Lefties winning at Augusta

After Bubba Watson’s slightly less emotional win at the Masters yesterday, left handed golfers, albeit only 3 different ones, have won 6 of the last 12 years. Mike Weir in 2003, Phil Mickelson in ’04, ’06, and ’10, and now Bubs in ’12 and ’14. So why are left handers playing so well at the Masters?

A popular thought about how to play at Augusta, is that you need to be able to move the ball from right to left. Think holes 2, 8, 10 and 13 (among others), all big swingers from right to left. Conventional wisdom stated that a draw was the shot you needed since, before 2003, no left hander had ever won the Masteres. With the left handers however, their shot of choice would be a fade. And this, is what people are claiming the lefty binge is all about. Where righties are hitting these low draw shots which bounce with lower spin rates on the firm Augusta greens, lefties can hit higher spin fades which are way more likely to hold on the greens. And because of the softer landings, lefties have a better chance at winning at Augusta.

Unfortunately, you can’t really make a statement like that with such a small sample size. Twelve years of lefty play doesn’t make up for the fact that a lefty had never won there before. Combine that with the fact that Mickelson is a top 2 player of a generation who has won everywhere (except the US Open…) and the argument of lefty fades kind of falls apart. The only other conclusion I can come up with is that winning the Masters takes crazy shotmaking, both of which Phil and Bubba are known for. So maybe after 50 more years of Masters we might be able to make a conclusion, but until then, I’ll call this theory bunk.

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