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What makes Bryson DeChambeau so good? A deep dive into the numbers

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I can relate, in a way, to this mad scientist of golf. When I had the idea to create a better method of analyzing golf by comparing each shot to a computer model of “scratch” performance 29 years ago, I was considered quite strange. My idea is now what is known as strokes gained analysis and has become the accepted standard for golf analysis. If you are interested in my journey, read The History of Strokes Gained on my website, ShotByShot.com.

Given Bryson’s recent success, will we all soon be switching to 7-iron length irons and practicing Bryson’s one-plane swing? I doubt it, but it is clear that Bryson is here to stay, so I decided to see exactly how his recent winning performance compares to that of other winners on the PGA Tour. Accordingly, I ran my analysis of Bryson’s ShotLink data for his three wins (The Memorial, The Northern Trust and the most recent Dell Technologies Championship). I compared this analysis to a similar analysis of all of the PGA Tour winners in 2017. For added perspective, I ran the same analysis for the entire 2017 Tour and for all the players that missed cuts in 2017.

As Bryson’s data sample is only 12 rounds on three courses, one might question how the numbers might be skewed by the differences in relative course difficulty as well as the relative strength of the fields. I believe we can agree that Bryson has won on relatively difficult courses and against very strong fields. Accordingly, I will overlook these factors.

Tee Game: Driving

Bryson’s driver is normal length. It is his irons that are all 37.5 inches long, or about the length of a standard 7 iron – why do the TV commentators always say “6 iron”? Anyway, Bryson’s unique one-plane swing produces long, straight drives. He averaged over 300 yards, 15 yards longer than the field, and hit more fairways than the 2017 winners.  Further, Bryson (Blue arrows below) had 35% fewer driving errors than those made by the 2017 winners. So LONG and STRAIGHT! Perhaps we all should be working on our 1-plane swings?


Approach shots 

I put Bryson’s approach game as not quite as good as the 2017 winners. His strokes gained relative to the field’s is not as strong (perhaps this can be attributed to stronger fields?). Bryson did hit more greens-in-regulation (blue arrows below). BUT remember he hit more fairways and made fewer errors. Finally, Bryson’s proximity when he hits the greens* is closer to the 2017 Tour average than it is to the 2017 winners.


*I look at “Proximity” much differently than the PGA Tour. The Tour’s proximity to hole includes approach shots that miss the green within 30 yards of the green’s edge.  I believe a miss is a miss and should not be counted at all.  For more on why, read my 2/26/18 GolfWRX article:Is Tiger’s “No.1 Proximity to the Hole” a meaningless stat?

Short Game (shots from within 50 yards of the hole)

Again, Bryson’s wedges are 7-iron length, about two to three inches longer than a standard sand wedge. His short game data would indicate that the extra length does not present an issue from the sand. I chalk this up to the fact that for the most part greenside sand shots tend to be full swings. It is the shape of the swing that controls distance not the length.

Chipping and pitching, on the other hand, require a myriad of different swings and touch shots. The longer shafts seem to have a negative impact here which has been mentioned many times in the TV coverage. Below (Blue arrows) show that Bryson’s strokes gained around-the-green are about half the margin from the field’s as the 2017 winners. His chipping and pitching results are nowhere near the 2017 Winners. Perhaps Bryson should consider at least one normal length wedge for use around the greens? To support this, Bryson was ranked No. 118 in strokes gained around the green, with a negative .034 strokes gained thru the Well Fargo Championship (more than half way thru the season). He has improved since to No. 63 and a +.15 strokes gained in this category.


Putting

Bryson’s putter is 39 inches long, about three inches longer than standard, and he rests the grip against his left forearm. Personally, I believe his stance and stroke look very stiff and mechanical, which may account for what I discovered in his putting stats. Bottom line, he is outstanding from fairly close range (inside 20 feet), but very average from 30-plus feet. Bryson has almost TWICE as many three-putts as the 2017 winners from 30-plus feet (.5/round vs. .29/round for the 2017 winners). This makes sense to me as stiff and mechanical do not seem compatible with “feel” and optimal distance control.

