The US Masters is the first of the four major championships throughout the professional golf year but is the only one played at the same course. Although the event is always played at Augusta National it’s not always the same course. After each Masters the builders move in to generally lengthen the course but on this occasion the modifications have been relatively insignificant.
Augusta National is a long hard course with difficult par 3s though the par 5s offer some birdie opportunities. The 13th and 15th are classic risk reward holes which means players can make up several shots over the back nine. A constant throughout the changes is the fiendish, lightening-fast greens.
The US Masters is packed with traditions, including the presentation of a green jacket by the defending champion to the winner. It has a limited field that contains several non-contenders who are former winners. For punting purposes the field is the smallest of the year especially with those bookmakers that are paying out on six places.
Amen Corner consists of three holes around the turn where a number of shots can be dropped. The tournament traditionally begins over the back nine on Sunday. There are several instances of players coming from well off the pace, including Jack Nicklaus in 1986 when he won his 18th and final major.
The key at Augusta is keeping out of trouble. One false shot is easily compounded, making for a double or triple or even worse. Finding that ‘out of trouble’ key demands experience. Debutants can do well if they have hot putter or with a knowledgeable local caddie. Patrick Reed has never played in any major so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the course and experience.
Stats from recent renewals suggest length off the tee matters as traditionally the big hitters do well, like Bubba Watson in 2012. Distance is critically important on the par 5s which provide plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities. Ideally a player should have a good all round short game, chipping and pitching as well as putting, together with a high ball flight to land softly on the fast greens.
Accurate iron play is clearly vital due to the degree of difficulty in hitting the fast greens. The fairways are relatively wide so distance is more important than accuracy from the tees. An identikit winner must excel in areas of driving accuracy, greens in regulation, putting and scrambling so a good all round game is required. Due to the prestigious nature of the tournament a player must have the nerve to execute shots when the pressure is at its most intense.
If betting in running its worth bearing in mind that the two easiest holes on the course are the par 5 13th and 15th which offers genuine opportunities to make up strokes. The trio of successive par 4s around the turn at 9, 10 and 11 are the toughest on the course and very demanding. It is advantageous to have an early tee time especially as the breeze gets up in the afternoon.
Over the last six years the average winning score has been 11 under in a range from 8 to 16 under. For a par 72 course at just over 7440 yards that represents a relatively high total. Putting is important but bogey avoidance more than birdie conversion is an important element for decent scoring. The scoring is dependent on the weather and if there is any wind the winning score tends to be at the higher end of the range.
Since 1997 Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won seven times between them but generally this spell has seen many one time winners. Woods is absent this year so Mickelson is the only multiple champion with a realistic chance of winning. After several near misses Adam Scott was the first Australian winner last year. The last British player to win the Masters was Sir Nick Faldo in 1996.
Players from the United State have won 57 times made up of 35 players. The next most winning country is South Africa with five followed by Spain and England. Players from ten different nations have won the Masters. The last European winner was Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. Angel Cabrera became the only player from South America to win the Green Jacket in 2009.
On Par Profits