US Masters 2024: 10-year trends point to...

US Masters flag at Augusta National
Who will win the 2024 Masters?

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

  • Dave sifts through the key Masters stats

  • Points system ranks those likeliest to contend

  • Will it be a young gun or an old head? Read on to find out...


  • The US Masters was the original home of these 10-year trends pieces and always seems best suited given that it's the only one of the four majors played on the same course.

    Looking at recent editions, we've knocked on the door without quite landing on the winner.

    Rory McIlroy came out as top pick in 2022 and finished runner-up - his best ever Masters finish - having been available at 20.019/1 on the Betfair Exchange when the preview went out.

    Last year was equally tantalising. Winner Jon Rahm would have been ranked first (instead of joint sixth) but for his rather unlikely omission from one of the key categories. He'd scored top marks in nine of the other 10.

    Before we get stuck into the numbers, I'll warn you that it may be best to stop reading now if you're a fan of Ludvig Aberg.

    For this preview, the scoring system focuses a fair bit on past exploits at Augusta National and, as a first-timer, the Swede will deliver blanks on that front.

    That seems harsh but we all the know the stat that no debutant has won the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

    Enough preamble, let's crack into the scores and a slightly tweaked list of categories for 2024. There are 10:

    They are: Age, World Ranking, Masters Appearances, Best Masters Finish, The Game For Augusta, Defending Champion, Recent Form, Winning Form, Recent Major Form and Last Year's Finish.


    Age - Good for the 20-somethings

    A reminder, points in this preview are awarded based on how often something has happened over the last 10 years at Augusta.

    In terms of age, Rahm was the sixth twentysomething in the last decade to win, so anyone in their 20s this year is awarded 6pts. Three were in their 30s so thirtysomethings teeing it up this year score 3pts. Thanks To Tiger's amazing 2019 win, the 40+ veterans get a point. Here's the allocation.

    In their 20s: 6pts
    In their 30: 3pts
    In their 40s: 1pt

    This trend has changed down the years. Perhaps there was a general assumption that the more mature golfers would fare better on a course where you learn something new every year. Nick Faldo won his first Green Jacket 10 years after his Masters debut while Phil Mickelson needed 12 cracks at it before winning.

    But over the last decade, more players have been conquering Augusta while in their 20s.

    World Ranking - The higher the better

    I'll be honest, this is the first category where LIV golf has compromised it to a degree given that their players get no ranking points from LIV events. For some, such as Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, it isn't too skewed given that they only recently defected. Then again Dustin Johnson is now World No. 327. I'm not even joking.

    The bottom line is that class tells at Augusta National and all of the last 10 winners were ranked in the world's top 30 and, more specifically, eight of those sat in the top 20.

    Using frequency to guide us again, that gives a fairly straightforward points allocation.

    Ranked 1-20 = 8pts
    Ranked 21-30 = 2pts

    Brooks Koepka fans will be grumbling here as he currently sits 31st in the OWGR and won't score. I can only shrug emoji at that. If only Koepka had thought about how it would affect him in this preview before taking the Saudi cash. The mad fool.

    Appearances - Augusta experience valuable

    Needing years and years to crack the code isn't absolutely essential but experience is still worth its weight in gold at Augusta National and eight of the last 10 winners had played in at least three Masters.

    In our study period of 2014 to 2023, Jordan Spieth (2015) and Danny Willett (2016) both won on the back of just a single appearance so it's possible although rare to win so soon.

    As mentioned, Aberg won't be scoring anything here and neither will another Masters first-timer, current US Open champion and World No.4 Wyndham Clark. Eeek.

    Played in 3 or more Masters = 8pts
    Played in 1 or 2 Masters = 2pts
    Played in 0 Masters = 0pts

    Best Masters Finish - Top five desirable

    A previous strong finish at Augusta counts for plenty when trying to locate the winner. Indeed, seven of the last 10 champions had posted a previous top five.

    That includes Rahm, who had a fourth (2018) and a fifth (2021) under his belt before last year's triumph. As for the three players in the last decade who hadn't delivered a previous top five, two had managed a top 25 and one other (Danny Willett) had a best of 38th.

    Previous Top 5 = 7pts
    Previous best of 6th-25th = 2pts
    Previous best of 26th-40th = 1pt

    The Game For Augusta - evidence of all-round prowess

    Here's a brand new category! What does a potential Masters winner need to do well to triumph on this unique layout? Some say big hitting is key while others insist approach play is the dominant factor.

    But the short answer is nearly everything. Bubba Watson didn't win the Masters in 2012 and 2014 just because he hit it miles; he also ranked in the top 12 for Putting Average in those two winning years and was fifth and 15th respectively for Scrambling.

    But, crucially, he'd already shown he could handle the super-fast greens of Augusta National by ranking in the top 20 for Putting Average in two of his first three starts there (2008 and 2011).

    The key point to note is that the vast majority of recent winners had shown they had the game for Augusta by showing up well in the various statistical categories in previous appearances.

    Strokes Gained stats haven't been going that long but here's how past Masters champs had shaped up on the traditional stats before slipping their arms into the Green Jacket.

    Driving Distance: eight had previously recorded a top 20 in this category
    Driving Accuracy: seven had been in the top 20 for DA in a previous visit
    Greens In Regulation: eight of last 10 winners had ranked 11th or better for GIR before
    Scrambling: eight of 10 had ended a previous Masters in the top 20 for Scr
    Putting Average: seven of last 10 had ranked 20th or higher for PA at Augusta
    Ball-Striking: eight had previously ranked in the top 10 in this category

    Looking at the last 10 champions, eight had ticked off at least five of those six categories before winning. So, for example, before winning in 2021, Hideki Matsuyama had shown his Augusta suitability by recording a previous best of 7th in DD, 15th in DA, 6th in GIR, 4th in Scr, 4th in PA and 6th in Ball-Striking.

