What does it take to win the US Masters?
The US Masters is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and the green jacket for the winner is one of the most prized pieces of clothing.
Ahead of the 2022 US Masters, we have analysed the data to look at the trends as we consider who could be the next champion at Augusta.
When is the US Masters?
The Masters Tournament – commonly known as the US Masters – takes place every year at Augusta National Golf Club in the US state of Georgia.
The Masters is one of golf’s four major championships and is the first to be contested, scheduled for the first full week of April each year.
As an invitational tournament it has a smaller field of players than the other three, with all past winners automatically qualifying along with recent winners of other selected competitions and other highly-ranked players.
Do major winners perform well in the US Masters?
Only three of the last 10 US Masters champions had won a major before their triumph at Augusta, suggesting that it favours players with a sparse trophy cabinet. However, another six of them had previously finished as a runner-up in one of the other three major tournaments.
2020 winner Dustin Johnson is among the favourites in the US Masters odds again this year, as is 2015 champion Jordan Spieth. There may be value in backing Brooks Koepka or Xander Schauffele, who are less fancied than the aforementioned green jacket winners but have both finished as runners-up in the Masters before.
Does previous performance matter in the US Masters?
Prior success at Augusta seems to make a big difference. Since 1990, just over a third of Masters winners had been awarded the green jacket previously. Furthermore, the same proportion had finished in the top five before.
This appears to count against Collin Morikawa and Bryson Dechambeau, who are both among the 2022 Masters favourites but have never yet finished inside the top 10.
Five of the six shortest-priced contenders have all finished in the top five here before, including previous winners Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson.
Does last season’s ranking matter at the US Masters?
In the 14 seasons since the FedEx Cup began, only three winners of the US Masters had finished in the top 10 in the previous season’s FedEx Cup standings.
This is potentially encouraging for Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa, who are among the favourites this year but finished well outside the top 10 in the 2021 FedEx Cup rankings.
Does experience matter at the US Masters?
Experience appears to matter more than youth at the US Masters. Two-thirds of the winners since 1990 were already in their thirties when the tournament began.
In a relatively youthful field this could spell further success for 37-year-old Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy, who will turn 33 a month after the 2022 US Masters.
Brooks Koepka will be almost 32 when the competition begins and like McIlroy has come tantalisingly close to earning the green jacket before.
What type of players perform best at the US Masters?
Golf requires a combination of skills such as accurate driving, efficient approach play and precise putting, but which is the most valuable at Augusta?
When we examine the performances of the last 10 US Masters winners on the previous PGA Tour, we find that approach play is what sets them apart.
Seven of the last 10 players to triumph at Augusta ranked inside the top 100 for Greens in Regulation percentage, which is defined as the share of greens reached with at least two strokes under par remaining.
This compares to just four who ranked that highly for their putting average and only two who did so for driving accuracy.
Jon Rahm, the favourite in the Masters odds, ranked second for Greens in Regulation on the 2020-21 tour, with Collin Morikawa not far behind him in fifth, so the data appears to be supporting their short price.
Jordan Spieth, who ranked 139th for this metric, may struggle to replicate his 2015 Masters win though.