US Masters 2018 stats: Who is the best fit for Augusta?

English golfer Justin Rose
Justin Rose is the greens in regulation king at Augusta National
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Dave Tindall delves deep into the stats to see whose game is best equipped for success at Augusta National this year...

"Hitting greens in regulation is imperative at Augusta National and no-one has made a better job of it over the last half-a-dozen years than Justin Rose."

Why have Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won seven US Masters between them?

And why have Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day continued to come up short?

To try and help answer those questions, I've had a close look at what previous Green Jacket winners have done well at Augusta National.

The starting point is to decide on what stats to focus on and, indeed, see which ones are available.

An obvious way to decide is to see how the last 10 winners ranked in the various categories. A quick glance shows you that driving doesn't figure highly but what you do after that is of great importance.

Strokes Gained have only been available for the last few years so I've settled on Greens In Regulation, Scrambling, Putting Average, Par 5 Performance and Bogey Avoidance.

Here's how the last 10 winners ranked for the week in those five categories:

GIR - 2, 6, 2, 6, 1, 4, 19, 3, 15, 3
Scr - 6, 1, 10, 5, 3, 15, 1, 3, 6, 1
PA - 12, 12, 1, 12, 28, 11, 8, 10, 7, 7
Par 5 - 17, 69, 4, 5, 35, 8, 8, 2, 11, 35
Bogey Avoidance - 1, 1, 4, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 5, 1

Notes: Look at those Bogey Avoidance numbers! Rather than making lots of birdies and eagles, success at Augusta is founded on eliminating mistakes. The last 10 winners have had a bogey or worse count of between +6 and +10. In other words, go over that and you're not winning the Masters!

Here's how the 10 winners performed from Sergio last year to Trevor Immelman in 2008.

Sergio Garcia 75.0% GIR, 66.7% Scr, 1.78 PA, -7 Par 5, Bgys/Other +7
Danny Willett 66.7% GIR, 70.8 Scr, 1.81 PA, Evs Par, Bgy/Other: +8
Jordan Spieth 75.0% GIR, 66.7% Scr, 1.59 PA, -12 Par, Bgy/Other: +10
Bubba Watson 69.4%, GIR, 63.6% Scr, 69.4%, 1.78 PA, -8 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +9
Adam Scott 76.4% GIR, 70.6% Scr, 1.80 PA, -5 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +6
Bubba Watson 73.6% GIR, 52.6% Scr, 1.64 PA, -8 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +9
Charl Schwartzel 68.1% GIR, 69.6% Scr, 1.61 PA, -9 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +7
Phil Mickelson 75.0% GIR, 78.8% Scr, 1.76 PA, -12 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +6
Angel Cabrera 69.4% GIR, 63.6% Scr, 1.60 PA, -9 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +8
Trevor Immelman 70.8% GIR, 81.0% Scr, 1.76 PA, -3 Par 5, Bgy/Other: +7

Summary of last 10 winners

- 9 of 10 Scrambling 63.6% or higher
- 9 of 10 GIR 69.4% or higher
- 10 of 10 PA of 1.81 or lower
- 7 of 10 Par 5s in -7 or better
- 10 of 10 Bogey or worse count of +10 or lower

The Leading Contenders

Rory McIlroy - Errors proving costly

GIR - 2017: 61.1%, 2016: 63.9%, 2015: 73.6%, 2014: 72.2%, 2013: 63.9%
Scr - 2017: 75.0%, 2016: 46.2%, 2015: 57.9%, 2014: 40.0%, 2013: 57.7%
PA - 2017: 1.86, 2016: 1.83, 2015: 1.77, 2014: 1.83, 2013: 1.80
Par 5s - 2017: -7, 2016: -10, 2015: -14, 2014: Evs, 2013: -7
Bogey+ - 2017: +12, 2016: +19, 2015: +10, 2014: +16, 2013: +17

Augusta form: 7-10-4-8-25
Current form: 36-1-MC-59-20
2018 - GIR: 186th, Scr: 22nd, PA: 53rd, Par 5: 44th, Bogey A: 105th

