Eliminate all but Keegan Bradley
The Wearing Of The Green Jacket
Sure there's been plenty of golf played so far, but the 2013 major season officially tees off Thursday in Augusta, Ga.
But earlier in the week starts the official Masters prediction season. Pundits away!
The next few days, you'll see, read and hear many picks. Some will look at statistics and pore over numbers. Others will play a hunch or go with their gut. Most will simply pick Tiger Woods.
I like to approach things a little differently, using the Eliminator system. Instead of telling you why I think one golfer will win, I tell you why all but one cannot win, using a mix of statistics, trends and historical streaks.
To start, look no further than last year's Masters. Each of the past 15, and 32 of the past 33, Masters winners had made the cut at the previous year's event. The only one who didn't in that time was Tiger Woods, who was playing his first major as a professional.
That gets rid of 49 golfers right off the bat because I don't see them slipping on a green jacket Sunday afternoon.
Another ongoing streak at the Masters concerns European players. After winning eight of 12 Masters from 1988 to 1999, Europeans haven't won in the past 13 years. That will trim another 17 off the list of potential winners, among them Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald.
The Masters has become a young man's game, as the past 14 winners have all been under 40. You'll have to go back to Mark O'Meara in 1998 to find the last Masters winner that old. So let's cross off everyone who has celebrated a 40th birthday, and yes, that includes Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.
Make sure to look back to 2012 when you pick for 2013. Each of the past three Masters winners had made the cut in every major he had played the previous year (the only exception being Mickelson, who skipped the 2009 British Open).
We entered Step 4 with 19 golfers left, but that fact trims it down to just five.
Seventeen of the past 21 Masters winners had had a top-5 finish that season on the PGA Tour. Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson haven't notched a top-5 this year, so they'll depart and leave us with three.
The résumé of recent major winners have been somewhat sparse. In fact, 10 of the past 11 major winners entered the event with three or fewer career PGA Tour wins. Woods and Adam Scott have simply won too much to slip on the green jacket Sunday.
• Defending champion: Bubba Watson
• Masters leaderboard
• Experts' picks | FOREcaster
• Venue: Augusta National Golf Club; par-72, 7,435 yards
• Location: Augusta, Ga.
• Dates: Thursday-Sunday
• 2012 payout: Winner earned $1,440,000 of the $8 million purse. Currently a 93-man field for 2013.
• Format: 72-hole stroke play, top 50 and ties make the cut
• TV coverage: Wed., Par-3 Contest, 3-5 p.m. ET, SportsCenter at the Masters, 5-6 p.m. ET; Thu., Fri., 3-7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN; Sat., 3:30-7 p.m. ET on CBS; Sun., 2-7 p.m. ET on CBS (Complete live coverage schedule)
• Quick links: Money leaders | Schedule | World rankings
• Follow @ESPNGolf on Twitter
And that leaves us with just one.
On Sunday, look for Keegan Bradley to make history with his second major victory. Remember, the numbers don't lie.
Masters Eliminator: Step-by-Step
1. The past 15 Masters winners had made the cut at the previous year's Masters.
(49 eliminated, 44 remaining)
Jose Maria Olazabal
Ted Potter Jr.
2.) No European has won the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.
(17 eliminated, 27 remaining)
3.) There hasn't been a Masters winner over 40 since Mark O'Meara in 1998.
(8 eliminated, 19 remaining)
MASTERS MOMENTS VIDEOS
• 2012: Watson's wedge makes magic
• 2010: Mickelson's third, from the trees
• 2004: Mickelson nabs first major win
• 2001: Woods polishes off Tiger Slam
• 1997: Woods' win for the ages
• 1996: Faldo wins, Norman collapses
• 1995: Crenshaw's tearful victory
• 1992: Couples' miracle on 12
• 1987: Mize's miraculous chip
• 1986: Nicklaus takes 6th green jacket
4.) The past three Masters winners had made the cut in every major they had played the previous year.
(14 eliminated, 5 remaining)
Bo Van Pelt
5.) Seventeen of the past 21 Masters winners had had a top-5 finish on the PGA Tour that season.
(2 eliminated, 3 remaining)
6.) Ten of the past 11 major winners entered the event with three or fewer career PGA Tour wins.
(2 eliminated, 1 remaining)
Your winner: Keegan Bradley
Course: Augusta National Golf Club
Where: Augusta, Ga.
Yardage, par: 7,435 yards, par-72
Past champions: Complete list