That said, his success from close range might more than offset his apparent long-range weakness. Note below that Bryson’s one-putt success is noticeably better than the 2017 winners from every distance up to 20 feet. Incidentally, these ranges represent 68 percent of Bryson’s first putt opportunities. Very impressive! I may look more closely into Bryson’s short putting technique.


In conclusion, while Bryson DeChambeau is a maverick, he has found a unique method that works for him and has now made the entire golf world take notice. Will he change golf? Possibly. If he continues to have success, and I believe he will, I can see the aspiring, young players trying to adopt his methods just as many started to learn to putt while anchoring. As an aside, I firmly believe that the ultimate ban on anchoring had little to do with those of us that were struggling with the skill but everything to do with the fast-growing number of juniors that were having success using OUR crutch.

That is not to say that anything that Bryson is currently doing could be construed to be illegal. But he is clearly being watched. His side-saddle putting was thwarted by the USGA, and more recently, his use of a compass to help read his putts. Who knows what he will come up with next? I will be watching too!

For a complete Strokes Gained Analysis of your game, log on to ShotByShot.com and sign up for a one-round free trial.

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In 1989, Peter Sanders founded Golf Research Associates, LP, creating what is now referred to as Strokes Gained Analysis. His goal was to design and market a new standard of statistically based performance analysis programs using proprietary computer models. A departure from “traditional stats,” the program provided analysis with answers, supported by comparative data. In 2006, the company’s website, ShotByShot.com, was launched. It provides interactive, Strokes Gained analysis for individual golfers and more than 150 instructors and coaches that use the program to build and monitor their player groups. Peter has written, or contributed to, more than 60 articles in major golf publications including Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golf for Women. From 2007 through 2013, Peter was an exclusive contributor and Professional Advisor to Golf Digest and GolfDigest.com. Peter also works with PGA Tour players and their coaches to interpret the often confusing ShotLink data. Zach Johnson has been a client for nearly five years. More recently, Peter has teamed up with Smylie Kaufman’s swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, to help guide Smylie’s fast-rising career.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Bill

    Jul 17, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Give them a balata and lets watch the havoc.

  2. carlos

    Sep 20, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Improve yer golf potency with single length… shorter is sweeter… 😮

  3. Kevin

    Sep 20, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    37.5″ is considered by most to be the standard 6 iron length. Check your measurements.

  4. Nack Jicklaus

    Sep 20, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I can’t imagine having my wedges be the length of my 7 iron. Seems like it would be detrimental.

  5. shawn

    Sep 20, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Bryson believes in Homer Kelley’s TGM ultra-scientific golfswing theories… for his fantastic one plane machine swing.

  6. ogo

    Sep 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Gearhead golfers will trend towards single length irons to emulate Bryson and hope that is enough to boost their pathetic golf game. Forget practicing; buy new clubs.

  7. Richard Douglas

    Sep 20, 2018 at 11:09 am

    His side-saddle putting stance was NOT deemed against the Rules of Golf. Rather, the putter he was using was deemed non-conforming because–alleged by the USGA–it could be used to negate the requirement that all clubs have no more than an 80-degree lie angle. Bryson’s putter had a sole that could be flush with the putting surface AND be held at a 90-degree angle (perfectly upright). The sole also allowed for the putter to be held and used with a lie angle within the USGA’s limit.

    It is not against the rules to putt side-saddle. It is also not against the rules to hold the putter at a 90-degree lie angle. But it IS against the rules if the putter is DESIGNED to be held at a 90-degree angle. A putter with a conforming lie angle held at a 90-degree angle would strike the ball with the heel off the ground. Bryson’s allowed the putter to (a) have the heel on the ground and (b) create the same effect while holding it at a standard lie angle. This curved sole is what got the putter–not the putting style–into trouble with the USGA.

    • Peter Sanders

      Sep 21, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Thanks Richard, I was aware that it was the putter that was deemed to be illegal but did not want to go into all that in the article. That said, I also did not research it to the extent you have. Interesting!

