viz blog
Does Augusta National Play Favourites?
When it comes to predicting who plays well at Augusta National, there's no shortage of narratives—so we decided to test a few.

Using skill, experience, and nationality, we have grouped players' rounds into 1 of 7 categories and plotted the averages to see if performance varies across groups. Performance is measured in strokes-gained versus expectation, where the expectation is our model's baseline prediction for each player prior to each round. The further the average (yellow bar) lies from the baseline expectation (0.00 line), the more likely a narrative is to have some truth behind it.
Performance vs Expectation at Augusta
Group players by:
When grouping players by skill, elite players have out-performed their expectation by 0.37 strokes per round. This supports the narrative that Augusta favours "in-form" players more than a typical tournament. Unlike the group averages, Rory McIlroy has performed better (relative to expectation) as a sub-elite player than he has as an elite player—perhaps he enjoys the ride down Magnolia Lane more when he's flying under the radar.

Turning to experience we see that performance tends to improve as the number of Masters appearances increases—a rare occurance of an old adage actually showing up in the data. The benefit of additional experience appears to flatten after 9 appearances.

Nationality does not appear to have a significant impact on Masters performance—Europeans struggle slightly while South Africans perform well. Exploring the Americas (Excl. USA) group suggests that Augusta may have a soft spot for Canadians.