Who Should I Pick In My Masters Pool?

If you’re like me the digital scent of azaleas blooming at Augusta National is starting to tease your senses and your dreams of being crowned Champion in this year’s Masters pool have begun! (please tell me I’m not alone here?)   


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As you know, there’s a lot more to curating a winning team for a Masters pool than picking #1’s. You’ll likely be selecting a team of 5 or 6 players and to make things even trickier your pool admin will probably have the field broken down into multiple tiers. So how could you possibly go about this strategically but without spending a ridiculous amount of time? 

You could always go with the “sure thing” and select your players based on the number of protein shakes each consumes in a given day. If you’d like to take your strategy a couple of steps deeper this article will give you just that.

For the record, I am a PGA Golf Professional – I am NOT a statistical wizard and nobody is using my insights to adjust their sports betting algorithms. My goal is to give the average Joe or Jane a little more data-backed information and a few additional things to consider to help you craft a better lineup for this year’s Master’s pool. It might work perfectly and you’ll be hoisting your trophy on Sunday just like Tiger. (scratch that!) So who should you pick? 

Let’s dig in and let me help you decide.

I’ve taken my strategy to the next level (hopefully) this year thanks to the incredible work @DataGolf. If you’re looking to go WAY deep into the rabbit hole of empirical rules, standard deviations, coefficients obtained from full and partial regression (I don’t even know what that means but they do) you should give their site a look at www.datagolf.com. I had an absolute blast sifting through their data and insights to help me improve my delivery of this article. 

The Process

For picking winners in this year’s Masters Golf Pool

Pool Format Used

To Par Scoring

Picksheet Setup 

6 Tiers with 10 players in each based on OWGR (this is the Easy Office Pools default setting and most popular choice for pool admin)  

Picksheet Rules

Pick 6 – Use 4 (picking 1 player from each tier) 

PGA Statistics Used

YTD thru 3/18/2021 

Skillsets Assessed

  • Approach Shots – (Greens in Regulation %)
  • Around the Green – (% of attempts where a player makes par or better after missing the green in regulation.) 
  • Driving Distance – (Average driving distance in yards) 
  • Putting  – (average # of putts per round on greens hit in regulation) 
  • Driving Accuracy  – ( % of fairways hit from the tee) 

First, using the data found on datagolf.com for each skillset listed above – I calculated the averages of past Masters Champions, PGA Tournament Winners, and the Average PGA Tour Player based on historical Masters Tournament statistics. 

Next, I took the same data sets and pulled the averages for the Last 10, 5, and 3 years. After analyzing all of that data I’ve come up with the rules that should be followed when making your picks for this year’s Masters Pool! 

Each skill is prioritized by order of importance. You can follow each link to view the most current statistics for that category on PGATour.com.

Rules for Player Selection

  1. Approach Shots – Pick players averaging 70%+ for GIR
  2. Around the Green – Pick players averaging 62%+ for Scrambling ability. 
  3. Driving Distance – Pick players averaging 305 yards or better off the tee. 
  4. Putting  – Pick players averaging less than 29 putts/round 
  5. Driving Accuracy  – Who cares? If you do, pick a player averaging 66%+ on fairways hit. 

 

MY SUGGESTED PICKS

(*based on qualified players as of 3/18/2021)

Now you’re ready! If I were to apply these rules today, based on the current field and YTD Tour averages these are the players I’d be picking for my 6 tiers. 

*Click here to see the Masters Field for 2021 listed by Official World Golf Ranking. Updated weekly with new Masters qualifiers and current rankings.  

 

Tier 1: 

1st Choice: Webb Simpson

2nd Choice: Xander Schauffele

Hopefully driving distance isn’t the key ingredient to victory this year! Webb qualifies for every other category making him the clear choice for tier 1. I’m shocked too! 

Xander edged out the 2nd pick over Jon Rahm with better stats for around the green and putting. With driving distance so close that category was a wash. Rahm has a much better approach stat which makes it a tough call! 

Tier 2: 

1st Choice: Sungjae Im

2nd Choice: Daniel Berger

Sungjae is another 4 category hero & also missing the mark in driving distance. This makes me a little nervous with the first 2 tier leaders missing the mark in the driving distance category. Hopefully, their approach stats will make up for that distance gap! 

Berger was the only other player qualifying in more than two categories. It seems slightly insane to pick Daniel over Rory and Brooks. But, if you look at the numbers – he’s better from the fairway, better around the greens, and better with the flat stick than both McIlroy and Koepka. I’m putting my trust in the numbers. Will it bite me in the “you know what”? Possibly, on this one! If the numbers do the job I’ll have the edge as the majority of pool participants will likely go with Rory or Brooks for this tier.

Tier 3:

1st Choice: Joaquin Niemann

2nd Choice: Abraham Ancer

Niemann made the marks in the approach, distance, and putting categories. His stats around the greens are a little concerning, so it’s going to all come down to him knocking down flags on his approaches. 

Ancer is 12 yards shorter off the tee but more accurate from the fairways and better around the greens than Joaquin.  I’m putting the long ball over the straight ball here. Again it’s coming down to Joaquin hitting greens and hopefully, that extra yardage and a lower club in the hands will put him closer to the flag and rolling in lower numbers.

Tier 4:

1st Choice: Scottie Scheffler

2nd Choice: Jason Kokrak

It’s literally a matter of decimal points on every category in this match-up. With the top pick going to Scottie Scheffler.  Having met the requirements in 4 out of the 5 categories – lacking only in his around the green numbers. 

The 2nd pick was a battle between Kokrak and Kisner and without any numbers, I’d go, Kisner, all day. Staying true to my model and trusting the data this pick goes to Jason. He’s not hitting anywhere close to the number of fairways as Kisner but he’s averaging 18 yards more off the tee and he’s hitting 4% more greens in reg. That’s all I needed to convince me that he’s the better pick in this matchup. 

Tier 5:

1st Choice: Sergio Garcia

2nd Choice: Brendon Todd

Brendon was the only player in this tier that had more than 2 categories in the green but I had to go, Sergio! Garcia has significantly better numbers off the tee and from the fairway. Brendon makes me nervous being so accurate off the tee and ranking so low in approach? The dude needs to up his iron play if he’s going to top Sergio in my book. One thing we all are learning is that distance will always trump accuracy at this level of competition on the PGA Tour.  

Tier 6:

1st Choice: Ian Poulter 

2nd: Choice: Bubba

I just can’t allow myself to give the top pick to someone averaging 30 putts per round (even I can do better than that most of the time)! That means Poulter takes my 1st choice for tier 6. 

The 2nd choice was tough, between Bubba and Champ. Their numbers were too close to use as the determining factor. With that being the case, I’m going with the guy that already knows he looks good in green! Making Bubba the go too for pick 2 in my final tier. 

So there you have it! I’m sure you will be as interested as me to see how this strategy plays out. The ultimate goal again is to give you a little more to consider as you go into your research and I hope this helps ease the decision process and leads you toward making those dreams become your reality as the 2021 Masters Pool Hero! 

Happy pooling! Create your own Masters Pool today. 

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