The Masters Tournament is, arguably, the easiest major to predict. It's played on the same course every year. It has the smallest field of all the major championships (men and women). It has the smallest pool of players in the field that can win.
There are also historic guidelines that help us narrow down the pool of potential winners -- and we're not just talking about the fact that a first-timer has only won once (Fuzzy Zoeller, 1979) since the first Masters, when it was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament.
So, who's going to win the 2022 Masters Tournament? Let's use trends and data to narrow down the pool of potential winners from the 91-player current field.
- An amateur has never won the Masters, so Austin Greaser, James Piot, Laird Shepherd, Stewart Hagestad, Aaron Jarvis and Keita Nakajima are out. Down to 85.
- The oldest Masters winner (Jack Nicklaus) is 46 years old, so Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Stewart Cink, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Jose Maria Olazabal, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir are out. Down to 75.
- One first-timer has won since the first Masters. That takes out Sam Burns, Cameron Davis, Talor Gooch, Lucas Herbert, Garrick Higgo, Harry Higgs, Tom Hoge, KH Lee, Min Woo Lee, Cameron Young, Harold Varner III, Sepp Straka, JJ Spaun, Seamus Power, Guido Migliozzi. Down to 60.
- Only three players have ever successfully defended the Masters title. That means Hideki Matsuyama is likely out. We're at 59.
Now that we've identified the players who are very unlikely to win, let's look at the players most likely to win based on trend data.
Each of the last 10 Masters winners were ranked in the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking the week of their win. That leaves Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Billy Horschel, Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer, Tyrrell Hatton, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Joaquin Niemann, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, Harris English, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey. (Sam Burns and Hideki Matsuyama were already out.)
[I can't/won't stop]
Let's expand that number out to +1.50. That brings in 15 viable contenders from which to make a good list.
But Keegan and Kirk aren't in the field (down to 13)
And, we haven't scrubbed the full list for personal bias and gut feelings... pic.twitter.com/VnxFtWVwDZ
— Will Haskett (@willhaskett) April 4, 2022
Eight of the last 10 Masters winners gained at least 1.5 strokes per round from tee to green in the three months prior to the Masters. That leaves Jon Rahm, Joqauin Niemann, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy, Daniel Berger, Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland.
Out of 91 players, we realistically have nine who are most likely to win. Of course, you can make other arguments and find other trendlines, but these are the two strongest we have in the last decade at Augusta National.