How To Win The Masters Without Picking Up A Club

Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The Masters is the top event in the golf world. While the other majors might feature more deep, talented, or diverse fields, they can’t compete with the atmosphere or phenomenon of The Masters. Augusta National Golf Club is the most beautiful golf course in the world. There’s no arguing it. At my local golf course, many of the regulars will get together and watch all four days. The Masters is the only event in the sport where you see a lot of people get together to watch the action.

As the official statisticians for most US sports, here at Elias, we provide statistical and historical research support each year for different events. After seeing the best aggregate score in Masters’ history be posted in 2020 and the first Japanese player ever earn the green jacket in 2021, we are excited to see what kind of history we will witness, record, and share during this year’s event.

Speaking of what we’ll witness this year, let’s look ahead to what we’re looking forward to seeing this week. I think just about every fan is itching to see Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson battle it out in Augusta. This should be the year where we see those two competing wire to wire. Expect the top of the leaderboard to be a lot closer this year than in the past couple of Masters, with those two near the top.

I don’t expect to see Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, or Rory McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard. Those guys have struggled at Augusta National in the past, and while you can always turn it around, guys who haven’t played the Masters well before, almost never end up winning the event.

That said, don’t put all your money on Hideki Matsuyama or Will Zalatoris, either. Last year’s Masters was an odd event, with low attendance and a fairly non-competitive atmosphere. Those two shouldn’t be battling it out again this year. Other names to look for near the top should be Cameron “The Mullet” Smith, Viktor Hovland, and Tony Finau.

If you like to bet long odds, Corey Conners is a name to watch. He has two top 10 finishes already at The Masters, and he’s trending up going into this week. Another guy I have money on is Tony Finau, who checks a lot of boxes: he has a history of success in The Masters, is trending up over the last year, and is ranked in the top 30 in the world. I think we could see Marc Leishman finish top 6, and Patrick Reed is worth keeping an eye on as well. He feeds off the energy of these big gallery events and is never fazed by big moments. Patrick Reed doesn’t take crap from anybody.

It’s very rare to see a true long-shot win, so if you only bet winners, avoid putting money on guys outside of the top 30, though those guys can make decent runs at top-10 or even top-6 finishes. This course features a lot of dog legs and often rewards skill over a long drive. For this reason, don’t bet on Bryson DeChambeau, in spite of the fact that we have seen some minor extensions on a couple of holes (11 and 15). Another player to pass on is World #1 Scottie Scheffler, who has never finished top-10 in this event.

When we finally do get that Jon Rahm-Dustin Johnson showdown we’re all waiting for, I expect to see DJ come out on top. Johnson will want this more than anything else in his career. He’s already a Masters winner, and a shot at the player most consider the best in the world is all he needs to vaunt himself into that spot. This is his event, and he won’t blink.

For more coverage of The Masters, we’ll have a more detailed breakdown of the event on the Elias Game Plan podcast with Randy Robles, ESPN’s Anita Marks, and myself. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified as soon as we post it. You won’t want to miss this week’s episode.

A fun way to enjoy the Masters is the Elias Game Plan Challenge. You can host your own prop bets contest and compete with your friends. We provide Elias Insights that give you the contextual data you need to make your picks.

Rob Tracy

Rob Tracy

Senior Researcher, Statistician, and Historian at the Elias Sports Bureau.