Monday, April 2, 2012
5 things to know about the Masters
ESPN Stats & Info
There were many research tidbits uncovered in preparation for the year's first major, so we'll share a few of the tastier nuggets to get Masters week started off right.
Fresh face or old hand?
In the past 13 major championships, we've seen 13 different winners (and 10 of the past 11 were first-time major winners). Not since Padraig Harrington won the 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA Championship has golf's majors been won by the same person over that span.
Might that streak end this week? Well, after the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, six of the top 10 players in the world were without a major on their résumés, so the potential is certainly there for the streak to continue if the likes of Luke Donald or Lee Westwood can slip on a green jacket come Sunday.
An Aussie in green?
Jason Day and Adam Scott both played well in the final round of the 2011 Masters, finishing in a tie for second behind champion Charl Schwartzel. Might that portend major success for the Aussies in 2012?
Recent history suggests that won't be the case.
In the past 39 Masters, only once has the runner-up from the previous year won the tournament (Ben Crenshaw, 1984). Overall, the runner-up-to-champion route has occurred eight times in 75 Masters, including twice by Jack Nicklaus (1965, 1972) as well as once by Arnold Palmer (1962) and Byron Nelson (1942).
So even though Scott and Day are the two highest ranked Aussies in the Masters field, don't expect them to be the ones to break the drought that has seen none of their countrymen win at Augusta National.
What does a lead mean?
That depends on when it happens.
If a golfer is in front after 18 holes at Augusta National, it doesn't mean much. Of course players in the field would rather be in front than behind, but in the past 27 years, only one player holding at least a share of the first-round lead went on to win (Trevor Immelman, 2008).
Until last year, the eventual winner had come from the final pairing in 19 of the previous 20 years. Make that 19-of-21 since Schwartzel's four-birdie finish in 2011 came from the second-to-last pairing.
The run of final group winners had reached 16 straight until Zach Johnson snapped it in 2007 playing from the third-to-last pairing.
Cut's like a knife
Every year the same question seems to come up: How many guys reach the weekend? Well, like in many other aspects of the year's first major, Augusta National is just different.
After 36 holes of play are completed, the lowest 44 players along with ties play Rounds 3 and 4 of The Masters. (Remember, The Masters isn't a full-field event, with the number of participants usually in the 80s or 90s.) Also, if any player is within 10 strokes of the lead, they too will tee it up in the final two rounds.
Don't call it a curse
No player has ever won the Wednesday afternoon Masters Par-3 Contest -- started in 1960 -- and the famed green jacket in the same year. Donald took the title last year and finished T-4 in the main event.
Donald was the fourth straight international player to win after three consecutive South Africans finished first -- Louis Oosthuizen (2010), Tim Clark (2009) and Rory Sabbatini (2008).
The Par-3 Contest field includes Masters participants, noncompeting past champions -- such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in previous years -- and honorary invitees.
The shortest hole on the 1,060-yard course measures 70 yards (No. 2) with the longest being the 140-yard sixth hole. The most holes-in-one during a single Par-3 Contest was five in 2002 and the hole with the most aces over the years is No. 9 (with 21). The next closest? No. 2 and No. 7 both have surrendered 14 aces.