20 Years of Masters Data: What Does a Winner Look Like?
For many, Augusta is the highlight of the golf calendar. Despite there being 44 events per season, including 4 majors, The Masters is considered the most coveted prize of them all.
At casino.org, we’re suckers for data, but Golf is a sport of many variables with a lot of data points. We’ve decided to go back in time and take a close look at the last 20 green jacket winners, looking at the profile of the victorious golfers, their equipment, and their performance.
After mining 20 years of data, we have been able to identify some recurring trends. We have also used previous outcomes to calculate the most likely profile of the 2023 Masters winner.
The standout trends at Augusta
Since the very first Masters tournament in 1934, only three debutants have won. This trend is likely to change, though, as the quality of elite golfers is increasing year-on-year. The average age of the last 20 Masters winners is 31 and ½ – which is relatively high for PGA Tour winners. This stat suggests experience is key around Augusta.
Another prominent theme for those looking to don the Green Jacket at the Masters is power off the tee, with a right to left shot shape dominating. This is a draw for most players, but Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have won 25% of the last 20 Masters renewals between them. What have they got in common? They are both lefties who can power fade the ball with that required right-to-left shot shape. This is a theme that will largely be neutralised at Augusta over the coming years as the players and their equipment evolves.
Power is vital for Green Jacket success
The last three Masters winners have all been bombers of the ball, and faders with a strong left-to-right shot shape. These guys can now launch it over the corners of the tree line from the markers on key driving holes at Augusta. Carry distance is further for those equipped with the baby fade or power fade. Dustin Johnson shed a tear after he bombed his way to the Green Jacket in 2020.
We can see from the data that power is still very much a prerequisite for Masters success. The season average driving distance of the last 20 Masters winners was 296.1 yards. This increases to 299.9 if we go from 2013 onwards. Sheffler and Dustin Johnson both eclipsed the 310 yards mark. It’s interesting to note that the Titleist pro V1 is the standout ball of choice. This is the ball renowned for giving players extra carry distance. Half of these Masters Champions had the Pro V in their bag.
What else do the stats tell us?
13 of the last 20 Masters winners have been US players and 15 have been players from the Americas. There have been two South African winners with Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel donning the Green Jacket at the iconic Butler Cabin. Adam Scott delighted the Aussie fans when he finally got over the major hump in 2013.
It’s TaylorMade who is pushing for the most efficient brand in professional golf in recent times if we are to believe the small data. Four of the last six Masters winners used a TaylorMade driver, with Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson also using TaylorMade’s TP5 golf balls. Power hitters tend to be tall golfers and the average height of the last 20 Masters winners is around 6-foot.
Masters 2023 course fit guide: Key metrics for Augusta
Course history is vitally important at Augusta. Big data averages might suggest course history is worth less than 0.1 strokes per hole around this iconic venue but in reality course history and course knowledge at particular venues are worth more. Shane Lowry talked about this when battling to make the cut on the number back in 2020. He was desperate to make the cut to get another two “practice rounds” in at the weekend.
You just want to get into the weekend. I want to get two more rounds here just to learn, just to keep learning how to play this place because I don’t quite have it figured out yet. I’m going to get a few more chances to come back here. This weekend is all about learning for meShane Lowry
Former Masters winner’s Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson’s (3-time winner) course knowledge and figures are arguably the most notable examples of the course knowledge theme in recent years and we can add Bubba Watson (2-time winner) into the mix. Course management is vital if the players want to win the Masters 2023. There’s a premium on approaches and distance control with the mid-to-long irons, with severe elevations in play. Guys will be looking to hit the right segments of the tiered Augusta greens.
We’ve already said length off the tee is a big advantage at Augusta and par 5 performance is huge in terms of key metrics. I wonder if the new TaylorMade Stealth Plus and Stealth Plus 2 drivers will play a part down the stretch at Augusta in 2023? Of the Masters betting market leaders, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Sheffler and Collin Morikawa use this equipment, as does a certain Tiger Woods. Or will it be Jon Rahm’s Paradym Triple Diamond driver from Callaway Golf that gets the job done this year?
Who fits the profile for the 2023 Masters?
The data would say that the winner is likely to be from The United States, but the foreign talent is hard to ignore. Despite the Americans dominating the tournament over the last 20 years, we’re guaranteed to see a bigger variety in winners over the coming years. In fact, the same can likely be said for age and height, too. So we’re going to focus on equipment and skill instead.
Taking this into consideration, maybe it will be Rory McIlroy’s turn to win the Masters and finally complete golf’s major Grand Slam? Rory McIlroy uses the Stealth Plus driver and he launches the TaylorMade TP5X golf ball into orbit using the high draw from the tips that has been so successful at Augusta. He’s also added the fade into his armoury in recent times if needed.
The Irishman is the perfect age for the winning Masters’ profile at 33 and he leads the PGA Tour in driving distance this season with a clip of 326.6 yards from the markers. McIlroy currently ranks 8th in strokes gained approach, 2nd in Par 5 birdies or better and 4th in overall par 5 performance. He rates a 10 out of 10 in my personal course fit PGA data model for approach iron shots from 150-200 yards. His Augusta experience is second to none. It definitely could be the Irishman’s year at Augusta for the Masters 2023 – will we finally see him in the Green Jacket?
This analysis was created by mining data from the official PGA website and other official golf statistic sources. We looked at the tournament winners of the last 20 years, and calculated averages to create the likely profile of the winner.
You’re welcome to use this analysis, as well as the supporting infographics, but we ask that you link back to this page as a source. For media enquiries, please contact email@example.com.
Image credit: The featured image in this article was taken from masters.com and is not owned by casino.org.