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Why Watson, Spieth, Kuchar and Blixt can win on Sunday. ... Or not.

By Ryan Herrington

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As you prepare to marinate on your couch and watch the final round of the Masters, here's a statistical glance of what you need to know before Jim Nantz says "Hello, Friends."

1. Stay focused on the final groups.
As much as Augusta National is lauded for lending itself to thrilling charges, it's rare that anybody playing outside the final two groups actually wins on Sunday. No winner has been worse than T-4 entering the final round since Nick Faldo was T-9 in 1989. (Only five times in the history of the tournament has a winner been worse than T-5 entering the final round.)

Meanwhile, only three winners in the last 20 years have been worse than second entering the final day (Zach Johnson, T-4, 2007; Bubba Watson, solo 4, 2012; Adam Scott, solo 3, 2013).

2. Repeat, stay focused on the final groups.
Since Nick Faldo's victory over Greg Norman in 1996, when he came back after starting the day six off the lead, only once has the winner been more than three off the lead with 18 holes to play; Charl Schwartzel was four back in 2011.

3. Can Bubba Watson or Jordan Spieth hold on to the lead? It's a about a coin flip.
In the tournament's 77 previous playings, 88 individuals have led or shared the lead after 54 holes of play. Of those men, 41 have gone on to win the Masters and 47, well, haven't.

loop-spieth-sunday-stats.jpg4. The power of 17 might lift Spieth to the title.
Spieth (above) has already set the record for the youngest 54-hole leader in Masters history, but he has his eye on something bigger. A tip of the cap to Justin Ray at ESPN for uncovering this interesting statistical trend that might suggest it will be Jordan's day:

* In 1963 Jack Nicklaus became at the time the youngest Masters champion (23 years, 2 months, 17 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 1980, Seve Ballesteros became at the time the youngest Masters champion (23 years, 4 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest Masters champion (21 years, 3 months, 14 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 2014, Jordan Spieth has the chance to become the youngest Masters champion ever (20 years, 9 months, 17 days).

Kind of creepy, no?!?

5. Nobody tell Matt Kuchar it's Sunday.
Five times in the 2013-14 PGA Tour season Kuchar has posted a top-10 finish and his overall scoring average is an impressive 69.74. However, Kuchar ranks 64th in this season in final-round scoring average (70.57).

6. Where you are on the World Ranking doesn't matter much, although Thomas Bjorn might be liking his spot.
The average ranking of the winners at Augusta since 2007 has been 29.9. Here's where the leaders stand:

Position Player World Ranking
T-1 Jordan Spieth
13
T-1 Bubba Watson
12
T-3 Matt Kuchar
  7
T-3 Jonas Blixt 56
T-5 Miguel Angel Jimenez
40
T-5 Rickie Fowler
39
T-7 Lee Westwood
37
T-7 Jim Furyk
22
T-7 Thomas Bjorn 29

































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July 28, 2014

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