Analysis: Too many errors have often hurt Rory at Augusta National which is frustrating given that he usually goes low on the par 5s. His putting numbers are consistently borderline though and he hasn't been able to hit enough greens the last two years despite being in the top four for GIR in both 2014 and 2015. He ranked first for scrambling 12 months ago so overall you'd say that if he wants to take the step up from contender to winner it's just a case of piecing the components together in the same year and getting that putter to hold up - just as Sergio did last year. He showed the magic is still there with victory at Bay but there are worries in his 2018 stats - 186th in GIR and 105th in Bogey Avoidance. Even when winning Arnie's event, Rory was a modest 45th in GIR for the week.

Justin Thomas - Third time lucky for world number two?

GIR - 2017: 70.8%, 2016: 63.9%
Scr - 2017: 52.4%, 2016: 65.4%
PA - 2017: 1.88, 2016: 2.04
Par 5s - 2017: -7, 2016: -4
Bogey+ - 2017: +13, 2016: +18

Augusta form: 22-39
Current form: 4-2-1-9-17
2018 - GIR: 19th, Scr: 15th, PA: 3rd, Par 5: 5th, BogeyA: 8th

Analysis: We have just two years of evidence with Thomas but there are some encouraging signs. The greens seemed to baffle him on debut in 2016 but he was better last year although he needs further improvement to hit the necessary numbers. He upped his GIR count and Par 5 average to the required high standards last year and made a good cut in his bogey or worse count to +13. For those worried about the sharpness of his play around the greens, he was 65.4% in Scrambling in 2016. Overall, you'd say that a similar leap in his stats in 2018 would put him right in the mix.

Dustin Johnson - Not enough greens hit for DJ

GIR - 2016: 58.3%, 2015: 59.7%, 2014: 55.6%, 2013: 59.7%, 2011: 68.1%
Scr - 2016: 66.7%, 2015: 62.1%, 2014: 56.3%, 2013: 51.7%, 2011: 34.8%
PA - 2016: 1.88, 2015: 1.60, 2014: 2.05, 2013: 1.74, 2011: 1.67
Par 5s - 2016: -6, 2015: -14, 2014: +2, 2013: -7, 2011: -5
Bogey+ - 2016: +15, 2015: +15, 2014: +10 (MC), 2013: +17, 2011: +17

Augusta form: 4-6-MC-13-38
Current form: 59-7-16-2-9
2018 - GIR: 22nd, Scr: 37th, PA: 1st, Par 5: 1st, BogeyA: 2nd

Analysis: Two things stand out in DJ's Augusta National stats. First, he makes too many mistakes (check that bogey or worse count which is always five shots more than the minimum required figure of +10). Secondly, and this is part of the reason why, he just doesn't hit enough greens in regulation there. He's been in the 50s percentage-wise in his last four visits and that's insufficient. Although he's still managed good finishes, T4 and T6 in the last two years, he's not been in the top 35 for GIR at the Masters since 2011 and that surely explains why he's never won. On the plus side, DJ's scrambling has been decent and he's had the putting stats of a winner before. He also demolished the par 5s in 2014. As for this season, while his results haven't been amazing, his stats in the key areas do look impressive.

Jordan Spieth - Needs to recapture superb putting numbers

GIR - 2017: 68.1%, 2016: 59.7%, 2015: 75.0%, 2014: 73.6%
Scr - 2017: 60.9%, 2016: 58.6%, 2015: 66.7%, 2014: 57.9%
PA - 2017: 1.80, 2016: 1.65, 2015: 1.59, 2014: 1.79
Par 5s - 2017: -4, 2016: -11, 2015: -12, 2014: Evs
Bogey+ - 2017: +16, 2016: +20, 2015: +10, 2014: +11

Augusta form: 11-2-1-2
Current form: 17-MC-14-9
2018 - GIR: 24th, Scr: 2nd, PA: 145th, Par 5: 20th, BogeyA: 5th