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Heritage betting preview: Patrick Cantlay ready to get back inside winner’s circle

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Just a two-hour drive from Augusta National, the PGA TOUR heads to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise and Harbour Town is one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on the PGA TOUR.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a par-71 that measures 7,121 yards and features Bermuda grass greens. A Pete Dye design, the course is heavily tree lined and features small greens and many dog legs, protecting it from “bomb-and-gauge” type golfers.

The field is loaded this week with 69 golfers with no cut. Last year was quite possibly the best field in RBC Heritage history and the event this week is yet another designated event, meaning there is a $20 million prize pool.

Most of the big names on the PGA Tour will be in attendance this week with the exceptions of Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland. Additionally, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner have been granted sponsors exemptions. 

Past Winners at Harbour Town

  • 2023: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
  • 2022: Jordan Spieth (-13)
  • 2021: Stewart Cink (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
  • 2019: CT Pan (-12)
  • 2018: Sotoshi Kodaira (-12)
  • 2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
  • 2016: Branden Grace (-9)
  • 2015: Jim Furyk (-18)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Harbour Town

Let’s take a look at key metrics for Harbour Town Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is exceedingly important this week. The greens at Harbour Town are about half the size of PGA TOUR average and feature the second-smallest greens on the tour. Typical of a Pete Dye design, golfers will pay the price for missed greens.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.27)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.27)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.16)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+0.95)
  5. Cameron Young (+0.93)

Good Drive %

The fairways at Harbour Town are tree lined and feature many dog legs. Bombers tend to struggle at the course because it forces layups and doesn’t allow long drivers to overpower it. Accuracy is far more important than power.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (88.8%)
  2. Shane Lowry (+87.2%)
  3. Akshay Bhatia (+86.0%)
  4. Si Woo Kim (+85.8%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+85.1%)

Strokes Gained: Total at Pete Dye Designs

Pete Dye specialists tend to play very well at Harbour Town. Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are all Pete Dye specialists who have had great success here. It is likely we see some more specialists near the top of the leaderboard this week.

SG: TOT Pete Dye per round over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.27)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.24)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+2.11)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.89)
  5. Sungjae Im (+1.58)

4. Strokes Gained: Short Game (Bermuda)

Strokes Gained: Short Game factors in both around the green and putting. With many green-side bunkers and tricky green complexes, both statistics will be important. Past winners — such as Jim Furyk, Wes Bryan and Webb Simpson — highlight how crucial the short game skill set is around Harbour Town.

SG: SG Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1.11)
  2. Taylor Moore (+1.02)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+0.98)
  4. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.86)
  5. Andrew Putnam (+0.83)

5. Greens in Regulation %

The recipe for success at Harbour Town Golf Links is hitting fairways and greens. Missing either will prove to be consequential — golfers must be in total control of the ball to win.

Greens in Regulation % over past 24 rounds:

  1. Brice Garnett (+75.0%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+69.9%)
  3. Corey Conners (+69.0%)
  4. Shane Lowry (+68.3%)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+67.6%)

6. Course History

Harbour Town is a course where players who have strong past results at the course always tend to pop up. 

Course History over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.34)
  2. Cam Davis (+2.05)
  3. J.T. Poston (+1.69)
  4. Justin Rose (+1.68)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.59)

The RBC Heritage Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drives (20%), SG: SG (14%), SG: Pete Dye (14%), GIR (14%), and Course History (14%)

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Scottie Scheffler
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners 
  6. Wyndham Clark
  7. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  8. Matt Fitzpatrick
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Ludvig Aberg 

2024 RBC Heritage Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2000 (FanDuel)

With the exception of Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour has yet to have any of their star players show peak form during the 2024 season. Last week, Patrick Cantlay, who I believe is a top-5 players on the PGA Tour, took one step closer to regaining the form that’s helped him win eight events on Tour since 2017.

Cantlay limped into the Masters in poor form, but figured it out at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 20th and ranking 17th for the week in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The former FedEx Cup champion will now head to one of his favorite golf courses in Harbour Town, where he’s had immaculate results over the years. In his six trips to the course, he’s only finished worse than 7th one time. The other finishes include three third places (2017, 2019, 2023) and one runner-up finish (2022). In his past 36 rounds at Harbour Town, Cantlay ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Total per round at the course by a wide margin (+2.36).

