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Proof that Jordan Spieth really can win the Masters

April 09, 2014

Jordan Spieth is a fine young player, Presidents Cup team member, ranked 13th in the world. But he is one of 24 players making his first appearance at the Masters. Rookies don't win the Masters, it hasn't happened since Fuzzy Zoeller did it in 1979). So he has basically no chance to win this weekend in Augusta.

And here's one more thing against his chances: I'm going to pick him to win based on a statistical formula that is only slightly less compelling than it is illogical.

Follow along if you're interested.

I looked at the last 10 Masters champions, and using PGA Tour statistics developed a numerical prototype of the skill set that those winners shared. It's not too complicated, but it is messy. Call it fuzzy logic, or maybe in this case, Fuzzy logic.

There are four statistical categories that would seem to be important for Masters winners: Driving distance, greens in regulation, scrambling and strokes gained-putting.

If you take the PGA Tour statistical ranking for each Masters champ of the last 10 years for each of those categories in the week leading up to the Masters, then average those four rankings, you come up with a number for each champ. For instance, Adam Scott last year was 61, Bubba Watson in 2012 was 77, Charl Schwartzel in 2011 was 76, Phil Mickelson in 2010 was 69, and so on. The average of that number for the last 10 years was 65.

My theory then is that the player in the field whose average ranking in those four statistical categories leading up to the Masters this week is as close to 65 as possible will be the one to win this year's tournament.

There are several good candidates: Matt Kuchar, who naturally gets a lot of consideration because he's been a contender and quite frankly already looks like a member of Augusta National, has an average of 61. Former champ Zach Johnson is also close at 72. Everybody's emotional favorite Phil Mickelson is not that far off at 64, same with the bookmakers' top choice Rory McIlroy, who is at 68.

But the man who the numbers say is a perfect fit for the green jacket this year is Jordan Spieth, who is 93rd in driving distance, 106th is greens in regulation, 36th in scrambling and 30th in strokes gained-putting. (Alright, the numbers don't really say anything. I'm the one making them talk.)

Does this mean Spieth will win? Not a chance. The last time I tried a similar formula, Boo Weekley was my choice to win last year's U.S. Open. How'd that work out? He missed the cut.

Good luck, Master Spieth.