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Masters 2021: The 6 most intriguing stats from Thursday at Augusta National

April 08, 2021
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Kevin C. Cox

Lee Westwood plays his opening tee shot on Thursday at Augusta National.

The Masters not only is steeped in history, but being played at the same venue each year it lends itself to a wealth of facts, and figures that can be compared and contrasted each year. With that in mind, here are six stats from Thursday’s opening round of the 2021 Masters that caught our attention.

Lee Westwood joins an exclusive (and bittersweet) club
When Westwood teed it up Thursday, it marked his 20th Masters start and put him in a rather exclusive group—players who have made 20 or more appearances at Augusta National without a victory. Although there were a few players who did this in the event’s early years, when getting an invite wasn’t as stringent, more recently the players to “accomplish” it include Tom Kite and Gene Littler (26 each); Julius Boros (25); Ernie Els and Lanny Wadkins (23); Jay Haas (22); Hale Irwin (21) and Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Nick Price, Curtis Strange and Lee Trevino (20). Given the strong qualifying requirements, this deserves a tip of the cap, if not a green jacket.

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Kevin C. Cox

DJ’s lackluster start of title defense not unusual
Dustin Johnson started the Masters with a two-over-par 74, not exactly how a player wishes to begin his title defense. DJ’s pedestrian round, however, is not atypical of Masters champions. In the last 10 defenses prior to Johnson’s, half began with opening rounds that did not break par, including Sergio Garcia’s ghastly 81 in 2018 and Bubba Watson’s 75 in 2013. The average for those 10 years is 71.8, leaving little wonder why repeating is so difficult.

The field gets battered after an easy November
When play concluded Thursday at Augusta National, it was a different story than last November in terms of scoring. Last fall the opening-round scoring average was a gaudy 71.41, the lowest in tournament history and the 53 players under par shattered the mark for most in an opening round by 15. This year produced no such pushover. The field averaged 74.5 with only 12 players bettering par. Buckle up, fellas.

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Kevin C. Cox

Bryson continues to be a double-bogey machine
Bryson DeChambeau has at various times claimed Augusta National is a par 67 or par 68 for him. That’s tough to take seriously given DeChambeau’s propensity for crooked numbers at the Masters. DeChambeau’s double-bogey 5 at the par-3 fourth was just the latest in his lengthy list of Masters woes. Playing in his 17th competitive round at the Masters, DeChambeau now has nine double bogeys and a triple. In his inaugural start as an amateur in 2016, he had three over 72 holes (including two on par 5s), added three more in 2019, including two at No. 10, and then had two more, plus a triple (on the short par-4 third), last year. DeChambeau finished with a 76 on Thursday, with just one birdie.

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Kevin C. Cox

Rose’s opening-round mastery continues
Justin Rose might not have come into this year’s Masters playing all that well, but that hardly matter once the Englishman makes his way down Magnolia Lane. Rose shot a seven-under-par 65 Thursday to take a four-shot lead—his fourth opening-round lead at the Masters. Although it was Rose’s lowest round at Augusta National, it continued a remarkable trend. In 16 Masters starts Rose now has opened with 67 or better four times and has started the tournament in the 60s seven times. Rose played his last 11 holes in a staggering nine under par, jumpstarted by an eagle at No. 8 and came home in 30.

Early ace at 16
Masters patrons have become accustomed to seeing holes-in-one at the par-3 16th, but the fireworks usually come on Sunday. In fact, the last 11 aces on the hole have all been made in the final round. Tommy Fleetwood mixed things up by jarring his tee shot at 16 Thursday for the 23rd ace on the hole and the first in the opening round since fellow Englishman Ian Poulter did it in 2008. The ace was the second in two events for Fleetwood, who had one on the fourth hole at Austin C.C. in his match with Dylan Frittelli. Pretty good but not quite Brian Harman (2015, The Northern Trust, final round) or Yusaku Miyazato (2006 Barracuda Championship, second round). Those two are the only players to make two aces in a single round on the PGA Tour since stats were kept in 1983.