Mickelson: The Favorite to Win the Masters?

Apr 06, 2011 1 Comment

By Sportsglutton

The Masters starts tomorrow (coverage begins at 3pm ET on ESPN) and there seems to be a consensus that is Phil Mickelson is the favorite to repeat as champion (Vegas has Phil as a 7:1 favorite). The predictions are largely based off of Mickelson’s dominating performance last week at the Shell Houston Open, where he fired a winning 20-under par and vested his nearest competitor by 3 strokes. Combined with the fact that Lefty is one of the golf’s Superstars, a multiple Masters’ winner, and that Tiger is seeming lost in a sea of mediocrity, makes Mickelson a logical favorite to winner his fourth green jacket.

Or does it?

Statistically this season, Mickelson is somewhat of a mixed bag.  He is second in Fed Ex Cup points, third on the moneylist and hasn’t missed a cut in 8 tournaments. Continuing, Phil is 18th in putts per round (28.32), 17th in scoring average (69.82), and has an average finish of 21st. However, Phil is also ranked an atrocious 181st in driving accuracy (52%) and 82nd in greens in regulation.  Perhaps Lefty’s saving grace is that he also 31st in scrambling and this combined with his putting are two of the primary reasons that he has had any success this year.

But should Mickelson’s win last week, which people are putting so much stock in, really be a determining factor in Phil’s chances of winning this week.  Absolutely…just not in sense which most prognosticators are stating. 

Winning last week in Houston should certainly be a confidence boost for Phil, but the playing conditions at Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course (home of the Shell Houston Open) are not the same as those found at Augusta National.  Moreover, scoring well and winning a tournament one week rarely translates to winning the following week’s tournament (since 2000 this has happened in roughly 3% of tournaments played).  This is especially the case concerning golf’s major championships where since 1977 only two golfers have won a major championship after winning the previous week’s tournament.  And in the history of the Masters only 3 players have accomplished this feat. The three players to pull this off were Sam Snead in 1949, Sandy Lyle in 1988, and ironically Phil Mickelson in 2006. 

Therefore even though Lefty is part of this short list of players, the fact that it happens so rarely should automatically make Phil a favorite not to win the Masters.

This is not to say that Mickelson won’t be in the mix, finish in the Top 25, or even win the whole thing.  I simply wish to point out that instead of believing Phil will win the Masters, perhaps prognosticators should be leery of making Lefty the favorite.  After all, predicting the winner of any golf tournament is one of the more pointless endeavors in the world of sports (see my predictions for 2011).

Golf Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Mickelson: The Favorite to Win the Masters?”

  1. 2011 Masters: The Most Dramatic Sunday Ever? | sportsglutton says:

    […] Where was Lefty?- The favorite for many heading into this tournament, Mickelson was Mr. Irrelevant at the Masters this week.  It wasn’t that Phil played all that poorly (he finished 1 under, tied for 27th), but he was never in the mix.  I guess winning the week prior to the Masters doesn’t guarantee a victory after all…but we already knew that (Masters preview post). […]

%d bloggers like this: