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Sunday, April 9, 2017

So Who's the Favorite?

After listening to the Golf Central crew Saturday night, I thought I'd see who Masters history says is most likely to win today.

Justin Rose and caddie

GC provided several stats, most of which I can't remember exactly! But as I recall, one of those stats says the winner comes from the last group about 72% of the time. Clearly, that would be either Justin Rose or Sergio Garcia.

At some point in the past -- I can't remember when or where -- I heard that the winner almost always comes from one of the two final groups. In that case, we can add Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to the list.

Some commentators say it's the Top5. That would add Ryan Moore and Charley Hoffman to the list. And I can see that, as Moore and Hoffman are tied with Spieth. If Spieth has a chance, so should the other two.

But how far back is too far? The three players in fourth place are at -4, only two shots off the lead. Is three shots too far back? Four? Five? There are only ten players under par, so let's add:
  • Adam Scott three back at -3
  • Charl Schwartzel four back at -2
  • Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters five back at -1
I don't see how it could go much farther back UNLESS the lead group -- perhaps the three lead groups -- fall back. Not very likely, in my opinion.

So where do we draw the line?

An interesting article at might help. Called Masters 2017: Is 'Moving Day' at Augusta a myth or a reality?, it has a couple of interesting facts about how eventual winners perform in the THIRD round. It says:
The average position of eventual champions after 36 holes is 3.95, with it improving to 2.28 after 54 holes. The average third-round score of eventual winners is 70.19, and the average number of strokes picked up on the lead (or having the lead increase) is 1.16 strokes.
According to this stat, the eventual winner starts the third round around FOURTH place, and enters the final round around SECOND... and to make that move, they shoot around 70 and gain one stroke relative to the lead.

Of course, stats are nothing but numbers, and while it may be true that "numbers never lie," it's also true that numbers mean nothing until they are interpreted... and interpretations lie all the time!

And none of these numbers match what has happened this week. (Okay, Sergio shot 70 in the third round, but that's as far as it goes.) So I've decided to chuck the historical stats. Instead, here's my take on how this plays out.

I don't see all of the leaders struggling today, so it's probably a stretch for anybody more than three strokes back to win. That gives us SEVEN potential winners, with Adam Scott (-3) being the long shot. Of those seven players, ONLY ONE PLAYER HAS BEEN UNDER PAR EACH ROUND.
  • In addition, that player has more pars and fewer bogeys (or worse) than his closest competition.
  • And despite these numbers -- which indicate playing safe -- he's still made enough birdies to compete.
Believe it or not, that player is Sergio Garcia.

Folks, we just might see history made today. That's all I'm saying.



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  5. Fittingly, an image of 13 behind him at press conference; Last Masters champ to overcome penalty stroke was Tiger in '05 at 13 (his 4th hole of tourney)



  8. Sergio is 1st Brit or US Am champ since Tiger to follow w/ major