A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS: MAYBE THE MASTERS DOES START BEFORE THE BACK NINE ON SUNDAY
The Masters are underway and you are either playing hooky or at the office pretending to work. Well, there's a graphic below that looks like a spreadsheet so just click it to expand if someone walks by.
There's the old saw that the tournament does not begin until the back nine on Sunday. Is it funny or true? With the easier and more exciting Sunday setups in recent years to allow scoring, it certainly has felt that way. Even if it is true, it does not logically exclude the importance of the Thursday lead. Let's take a look at the numbers.
There's always a lot of excitement with the first round leader and some surprises (Brett Wetterich comes to mind in recent years - and he even held part of the lead after day 2). We took a specific look at the past 11 years (like yesterday's analysis with the TTS Predictilator, we chose 11 years because that was when the major course changes took place). Here is a specific look at what the first round leaders did:
Maybe it is time to get a bit excited if you hvae the first round lead. Of the 14 players with the lead (or tied) after the first round, 35% of the time that player finished in the top five. From a pure excitement standpoint, a first round leader has been in the top 10 over 50% of the time after the third round. In other words, you are mixing up your pimento cheese on Sunday morning with your guy in the hunt at least half the time. Not too bad.
While the first round leader has only won once in the past 11 years (Trevor Immelman), there are a couple things worth noting:
WHEN YOU FALL, YOU FALL HARD AT THE MASTERS
What is also noticeable is that when you taste the lead and then fall out of the top ten , you never seem to make it back. At the Masters, once you fall after a moment in the spotlight: you fall hard. Not once has a first round leader fallen out of the top 10 after one day and make it back in contention.
This is more significant if one considers that of the 120 players in the past 11 years that have finished in the top 10 at the Masters (includes ties), 54 of those players were outside of the top 10 after either Friday or Saturday. In other words, 45% of the players that finished in the top 10 were on the outside of the tope ten after Friday or Saturday. But never has one of those players been a person that once had a taste of the lead.
We'll be back tomorrow for a look at the second round lead.