The Masters is by far the best major to take a trends-based approach as it's the only one of the four played at the same venue every year. And, for the record, this preview last year gave 25/1 Dustin Johnson, who finished T4 so keep reading!
For each of the last 10 winners, I've listed the following categories that were correct at the time of their victory - age, world ranking, how many Masters they'd played, best finish at Augusta, Masters finish the previous year and best result they'd recorded that season.
2016 - Danny Willett (Age: 28, WR: 12th, Played: 1, Masters Best: 38th, Previous year: 38th, 2016 Best: Win)
2015 - Jordan Spieth (Age: 21, WR: 4th, Played: 1, Masters Best: 2nd, Previous year: 2nd, 2015 Best: Win)
2014 - Bubba Watson (Age: 35, WR: 12th, Played: 5, Masters Best: Win, Previous year: 50th, 2014 Best: Win)
2013 - Adam Scott (Age: 32, WR: 7th, Played: 11, Masters Best: 2nd, Low 18: 67, Previous year: 8th, 2013 Best: T3)
2012 - Bubba Watson (Age: 33, WR: 18th, Played: 3, Masters Best: 20th, Low 18: 67, Previous year: 38th, 2012 Best: 2nd)
2011 - Charl Schwartzel (Age: 26, WR: 29th, Played: 1, Masters Best: 30th, Low 18: 69, Previous year: 30th, 2011 Best: Win)
2010 - Phil Mickelson (Age: 39, WR: 3rd, Played: 17, Masters Best: Win, Low 18: 65, Previous year: 5th, 2010 Best: T8)
2009 - Angel Cabrera (Age: 39, WR: 69th, Played: 9, Masters Best: 8th, Previous year: 25th, 2009 Best: T9)
2008 - Trevor Immelman (Age: 28, WR: 29th, Played: 5, Masters Best: 5th, Previous year: 55th, 2008 Best: T17)
2007 - Zach Johnson (Age: 31, WR: 56th, Played: 2, Masters Best: 32nd, Previous year: 32nd, 2007 Best: T9)
- 6 of last 10 were in their 30s
- 10 of last 10 were aged under 40
- 8 of last 10 were aged 35 or under
- 6 of last 10 had been ranked in world's top 20
- 8 of last 10 had been ranked in world's top 30
- 5 of last 10 had played in at least 5 Masters
- 6 of last 10 had played in at least 3 Masters
- 10 of last 10 had played in at least 1 Masters
- 2 of last 10 had won it before
- 6 of last 10 had posted a top 10 at Augusta
- 7 of last 10 had posted a top 20 at Augusta
- 10 of last 10 had posted a top 38 at Augusta
- 10 of last 10 had made the cut at Augusta the previous year
- 4 of last 10 had already won earlier that season
- 6 of last 10 had posted a top 3 earlier that season
- 9 of last 10 had posted a top 10 earlier that season
- 9 of last 10 winners were not European
- 10 of last 10 winners were not the defending champion
- 10 of last 10 winners were not the World No.1
Most powerful qualification criteria
(Each of the below apply to at least 8 of the last 10 Masters winners)
- Not aged over 35
- Ranked in world's top 30
- Played in at least one Masters
- Had top 40 at Augusta
- Made the cut at Augusta the previous year
- Posted a top 10 earlier that season
- Not European
- Not the defending champion
- Not World No.1
There are just six players who clear these statistical hurdles. They are: Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen.
Let's add some more filters.
A look at the last 10 winners shows that eight had finished in the top 30 in at least one of their two starts before arriving at Augusta National.
That means it's time to get shot of Hideki Matsuyama, who has gone off the boil with a group exit in the WGC-Dell Match Play and T45 at Bay Hill. The same applies to Justin Thomas (39-MC).
Augusta prep is crucial and 9 of the last 10 Masters winners had played six, seven or eight pre-Augusta tournaments that year and between 19 and 30 rounds.
Jason Day has completed only 18 rounds and history says he's undercooked so, in this preview at least, the stats are ruthless and out he goes. Rory is already out but the same would apply to him given that he's teed it up in just four events and played only 15 rounds.
If Jordan Spieth plays all four days in Houston next week, he'll have played 31 rounds which puts him outside the qualifying mark too.
DJ, McIlroy, Day and Matsuyama have already been eliminated but here's another stat that goes against them:
- 8 of the last 10 Masters winners had an SP of 20/1 of higher. Yep, Bubba (twice) and Adam Scott were both bigger than that
So, even if Spieth does have the weekend off in Houston, this stat gets rid of him.
A quick note on Dustin Johnson. No player has gone into the Masters as World No.1 and taken the Green Jacket since Tiger in 2002. Also, no player has won four events in a row since Tiger in 2008. DJ's streak is three after his wins in the Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Match Play.
It means just two players survive.
If the trends play out, your Masters winner this year is either Louis Oostuizen or Brooks Koepka.
South African Oosthuizen is 34-years-old, ranked World No.28 and has played in eight Masters, finishing runner-up in 2012 and making the top 25 in each of the last three years (25-19-15). He has two top fives this season (Phoenix, World Super 6 Perth) and posted T28 at Bay Hill two starts ago and officially T17 at the WGC-Dell Match Play where he was the joint best group stage loser after winning two of his three games.
Koepka is 26, American and sits 25th in the world rankings. He was T9 in the WGC-Dell Match Play on his latest start after winning all three group games before a last 16 exit. He's posted T33 (2015) and T21 (2016) in his two Masters.
Louis Oosthuizen @ 55/1 or
Brooks Koepka @ 60/1
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