Tiger Woods can not have a better shot in another green jacket

As the best golfers in the world gather in Augusta, Georgia, this week for the Masters, it's time for all sports fans to celebrate the rite of spring: speculation about whether Tiger Woods can add a fifth green jacket to your closet Picking Woods used to be a fashion bet; Then it began to feel like a totally useless exercise. Well, after he won the event for the last time in 2005, there was a period in which Woods was constantly in the news for everything. except golf's success In fact, it was not so long ago that Woods' relevance as a winning golfer seemed to be over, along with his attempt to chase the Jack Nicklaus record for all-time races won.

But everything changed last season, when Woods came back together to finish eighth on the PGA Tour money list and win the Tour Championship that ends the season in September. Now Woods is back, in his best position in years to win another Masters. According to VegasInsider, Woods has the third best chance of winning for any player this weekend; He is also playing golf even more inspired than during the return campaign last year. But at 43, will this be one of Woods' last chances to win at Augusta before he finishes his career as a viable champion?

Certainly, Tiger has been beating many of his much younger rivals in recent seasons. Since the end of his lost campaign of 2017, Woods ranks sixth among the PGA Tour's rated players in the total number of strokes won per round, behind only Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tommy. Fleetwood. He has mostly recovered his old grip on the irons on approach shots and still has the best feel of the game for shots on the green. In terms of blows earned, Woods is getting 1.67 shots (relative to the average player) per round so far in 2019, an even better note than the 1.60 he scored last season, which was his best performance in five years.

One of the most impressive aspects of Woods' early game this season has been the improvement of accuracy from the tee. According to the PGA Tour, Woods has reached 65.2 percent of the possible streets in his units this season, which ranks 54th out of the 214 qualified players. It may not sound amazing, but by Woods standards, it's ultra-precise precision. Last year, he only reached 59.4 percent of the streets, which ranked him 127th, and he struggled to break 55 percent in the four seasons plagued by injuries before that. (Even during his really great scandal / injury seasons, hitting fairways was an Achilles' heel.) In 2007, when he won the most money playing golf of his career, Woods ranked 152nd in handling accuracy and did not. managed to reach 60 percent of fairways.) When Woods is fighting, the first indication is often a whimsical unit that requires a later craft to make a pair.

With the help of that improved precision, Woods now ranks 72nd in strokes won in drives this year, was the 100th last year, and the ninth in strokes won from the tee to the green, collecting 1.48 shots per round. before putting your beaks. The laying of the surface. Clbadic Tiger was always a monster from tee to green, ranking first or second in the category in all healthy seasons from 2006 to 2013, so his solid performance in that category this year is another sign that Woods is returning to its vintage shape.

It is also a very good sign of your possibilities in Augusta. This is because, as Todd Schneider wrote for FiveThirtyEight a few years ago, the Masters often boils down to the skills of a player with long clubs, contrary to the tournament's reputation for being a putt contest.

Anyway, the big players of the PGA Tour generally impose themselves more on the approach shots and the units, gaining around 4 strokes in relation to the average from tee to green for each additional stroke they capture in the putts. But the recent history of the Masters winners also suggests that a great long game is the true prerequisite to winning the green jacket. The average winner since winning the shots was tracked for the first time in 2004 (excluding the winners of 2016 and 2017, Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia, since they lacked enough rounds of the PGA Tour to qualify for the official leaderboards) they ranked only in the 86th place in the performance per round, but 35 in strokes won from the tee, 32 in strokes won in approach shots and 18 in total strokes won from tee to green.

The winning teachers do their best work from the tee to the green.

Strokes won clbadifications by category for the Masters Tournament winners during the seasons they won, 2004-18

PGA Tour Rank
Year Winning teacher Out of the shirt Focus Around green Tee a Green putting up Total
2018 Patrick Reed 104 74 two 29 72 24
2017 Sergio García
2016 Danny Willett
2015 Jordan Spieth fifteen eleven 7 4 9 two
2014 Bubba Watson two 47 63 7 109 8
2013 Adam Scott two sixteen 77 5 108 eleven
2012 Bubba Watson one 59 84 3 160 6
2011 Charl Schwartzel 22 Four. Five 64 19 96 twenty
2010 Phil Mickelson 66 5 32 5 133 12
2009 Angel Cabrera 37 48 169 63 63 51
2008 Trevor Immelman 116 fifty eleven 31 191 113
2007 Zach Johnson 61 30 164 60 5 13
2006 Phil Mickelson 12 4 66 4 40 5
2005 Tiger Woods 4 4 128 4 5 one
2004 Phil Mickelson 7 22 43 5 128 9
Average 34.5 31.9 70.0 18.4 86.1 21.2

Garcia and Willett did not play enough rounds to qualify for the PGA Tour rankings during their winning Masters seasons.

Source: PGAtour.com

Strokes won tee-to-green was the main category (or tied at the top) for 46 percent of the Masters winners in that span, and 62 percent of the winners were among the top 10 in statistics , as Woods does this year. (This is consistent with my previous research that driving distance and approach accuracy are the two secret weapons players can own in Augusta, which makes them play better at the Masters than their overall point average could predict. ).

I have not mentioned that Tiger has put numbers yet, and with good reason. Woods used to be the best putter in the world, but so far this season, he ranks 74th in strokes won with the flat club, adding only 0.19 shots above the average per round. Last year, he was better, in the 48th position of the tour, although he was not yet the master speaker who once showed me and many others the basics of a great coup. However, Augusta has frequently seen putting putters. far worse than Woods won during the era of detailed PGA Tour tracking data. (In fact, more than half of the qualified Masters winners since 2004 have scored worse than the 78th). Put the performance is so random from one year to another, much less from one tournament to another or even from one round to another, which is much easier for a good tee-to-green player to warm up on the green for a weekend for a good putter that suddenly has an extraordinarily surprising weekend from the tee.

Due to all this, it is not difficult to understand why Woods is a strong 12 to 1 bet to win the Masters. But it's also not hard to imagine that this could be the last and best chance for a 43-year-old to win another green jacket. From our research on the most important historical winners of a few years ago, here is the aging curve for championship golfers:

That increase in victories for players in their first 40 years came from Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Payne Stewart, Tom Kite and Gary Player, 42, and it was the last real spike in the table, and Woods is now wrong. of her Jack Nicklaus won his major title at the age of 46, but most of the great golfers have ended up winning at the beginning of their 40s. And the game has only become younger in the twilight of Woods' career; Although the average of the main winners in our previous data set (up to 2014) was 31.9, that number is only 29.6 in the following years. With his own early dominance and popularity in his career, Woods has inspired a younger generation of gifted golf players with whom he must now fight.

Woods is a special talent and in conversation for the best golfer of all time. He is also playing in Augusta as he has done in a long time and excelling in the correct categories. But between the effects of aging and your own injury history, you'll never have a better chance of winning another Masters than you have now. Once upon a time, Tiger was legendary for taking advantage of every opportunity that came his way. We'll just have to see if he can invoke that ability one more time.

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