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Sporting Solutions Preview – The Masters

Welcome to the fourth installment of Sporting Solutions Analysis.

The team here thought you might appreciate some numbers and analysis to help you in your quest to identify potential value in the betting markets for The Masters this coming weekend.

There are a lot of golf statistics available online these days on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour websites to help you along, but knowing where to start can be quite difficult.

Well, a good place to start is always looking at the common characteristics shared by those that have won in the past. After all, that’s who we are trying to find.

So, as a starter for ten, here is the round by round positions of the eventual winners of each of the four majors since 1998. Let’s see if there is anything worth noting here:

The British Open – Winner’s position by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Mark O’Meara 62 6 2
1999 Paul Lawrie 4 7 14
2000 Tiger Woods 2 1 1
2001 David Duval 5 35 1
2002 Ernie Els 23 1 1
2003 Ben Curtis 13 4 3
2004 Todd Hamilton 40 5 1
2005 Tiger Woods 1 1 1
2006 Tiger Woods 2 1 1
2007 Padraig Harrington 8 13 3
2008 Padraig Harrington 38 4 2
2009 Stewart Cink 5 9 6
2010 Louis Oosthuizen 2 1 1
2011 Darren Clarke 6 1 1
2012 Ernie Els 6 10 5
Max 62 35 14
Ave 6 4 1
Leader win % 7% 40% 53%
T5 win % 47% 60% 87%

The US Open – Winner’s position by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Lee Janzen 37 4 4
1999 Payne Stewart 5 1 1
2000 Tiger Woods 1 1 1
2001 Retief Goosen 1 1 1
2002 Tiger Woods 1 1 1
2003 Jim Furyk 5 1 1
2004 Retief Goosen 20 4 1
2005 Michael Campbell 17 6 4
2006 Geoff Ogilvy 7 3 3
2007 Angel Cabrera 2 1 47
2008 Tiger Woods 19 2 1
2009 Lucas Glover 7 2 2
2010 Graeme McDowell 10 1 2
2011 Rory McIlroy 1 1 1
2012 Webb Simpson 23 29 8
Max 37 29 8
Ave 7 1 1
Leader win % 27% 53% 60%
T5 win % 53% 93% 93%

US PGA – Winner’s position by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Vijay Singh 21 1 1
1999 Tiger Woods 10 3 1
2000 Tiger Woods 1 1 1
2001 David Toms 2 1 1
2002 Rich Beem 22 1 2
2003 Shaun Micheal 6 1 1
2004 Vijay Singh 4 1 1
2005 Phil Mickelson 1 1 1
2006 Tiger Woods 10 5 1
2007 Tiger Woods 23 1 1
2008 Padraig Harrington 16 26 4
2009 Y.E. Yang 44 9 2
2010 Martin Kaymer 44 15 4
2011 Keegan Bradley 36 1 3
2012 Rory McIlroy 2 4 1
Max 44 26 4
Ave 10 1 1
Leader win % 13% 60% 60%
T5 win % 33% 80% 100%

The Masters – Winner’s position by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Mark O’Meara 25 9 2
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal 5 1 1
2000 Vijay Singh 10 2 1
2001 Tiger Woods 15 2 1
2002 Tiger Woods 7 4 1
2003 Mike Weir 4 1 2
2004 Phil Mickelson 15 4 1
2005 Tiger Woods 33 3 1
2006 Phil Mickelson 4 5 1
2007 Zach Johnson 5 5 4
2008 Trevor Immelman 1 1 1
2009 Angel Cabrera 6 3 1
2010 Phil Mickelson 2 3 2
2011 Charl Schwartzel 7 12 2
2012 Bubba Watson 4 3 4
Max 33 12 4
Ave 6 3 1
Leader win % 7% 20% 60%
T5 win % 47% 87% 100%

Observations

The first thing you will probably notice is the reasonably strong trend between most of the numbers for all of the majors above. It is common to assume that The Masters is a completely different tournament due to it always being held at Augusta National and the reduced field versus the other three majors but in reality it isn’t all that different.

One thing the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed is that the “Average position” values might look a bit squiffy. If you did, grab yourself a celebratory biscuit. Grab yourself two if you also figured out that they are in fact median averages rather than mean averages. Sometimes in statistical analysis the median doesn’t get enough love. When you have the potential for significant outliers within a sample, median average analysis is underutilized – so we thought we would spread the love.

Our first serious point would be the clustered nature of the historical winners of The Masters. Only twice in the last fifteen years has someone other than Tiger Woods managed to win the coveted Green Jacket (Mark O’Meara in 1998 and Phil Mickleson in 2004) from outside of the top 10 after the first round. That is compared to five, five and six non-Tiger winners from further back in the field at the other three majors respectively.

Ultimately however, tournament position is a product of score, and just as with any leaderboard format, it’s more informative to analyse based on the relative position of how many shots off the lead people are. No sooner said…

The British Open – Shots off the lead by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Mark O’Meara 7 3 2
1999 Paul Lawrie 1 4 10
2000 Tiger Woods 1 0 0
2001 David Duval 4 7 0
2002 Ernie Els 3 0 0
2003 Ben Curtis 4 3 2
2004 Todd Hamilton 5 3 0
2005 Tiger Woods 0 0 0
2006 Tiger Woods 1 0 0
2007 Padraig Harrington 4 6 6
2008 Padraig Harrington 5 3 2
2009 Stewart Cink 2 3 2
2010 Louis Oosthuizen 2 0 0
2011 Darren Clarke 3 0 0
2012 Ernie Els 3 7 6
Max 7 7 10
Average 2.0 2.6 2.1
< 3 shots 60% 73% 80%
< 5 shots 93% 80% 80%

