WE all know about the Augusta course, the azaleas and tree-lined and undulating fairways. The manicured greens – in fact everywhere you look is green.
I’ve read all the form books and know the players in good nick and who plays well at Augusta. So it’s easy to pick a winner then!
All aspects of the game are needed at Augusta National but probably greens in regulation and putting are going to count most.
Little-known Jim Herman won the Shell Houston Open but three of my Masters selections, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, finished strongly
My first pick Fowler, played really well in the 2014 Majors with four top-five finishes and I expected him to kick on last year.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way and his best was in the Masters (T12). He has had a great start to this season with four top-10 finishes and looks a good pick this week. His driving accuracy is 60.33%, he is fifth in GIR (72.86%), strokes gained:putting he is 9th with 0.659 and putts per round of 28.92 (86th). Maybe, with a bit of luck he can stay out of the water this week.
If there is one thing Henrik Stenson needs to improve on to win a Green Jacket it’s his putting. He is 29th in driving accuracy (67.39%), GIR of 72.86 (5th) but his strokes gained:putting is a lowly -0.033 (122nd). His putting seemed to improve at the Shell Houston Open to 0.684 so maybe he’s getting it together at the right time.
Last season he came into The Masters after a bout of flu forced him to withdraw from the Houston Open. He was still suffering the effects in the first two rounds (73, 73) but recovered to shoot 68, 70 and finished T19. He’s never finished in the top 10 here but there’s no doubt he has the ability to win a Major and I believe he can do it and this is the time.
Louis Oosthuizen had a great WGC Dell Matchplay two weeks ago, losing to Jason Day in the final. He certainly seems to have a game plan in Majors having won the 2010 Open, losing in a play-off to Bubba Watson in the 2012 Masters and runner-up in both the US Open and The Open last year.
He doesn.t seem to get flustered, like last year in the US Open at Chambers Bay where he hit an opening-round 77 yet finished one shot behind winner Jordan Spieth. His driving accuracy is 57.93% which I don’t think will be a problem but his GIR is 71/30% (T20), and strokes gained:putting 0.230 (75), which could be pluses this week.
I thought a lot before picking Dustin Johnson after all the heartaches he’s given me over the years but I just can’t leave him out. Big DJ holds the record of three eagles in one round, at the 2nd, 8th and 15th, and just failed with an eagle putt on the 13th.
He finished T6 last year, his best yet, and that was with a third-round 73. He played the par 5s in 14 under last year, one off the record, and if he can come near that he will be up there on the final day. You always get the feeling if he can get three good rounds under his belt he will win. Iit’s when he has to push that he falls short.
In his second Masters appearance Hideki Matsuyama ended with a superb fourth-round 66 to finish 5th. This boy has talent in abundance as Mr Fixit will testify after watching him up close and personal last year in Augusta. He tipped him at halfway for a place after seeing him the ball so cleanly on the driving range.
Last year Mr F was at Augusta for the weekend action – on Saturday he’ll be swapping Georgia for Glencairn as he watches Clydebank in action. That’s some contrast in live sports experiences. Anyway his Masters tips will be posted later in the week and I know he likes Day, Ooosthuizen and Bubba Watson.
Back to my tips and after missing the cut in his first appearance here Matsuyama eased himself on to the leaderboard then went for it in the fourth round. His driving accuracy is 60.59%, fifth in GIR (72.03%) but strokes gained:putting of -0.0199. So not the best but his game and temperament is good for Augusta and could well finish near the top.
Justin Rose was unlucky in The Masters last year to come up against Spieth who just couldn’t do anything wrong that week – in fact that year. Rose also finished T6th at The Open and solo fourth in the PGA so did well in the Majors.
Last year he posted four sub-par rounds at Augusta and finished with a -14 score which would have won him all but six Masters. His stats are driving accuracy of 60.50%, GIR 70.20% (32nd) and strokes gained:putting 0.110 (91st).
Finally, I can’t finish without mentioning Brooks Koepka. He’s not had the best of seasons but has all the attributes to battle for a Major. His driving accuracy stat is 56.13% with GIR at 66.8% and his strokes gained:putting of 0.409 (47th). So a small wager might be in order as most bookies are paying on seven places.
Watch out for tips on the site and forum throughout the tournament – and Mr F will also be doing twoball betting throughout.
1.5pts ew Rickie Fowler (Betway, 16-1)
1.5pts ew Henrik Stenson (Betway, 25-1)
1.5pts ew Louis Oosthuizen (Betway, 33-1)
1.5pts ew Dustin Johnston (Betway, 16-1)
1.5pts ew Hideki Matsuyama (Betway, 40-1)
1.5pts ew Justin Rose (Betway, 28-1)
1pt ew Brooks Koepka (Betway, 66-1)