Cantlay is winless since the 2022 BMW Championship, which is far too long for a player of his caliber. With signs pointing to the 32-year-old returning to form, a “signature event” at Harbour Town is just what he needs to get back on the winning track.

Tommy Fleetwood +3000 (FanDuel)

I truly believe Tommy Fleetwood will figure out a way to win on American soil in 2024. It’s certainly been a bugaboo for him throughout his career, but he is simply too talented to go another season without winning a PGA Tour event.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, Fleetwood made a Sunday charge and ended up finishing T3 in the event, which was his best ever finish at The Masters. For the week, the Englishman ranked 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is a perfect layout for Fleetwood, and he’s had relative success at this Pete Dye design in the past.  In his four trips to the course, he’s finished inside of the top 25 three times, with his best finish, T10, coming in 2022. The course is pretty short and can’t be overpowered, which gives an advantage to more accurate players such as Fleetwood. Tommy ranks 8th in the field in Good Drive % and should be able to plot his way along this golf course.

The win is coming for Tommy lad. I believe there’s a chance this treasure of a golf course may be the perfect one for him to finally break through on Tour.

Cameron Young +3300 (FanDuel)

Cameron Young had a solid Masters Tournament last week, which is exactly what I’m looking for in players who I anticipate playing well this week at the RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 9th, but never felt the pressure of contending in the event. For the week, Young ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Despite being one of the longest players off the tee on the PGA Tour, Young has actually played some really good golf on shorter tracks. He finished T3 at Harbour Town in 2023 and ranks 20th in the field in Good Drive% and 16th in Greens in Regulation in his past 24 rounds. He also has strong finishes at other shorter courses that can take driver out of a players hand such as Copperhead and PGA National.

Young is simply one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2024, and I strongly believe has what it takes to win a PGA Tour event in the very near future.

Corey Conners +5500 (FanDuel)

Corey Conners has had a disappointing year thus far on the PGA Tour, but absolutely loves Harbour Town.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, the Canadian finished T30 but ranked 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, Conners ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 3rd in Greens in Regulation % and 24th in Good Drive %.

In Conners’ last four trips to Harbour Town, his worst finish was T31, last season. He finished T4 in 2021, T12 in 2022 and ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Total at the course over his past 36 rounds.

Conners hasn’t been contending, but his recent finishes have been encouraging as he has finished in the top-25 in each of his past three starts prior to The Masters, including an impressive T13 at The PLAYERS. His recent improvement in ball striking as well as his suitability for Harbour Town makes Conners a high upside bet this week.

Shane Lowry (+7500) (FanDuel)

When these odds were posted after Lowry was announced in the field, I have to admit I was pretty stunned. Despite not offering much win equity on the PGA Tour over the last handful of years, Shane Lowry is still a top caliber player who has the ability to rise to the top of a signature event.

Lowry struggled to score at The Masters last week, but he actually hit the ball really well. The Irishman ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach on the week and 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. As usual, it was the putter that let him down, as he ranked 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is most definitely one of Lowry’s favorite courses on the PGA Tour. In his six starts there, he’s finished in the top 10 three times, including third twice. Lowry is sensational at Pete Dye designs and ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds on Dye tracks. 

Lowry is perfect for Harbour Town. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 2nd in Good Drive% and 5th in Green in Regulation %. If he figures it out on the greens, Shane could have his first win in America since 2015.

Lucas Glover +12000 (FanDuel)

This is one of my weekly “bet the number” plays as I strongly believe the odds are just too long for a player of Glover’s caliber. The odds have been too long on Glover for a few weeks now, but this is the first event that I can get behind the veteran being able to actually contend at. 

