Lastly, the greens are large, lighting fast and heavily contoured, so being a good putter in general and in particular a good lag putter is a plus at the first major of the year.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
Strokes gained approach
Strokes gained off the tee
Strokes gained around the green
Par 5 scoring
Proximity 125-175 yards
2019-20 season: +35.61 units , ROI: 121%
2020-21 season: +170,92 units, ROI: 148%
Wagered: 95 units
Won: 49.58 units
Result: -45.42 units
Brooks Koepka 21,00 6 pts to WIN
It’s a well known saying in golf circles that Brooks always shows up in majors, but I think if anything, that is a little undervalued now.
If we disregard the Masters last year, when he couldn’t bend down to read his putts, he has this string of results in the big ones leading back to his US Open win in 2018: T6-T4-T2-T29-T7-T4-2nd -Win-T2-Win-T39-Win.
He has two straight top seven finishes here when being healthy and, looking at his lead-in form, it’s clear that the four-time major champion is in a good spot.
After being on the wrong side of the brutal weather draw at the Players, he had a respectable T12 at Valspar before losing narrowly to Dustin in the quarter finals of the Match Play, which I think was a good thing as he would have had to play 36 holes the next day.
Si Woo Kim 91,00 1 pt EW (1/4 the odds 5 places)
For a guy that used to be known for being very hit or miss, the former Players champion has been surprisingly steady as of late.
Baring his withdraw at the Players, he is trending with T26-T18-T13 in his last three starts and gaining off the tee and on approach in all three.
We know he is a world class around-the-green player, so if the putter is co-operating, he should continue his improvements around Augusta.
After missing the cut in his Masters debut in 2017, his course history reads: T24-T21-T34-T12, and the T12 could have been even better had he not broken his putter while being Top 5 here last year.
Si Woo Kim's 15th hole:
-Snapped his putter
-Putted with his 3 wood
-Threw his ball in the water
-Tied for 5th in the biggest golf tournament in the world pic.twitter.com/HKnVte37vW
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) April 9, 2021
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