US Masters 2020: Ten year trends point to...

Who do the numbers guide us to?
Who do the numbers guide us to?

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 Augusta National champions to try and find this year's Masters winner...

"The selection is 28-years-old, ranked World No.9 and has played in three previous Masters, finishing T9 last year. He took victory on his latest start and is a non-major winner. He's also priced over 16/1."

From a trends point of view, it appears Tiger Woods wasn't the most easy to identify last year.

The stats ruled him out on age as no-one in their 40s had won since Woods handed the Green Jacket to a then 41-year-old Mark O'Meara in 1998.

But aside from that, 43-year-old Woods was a good fit. Having won the Tour Championship just over six months earlier, he'd also got the required recent victory that seems a must for US Masters success.

The Masters remains the best major for a trends piece given that it's played at the same venue every year.

But, of course, this year there's a huge difference. The tournament has moved from its traditional April slot to November. Will that throw a spanner in the works?

Potentially. But I don't think it means we throw our hands in the air and say nothing from the past counts. Augusta National is still a one-off and, whatever the date, everyone knows they're playing not just the course but history too.

The main difference is that it will play longer in November, as pointed out to us by long-time Augusta Chronicle journalist Scott Michaux. But, already a course for the big hitters, does that change much? We knew the deal already.

Then again, if the stats threw up a short hitter as the selection, I might have to come up with an extra filter. In reality, they don't. The selection finished in the top 40 for Driving Distance on the PGA Tour last year.

So, let's get this started again. 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.

Tiger Woods wins Masters.jpg

2019 - Tiger Woods (Age: 43, WR: 12th, Played: 22, Masters Best: Win, Previous year: 32nd, 2019 Best: 5th)

2018 - Patrick Reed (Age: 27, WR: 24th, Played: 4, Masters Best: 22nd, Previous year: MC, 2018 Best: 2nd)

2017 - Sergio Garcia (Age: 37, WR: 11th, Played: 18, Masters Best: 4th, Previous year: 34th, 2017 Best: Win)

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, Previous year: 8th, 2013 Best: T3)

2012 - Bubba Watson (Age: 33, WR: 18th, Played: 3, Masters Best: 20th, Previous year: 38th, 2012 Best: 2nd)

2011 - Charl Schwartzel (Age: 26, WR: 29th, Played: 1, Masters Best: 30th, Previous year: 30th, 2011 Best: Win)

2010 - Phil Mickelson (Age: 39, WR: 3rd, Played: 17, Masters Best: Win, Previous year: 5th, 2010 Best: T8)

Winners trends

- 5 of last 10 were in their 30s
- 9 of last 10 were aged under 40
- 7 of last 10 were aged 35 or under

- 8 of last 10 had been ranked in world's top 20
- 10 of last 10 had been ranked in world's top 30

- 7 of last 10 had played in at least 3 Masters
- 10 of last 10 had played in at least 1 Masters

- 3 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
- 9 of last 10 had posted a top 30 at Augusta
- 10 of last 10 had posted a top 40 at Augusta

- 5 of last 10 had already won earlier that season
- 8 of last 10 had posted a top 3 earlier that season
- 10 of last 10 had posted a top 10 earlier that season

- 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 9 of the last 10 Masters winners)

- Aged under 40
- Ranked in world's top 30
- Played in at least one Masters
- Had top 30 at Augusta
- Posted a top 10 earlier that season
- Not the defending champion
- Not World No.1

As for some examples of early eliminations, Paul Casey fails the age test, Collin Morikawa is making his Masters debut while, as World No.1, we wave goodbye to Dustin Johnson.

Dustin Johnson Augusta.jpg

Current form

It's a key asset to take on Augusta National these days so let's add some more filters that focus on current form...

A look at the last 10 winners shows that all 10 had finished in the top 30 in at least one of their two starts before arriving at Augusta National.

But we can get even more specific...

- 9 of last 10 had a top 15 in a strokeplay event in the same month of the US Masters or the previous month. That used to be March and April but there's been enough recent big events to say it'll work for the new calendar. Therefore we're looking for a top 15 in October or November.

But what if someone falling short here decides to tee it up at next week's Houston Open and meets that stipulation?

Well, history says that's not a good idea. Why? Seven of the last eight Masters winners didn't play the week before landing the Green Jacket.

Strike a line through anyone in the Houston Open field then.

Winning form in the United States

To suddenly make the US Masters the scene of your first win on American soil is a big ask. It's also a push to expect someone to grab the Green Jacket having failed to win in a while.

- 8 of last 10 had posted a win on U.S. soil within the previous two years.

Here we say so long to Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Tony Finau Augusta.jpg

Starting prices

This is a surprising one given that it seems high-class players tend to win the Green Jacket.

However....

- 8 of the last 10 Masters winners had an SP of 16/1 or higher. Tiger was 16s last year, while Bubba (twice), Adam Scott and Sergio were all bigger than that.

If they'd not been killed off already, this eliminates Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele

Don't blame me, blame the stats!

First-timers dominating

The two majors in 2020 have gone to players who hadn't won one before - Collin Morikawa at the US PGA and Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open. That's becoming a real theme in recent years.

Of the last 18 majors played, 13 went to a first-timer. At Augusta, seven of the last 10 winners hadn't tasted major victory before.

This rather debunks the idea that having a previous major win is a big advantage for a Masters contender. The evidence says the exact opposite.

Major winners Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed would crash out here.

So, can anyone have survived this statistical cull?

Yes. There is one man......

Conclusion

If the trends play out, your Masters winner this year is, drumroll..... Patrick Cantlay.

Patrick Cantlay Augusta chip.jpg

Cantlay is 28-years-old, ranked World No.9 and has played in three previous Masters, finishing T9 last year. He was a winner at the ZOZO Championship on his latest start and is a non-major winner. He's also priced over 16/1. As a bonus, he won the Low Amateur prize there on his debut in 2012.

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