You heard it here first: Roberto Castro will win the Masters. That's our pick, based on the fact that in a season that has given us some of the most random winners in a long time on the PGA Tour, Castro fits the bill. Talented and hasn't won yet.
That's just a hunch, however. Statistically, here are our thoughts, focusing on two categories we think will be huge this week:
History is vital at Augusta. Experience helps. Players say they learn something every single year at the famed Augusta National Golf Club. So here are the recent winners and near-misses:
2013: Adam Scott, in a playoff over Angel Cabrera
2012: Bubba Watson, in a playoff over Louis Oosthuizen
2011: Charl Schwartzel, by two over Jason Day and Scott
2010: Phil Mickelson, by three over Lee Westwood
Purely by history, we'd go with Mickelson and Scott. But mixing in stats, we recommend Day and Watson. Yes, Day has been injured and is a huge question mark in terms of how sharp he'll be but he has come close here before and did win the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February (when he was in pain). He's been hitting 73 percent of his greens, 63 percent of greens from areas other than the fairway and is 20th in FedEx Cup points.
Watson, meanwhile, won the Northern Trust Open, and is first in driving distance (important if Augusta National fails to dry out after Monday's drenching rains), 16th in greens in regulation and 11th in scoring average on the PGA Tour.
Alex Myers of GolfDigest.com wrote a great piece last month about how one of the keys to winning the Masters is not having three-putts. Here are the longest active streaks on the PGA Tour with players in this week's field:
Bubba Watson – 255 holes
Jordan Spieth – 120 holes
Sergio Garcia – 109 holes
There's Garcia again, the guy so many have pegged as their champion this week. He has four top-10s in six starts this season on the PGA Tour, a win on the European Tour and ranks 16th in greens in regulation, 32nd(!) in strokes gained-putting and first in scoring average on the PGA Tour at 69.285.
Spieth, meanwhile, also has four top-10s this season and sits in the 30th spot in strokes gained-putting and is 11th in birdie average and 23rd in scoring average.
Oh Yeah, and Roberto Castro
So does Castro hold up statistically? The answer is mixed. His play this year has been shaky, with just three top-25s in 10 starts with four missed cuts. And stats wise, nothing really stands out except for a 44th-place ranking in driving accuracy.
But in 2013 he was 33rd in greens in regulation and 45th in scoring average, both crucial stats this week. He was also 33rd in proximity to the hole and 68th in three-putt avoidance. And in terms of finishes, he had a second and four top-10s in 29 starts.
In other words, the perfect candidate for a breakthrough in the most unlikely of locations: Augusta National.