Trending the Masters: Searching for the 2014 Winner

It’s Masters Week! That means it is time to dig-in to the spreadsheets and over-analyze to our hearts desire. Each and every year, trends will come and go, each telling us who this years winner will be. Trends are a lot of fun but you must remember to use with caution. With each passing year, new trends will form. Much like rules, trends are meant to be broken.

That being said, I was motivated by a few trend articles I read earlier this week. The first was written by Ryan O’Sullivan of The Golf Aficionado. The second article was written by Rich Hunt and published by GolfWRX. Give those two articles a read while you’re at it. I will even combine their lists of candidates with mine at the end.

Trend 1: Buck the Odds
This is less of a trend, but more of common sense. I start off by removing any golfer that has listed odds or 500-to-1 or worse. Any golfer that has an angle this week will be priced accordingly. I probably could have picked a lower number, but 500-to-1 will work.

This eliminates: Ken Duke, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Mike Weir, Larry Mize, Chang Woo Lee, Oliver Goss, Michael McCoy, Jordan Niebrugge, Mark O’Meara, Tom Watson, Garrick Porteous, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Craig Stadler, Ben Crenshaw, T.J. Vogel, Darren Clarke, Derek Ernst

Trend 2: Check the treads on those tires
Since 1999 when Firestone started hosting what is now known as the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, all 14 Masters winners since have played in the WGC Bridgestone the year prior to winning. It doesn’t matter how they finished, they’ve been in the field. This is a good trend to eliminate golfers that may be new to elite fields and big events.

This eliminates 30 or 31 more golfers: Hunter Mahan*, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Graham Delaet, Gary Woodland, Marc Leishman, Chris Kirk, Joost Luiten, Brendon De Jonge, Kevin Stadler, Stewart Cink, Thongchai Jaidee, John Huh, Roberto Castro, Louis Oosthuizen, Victor Dubuisson, K.J. Choi, Matt Every, Matt Jones, Fred Couples, Trevor Immelman, John Senden, Thomas Bjorn, Scott Stallings, Tim Clark, Vijay Singh, Y.E. Yang, Steven Bowditch, Lucas Glover, Bernhard Langer

*Mahan missed the tournament to be with his newborn. You can probably not eliminate him since he chose not to play in the tournament for personal reasons.

Trend 3: Top 25 @ Doral
Since 2007 when the WGC Cadillac Championship moved to Doral, six of the seven Masters winners have played at Doral during the season they won the Masters. Five of those six had finishes inside the top 25. We will use the top 25 at Doral to cut out more of the fat.

This eliminates 26 of the remaining 49 golfers: Jason Day, Justin Rose, Keegan Bradley, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker, Angel Cabrera, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Thorbjorn Olesen, Billy Horschel, Peter Hanson, Russell Henley, Matteo Manassero, Martin Kaymer, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Branden Grace, Sang-Moon Bae, David Lynn, Boo Weekley, D.A. Points

Trend 4: Top 30 at the D-Bank
Since the FedExCup Playoffs began in 2007, five of the six Masters champs have played at TPC Boston the year prior and all five that played finished inside the top 30. With 100 players left in the playoffs before the Deutsche Bank Championship, some of the elite have already had enough fun and are ready to call it a year. For the others that are still hungry, it is time to make their push.

This eliminates 14 golfers, including some pretty big names: Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Bill Haas, Ryan Moore, Jamie Donaldson, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Stephen Gallacher, Jonas Blixt, Kevin Streelman

Final List of potential Masters Winners:
Matt Kuchar
Sergio Garcia
Dustin Johnson
Jason Dufner
Henrik Stenson
Zach Johnson
Charl Schwartzel
Harris English
Hunter Mahan*

If you cross-reference the list with the aforementioned lists from Ryan and Rich then you are left with Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, and Hunter Mahan*. Is it finally time for Sergio?

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