When Bubba Watson emerged victorious at the 2014 Masters -- his second in three editions -- he reminded us why he's the perfect fit for Augusta National Golf Club. Long hitters that hit an above-average number of greens in regulation and score on the par 5s are usually rewarded pretty much anywhere, and especially here. In both of his titles in the season's first major, Watson ranked inside the top five in distance off the tee and greens regulation. He's also placed a respective T8 and T5 in par-5 scoring.
Of course, it takes more than capitalizing on the soft spots of the 7,435-yard track. The defending champ finished fifth in scrambling; he ranked second in 2012. It also doesn't hurt that he's left-handed. Since Mike Weir in 2003, three lefties have slipped on the green jacket six times. That includes Phil Mickelson thrice.
At the end of the day, Watson's talent and vision transcend the statistics, but it's worth noting that ANGC was the most difficult par 72 for the second consecutive season. Its scoring average of 73.946 last year was a seven-year high. Not surprisingly, it logged seven-year lows in GIR (58.31 percent) and scrambling (50.47 percent), the latter ranking second-lowest of all courses in 2013-14.
Arguably Augusta National's greatest test, at least statistically, is in avoiding three-putts and scoring on the par 4s. It was the hardest in both categories last year. En route to the Butler Cabin ceremony, Watson ranked T7 in three-putt avoidance and T4 in par-4 scoring.
A healthy threat of inclement weather in Augusta, Georgia, exists through Saturday. Hot and humid conditions will contribute to it. Temperatures are expected to climb into the upper 80s before cooling into the low 80s by Sunday. Wind isn't expected to pose a measureable challenge.
POWER RANKINGS: MASTERS TOURNAMENT
Rank Player Comment 1 Bubba Watson 2 Jimmy Walker 3 Jordan Spieth 4 Jason Day 5 Henrik Stenson 6 Rory McIlroy 7 Adam Scott 8 J.B. Holmes 9 Brandt Snedeker 10 Patrick Reed 11 Dustin Johnson 12 Matt Kuchar 13 Paul Casey 14 Hideki Matsuyama 15 Ian Poulter 16 Phil Mickelson 17 Lee Westwood 18 Bill Haas 19 Keegan Bradley 20 Chris Kirk