I’m pretty sure there’s nothing more American than pretending you know something, when in reality, you have no idea what you’re talking about.
So instead of just, I’m going to pick the winner off the 2016 Masters using a scientific approach, because everyone knows, the first rule of science is that science is never wrong. Or something like that.
The Starting Field
89 players are teeing it up for the tournament proper this year, a smaller amount than normal. The field varies year to year due to the qualification requirements. For example, you win a PGA Tour event, you’re in the Masters. If Tiger back in his prime won every Tour event he played in (not unreasonable), then the field of Masters eligible players would probably shrink.
Starting player count: 89
Amateurs, and dudes over 46
Amateurs don’t win, and Jack Nicklaus was the oldest.
I know there are some people who are thinking to themselves, “What about Bryson DeChambeau?!?!?! He played in the final group in Dubai with Rory, and played with Rory again at the API before losing when Rory made a 60 foot putt on the last hole of the tournament. He could win!”
Stop it. Just stop it.
Players left: 75
Bad Past Champions
Sorry Mike Weir and Trevor Immelmann, you guys get your own section.
Players left: 73
First time participants
Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, and Fuzzy Zoeller (in 1934 and 1935, and 1979 respectively) are the only players to do it. Sure it could happen, but it’s not gonna happen.
Augusta National is a course that you need to know how to play. Giant mounds guard pretty much every fairway and green – very Mackenzie-esq. Along with the giant mounds, there are even more subtle breaks you need to know. Jack Nicklaus’s putt on 17 in ’86 comes right to mind.
“How is a 24-year-old kid … there’s no way I know those greens as well or better than him,” Jack II said. “Not anywhere as close as my dad. We are sitting there on 17 with a putt to put him in the outright lead. I thought the putt went to the right, away from Rae’s Creek (which is at the far end of the course, fronting the 12th green and meandering toward the 13th). I thought it was probably an inch outside the hole. He said, ‘You know this is where Rae’s Creek comes in, it has an influence over the entire property. I don’t think it will go to the right. I think it might go to the left.’ “
How the hell is a first timer supposed to know that? You should read that entire article I took the quote from. The back and forth at that moment is super interesting.
Players left: 59
Players not in the top 30 in the world
I admit, this is somewhat of a cheap ploy to narrow down the list, especially since Angel and Zach were both above 30th in the world when they won. But hey, they’re the exceptions! Reality is, good players win the majors. And top 30 in the world isn’t really too out of the question for guys looking to win majors.
Players left: 30. Duh
Players who haven’t won this year
Another big move, and one that I really think is important, though might not be statistically backed however. Confidence breeds confidence, winning breeds winning. I just made that quote up, but it seems true. Also gotta pour one out for Rors and Rickey here. Didn’t make the GOTM cut.
So who does that leave?
Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Brandt Snedeker, Charl Schwartzel.
Players left: 7, assuming you didn’t count.
I sat here for a while trying to figure a way to narrow this list down. Time travel a week forward, and if I look at the headline and see any one of their names at the top in bold, I wouldn’t be shocked in the least. That being said, this article isn’t named “7 Players Who Could Possibly Win the 2016 Masters”. So I need to narrow it down to one. Up to this point, I was just using heuristics, general ideas that could bring the number of players down. But from here on out, I’m going to have to eliminate the players by name.
Players who have a silent ‘D’ in their name
Sorry Brant, you’re getting the boot from the final 7 first. Sneds actually has quite the history at Augusta National. Winning the Pub Links while in college at Vanderbilt, which meant he was allowed to practice at Augusta National from that fall until the event the next April. Something that he took full advantage of driving down to Georgia plenty of weekends.
That practice obviously gave him some confidence and knowledge, and left him with a stretch of nice finishes from 2011 to 2014 (T15, T19, T6, T37 consecutively). But that doesn’t mean he’s gonna win this year.
Players left: 6
Players who’s first names sound like they’re missing an extra sound
Sorry Charl, I’m going to have to let you go here. You’ve been playing well, winning the Valspar just a few weeks ago. You have history at the Masters, a past champion has history in his favor. But I just don’t think you’re up to par this week. I’m sorry to see you go, and good luck in your next major. Security will escort you out now.
I’ve never had to fire someone before. I hope he took it well.
Players left: 5
Players who stand over the ball for a minute before hitting it
I swear, you could take a picture of Hideki Matsuyama at address and it might take me a while before realizing it was a picture and not a video. That has nothing to do with how he plays, because he’s obviously a great player. Earlier in the year, he had a comeback win at the WMPO beating Rickie Fowler in a playoff that nobody saw because the Super Bowl started at that point.
H-Dek also has a history of playing at the Masters as an Amateur, receiving the first exemption for winning the Asian-Pacific Amateur in history. I see him winning eventually, but not this time around.
Players left: 4
Players who used to use a long putter, and now seem to be putting just as good with a short putter
I’m a little sad to forecast that Adam Scott, in his fantastically fitting Uniqlo polos, won’t be the 2016 Masters champ. And in reality, I don’t have a good reason to eliminate him, other than I just don’t think he’s going to win. Already a back to back champ this year at the Honda and Doral, might Adam have used up all his juju?
There’s actually another Australian golfer in this list who’s won back to back tournaments this year. I wonder how far he’ll go in this countdown…
Players left: 3
Players who won the Masters the previous year
There goes Jordan! No back to back champs since Tiger in 2001 and 2002. Then you gotta look to 1991 and 1992 to Nick Faldo for the back to back winner before Tiger. Defending is tough.
Players left: 2
Players not ranked number 1 in the world
Yup, there goes Jason Day. Besides Tiger in 2001 and 2002, no players since Freddy in 1992 ranked number 1 in the world have won the Masters. Ignoring Tiger seems a common theme in this article. Semi weak criteria, but hey, we gotta narrow it down somehow.
Players left: 1
Your 2016 Masters Champ: Bubba Watson
It’s an even numbered year and he won the Northern Trust Open, both perfect indicators of him winning the Masters. Besides that, he’s perfect for the course, and has played it a ton over his professional career, as well as in college at Georgia. Most of all, he knows how to prepare, and I don’t think he needs to prepare much. Bub’s your winner.