Glover is quietly playing good golf and returning to the form he had after the understandable regression after his two massive victories at the end of 2023. He finished T20 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta National. For the week, Lucas ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 20th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Over his past 24 rounds, Glover ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Good Drive %. Harbour Town is a short course that the 44-year-old will be able to keep up with the top players on Tour off the tee. He’s played the course more than 20 times, with mixed results. His best finishes at Harbour Town include a T7 in 2008, but recently has a finish of T21 in 2020.

Glover has proven he can contend with the stars of the Tour on any given week, and this number is flat out disrespectful.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: The 6 biggest takeaways from the 2024 Masters

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The 2024 Masters offered up plenty of excitement throughout the week with Scottie Scheffler delivering when it mattered to live up to his pre-tournament favorite tag. With the year’s opening major now in the books, here are my six biggest takeaways from the 2024 Masters.

Scheffler In a League of His Own

In the most impressive way possible, Scottie Scheffler won the Masters without having his absolute best stuff. For the week, Scottie ranked 19th in Strokes Gained: Approach, which is a category the number player in the world typically dusts the rest of the field in. After a strong approach day on Thursday, the 27-year-old lost strokes to the field on approach on Friday and Saturday, before gaining on Sunday. The iron performance was more than solid, but it was an all-around game that helped Scheffler get it done around Augusta National.

For a year or more, the narrative around Scheffler has been, “With his ball striking, if he can just putt to field average, he’ll be unbeatable.” At Augusta, his ball striking came back down to earth, but his touch around the greens and ability to manage the golf course demonstrated why he is the best player on the planet right now. For the week, Scheffler ranked 1st in the field in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and 24th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

For the time being, there is a major gap between Scottie Scheffler and the second-best player in the world, whoever that may be.

The Future is Now

Ludvig Aberg went into his first back-nine at the Masters with a legitimate shot to win the tournament. When he teed it up on the treacherous 11th hole, he was one behind Scottie Scheffler, who had just stuck one to a few feet on the 9th. By the time he approached his tee shot, which was perfectly striped down the left side of the fairway, he was two behind. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old got too aggressive with his approach at the 11th and found the water, making double bogey. Ludvig rebounded nicely and finished the event in solo second place.

With the Masters now in the rearview, it’s never been more evident that Ludvig Aberg is no longer an “up-and-comer” — he has arrived. The Swede has been an integral part of a winning European Ryder Cup team and has now contended at Augusta National. With a calm demeanor, a picture-perfect swing, and a build and stature that appears as if it was built in a lab, Ludvig Aberg is already amongst the world’s best. I’d be extremely surprised if he wasn’t in the mix at next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Nostalgia Wins

I try to avoid as many cliches as possible, but there’s something about the Masters that brings out the sentimentality in me. Tiger Woods strategically making his way around Augusta National without all of the physical tools that made him arguably the most dominant athlete in the history of sports will always be riveting, regardless of what score he shoots. Woods made it interesting until a tough stretch of holes on Saturday, but he ultimately wore down, shooting 16 over for the week in difficult conditions. It’s remarkable that the 15-time major champion was able to put together a few solid rounds of golf despite barely playing any competitive golf in 2024. As long as Woods tees it up at Augusta, we will all continue to be mesmerized by it.

Verne Lundquist’s 40th and final Masters Tournament was also a must-watch aspect of the event. The iconic voice of Lundquist and his calls throughout the years still give me chills each time I hear them. Verne is an icon of the game and will be missed in future renditions of the Masters.

The Masters also brings another element that is unique to the tournament. Former champions turn back the clock to battle with the golf course again which creates some amazing stories. There are a few that stick out this year and were an absolute pleasure to witness. 61-year-old Vijay Singh made the cut for the first time since 2018 and shot a pretty incredible even-par, 72 on Sunday. 58-year-old José María Olazábal made the cut as well, reminding us why fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm sought his valuable advice prior to his Masters victory in 2022.

Regardless of who wins, the Masters always delivers.

Bryson Moves the Needle

Plenty will disagree with me on this point, but outside of Tiger Woods, and potentially Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, no one moves the needle in golf as much as Bryson DeChambeau. The uniqueness in which Bryson approaches the game has always been fascinating, and if he gets near the top of the leaderboard at any major championship, whether it’s to root for him or against him, people are interested.