    He'd obviously recorded those personal bests across various Masters but, over that time, Matsuyama had shown that he had all the skills to be a Green Jacket winner.

    Previously ticked five or more of the above categories (i.e. finished in top 20 for Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy and Putting Average, top 11 for Greens In Regulation and top 10 for Ball-Striking) = 8pts

    Ticked off between 1 and 4 of above list = 2pts

    Defending Champion - Reigning champs are rare

    Winning back-to-back Green Jackets is incredibly hard. Only the greats - Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods - have managed it. Woods was the last in 2002 which means there hasn't been a successful defence in the last 10 years. Well, for over two decades in fact.

    Is all the kerfuffle of organising the Champions Dinner and extra media duties to blame? Whatever it is, the stat is ingrained and, almost incredibly, only two defending champions since 2007 have managed a top 10, never mind a win, the following year (2022 champ Scottie Scheffler scraped in with tied 10th last year). Overall, the trend is bad news for Jon Rahm.

    Defending champion = 0pts
    Not the defending champion = 10pts

    Recent Form - Strong current play a good pointer

    This is the category that denied Rahm top ranking last year much to my chagrin. The Spaniard had been in great early-season form, reeling off three wins in his first five PGA Tour events but his good play had dried up since his February win at the Genesis Invitational.

    Rahm went into the 2023 Masters with form of 39-WD-31 so looked to have gone off the boil.

    Still, I won't throw history out of the window on the basis of that as past Masters show it's important to take on Augusta National in good form.

    A look at the last 10 winners reveals that seven had a top 12 in a strokeplay event in the same month of the US Masters or the previous month. That's usually March/April although in the delayed 2020 edition it was October/November.

    Note: a top 12 in a LIV event will count too - even though I'm a little dubious.

    Top 12 finish in a strokeplay event in same/previous month = 7pts
    Best of 13th-30th in a strokeplay event in March/April = 3pts

    Winning Form - Confidence counts

    It seems daft that Rahm had already won three times last year but could get zero points on a metric measuring form. My bad, so I'm going to add a second form category.

    Winning is the ultimate confidence boost and that's an important weapon to be taking to Augusta National. The last two champions, Rahm and Scheffler, had both won earlier that same season, as had Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson.

    That's seven of the last 10 Masters winners, hence it's a trend worth acknowledging. Two of the other three had delivered a top five ahead of their win while all 10 had managed at least a top 15.

    Posted a win in 2024 = 7pts
    Had a best finish of 2nd to 5th in 2024 = 2pts
    Had a best finish of 6th to 15th in 2024 = 1pt

    Recent Major Form - Setting up a base camp

    This has become a key category in all the majors. It relates to the idea that major winners don't come out of thin air and often telegraph their victory with a big performance in a recent one.

    The stats show that nine of the last 10 Masters winners had posted a top six in a major in one of the previous two seasons. Even someone we consider to be a slightly freakish winner, Danny Willett, had finished tied sixth at the 2015 Open just two majors before his 2016 Masters triumph. The odd one out was Matsuyama whose best was 13th.

    It extends to the other majors too. Brian Harman, for instance, had finished sixth in the previous year's Open before winning the Claret Jug at Hoylake last summer.

    Top Six in a Major in 2022 or 2023 = 9pts
    7th-15th in a Major in 2022 or 2023 = 1pt

    Last Year's Finish - hunger acts as motivation

    Finally, for an event that has numerous quirks to it, one real oddity is that winners tend not to have played well the year before.

    Does the disappointment of not featuring on Sunday act as extra motivation 12 months later? Or, conversely, do those who played well in the previous Masters expect it'll go their way again and get caught out.

    Whatever the reason, eight of the last 10 Masters winners hadn't cracked the top 10 the year before.

    Played in but didn't make the top 10 in the 2023 Masters = 8pts
    Made the top 10 in the 2023 Masters = 2pts

    The Top Points Scorers

    And now the exciting bit!!

    The scores are in and, drumroll, these are the leading scorers in the rankings:

    75 Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy
    72 Scottie Scheffler
    70 Tommy Fleetwood
    64 Jordan Spieth
    63 Dustin Johnson
    61 Will Zalatoris

    It's a tie! Hideki and Rory!!

    The duo pip 2022 winner and hot favourite Scottie Scheffler.

    Both score 75 out of a possible 78, only dropping points in the age category as they're no longer in their 20s.

    Matsuyama is World No.14, won here three years ago and has only finished outside the top 20 once in the last nine years.

    He's shone in all the statistical categories during that time and is a winner this year at Riviera thanks to a brilliant Sunday 62.

    He's kept hot with finishes of 12th at Bay Hill, sixth at Sawgrass and fourth in Texas since then and will be hungry for another Green Jacket tilt after finishing outside the top 10 here last season.

    Rory was originally third when the article was published last Wednesday but had scope to tie Matsuyama on 75 points with a top 12 finish in the Valero Texas Open.

    And the Northern Irishman did just that, banking four more 'recent form' points by taking third in Texas, his best result on the PGA Tour this season.

    Talking of Texas, Tommy Fleetwood's top seven has jumped him up to solo fourth and not far back from the two leaders.

    And a top 10 for Jordan Spieth in Texas has edged the 2015 Masters winner up to fifth.

    Matsuyama was originally advised at 25/126.00 although his odds have fallen to 16/117.00 since last Wednesday.

    McIlroy, after his third in Texas on Sunday, is 10/111.00 on the Sportsbook and 13.012/1 on the Betfair Exchange to win that elusive first Green Jacket.


    Now read US Masters 2024: Dave Tindall's guide to the action at Augusta National


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