Everyone knows that you can’t win a tournament on Thursday, but with the way Spieth played today, it’s hard to believe that Bubba won’t be slipping that green jacket around his shoulders on Sunday.
It sounds crazy that I have to justify why he’ll win given his fantastic performance today on his way to an almost record-breaking score of 64, but history says he won’t. In the past 30 years the first round leader has only won the tournament once, which was Trevor Immelman in 2008.
Clearly Augusta is a true test of every aspect of a player’s game, but what really sets people apart here is putting (winners average around 3 three-putts for the whole tournament) and Spieth has been incredible this year. He leads the tour in putts per round and average putting, is 2nd in putting inside 20 feet, 3rd in putts made over 20 feet, 4th in one-putt percentage, 4th in one-putts per round, and 7th in three-putt avoidance. This fact alone is enough evidence that Spieth will win, but I can already hear you yelling “BUT, BUT, YOU HAVE TO BE LONG AT AUGUSTA! THAT’S WHY BUBBA DOES SO WELL!”
It’s true that being long certainly helps at all courses, so it obviously makes Augusta somewhat easier, but it’s not a necessity. There are many recent Masters winners that have been in the middle of the pack in driving distance. In 2007, Zach Johnson won with only being longer than 3 other players. He averaged 265 yards! I can do that!
You also can’t ignore his form coming into the tournament. Win, second, second in his last 3. With golf being such a mental sport, you have to believe he’s incredibly confident in his game right now, which only breeds success.
While history dictates that you can’t be leading after the first round, you also have to be in the top 10. While Els, Hoffman, Day, Rose, and Garcia all looked impressive today, there’s just something intangible about Spieth that makes me think he has what it takes to finish the job this year. Maybe it’s his Tiger-like confidence at such a young age.
Oh, that reminds me. Who was the last winner that wasn’t in the top 10 after the first round? Tiger. Just something to think about.