It began on Monday with a pretty bizarre story of DeChambeau using 3D-printed irons that got just got cleared for use by the USGA when the week began. It once again felt like a storyline that would only be possible with a character as eccentric as Bryson. He then raced off to a first-round lead in tough conditions, reminding the world of what made him such a great golfer to begin with. He made some mistakes on the weekend, but still finished a career best T6 at The Masters.

Bryson is more than just quirky; he is a former U.S. Amateur Champion and U.S. Open who I believe will contend for more majors in the future. I will continue to root for DeChambeau, but I’m perfectly content with the fact that plenty will root against him, and I encourage those people to do so. That’s what makes it fun.

LIV Walks Away Empty-Handed

Last year, there were a multitude of questions about LIV players coming into the year’s first major. They had played very limited tournament golf, and critics of LIV questioned whether the 54-hole events were enough to sharpen the players enough to compete against the best in the world on the biggest stage.

The results were fascinating, with LIV players all over the leaderboard. Brooks Koepka held the 36- and 54-hole lead, with Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed finishing T2 and T4, giving LIV three golfers in the top-4 of the leaderboard.

This season, with even more time removed and with some more massive additions to the roster, the intrigue surrounding LIV players at Augusta was once again palpable. While some players, including Bryson DeChambeau, exceeded expectations, I can’t help but walk away from the Masters feeling underwhelmed by the performance of the LIV players.

Brooks Koepka finished runner-up last season and is a certified major championship killer. The 5-time major champ was never involved and simply didn’t have it at Augusta. Dustin Johnson put together a putrid performance, shooting 13 over for his two rounds, making it fair to wonder if his days of contending at major championships are over as he rapidly approaches his 40th birthday.

Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann were both players who were amongst the favorites this week, but Rahm was faced with the daunting duties of defending champion and Niemann proved he was still not quite ready to master the quirks of Augusta National, bleeding strokes both around and on the greens.

To be fair, when all was said and done, LIV had four players in the top twelve at The Masters. Tyrrell Hatton stormed the leaderboard early on Sunday, finishing T9 and earning himself an invite back to Augusta next season. Cam Smith and Patrick Reed put together gritty performances, which isn’t too surprising considering the fact that they both absolutely love Augusta National, but neither ever felt a real threat to win. There’s no doubt the players on LIV are good, and that’s why some encouraging leaderboard positions aren’t enough. They needed to contend.

With no players part of the storyline on Sunday, I view the first major of the year as a disappointment for LIV. The players will head into next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla with a lot to prove.

Rory’s Struggles Continues

Rory struggling at Augusta National is no surprise at this point. The four-time major champion has now had 10 attempts to complete the career grand slam and has never had a chance to win. His T2 in 2022 was deceiving, the Northern Irishman stormed the leaderboard on Sunday, but was never in contention, and never got within three shots of the winner, Scottie Scheffler.

I didn’t expect Rory to win, but I have to admit that this year felt a bit different. McIlroy played the week prior to the Masters, which he typically doesn’t do, and finished third at the Valero Texas Open. He gained 7.56 strokes on approach and 2.0 strokes off the tee, which told me that his visit with world-renowned swing coach, Butch Harmon, after the Players Championship paid dividends.

McIlroy also approached the media quite differently. He cut his pre-tournament press conference short after only 10 minutes and seemed to be laser-focused on just playing golf.

Despite the different approach to the Masters, the results were the same. McIlroy struggled over the course of the week, finishing T22 (+4) and never sniffed a decent weekend position on the leaderboard. It’s back to the drawing board for McIlroy, and I have doubts that he will ever figure it out at Augusta.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: The 8 best prop bets for the 2024 Masters

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We’ve finally reached The Masters and excitement is at an all-time high. The world of golf has been fractured for the better part of two years, but for a week at Augusta National, all of the outside noise will disappear. All of the best players in the world will be together seeking to make history.

In addition to betting on The Masters champion. This is one of the few weeks of the year where there are so many more markets to explore, with value to be had in plenty of different categories.