The US Open – Shots off the lead by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Lee Janzen 7 2 5
1999 Payne Stewart 1 0 0
2000 Tiger Woods 0 0 0
2001 Retief Goosen 0 0 0
2002 Tiger Woods 0 0 0
2003 Jim Furyk 2 0 0
2004 Retief Goosen 4 2 0
2005 Michael Campbell 4 2 4
2006 Geoff Ogilvy 2 2 1
2007 Angel Cabrera 1 0 4
2008 Tiger Woods 4 1 0
2009 Lucas Glover 5 1 1
2010 Graeme McDowell 2 0 3
2011 Rory McIlroy 0 0 0
2012 Webb Simpson 6 6 4
Max 7 6 5
Average 2.5 1.1 1.5
< 3 shots 60% 93% 73%
< 5 shots 87% 93% 100%

The US PGA – Shots off the lead by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Vijay Singh 4 0 0
1999 Tiger Woods 4 2 0
2000 Tiger Woods 0 0 0
2001 David Toms 2 0 0
2002 Rich Beem 4 0 3
2003 Shaun Micheal 3 0 0
2004 Vijay Singh 2 0 0
2005 Phil Mickelson 0 0 0
2006 Tiger Woods 3 1 0
2007 Tiger Woods 6 0 0
2008 Padraig Harrington 3 6 3
2009 Y.E. Yang 6 6 2
2010 Martin Kaymer 5 4 4
2011 Keegan Bradley 8 0 1
2012 Rory McIlroy 1 2 0
Max 8 6 5
Average 3.4 1.4 0.9
< 3 shots 53% 67% 93%
< 5 shots 93% 87% 100%

The Masters – Shots off the lead by round

Year Winner R1 R2 R3
1998 Mark O’Meara 5 5 2
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal 1 0 0
2000 Vijay Singh 4 1 0
2001 Tiger Woods 5 2 0
2002 Tiger Woods 3 4 0
2003 Mike Weir 4 0 2
2004 Phil Mickelson 5 3 0
2005 Tiger Woods 7 6 0
2006 Phil Mickelson 3 4 0
2007 Zach Johnson 2 2 2
2008 Trevor Immelman 0 0 0
2009 Angel Cabrera 3 1 0
2010 Phil Mickelson 1 2 1
2011 Charl Schwartzel 4 6 4
2012 Bubba Watson 1 1 3
Max 7 6 4
Average 3.3 2.5 0.9
< 3 shots 53% 67% 93%
< 5 shots 93% 87% 100%

Observations

A very similar trend is apparent when relative positions are considered. If you are looking to find the winner rather an each way value place, you need to be expecting them to come out of the gate fast.

More than 50% of winners are within three shots of the lead after the opening round – across all four majors. Winning from more than five strokes back is pretty unusual – with only Tiger managing to win from further back at Augusta during his era.

Where is the value?

Our suggestion of the best way to maximise the value (from both a monetary and a non-monetary perspective) from your golf betting kitty this weekend would be to keep your powder dry for now.

Why not use Thursday as a “scoping day”? Sit back, enjoy the beauty of Augusta and take in the action. See who starts off well and who is still in contention after the first round. Remember, as the numbers above show, the first round leader has only gone on to win once in the last 15 years at Augusta, but the cream does usual rise to the top.

How to differentiate within the chasing pack

Once you’ve narrowed down the field of ninety to the circa ten runners and riders still in contention, where should you look to try and spot some “value”?

One tip of advice would be to look through the scorecards of your potential winners and make sure you normalise their results for any specific events that are highly luck driven – such as holing out from the fairway or an abnormally high distance of putts holed.

While we are on that subject, you can never see this too many times:

Anyway, moving on. Here is a summary of the winners underlying performance in a few key areas at Augusta:

The Masters – Winner’s rank within field

Year Winner Distance Accuracy GIR Scrambling Putts
1998 Mark O’Meara 30 27 38 1 1
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal 55 39 9 1 7
2000 Vijay Singh 4 1 0 51 45
2001 Tiger Woods 12 8 1 31 37
2002 Tiger Woods 5 22 1 11 21
2003 Mike Weir 39 11 37 2 4
2004 Phil Mickelson 9 9 1 2 23
2005 Tiger Woods 4 49 2 46 10
2006 Phil Mickelson 3 4 5 24 16
2007 Zach Johnson 57 3 4 27 10
2008 Trevor Immelman 4 1 2 1 3
2009 Angel Cabrera 11 48 14 6 5
2010 Phil Mickelson 2 44 3 2 13
2011 Charl Schwartzel 40 31 19 1 2
2012 Bubba Watson 4 48 4 15 37
Average 9 27 4 6 10
Top 5 % 40% 13% 67% 47% 33%

Although the difficulty of the greens is the most talked about element of the Augusta course, the best way to negate them is with strong approach play. Even the world’s best putters don’t stand a chance if they fail to find the correct quadrant of the green.

Instead, keep a keen eye out for players who have hit a lot of quality Greens in Regulation, or performed well with respect to Proximity to the Hole, but maybe didn’t catch a break with the flat stick – especially if they have a strong track record on the greens.

The winner has ranked in amongst the top five in Greens in Regulation in ten of the last fifteen years – and the only winners from outside the top 20 have been the more unexpected victories of Mark O’Meara in 1998 and Mike Weir in 2003.

That’s all from us for now. We’ll be back next month with a full review of the UK football season.

And if you don’t manage to find a winner this weekend, please don’t blame us.

And if someone misses a short putt to cost you a small fortune on the 72nd hole, try to keep it together a bit better than these guys did.