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Friday, April 10, 2009

A Look at the Top 10 at the Masters Midpoint

Through 36 holes, Augusta National has yielded some very good scores. Often, those at or near the top at the midpoint of the tournament are not the same names who are still there on Sunday evening. However, this leaderboard is very strong, so I would imagine that at least a few of the top ten will have staying power.

Here they are with number of PGA Tour and European Tour victories and major championships (unless otherwise noted):

Name / Victories / Majors
Chad Campbell 4 / 0
Kenny Perry 13 / 0
Angel Cabrera 5 / 1
Todd Hamilton 2 / 1
Tim Clark 3 / 0
Anthony Kim 2 / 0
Rory Sabbatini 4 / 0
Shingo Katayama 26 (Japan) / 0
Jim Furyk 13 / 1
Sergio Garcia 15 / 0

Though there are only three majors between these players, all of them save Anthony Kim (who is very young and had only played in five majors before this one), have multiple high finishes in majors. Famously, Sergio has been second in three majors.

Of the players within two shots of Sergio are major champions such as Vijay Singh (3), Geoff Ogilvy (1), Phil Mickelson (3), Tiger Woods (14), Padraig Harrington (3), and Sandy Lyle (2). Though I don't expect Lyle to slip on the green jacket, all of these top golfers are easily within striking distance of the lead.

Even though there are many multiple winners in the history of the Masters, it has become more and more difficult to predict the winner lately. Why? Many experts point to the changes made to the course, particularly the added length. I think that only has a minimal impact on the relative unpredictability of the winners. I would suggest that the worldwide parity in golf (excluding Tiger Woods' dominance) is greater than ever before, so many more players are capable of winning big tournaments.

Though I've rarely made a good golf prediction, if I had to wager money on two players tonight who currently reside in the top ten, I would bet on Tim Clark and Anthony Kim. Campbell and Perry haven't sold me yet, but I liked how they both birdied 18 today. No matter who wins, I just hope it's someone who makes on ton of birdies down the stretch, rather than backing into it while the rest of the leaders blow up around him.


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