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Here’s why the last 25 years of champions at the Masters reveals which players have the best chance of claiming the Green Jacket at Augusta National in 2021.
The 2020 tournament was moved to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this year’s event is back in its usual April spot as the first major of the season. World number one and reigning champion Dustin Johnson will defend his title, while several top contenders are coming into form at just the right time heading to Augusta.
So, how does one pick a winner? Well, if you’re thinking of placing a bet, history suggests that it’s possible to create an ideal profile of a Masters champion.
In the last 25 years, just two players under the age of 25 have won the title: Tiger Woods in 1997 and Jordan Spieth in 2015, both aged 21.
This year’s winner will therefore probably be 25 years old or above – but he’ll likely be under 40 too, with just two players over that age winning the event in the last quarter of a century: 41-year-old Mark O’Meara in 1998 and Woods in 2019, aged 43.
So, while an experienced player like 47-year-old Lee Westwood arrives at Augusta with two recent second-place finishes at the Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it seems he only has an outside chance of improving on his 2016 runner-up finish.
Also, history shows that an American is more likely to win than a European. Since 1996, Americans have won 15 out of 25 times and have also won the last three: Patrick Reed in 2016, Woods in 2019 and Johnson in 2020. This year, most of the main contenders are American.
As the Masters is the only major to be played at the same golf course each year, experience and form around the unique test that is Augusta National has also been proved to be key to success.
18 of the last 25 Masters champions had previously made at least four appearances at Augusta, and 16 of those had already posted a top-five finish at the Masters before winning it.
Also, a player’s chances of winning also increase if they performed well at the previous year’s Masters – and that might be even more true this time around with last year’s event played only five months ago. Since 1996, 19 of the 25 Masters champions had made the cut at Augusta the year before their victory.
History suggests that this year’s champion will be a player inside the top 30 of the world rankings. Of the last 25 Masters champions, 21 were inside the top 30 at the time of their victory, including each of the last 11.
Also, 21 of the last 25 champions had already recorded a top-five finish in the season of their triumph. This year, we are therefore looking for players who are at the top of their game and have already had some success in 2021.
With all that in mind, we have picked five players who fit the mould to be the 2021 Masters champion.
Dustin Johnson: The 36-year-old American is the reigning champion, has already won once this year and is ranked number one in the world. With 10 Masters starts under his belt, he also has plenty of Augusta experience.
Justin Thomas: Also American, the 27-year-old won the Players Championship this year and the world number two fits the profile of a possible winner with five Masters to his name, finishing fourth at Augusta last year.
Brooks Koepka: The American finished second at the Masters in 2019 and seventh last year, and has now made five career appearances at Augusta. The 30-year-old is currently 12th in the world rankings and has two top-five finishes to his name this year, including a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.
Patrick Reed: Winner of the Green Jacket in 2018, the American is now 30 years old, ranked seventh in the world, and won the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
Webb Simpson: The 35-year-old finished 10th at the Masters last year and fifth in 2019, and has made nine career starts at Augusta. The former US Open champion has recorded a top-five finish earlier this season at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Do you believe any other player has a better chance of coming out on top this time? Place your bet on Betway.