Analysis: Spieth has had some outstanding putting numbers on the super-slick putting surfaces at Augusta National while he's shown he can hit lots of these greens in the right number too (1st for GIR in 2014 and 2nd when he won in 2015). He's not the longest but has put up some great scores on the par 5s. What's hurt him the last two years is a way too high bogey count. In 2016, he finished T2 despite 10 bogeys, two doubles and a quad. The 22 birdies should really have won him a second Green Jacket but he made far too many errors. He's in the top 25 for GIR, Scrambling, Par 5 average and Bogey Avoidance this year but look at those miserable putting figures! They have to be a big worry for Spieth backers given that he was 1st in that category the year that he won the Green Jacket and was 2nd in both 2014 and 2016 when runner-up at Augusta.

Tiger Woods - Previous Augusta stats provide plenty of hope

GIR - 2015: 63.9%, 2013: 65.3%, 2012: 55.6%, 2011: 73.6%, 2010: 68.1%
Scr - 2015: 57.7%, 2013: 76.0%, 2012: 53.1%, 2014: 42.1%, 2010: 52.2%
PA - 2015: 1.74, 2013: 1.83, 2012: 1.75, 2011: 1.62, 2010: 1.65
Par 5s - 2015: -12, 2013: -4, 2012: -1, 2011: -10, 2010: -15
Bogey+ - 2015: +12, 2013: +7, 2012: +15, 2011: +11, 2010: +14

Augusta form: 17-4-40-4-4
Current form: 5-2-12-MC-23
2018 - GIR: 179th, Scr: 18th, PA: 20th, Par 5: 100th, BogeyA: 57th

Analysis: If you want to know the importance of the GIR stat at Augusta, how about this: Tiger has hit 75% or more greens in regulation four times in his career there. He managed that in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2006, the four years that he won! He's also putted the greens far better than most even though he often pointed to that as the reason why he continually came up short from 2006 onwards. Even in more recent years, he's cashed in on the four par 5s and, overall, he's always done well in the key areas. His short game certainly appears sharp enough for another Green Jacket bid this year but those greens in regulation figures don't look good at all on first glance. However, drill down further and he was top 10 for GIR at both the Honda Classic and Valspar Championship.

Justin Rose - Reliable Rose needs to scramble better

GIR - 2017: 75.0%, 2016: 72.2%, 2015: 75.0%, 2014: 63.9%, 2013: 72.2%
Scr - 2017: 50.0%, 2016: 35.0%, 2015: 61.1%, 2014: 46.2%, 2013: 60.0%
PA - 2017: 1.72, 2016: 1.83, 2015: 1.74, 2014: 1.80, 2013: 1.87
Par 5s - 2017: -9, 2016: -6, 2015: -9, 2014: -8, 2013: -7
Bogey+ - 2017: +12, 2016: +20, 2015: +10, 2014: +21, 2013: +17

Augusta form: 2-10-2-14-25
Current form: 3-5-37-8-22
2018 - GIR: 61st, Scr: 14th, PA: 7th, Par 5: 68th, BogeyA: 14th

Analysis: Purr at those greens in regulation numbers. Rose has hit over 72% of GIR at six of his last seven Masters, ranking in the top six for that category each time. That's unequalled amongst the top players. He's also a very reliable and strong performer on the Par 5s and those two elements have helped him finish runner-up twice in the last three years. Where he can fall into trouble at Augusta National is around the greens when he misses them. Some modest scrambling figures have led to his bogey or worse count getting away from him at times but if he can tighten that up, Rose could be unstoppable. The good news is that he's in the top 15 this season for Scrambling, Putting Average and Bogey Avoidance.

