Must-Know Masters Trends: Process Of Elimination Leaves One Champion Pick

New year, same result


April 5, 2022

When it comes to Masters trends, Hideki Matsuyama broke the mold with his 2021 win.

One of the great things about trying to handicap the golf season’s first major is we’re intimately familiar with Augusta National Golf Course, and the smaller field lends itself to the cream rising to the top. It’s a big reason why Sunday at the Masters is the best golf experience on the calendar.

So, it was fitting Matsuyama essentially won his green jacket on Saturday. It fit with the theme of him bucking most trends that tend to apply to Masters winners.

It’s impossible to know whether Matsuyama winning last year is a blip on the radar or a change in what Masters winners look like and how they profile. Given the youth movement in the game of golf right now, change certainly could be on the way, but for now, we’re going to dive into the data and see if we can find an obvious, no-doubt choice to win based solely on past trends.

— The last 12 Masters winners have been inside the top 30 of the World Golf Rankings.
That leaves:

Scottie SchefflerJon RahmCollin MorikawaViktor HovlandPatrick CantlayCameron Smith
Justin ThomasDustin JohnsonRory McIlroyXander SchauffeleSam BurnsHideki Matsuyama
Billy HorschelLouis OosthuizenAbraham AncerTyrrell HattonBrooks KoepkaJordan Spieth
Bryson DeChambeauJoaquin NiemannDaniel BergerTony FinauHarris EnglishMatt Fitzpatrick
Paul CaseySungjae ImKevin KisnerJason KokrakWill ZalatorisKevin Na

Tough break for popular picks to win this week, like Corey Conners (No. 32), Shane Lowry (No. 35) or even former champion Adam Scott (No. 36). But have a nice weekend, fellas.

— No one has ever won the Masters in the same year they withdrew from the Masters.
Makes sense, huh? Get that hip right, Harris English.

— There hasn’t been a repeat winner since 2002 (Tiger Woods).
There goes Hideki Matsuyama. He withdrew from the Texas Open last week and has been battling back and neck issues, so that’s a double-confident cross-off.

— The betting favorite hasn’t won in 11 years.
Jon Rahm is out. Again.

— Only one Masters debutant has ever won the tournament.
Sam Burns is having a helluva year, but history says he won’t win in his Augusta debut.

— Dustin Johnson is the only world No. 1 since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win.
Scottie Scheffler can’t keep his ridiculous run going.

— Nine of the last 12 winners played at least three Masters before winning.
Tough break for Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Sungjae Im, Abe Ancer, Joaquin Niemann and Jason Kokrak.

— The last 12 winners have posted a top-10 finish in the same season.
Louis Oosthuizen is gonna have to chase that elusive second major elsewhere. The same goes for Bryson DeChambeau. And Tony Finau … where he be now? We’re not sure, but this trend means he won’t be at Butler Cabin on Sunday. And Kevin Na can walk himself out of here.

— Nine of the last 10 winners had at least two top-15 finishes in three events leading up to Masters.
Now the carnage begins. One quick, potentially important thing to note here: Some of these players, all of them elite and very live to win, fall off this trend because of The Players Championship. The weather that weekend was horrendous, and the draw played a big role in who survived the weekend, so this potentially is a little different than years past.

That being said: Let’s say our goodbyes to Dustin Johnson, Cam Smith, Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Joaquin Niemann. There go a combined 13 major championships and two green jackets.

One other note: We’re gonna keep Kevin Kisner for now, as he finished second at the WGC Match Play two weeks ago.

— Nine of the last 10 winners ranked 16th or better in World Golf Rankings.
Definitely could have gone to this one earlier and shortened the list dramatically, but that would have eliminated some of the, well, drama. In this case, Kisner’s survival is short-lived, and he’s joined by Daniel Berger, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey on the outside looking in.

UPDATE: We’ve widdled this down to a final four: Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Billy Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton.

— Seven of the last 10 winners finished 31st or better the prior season in bogey avoidance ? and four of the last seven Masters winners ranked in the top seven in par-4 birdie or better heading into Augusta.
So, obviously, those are pretty arbitrary trends, and you can really bend stats any way you’d like. However, those two trends came from very respected names in the golf betting/DFS space (Pat Mayo and Steve Bamford at the Golf Betting System). Also: Both of those trends eliminated three of our final four and left us with the same last man standing in each…

Justin Thomas.

That’s right. For the second straight year, our arbitrary list of Masters trends spits out JT as a potential winner. That’s no surprise, either: Only Rahm has shorter odds to win, and Thomas has contended here before. He comes in with fine form, and he really should have more than one major to his name at this point.

It’s no surprise Thomas is getting plenty of love this week.

Hat tip to VSiN for some of the trends used in this story.

Thumbnail photo via Andrew Davis Tucker/USA TODAY Sports Images

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