When compiling a shortlist of players capable of winning, or placing (ie finishing inside the top five) at the Masters, there are some proven rules worth adhering to.
1 Avoid Augusta debutants
In the last 11 years only six players have managed to place on their debut, with none of these ending up as the winner. For me this year that means avoiding 40/1 Keegan Bradley & 50/1 Webb Simpson, both under-priced given this notable disadvantage.
2 Look for the blasters
Another rule is length from the tee, which is becoming more prevalent as the years go by and Augusta gets longer and longer. The last four winners here, and seven of the last eight, were all averaging around the 300-yard mark from the tee at the time of winning.
Reflecting on the Swingform rankings (see table below) that would give an edge to Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt and Bubba Watson, while reducing the chances of players like Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk.
3 Who does well on this type of course?
It’s always worthwhile reflecting on some recent results from venues that share one or more of Augusta’s more extreme attributes. Courses with severely undulating greens and/or those that require pin-point accuracy on approach usually expose players whose games are shaping up nicely for a serious bid at the Masters. Key courses with such attributes that have been used so far this year are Waialae, Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Innisbrook Resort.
Look at recent results from venues that share some of Augusta’s attributes
Swingform.com is a database and website that publishes handicaps for professional golfers on weekly basis; much in the same way amateurs have handicaps. The data has proved particularly useful among people who like to bet on golf as well as those who like to play fantasy golf.
To go along with a main handicap for each player, the data can also be manipulated to provide a host of other useful figures. A handicap based on a player’s last three or six starts is available, as is one from a particular venue, which is really helpful for such as Augusta where course experience is key.
Current Swingform top handicaps
- McIlroy -8.7
- Woods -8.1
- Rose -8.0
- Bradley -8.0
- Van Pelt -8.0
- Schwartzel -8.0
- Kuchar -7.9
- B Watson -7.9
- Westwood -7.8
- Donald -7.7
- Simpson -7.7
- Baddeley -7.6
- Mahan -7.6
- Garcia -7.6
- Dufner -7.6
- McDowell -7.5
- Scott -7.4
- Mickelson -7.4
- Senden -7.3
- Furyk -7.3
Swingform.com’s four to watch
Bo Van Pelt
As the data stands, the current value appears to be with 100/1 shot Van Pelt who is proving to be just 0.7 shots per round worse off than market leader and Swingform’s top rank 5/1 Rory McIlroy.
Van Pelt clearly bombs the ball from the tee, has some Masters experience, including finishing 8th here last year, as well as a 9th recently at Innisbrook Resort, one of the form courses.
Playing what should be an easier course than every other player, with a clear 20-yard advantage from the tee over most the field is 50/1 Watson.
He has come close in Major championships before, finishing 2nd in the 2010 US PGA Championship, along with a 5th in just his second US Open appearance.
Has started the season well, with his seven starts so far producing a worst of 18th and a best of 2nd in a highly competitive WGC Cadillac Championship.
The Australian looks overpriced at 125/1 considering his start to the season, which includes a 4th at one of our form courses Pebble Beach. Ideally could be just a few yards longer from the tee but that’s not putting me off at the price. Finished 12th last time out, also in the WGC Cadillac Championship.
Also worth a punt is 100/1 Dufner who has had a solid start to the year with three top 10s so far. Made a decent effort of his Augusta debut last year finishing 30th, during which he’s sure to have learned much about the place. Certainly not shy of the big stage, proven in his last two US PGA Championships, where he chalked up a 2nd and 5th.