On Thursday 7 April, the 80th edition of the tournament will tee off and as usual, the bookies have their favourites. Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy head up that list, and rightfully so, as they are respectively number one, two and three in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Day, Spieth and McIlroy have been atop the rankings for some time, and arguably play the game in a similar nature. All three hit it long off the tee, are consistently at the peak of the greens in regulation statistics and putt exceptionally well. It’s a simple recipe that has seen the trio dominate world golf in the last few seasons.
Looking at the past winners at Augusta, it is clear to see that the majority are big hitters. In recent years, players like Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera and of course Spieth, have reigned supreme.
The reason big hitters have an advantage at Augusta is rather simple. The second cut (‘rough’, in normal parlance) measures less than four centimeters (compared to 6 centimeters at other PGA Tour venues), and as a result, wayward drives become more forgiving.
The second most notable winner’s statistic at Augusta is proximity to the hole. This stat ties in with putts per green because of the vast undulating greens at Augusta. It is important to note that it is not the speed of the greens, but the placement of the pins on the greens which lead to dropped shots. At Augusta, the greens roll so true, that three-10-foot putts are made at a higher rate than at the average PGA Tour event. As a result, the players that hit the ball in the right places on the greens will make more putts than usual.
It seems that the recipe is a simple one then. Hit it far off the tee, hit it close to the pin, and the putts will drop.
It’s a recipe which is easier said than done. However, just like the bookies top three picks, who are capable of concocting such a recipe, South Africa have players capable of making golf that simple too.
If there is one player who can make golf look that simple it is Louis Oosthuizen. It’s not just the smoothness of his swing or his humility on the course. Oosthuizen hits the ball long, straight and with precision.
He showed his capabilities in 2012 when he cruelly lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson. Augusta National is a course he loves and he us surely a ‘Masters Chef’ in the making.