AUGUSTA, Ga. – As the players take to Augusta National on Sunday, it’s important to learn from the past three days, as it can act as a predictor to whom will win the 2014 Masters.
So, we did some digging and looked at past history, player success (or lack thereof) this week and how the course has played during this sun-drenched week.
Here are 10 Things you’ll want to keep an eye on as you take in the greatest day in golf:
1. ONE AND DONE? Of the 13 players within four shots of the lead to start the day, nine have yet to win a major championship. The other four have one major title each. The wins: Fred Couples (1992 Masters), Jim Furyk (2003 U.S. Open), Bubba Watson (2012 Masters) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open).
2. SEEING RED: There are only two players who have managed to fire under-par rounds in each of the first three days – Jordan Spieth (71-70-70) and Jonas Blixt (70-71-71). If either makes it a fourth day in a row, they’ll likely have green squarely in their sights.
3. EAGLE HAS LANDED: Justin Rose has some work to do Sunday, starting the round four back of the lead. But he’s also the only player in the field with three eagles on the week – and that’d allow someone to make up ground quickly. Rose had two eagles Saturday – on two par-5s (Nos. 8, 13) – and a 2 on the par-4 3rd on Friday. There are only two others in the top 10 to have an eagle this week: co-leaders Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth.
4. PLAYING PUTT-PUTT: Rickie Fowler (two strokes back) spoke to a putting session that he had earlier this year in Southern California with the folks at Scotty Cameron, and it seems to be paying some dividends. He is leading the field in total putts with 81 over 54 holes. He does have a pair of three-putt greens. Not too far behind Fowler is Jonas Blixt (one stroke back), who has 83 putts and no three-putts. Miguel Angel Jimenez has also been rolling the rock well with 83 putts and no three-putts.
5. BOMBS AWAY: Augusta National is not built for the faint of heart, and the ability to hit the ball long when you want to can come in handy. Bubba Watson is second in driving distance this week – no surprise there – and has hit 33 of 42 fairways. If Watson feels the need, his distance off the tee could come in handy at the short par-4 3rd hole, not to mention all four par-5s. The only other top-10 player in the top 10 in driving distance is Lee Westwood at 10th.
6. TOUGH OPENER: The first hole might make or break a few of the players near the top of the leaderboard, as the par 4 is the third-toughest hole on the course and is averaging well over par at 4.314. there have been 82 bogeys and 11 double bogeys. The 13 players who start the round at 1 under or better are a cumulative 7 over on No. 1, with Thomas Bjorn actually going 1 under for the first three days. Rickie Fowler, Jonas Blixt, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Justin Rose and Kevin Stadler are all even on the hole.
7. BETTER TAKE ADVANTAGE: After fighting with the tough opener, there is a breath of fresh air at the par-5 2nd, which ranks as the easiest hole on the course. The par 5 is playing at 4.736 average, including five eagles and 101 birdies. Surprisingly, Jordan Spieth has three pars on the hole, while both Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar are 2 under.
8. NEEDING A PRAYER: Amen Corner has ruined many players’ chances at a green jacket, and this year will likely be no different. The par-4 11th is ranked as the toughest hole on the course at a full half-stroke over par, with 19 doubles or worse. There have been only eight birdies on the hole. The 12th might only be 155 yards, but has a 3.279 average, with 64 bogeys or worse. This could prove to be key for Spieth and Watson, as Spieth is 2 over on these two holes and Watson is 1 under.
9. A BIT OF RELIEF: While the water left of the fairway and in front of the green can prove costly, the par-5 13th can also be eagle central, with seven recorded this week. It also has the most bogeys at 37. The back nine also features the par-5 15th – the “Tiger Drop” hole – ranked as the second-easiest hole on the course; it could provide late fireworks with those willing to take on the water in front of the green (also bringing into play the long slope behind it). Spieth is a combined 3 under on the two par 5s, while Watson is 4 under. Kuchar has birdied No. 13 on all three days.
10. CLOSING IT OUT: The final two holes look somewhat tame, but Masters Sunday jitters can set in here. Coming into the final round, there have been a 154 bogeys or worse against 337 pars or birdies. Only Justin Rose is under par on the final two holes (1 under), while Spieth, Jimenez, Fowler, Furyk and Senden are all even. Both Bjorn and Couples have bogeyed No. 17 each day.