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2024 Masters: There are five lefties in the field—here's why you should care

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AUGUSTA Ga. — Perhaps the most influential tournament in my golf-watching childhood was seeing Phil Mickelson birdie five of his last seven holes to slip on his first green jacket in 2004. He was presented with the green jacket that year by Mike Weir, who became the first left-hander ever to win the Masters a year earlier.

The win sparked an interesting movement in golf history: The era of left-handers doing really well at the Masters.

Lefties Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have a combined five green jackets. Mike Weir's sole major came at Augusta National, and in 2022, lefty Anna Davies claimed the Augusta National Women's Amateur at just 16 years old.

Despite being so vastly outnumbered, lefties have won more at Augusta National than all other majors combined, and that's not counting the myriad of other random lefty success stories at the Masters: Lefty Steve Flesch finished inside the top six in back-to-back years, and Nick O'Hearn appeared inside the top 10 at the 2006 Masters.

There are five lefties in the 2024 Masters field: Weir, Mickelson and Watson, joined by defending Open champion Brian Harman and Akshay Bhatia, who booked a last-minute ticket with victory at the Valero Texas Open.

So why do lefties seem to love Augusta National so much? It's something we explore in our most recent Game Plan video, which you can watch right here:

In short, the reason why lefties seem to thrive at Augusta National is that there are lots of key shots, especially on the back nine, that call for a shot that flies right-to-left.

Whereas in the past elite golfers would hit draws (those right-to-left shots for a right-hander), the go-to shot for the modern tour player is a fade—a shot which best takes advantage of the low-spin qualities of modern equipment. Well, for left-handed golfers, that means the right-to-left shots needed at Augusta are the fades that have become so popular. So they can can dial-up their go-to shot while other right-handed players have to take a more awkward route down the hole.

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Several of Augusta Nationals's holes—including Nos. 2, 5, 8 and 9) call for a left-to-right shot off the tee or into the green.

Some notable examples

  • The tee shot on the 10th hole, where most right-handed faders drop down to hit 3-wood as they hit a draw, but lefties can hit their drivers, bomb a fade and enjoy a big distance gain. This happened during the final round of the 2023 Masters, for example, and resulted in Phil Mickleson hitting his driver more than 40 yards past Brooks Koepka's 3-wood during the final round.
  • The approach shot into the 11th hole, where lefties can aim at safety and fade something towards the pin while faders often choose to aim away from the water, and hit a draw.
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  • Around the corner of the tee-shot on the old 13th hole where, again, many right-handed faders drop back to hit 3-wood.
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  • The tee shot on the par-3 16th hole, which mirrors the dilemma right-handers face on the 11th hole.
  • The approach shot into the Sunday pin on the 18th hole, which allows left-handers to aim for the middle of the green, and fade something closer to the hole.
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Of course, just because lefty golfers play disproportionately well at Augusta National, doesn't mean they're the only players who play well. If that were the case, left-handers would win every year, and they don't.

There are other types of players who tend to thrive at Augusta National in the modern era …

  1. Elite shotmakers, who can navigate the different hole shapes
  2. Long-drivers off the tee, who can mitigate the disadvantage when they do need to drop back to shorter clubs on awkward holes
  3. Players whose stock shot is a right-to-left draw
  4. And, again, left-handed golfers

The real magic happens when you combine players in various categories. A long-hitting draw player (Tiger Woods), for instance, or a long-hitting, artful shotmaking left-hander (Bubba Watson).

It all makes for another fascinating little wrinkle in Masters lore. One that reveals itself more every year.

Once again, you can watch the full video right here:

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