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.
The Masters. The best week of the year. The beginning of spring, warm weather on the way (maybe a while off here in the Midwest however), and gorgeous rolling hills of Augusta National. The Masters also means birdies and eagles, and roars from the patrons when players make those birdies and eagles. Basically, Masters week makes for the best golf watching of the year.
Looking to know who’s going to win? Check here.
Music this week was pretty easy to pick out. Click play on this video and let the soothing sounds of Augusta take you away to your happy place. That sounds pretty weird, but I’m gonna keep it.
What to watch for:
Bad Young Guys
Aka amateurs! The Masters, bless its soul, was founded in a time where being an Amateur (note the capital A) was a good thing. A sign that you’re stable enough in life to not need to play golf for money. Bobby Jones, co-founder of Augusta National and the Masters, was a poster child of amateur golf. And because of that, the focus of amateurs in the Masters lives on some 70 years later.
Masters Sunday means me sitting in a chair and watching golf for 6 hours. As such, I figured I might as well write down my thoughts about what’s happening on the course during the best day in golf for the year. So check back throughout the final round for updates and random thoughts as the 2015 Masters concludes!
Update #17 — 6:58 EST
That’s it. Spieth wins, celebrates with everyone, and gets to play in the Masters forever. Or until they don’t let him anymore.
Update #16 — 6:38 EST
Tiger with the casual bone replacement after it popped out on his second shot on 9. Bout as casual as you can get.
Update #15 — 6:35 EST
Rory beats Tiger by 7 while playing together. But nobody is gonna remember that. They’ll remember Spieth winning by a bunch, and Tiger actually finishing a tournament.
Update #14 — 6:06 EST
“Tough as an old Texas snake boot.” Thanks David Feherty.
It’s time for the Masters! Time for golf at Augusta! Time for Jim Nantz! Time for the Masters theme song! Yup the Masters has a theme song. What other tournament has a theme song? (By the way, put this video on in the background on repeat when reading this).
The Drive Chip and Putt is over (thankfully, as “special” and “amazing” an experience that was for the kids, I’d rather have watched JB Holmes birdie the first four holes during the Shell Houston Open’s final round), and the practice rounds are under way, with the first round on Thursday looming like the opening round of a major does. Get ready for golf, green grass, and awkward handshakes! It’s the Masters 2015 preview.
About the Sponsor
We all knew the Masters was unique in that it doesn’t need sponsors. It isn’t the “Waffle House Masters”. It isn’t the “Masters Presented by Waffle House” either. So I was questioning whether or not I should even include this section. Of course the answer is yes! In fact these companies deserve this section even more than normal tournaments because their name isn’t mentioned with the tournament name. In fact their name isn’t even mentioned on the Masters website. Seriously. I couldn’t find anything there that mentioned who’s paying the rich white guys and Condoleezza Rice a ridiculous amount of money and not get mentioned anywhere.
So many good cards this week at Augusta National. Lots of birdies. Lots of doubles. A smattering of eagles, and plenty of others. This always makes for a great tournament to watch, but it’s a little harder to pick the most intriguing card when there are so many out there. At first I thought it might be Marc Leishman or Peter Hanson, but those were just not very good rounds of golf. Then Gary Woodland put his name into the ring on Saturday, and Bernhard Langer threw down a similarly spectacular round on Sunday. But no one could do what Justin Rose did over the course of 72 holes.
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.
To an untrained eye, Augusta National and the Masters seems to personify (tournsonify?) tradition in all different forms. Caddies must wear the same white jump suits with numbers assigned by when the player registered (except the defending champion whose caddie wears number 1). Etiquette violations aren’t really violations, they’re merely “frowned upon.” Caddies can’t wear crocs (I might be ok with that actually). Patrons are strictly prohibited from bringing cell phones and cameras. And did I mention that they call tournament attendees “patrons”?
And yet with all these traditions, the Masters has become sort of a beacon of the future. Or maybe my expectations are just low.
Drive Chip and Putt
When I first heard that the Masters was putting (ha) on this competition, I laughed and figured it would probably be something along the lines of the NFL’s punt pass and kick. Just a dumb competition that improves public perception about the league and then no one cares about it (just don’t tell Andy Reid). Well it turns out that the drive chip and putt competition that took place this last Sunday was anything but.
There’s nothing more American than betting and the Masters, so why not combine them both. Here’s a list of some prop bets for the week!
Number of balls in hazard for Phil this week: 3 over/under
Arnie outdrives Gary Player on opening tee shot: 8 to 1
A six year age difference and slightly different physiques give Player the edge.
Tee times are released for the Masters! Even without the Masters getting the memo of putting Craig and Kevin Stadler together, here are 3 of the more interesting pairings, who aren’t necessarily full of superstars.
Group 17, 10:52 pm, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy
The young guns grouping is positioned to anchor the second day of coverage since it looks like they’ll be the last group off on Friday. No need to mention how good these guys are. Interesting note about Reed though is that he finished his college career at Augusta St. and has undoubtedly played the Nation many times. And familiarity helps. For Speith, just his first appearance.
Group 28, 1:04 pm, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson
Two of the three people who can overtake Tiger Woods for number one in the world rankings (Day and Stenson). Add into the mix Dustin Johnson (who withdrew from the SHO last week) and you’ve got yourself a featured group. With Jason Day, it’s funny to think about that he has only two wins on the PGA Tour. One in 2010, and in February with the WGC Matchplay. I’d expect more with him being ranked 4th in the world.
Group 33, 1:59 pm – Harris English, Lee Westwood, Russell Henley
Old Georgia teammates get to tee it up in the state of Georgia. Having playing familiarity is certainly helpful in this last tee time of the first day.
First thing’s first, click play on this
and keep it on the background. You gotta get yourself in a Masters state of mind, baby!
If you’ve been watching any of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, you’ve undoubtedly heard the glorious voice of Jim Nantz describing the Masters as “A tradition unlike any other.” Sidenote, if I didn’t suck at explaining things, I really should have been a sports announcer. Nantz gets to watch the Final Four, and then goes straight to Augusta? Not a bad deal. And oh man, as long as I’m going down the Jim Nantz hole, turns out there’s a ton of juicy drama behind his voice. He recently went through a divorce in which he cried on the stand, got married to his girlfriend, who was born 3 years before Nantz got married the first time, on the 7th hole at Pebble Beach and now has a child with her! Luckily, this is America and as long as you entertain us, nobody cares if you marry someone 20 years younger. In fact, it’s probably expected.
Even though he may have lied to his wife, Nantz sure as hell isn’t lying about the Masters traditions. The Masters is the first major of the year, the weather is warming up and the sun is starting to peak out from the winter clouds. People’s spirits are up, and we’re ready to watch the Masters! Here’s a list of things that you need to know in order to get the most out of the best sporting event on the planet.
The Masters has a thing for Amateurs
Ever since the lifelong amateur Bobby Jones started the Masters, amateurs have been an integral part of the tournament. As of two years ago when they added an invitation for the Asian Amateur champ, there are 6 spots per year reserved for amateurs. The other invitations include the winner and runner up for the US Am, the Pub links champion, the British Am champion and the Mid Am champion. All these invitations are taken away if the player decides turns pro. Besides inviting these amateurs to play, the low am who makes the cut gets interviewed — before the actual winner — in the basement of Butler Cabin after the end of the tournament. Talk about treatment.