The Masters, Augusta National Golf Club
The first and arguably the most prestigious Major of the Golf calendar is here. The U.S. Masters to be played at the famed Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia is recognised all over the world thanks to its tradition and history. Golfers dream of winning the Green Jacket ever since they hold a club for the first time.
The Augusta National Golf Club was designed by Boby Jones and Alister MacKenzie and first opened in 1933. The course is a 7400+ yard Par 72 and the fairways are fairly wide for a tree-lined course. The greens are also pretty large in size but the undulations on them make them pretty difficult. Often, hole locations on the greens will be such that players only have about 15 feet within which to hit the green, otherwise, they will roll away considerably.
Players will want to stay out of trouble on Par 4’s and Par 5’s and definitely want to go hard at the Par 5’s, which is where this tournament can be won or lost.
Some amount of rain is forecast for Wednesday and that should make the fairways and greens a little softer. The weather is expected to clear up for the next couple of days before another possibility of showers on Saturday.
Sergio Garcia is the defending champion this year and he will have a tough task repeating his success from last year. A lot of the top-ranked players in the world are hitting form at just the right time and this is promising to be one of the most exciting Masters in a long time.
Danny Willet won the tournament in 2016, Jordan Spieth in 2015, Bubba Watson in 2014, and Adam Scott in 2013.
As the names of previous winners suggest, players who get plenty of distance from the tee are almost always the ones to win this tournament. This becomes even more apparent when there is some rain around because the ball does not travel as much after bouncing.
Also, golfers whose ball flight curves from right to left have a natural advantage at this course. This is why left-handers like Mickelson and Bubba Watson have done well here in the past or right-handers that have excellent control over their draw, like Jordan Spieth.
In short, players need to get plenty of distance off the tee, be accurate with their irons to hit the green in regulation, and then putt well on some scary fast greens. Easy, right?
Stats that Matter
The stats that the Wolf is going to be looking at this week include:
- Ball Striking
- Par 5 Scoring
- Strokes Gained: Putting
The total winning score can often be reflective of the conditions on offer and this year the conditions are going to be demanding. Rain, wind, and some low weather could combine to really ask a lot of the golfers. One good thing, though, is the small number of players in the field means that the tee times do not play a huge role in the outcome.
Sergio Garcia won with -9 in 2017, Danny Willet with -5 in 2018, Jordan Spieth with -18 in 2015, Bubba Watson with -8 in 2014, and Adam Scott with -9 in 2013. The Wolf thinks that the scores will be around the -8 mark for the winner this time around as well.
Sergio Garcia was 6th in Driving Distance, 2nd in Driving Accuracy and Green in Regulation, and 1st in Putter Greens in Regulation the year he won. Justin Rose was tied with him after regulation play but lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole.
The Masters is not a place for first-timers and course history tends to play a huge part. Also, the ability to soak in the pressure of performing on golf’s biggest stage is something to consider as well.
For the favorite, the Wolf is sticking with Jordan Spieth at $11.00. As winner here in 2015 and leader by 5 shots at the 10th hole on Sunday before suffering an epic meltdown in 2016, Jordan Spieth has a great affinity for this course. He also has some unfinished business and will want to lay down the ghosts of 2016 for good.
Spieth has the necessary distance off the tee, is brilliant at scrambling and avoiding bogies, and is a wonderful putter. He finished T3 at the Houston Open and is coming into this tournament in excellent form. Most importantly, his putting seems to be returning to its best at the right time.
Jordan Spieth is 1st in Scrambling, 39th in Ball Striking, 13th in Par 5 Scoring and 185th in Strokes Gained: Putting.
There were some great options for the value pick this week. Tiger Woods is having an excellent time on the golf course of late and was even the bookmakers favorite a couple of weeks out. Phil Mickelson is playing some of the best golf of his career and Dustin Johnson has all the attributes to win at this course.
The Wolf, though, is going with Justin Rose at $15.00 for the value pick this week. A T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T5 at the Valspar Championship show that Rose is in prime form coming into the Masters.
He also has excellent course history here. Rose lost in a playoff to Garcia in 2017, finished 10th in 2016, and 2nd again in 2015. The Wolf really thinks this could be his year.
Justin Rose is 35th in Ball Striking, 13th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 8th in Scrambling, and 34th in Par 5 Scoring. He has the game, he has the temperament, and he has the form to pull it off.
For the Long Shot this week, the Wolf likes Alex Noren at $41.00. Noren tends to fly under the radar somewhat and is not as popular a pick as some of the other golfers on tour. He is, however, without a shadow of a doubt one of the best golfers in the world right now.
Noren finished 3rd in the Dell Match Play Championship, was 3rd in the Honda Classic a few weeks before that and has consistently been around the T20 mark in most events. He is also someone who gets very good distance off the tee and thrives in tough conditions.
Noren is 20th in Ball Striking, 3rd in Par 5 Scoring, 64th in Scrambling, and 17th in Strokes Gained: Putting. This will be Alex Noren’s second instance of playing the Masters and the Wolf thinks he would have learned a lot from his first tournament appearance last year.
He is a good punt for the price being offered.
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