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03 Apr 2018 by Sam Vickers

The Masters 2018 Preview

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AT A GLANCE

When is the 2018 Masters? 5th - 8th April, 2018

Where is the 2018 Masters? Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, USA

What is the format of the 2018 Masters? 72-hole stroke play

What is the total prize fund of the 2018 Masters? $11 million

What is the course yardage at Augusta? 7,435 yards

What channel can I watch the 2018 Masters on in the UK? The UK TV rights are shared between Sky (Sky Sports Golf) and BBC (BBC Two)

Where can I stream the 2018 Masters? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the tournament online via Sky Go. The action will also be available to stream on both BBC iPlayer and The Masters official website

Are tickets still available for the 2018 Masters? https://www.viagogo.co.uk/Spor...

It’s that time of year again in the golfing calendar when spring has arrived, the golf season has officially begun for club players and the first major championship of the year is upon us – The Masters at Augusta National. Danny Willett became the first Englishman to triumph in 20 years and the first European player to win since 1999 in 2016 which was followed by Sergio Garcia’s breakthrough last year to become the third Spanish player to ever win The Masters after the great Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal.

Last Ten Champions

  • Since 2007, the average winning total has been 11 under par, with Jordan Spieth equalling the lowest tournament score (-18) in 2015. Danny Willett’s five under winning total was the second highest since Nick Faldo’s 1989 triumph which also happened to be the last time an Englishman had won The Masters until 2016.
  • On average, Augusta’s par threes have been the most difficult set of holes, averaging one under par for the champions since 2008, with 40% of the winners scoring level par or above for the week.
  • On the other hand, the par fives around Augusta is where the victors have gained an advantage over the course with par five scoring accounting for 63.6% of the overall winning total.
  • Augusta’s back-nine is famed for its amphitheatre and drama on Sundays due to its numerous birdie and eagle opportunities. This is shown in its scoring average (34.33) which plays 0.62 strokes easier than the front-nine (34.95). Notably, the past three champions have scored better or equal on the front-nine for the week, suggesting aggressive play from the onset is required moving forward.
  • Past champions have excelled in ‘Greens-in-Regulation’ (GIR), averaging 72% of greens hit throughout the four rounds.
  • The lowest percentage recorded in the past ten Masters was 66.67% by 2016 winner Willett, which also happened to be the highest winning total, by three-strokes, from the results analysed. Additionally, the two highest GIR% (75.00%) were also the two lowest winning totals (-18 in 2015 and -16 in 2010) of the results examined, suggesting approach-to-green performance is vital to success around Augusta.
  • Other than perhaps Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, winners of the previous ten Masters are not regarded within the game as particularly good putters but are all considered as world-class ball-strikers tee-to-green and players who possess the arsenal to hit the ball long distances, suggesting this attribute is a greater advantage.

Trends In Recent Champions

  • Since 2014, the four champions have each recorded a worldwide victory in the 12 weeks leading to Augusta, signifying early season form has become more important in recent years with the standard of the field getting stronger every season.
  • With there being 34 weeks between the final major of 2017 (The PGA Championship) and the first major of the 2018 season, it is a big ask for the majority of players to be going to Augusta looking for their first win of the year on the biggest of stages.

TSZ’s Favourites

TSZ has recorded each winner during 2018 on both the European and PGA Tour heading into The Masters and calculated an average ranking from the following: world ranking, approach-the-green ranking and par five scoring average ranking – the key statistics to success around Augusta National. The six top-ranked players (PGA Tour based players in red) have been identified as TSZ favourites for the 2018 edition.

  • World number two Justin Thomas leads the way, ranking fifth in each statistic and has a great opportunity to claim back-to-back majors and become world number one in the process.
  • England’s Tommy Fleetwood could become the third European champion in a row for the first time since 1988-90 and for only the second time in Masters history. Ranked just outside the world’s top ten players (11th), Fleetwood’s rise in the last 18 months looks set to continue.
  • Phil Mickelson’s game by his own admission is in the best-shape of his career and after recording his first win at the WGC Mexico since The Open Championship in 2013, it is hard to argue against. He ranks fourth in SG: approach and second in SG: putting.
  • Paul Casey has a strong record around Augusta and the ideal game to contend. After so many near misses, the Englishman recently recorded his first PGA Tour win since 2009 and fended off Tiger Woods in the process.
  • Dustin Johnson has been somewhat quiet by his standards after a strong start to 2018 and his form is trending in the wrong direction. However, a player of this calibre only needs to find an extra gear the day before and can easily contend this week around a layout that suits his game perfectly.
  • Kiradech Aphibarnrat has recorded two T5 finishes in 2018 WGC’s thus far, showing he has the all-round game and mental aptitude to perform on the biggest stage.

Performance Of Defending Champions

  • In recent years, Master winners have struggled to contend during their defence – other than Jordan Spieth in 2015 – due to a multitude of reasons. However, Sergio Garcia is arguably in as good as, if not better form, than when he won here last year. The world number nine has recorded an international victory at the Singapore Open in January, has three top ten finishes from four starts on the PGA Tour, ranks first in SG: approach and third in par five scoring average, making him a firm favourite to defend his title which would be just the fourth time in Masters history.

Betting Markets

TSZ has identified the main betting markets heading into Masters week

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