The Loop

You heard it here first: Bubba beats DJ in playoff to win Masters

April 08, 2015

Except every time I've tried to predict a major championship.

You'll recall that I've used statistics, numerology and hocus-pocus to come up with a sure-fire way to see into the future. While this was a bit of a boon to my expertise in constructing leagues for my Cadaco All-Star Baseball game when I was 14, this has not proved especially useful in financial planning (see Powerball, Moose Lodge Wednesday night Bingo, that unfortunate afternoon in Macau). But I digress.

What I've been able to do (well, only because no one's bothered to stop me) is construct statistical scenarios for predicting the winners of majors. Poorly, of course. I went 0-for-4 last year, which is by all accounts is kind of a perfect record. My highlight was selecting Jordan Spieth prior to last year's Masters. He was leading in the final round before he somewhat unaccountably threw up on himself. Unaccountably other than the fact that I had jinxed him by saying he was a mortal lock. Well, I hid behind the numbers, but you know what I'm saying.

Undeterred by my pathetic failures (Bill Haas at the U.S. Open, Adam Scott at the British Open, Graham DeLaet at the PGA), I return refocused.

That's why I'm going with a sure thing this year: Bubba Watson to win his third Masters. Here's this year's criteria, in no particular order: age, Masters appearances, top-10s at the Masters, current driving distance, current strokes gained/putting average, current par-5 scoring average.

I took the averages of those criteria for the winners of the last 10 Masters (at the time they won). From this I got an average score and an average age range. The average score was 112.4. I don't know why, but like my Powerball numbers (Quick Pick, of course), it just is. So I'm going with it. Which is what I told the guy in sunglasses at the Fan-Tan table in Macau. I mean, really, how could things get that out of hand with a game that involves a bunch of white buttons, a cup and a wand?

I then compared this year's field of participants with that data. Players outside the age range (28-39) could still win, they were just penalized because, well, that seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

So, yes, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, even Fred Couples (why not?) were in the running. Tiger Woods actually had the highest total of anyone in the field under the age of 65. But he and just about everyone else couldn't hit the magic number. Warning: Magic number means something entirely different in Macau. Don't ask me how I know this. Really.

In any case, in something of a first in my experience with numbers, both Bubba and DJ ended up with the exact same score. Makes sense. Both have a perfect set of skills for Augusta National. Bubba's hitting it 309 yards off the tee, DJ is at 318.8. Both obliterate the par 5s wherever they play. DJ is at 4.56, Bubba leads the PGA Tour at 4.36 for the year. But Bubba has a distinct advantage putting and perhaps more importantly a distinct advantage in experience. He's making his ninth appearance at Augusta National, which happens to match exactly the average number of appearances for each of the last 10 Masters winners.

And there's this: he's putting better. Than ever. His strokes gained/putting average is the best of his career. He's ranked 12th with a 0.633 average. Hitting the ball that far and putting it that well? That kind of number is really unfair. Which is precisely what I told the interesting gentleman at the bar that afternoon in Macau. Said his friends called him "Broken Tooth." A tip: If someone has a nickname that implies bodily harm to your mouth and he hangs out in Macau, he isn't a "dentist."

So I give Watson the edge. Or the numbers do. Besides I like pink. Ever seen Santa Sancha? You know, the pink governor's mansion on a plateau overlooking Sai Van Lake? Yeah, me, neither.