Bubba Watson - Back to form Bubba fits the bill

GIR - 2017: 47.2%, 2016: 58.3%, 2015: 68.1%, 2014: 69.4%, 2013: 63.9%
Scr - 2017: 52.6%, 2016: 50.0%, 2015: 47.8%, 2014: 63.6%, 2013: 42.6%
PA - 2017: 2.06, 2016: 1.91, 2015: 1.90, 2014: 1.78, 2013: 1.80
Par 5s - 2017: -1, 2016: -5, 2015: -12, 2014: -8, 2013: -8
Bogey+ - 2017: +13, 2016: +21, 2015: +20, 2014: +9, 2013: +27

Augusta form: MC-37-38-1-50
Current form: 1-66-9-1-35
2018 - GIR: 16th, Scr: 112th, PA: 133rd, Par 5: 100th, BogeyA: 22nd

Analysis: Double Masters winner Bubba had a very similar path to victory in 2012 and 2014. In both years he was -8 on the Par 5s and limited the bogeys to just nine. In other years he's littered his card with errors, thus making his still strong performances on the Par 5s redundant. For all his big hitting and love of bending shots around the trees, Bubba needs to bring a balanced attack to succeed and he was top six for GIR, top 15 for Scrambling and top 12 for Putting Average in both his victory years. Going into Augusta, his iron play looks good and he's eliminating the mistakes. Although the Scrambling and putting look a problem on the season-long stats, he was 20th in Scrambling and 13th for PA when winning at Riviera again earlier this year. Stats weren't available but he also looked strong to the naked eye in both those categories when winning the WGC-Match Play.

Jason Day - Augusta GIR and Scrambling a big concern

GIR - 2017: 62.5%, 2016: 63.9%, 2015: 59.7%, 2014: 61.1%, 2013: 65.3%
Scr - 2017: 51.9%, 2016: 53.8%, 2015: 51.7%, 2014: 57.1%, 2013: 60.0%
PA - 2017: 1.82, 2016: 1.83, 2015: 1.79, 2014: 1.91, 2013: 1.70
Par 5s - 2017: -1, 2016: -5, 2015: -12, 2014: -8, 2013: -8
Bogey+ - 2017: +13, 2016: +21, 2015: +20, 2014: +9, 2013: +27

Augusta form: 22-10-28-20-3
Current form: 36-22-2-1
2018 - GIR: 95th, Scr: 45th, PA: 5th, Par 5: 60th, BogeyA: 40th

Analysis: Here's where the numbers really do seem to provide answers. Day is considered a genuine contender each year but he just hasn't been able to hit the required amount of greens. Perhaps more surprisingly, his scrambling figures haven't been good enough either, a riposte to the knee-jerk idea that he gets up and down all the time there. The same applies to his putting - just a fraction short of past winners although when he did reach the GIR/Putting targets on debut in 2011, the Aussie was runner-up. He's made just four starts this year which, historically, is far too few for a Masters winner so, despite good numbers in those appearances and a win at Torrey Pines, Day needs to show he can bring his short-game strengths to Augusta to go from Green Jacket hopeful to winner.

Jon Rahm - Debut performance offers plenty of promise

GIR - 2017: 66.7%
Scr - 2017: 62.5%
PA - 2017: 1.83
Par 5s - 2017: -7
Bogey+ - 2017: +13

Augusta form: 27
Current form: 52-20-26-11
2018 - GIR: 37th, Scr: 67th, PA: 4th, Par 5: 34rd, BogeyA: 37th

Analysis: There was plenty of promise from a statistical point of view in Rahm's T27 on debut in 2017. He was extremely close to reaching the greens in regulation and scrambling figures and also just shy of the Putting Average target of 1.81. A very slight improvement in all three areas and he's doing what you need to do to win that Green Jacket. He was also an impressive 10-under on the Par 5s but two doubles and an 'Other' led to a bogey+ count of +17 which ultimately stopped him getting nearer the leaders. His stats this year are decent although a latest look at his scrambling figures highlights a possible problem.