Throughout this article, I’ll discuss all of my favorite props and players for the 2024 Masters.

Placement Bets:

Tony Finau Top 5 +750 (DraftKings):

I badly wanted to include Tony Finau in my outright betting selections, but I simply ran out of room on my card. Additionally, it’s slightly difficult to see him hitting the putts necessary to win the Masters on back nine on Sunday. However, I do strongly believe he will play great golf this week at Augusta National.

In his past 24 rounds, Finau ranks 4th in Strokes Gained: Approach is always amongst the best drivers of the golf ball in the game. Back in 2019, Finau had a great chance to win The Masters. I expect him to be hanging around over the weekend once again in 2024.

Gary Woodland Top 20 +550 (DraftKings), Gary Woodland to make the cut -110 (DraftKings):

Last season, Gary Woodland had his best ever finish at The Masters in his eleven tries. The 39-year-old finished T14 and played incredibly steady across all four rounds.

In Woodland’s most recent start at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, he struck the ball incredibly well. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+8.8) and Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (+10.0).

Gary has been working with Butch Harmon and absolutely flushing the ball both in tournaments and during practice.

Woodland appears to be healthy once again and in a great place physically and mentally. If he can build off his impressive performance at Augusta last year, he can place inside the top ten in 2024.

Additionally, the make the cut number on Woodland seems generous considering the number of players who miss the cut will be relatively small this week. Woodland is striking it well enough to make the cut even if he’s hindered by a balky putter once again.

Thorbjorn Olesen Top 20 +400 (FanDuel):

The Thunder Bear, Thorbjorn Olesen, made his Masters debut in 2013 and finished an incredibly impressive T6 for the week. In the two additional starts he’s made at Augusta National since then, the Dane has continued to be incredibly solid, finishing T44 and T21.

This week, Olesen heads into the week playing some good golf. He gained 3.8 strokes on approach and 5.52 strokes around the green at last week’s Valero Texas Open on his way to a strong T14 finish. Back in January, he won the Ras Al Khaimah Championship on the DP World Tour.

Olesen has the skill set to be successful at Augusta and seems primed for a good performance this week.

Top Nationalities:

Sergio Garcia Top Spanish Player +280 (DraftKings):

I believe Sergio Garcia can get into contention this week with the way he’s striking the ball in addition to his good vibes with a refurbished version of the Scotty Cameron that he used at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

I am slightly concerned about the emotional letdown he may face after losing in a playoff at LIV Miami, but I believe a veteran and former Masters champion should be able to regroup and focus on an event far more meaningful.

This is essentially a tournament head-to-head with Jon Rahm at +280. While Rahm deserves to be respected this week, the history of the lack of success of defending champions at The Masters is difficult to ignore.

Joaquin Niemann Top South American Player -230 (FanDuel):

While I hate paying this much juice, I don’t see a world in which Joaquin Niemann isn’t the top South American this week at The Masters. Joaco comes in playing better golf than anyone in the world not named Scottie Scheffler and has a serious chance to win the green jacket.

He only needs to beat two players: Emiliano Grillo and Camilo Villegas.

Tournament Head-to-Heads:

Justin Thomas -110 over Collin Morikawa

JT isn’t having his best season but is playing a lot better than he is getting credit for at the moment. In the past three months, there are only six players on the PGA Tour who have averaged 1.7 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green or better. Justin Thomas (+1.7) is one of the six and is currently tied with Rory McIlroy (+1.7).

Morikawa, on the other hand, has been extremely poor with his irons, which is incredibly uncharacteristic for him. I can’t help but feel like something is completely off with the two-time major champion.

Tony Finau -110 over Wyndham Clark

I explained in the placement section why I’m so high on Tony Finau this week. With how well he’s striking the ball, it seems as if his floor is extremely high. I’m not sure if he can make the putts to win a green jacket but I believe he will be in the mix similarly to 2019 when Tiger Woods emerged from a crowded pack of contenders.

Clark is a debutant, and while some debutants have had success at The Masters, it certainly poses a challenge. I also don’t believe Augusta National suits Clark as well as some of the other major championship venues.

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