Our Masters Tournament Preview!
Josh Walker for clutchandco.com.au
Masters Week is once again upon us. Often regarded by the pro’s as the most special week of the year and for even the casual golf fan in Australia, it is a week that demands attention. A course and setting in Augusta National that is so well manicured and prepared that it is simply unrivaled anywhere in world golf.
The prize? The coveted Green Jacket so unique and sought after that players will tamper with schedules for weeks and even months in advance to ensure they have the best shot come April in Georgia. The only thing that is being questioned (apart from whether Tiger will tee it up) … is who wins?
Let’s take a look through the stats that matter, form lines and past performances at Augusta to identify some players to watch.
When it comes to playing well at Augusta and giving yourself a chance to win there’s a couple of crucial stats that should be taken into account.
The first, ‘Strokes Gained_ Approach to Green”, the ability to hit your irons in tight on the tricky greens and setup a look at birdie can set you apart from the field. There’s a reason that arguably the greatest iron player of the modern generation in Tiger Woods is a 5-time champion. There’s some familiar names at the top of the list here and it will come as no surprise that most of these guys, have enjoyed strong results so far this season. Russel Henley leads the list, followed by Will Zalatoris, Viktor Hovland, Luke Donald and Justin Thomas rounding out the top 5. Interestingly Cameron Smith and Hideki Matsuyama also feature in the top 10.
Next up_ Taking advantage of the par 5’s. Jason Lusk from Golfweek wrote an entire article about this last year which you can check out here but in short, the par 5’s at Augusta play as some of the easiest holes on the course and if you’re not able to convert birdies, you’re falling behind. Who leads the way here? Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa are in the top 5 with Cameron Smith and Justin Thomas’ names popping up again to round it out. Other big names with a solid Masters track record in Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau and Sergio Garcia are also high up the list in Par 5 scoring averages this season.
Just 11 players feature in the top 25 for both statistics so we then went to past performances at the Masters to come up with the 'Clutch & Co Top 5 To Watch’ at the 2022 US Masters.
Jon Rahm - Ranked number 2 in the world and has four top 10 finishes in his last 4 starts at Augusta mean for us he’s the man to beat.
Cam Smith - Surely every Aussie would love to see him win it! Now 6th in the world rankings after his win at ‘The Players’. Also has three Top 10’s from his last 4 starts at the Masters.
Hideki Matsuyama - No watchlist could be complete without the defending champion, especially when he’s in good form.
Justin Thomas - Ranked 7 in the world and has been outside the top 25 only once in 6 Masters starts.
Sam Burns - The smoky in his Masters debut but has won 3 times in the past year and his current form stacks up in the right areas to suit Augusta.
A notoriously difficult event to pick with such a star-studded field you’d be a daring punter to rule out other past champions such as Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed or Bubba Watson. Even more so new world number one -Scottie Scheffler or number three - Colin Morikawa. Then of course, there’s Tiger Woods…
The action starts early Friday morning Australian Time in what’s sure to be a Masters to remember!
*Statistics correct as of the WGC Match-Play event.