Phil Mickelson - Iron play the key to success for Lefty

GIR - 2017: 59.7%, 2016: 69.4%, 2015: 70.8%, 2014: 69.4%, 2013: 62.5%
Scr - 2017: 55.2%, 2016: 27.3%, 2015: 76.2%, 2014: 54.5%, 2013: 29.6%
PA - 2017: 1.79, 2016: 1.84, 2015: 1.75, 2014: 1.84, 2013: 1.84
Par 5s - 2017: -10, 2016: Evs, 2015: -15, 2014: -1, 2013: -6
Bogey+ - 2017: +20, 2016: +14, 2015: +9, 2014: +11, 2013: +24

Augusta form: 22-MC-2-MC-54
Current form: 17-1-6-2-5
2018 - GIR: 155th, Scr: 7th, PA: 2nd, Par 5: 12th, BogeyA: 17th

Analysis: Mickelson's best recorded GIR stats at Augusta National came in 2010 (75.0%) and 2004 (73.6%), the years he won two of his three Green Jackets. He also went over 70% in 2015 when T2. He's also delivered some brilliant scrambling figures although three of his worst five PA figures have come in the last five years. By contrast, we have recent evidence that he can still make mincemeat of the Par 5s although some big numbers have crept in over the last two years. His putting and scrambling this year have been excellent which bodes well but the left-hander's iron play hasn't been of the same standard. If he can push 70% GIR, Mickelson must have a leading chance of win number four.

Rickie Fowler - Too many Augusta bogies for Rickie

GIR - 2017: 52.8%, 2016: 44.4%, 2015: 66.7%, 2014: 52.8%, 2013: 52.8%
Scr - 2017: 55.2%, 2016: 27.3%, 2015: 76.2%, 2014: 54.5%, 2013: 29.6%
PA - 2017: 1.79, 2016: 1.84, 2015: 1.75, 2014: 1.84, 2013: 1.84
Par 5s - 2017: -11, 2016: +1, 2015: -10, 2014: -4, 2013: -10
Bogey+ - 2017: +16, 2016: +15 (MC), 2015: +15, 2014: +11, 2013: +21

Augusta form: 11-MC-12-5-38
Current form: 14-37-MC-11-MC
2018 - GIR: 11th, Scr: 12th, PA: 69th, Par 5: 85th, BogeyA: 6th

Analysis: Despite some decent finishes over the last few years, Fowler has consistently failed to hit enough greens in regulation over four rounds. He putts the greens better than most (1st in PA last year and far better than the required rate for a winner in five of his seven Masters) but, conversely, he's only once beaten 58.8 scrambling. To be fair, that was a mighty 79.4 when he topped that category in 2014. Fowler looks to have got the Par 5s sussed after hitting double digits under par in three of the last five years but these holes in his stats have resulted in bogey counts that have been simply too high in all but one year. The American is high in the Bogey Avoidance charts this year but can he keep the mistakes down at the unique Augusta National?


Summary

If highlighting the negatives in a single line, I'd go:

McIlroy: Current GIR figures look vulnerable.
Johnson: Makes too many errors there, doesn't hit enough greens.
Spieth: Current putting figures a huge concern.
Day: Has missed too many greens and not scrambled well enough.
Mickelson: Not the force he was on Augusta's greens; GIR not great.
Fowler: Errors and modest GIR figures a theme at Augusta.
Rahm: Scrambling has gone off the boil of late.

Best fits for Masters success this year

Hitting greens in regulation is imperative at Augusta National and no-one has made a better job of it over the last half-a-dozen years than Justin Rose.

In short, his numbers look far more robust than the likes of McIlroy, Johnson, Day and Fowler and, just as Sergio Garcia did last year, an improvement in his Scrambling could get Rose over the line after his two second places in 2015 and 2017.

Justin Thomas hit over 70% of GIR last year, something which Fowler has never done, Johnson hasn't managed in his last six Masters and Day not since 2011.

After improving from T39 on debut to T22 last year, the numbers suggest Thomas will be a massive contender.

Bubba Watson has put all the elements together twice - by contrast, Rory has never once co-ordinated everything - and a third Green Jacket is reliant on him doing everything well again. Latest form says he's capable.

Intriguingly, the stats do nothing to put anyone off Tiger Woods. His comeback hasn't been based on smoke and mirrors; Woods looks statistically sound in plenty of areas.

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