The 15th Club’s Justin Ray is the doyen of golf stats so when it comes to how to win the Masters on Sunday night who better to mark our cards?
How to win the Masters: Iron play is a premium
While the nuanced putting surfaces at Augusta often get the lion’s share of attention, often it is the approach shot that dictates who wins the Masters.
The last four years, players to lead the field in Strokes Gained: Approach at Augusta National finished 1st, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The last 20 Masters champions hit a combined 71% of their greens in regulation, with 19 of the last 24 winners ranking in the top 10 that week in greens hit.
When Jordan Spieth won the 2015 Masters by four strokes, he gained more than nine shots on the field in Strokes Gained: Approach – by far best of any player that week.
How to win the Masters: It’s obvious – take advantage of the par 5s
Nearly 80% of Masters champions since 2000 ranked in the top 10 that week in par-5 scoring.
Since 2006 players to put on the Green Jacket were about 8.5 strokes under par for the week on the par 5s.
Statistically the two holes on the second nine where champions have differentiated themselves from the field have been 13 and 15. If you are going to win the Masters, you must seize the scoring opportunities presented on those holes.
How to win the Masters: The importance of a good start
Each of the previous 13 champions at Augusta National were in the top 10 following round one.
The last 11 winners have an opening round scoring average of 68.4, and no player since 2005 has been more than six shots off the lead after the first round and gone on to win that week.
A bad day Thursday can take many players out of the tournament altogether.
How to win the Masters: You have to avoid the big number
No player has ever made worse than a seven on any hole at Augusta National and gone on to win the Masters that week.
Add to that, no champion has made multiple double-bogeys or worse in the week they won the Masters since Craig Stadler in 1982.
The last 20 Masters champions have combined to make a grand total of three double-bogeys in the week they won the Green Jacket.
Steering clear of the big number is paramount any week a player hopes to contend but it is especially pertinent at Augusta National.
How to win the Masters: Lessons learned from the past matter
Only one player since 1940 has won the Masters in his first career appearance: Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
Since 1995, champions at Augusta were, on average, making their ninth career start in the event.
Sergio Garcia broke through at the 2017 Masters in his 19th start in the tournament. Experience pays off at Augusta National. Course knowledge developed through years of competing here has significant value, and the numbers certainly bear that out.