Power Rankings: The Masterstext sizeApril 08, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
The early spring of 2012 rendered Augusta National Golf Club devoid of its usual vibrancy. No worries. With his trademark colorful kwan, Bubba Watson wielded a pink driver en route to victory in the latest of memorable Masters. That 53-degree wedge from the trees in the playoff served as his signature. There was no question that he fulfilled the spirit of the 76th edition.
A sub-headline to the left-hander's breakthrough in a major is that Augusta National played its most difficult in four years. The field posted a scoring average of 73.50 that included a 74.43 clip during a breezy second round. After the cut (which allows the low 44 plus ties and all golfers within 10 strokes of the 36-hole lead to complete the tournament), the third- (72.94) and final-round (72.87) scoring averages also checked in as the highest post-cut since 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Augusta National isn't so much a challenging track as it is one that requires experience and the proper gameplan upon arrival. Picking up par breakers on the par 5s is always essential. Watson went 8-under (averaging 4.50) with nine birdies, six pars and a bogey on the quartet of par 5s (holes 2, 8, 13 and 15). Overall for the field, the par 5s averaged 4.72.
The par 4s served as the primary challenge as they do every year. Augusta National ranked T2 among all courses played in 2012 on the par 4s at 4.20. The par 3s averaged 3.14, tied for seventh-most difficult last year.
The greens are where the contenders are separated from the hopefuls. In 2012, Augusta National relented a greens-in-regulation percentage of just 60.08, 12th-lowest on the PGA TOUR. Its scrambling split was 51.82 percent, which was seventh-lowest. Tack on three-putt percentage of 4.88 (second-highest) and putts per GIR average of 1.835 (also second-highest) and it's easy to understand why Fuzzy Zoeller is the most recent champion in his first appearance in 1979.
A reasonable chance for rain and thunderstorms exists on Thursday and Friday during which the wind is expected to blow. Gradually cooling temperatures will extend into a mostly dry weekend when the highs may not hit 75 degrees. Scoring should improve post-cut as well as winds are forecast to abate.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners at Augusta National, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
Power Rankings: The Masters Rank Player Comment Tiger WOODS Four times a winner at Augusta National but not since 2005. As a pro, he's 16-for-16 at the Masters with 15 top 25s, 10 of which are top fives. Thrice a winner in 2013. Leads the TOUR in strokes gained-putting and adjusted scoring. Justin ROSE Rested and ready since his solo second at Bay Hill three weeks ago, his fifth runner-up finish since last year's Masters. Twelve consecutive top 25s worldwide. Survived all seven cuts at the Masters where he's logged five top 25s. Rory McILROY Reemerged as a threat thanks to a solo second at the Valero Texas Open where he co-led the field in both greens in regulation and par breakers. Still seeking redemption after failing to close out a would-be wire-to-wire title in 2011. Phil MICKELSON With three titles and another seven top fives, he's almost always in the mix. Already a winner earlier this year (WM Phoenix Open), he also posted a T3 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Ranks 14th on TOUR in adjusted scoring. Matt KUCHAR In his last start, tied for 22nd at the Valero Texas Open where he ranked eighth in proximity to the hole and sixth in scrambling. Shared third at last year's Masters and co-led the field in both greens hit and par-4 scoring average. Bill HAAS Hasn't broken 70 in 12 rounds at Augusta National where he's 3-for-3, but he co-leads the PGA TOUR with five top 10s (in nine starts), two more than all of last year. Currently third in greens in regulation and 14th in scrambling. Bubba WATSON The defending champion hasn't won since his triumph, but he's recorded 14 top 20s, the most recent a T14 at Bay Hill where he finished T2 in par-4 scoring average. Currently sixth on TOUR in greens hit and second in par-4 scoring. Charl SCHWARTZEL The 2011 champ enters with 12 straight top 25s in stroke-play starts. Tied for 22nd in San Antonio where he ranked 10th in strokes gained-putting. Sits 17th on TOUR in strokes gained-putting and second in adjusted scoring. Jim FURYK Tied for third at the Valero Texas Open -- his first top five among seven cuts made in as many starts this season; ranked T5 in fairways hit and third in greens in regulation. Ten top 25s in 16 appearances at the Masters. Adam SCOTT Representing winless Australia at Augusta National, the top-ranked talent from Down Under has knocked on the door several times, and even held the lead during the final round in 2011, settling for a co-runner-up. Placed T8 last year. Lee WESTWOOD This will be the Englishman's last major before he turns 40 years of age. In his last three trips to Augusta National, he's placed second (2010), T11 (2011) and T3 (2012). Tied for 10th in his last start at the Shell Houston Open. Hunter MAHAN His streak of consecutive top 25s ended with a missed cut in Houston. Sits 17th on TOUR in greens in regulation, 18th in strokes gained-putting and 42nd in adjusted scoring. Three top-12 finishes in the last four Masters. Graeme McDOWELL Three top 10s in five starts this season; had just four in 16 starts in all of 2012. Ranks 12th in strokes gained-putting, ninth in adjusted scoring and first in scrambling. Top 20s at the Masters in 2009 and 2012. Ian POULTER He's 8-for-8 at the Masters with five top 25s including a career-best solo seventh last year. Hasn't missed a cut anywhere since the 2011 FedExCup Playoffs. Ranks 23rd on TOUR in strokes gained-putting and seventh in scrambling. Louis OOSTHUIZEN His consolation prize for losing in last year's playoff was a crystal bowl commemorating his albatross on the par-5 second hole in the finale. Led the field in both total driving and par-4 scoring average; ranked T9 in greens hit. Sergio GARCIA A recurring shoulder injury forced him to withdraw during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He hasn't played since. Had linked 13 straight top 25s prior to that. Tied for 12th at the Masters last year. Keegan BRADLEY After a lackluster West Coast Swing, he's strung together four straight top 10s. Ranks sixth on TOUR in adjusted scoring and 11th in the all-around. Led the field in distance off the tee in his debut at last year's Masters, finishing T27. Jason DAY After a co-runner-up in 2011 when he was one of eight to hold a piece of the lead in the final round, was forced to withdraw during last year's edition with an ankle injury. Sparkling 7-for-7 to start 2013 with a trio of top 10s. Luke DONALD Ended a worldwide consecutive cuts made streak of 16 in Malaysia three weeks ago, but placed T4 the previous week at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. Three top 10s among six cuts made in eight appearances at Augusta National. K.J. CHOI Coming off a season-best solo sixth in San Antonio where he ranked 11th in total driving and seventh in strokes gained-putting. Making his 11th consecutive appearance at the Masters. He's logged four top 15s, most recently a T8 in 2011.