Is Augusta National now a left-hander's course?
Six of the past 12 green jackets belong to left-handed golfers. What can we learn from that?
Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Mike Weir now lay claim to half of the past 12 titles at the Masters.
Weir kick-started things in 2003 with his only major title and Mickelson followed that up shortly there after with two in three years. Now he and Watson have won three of the past five starting in 2010.
So the question must be asked: Is Augusta National a left-hander's course now?
Golfers of the left-handed variety went 40 years between major championships -- from Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1963 (Bob Charles) to Weir's Masters in 2003. And still only Mickelson's wins at the PGA Championship in 2005 and British Open in 2012 stand outside of that.
And yet, Augusta is teeming with lefty titles since the course was "Tiger-proofed" in the early 2000s.
In 2011 in this New York Times article Luke Donald said there's something to the theory.
"There are an awful lot of holes that look more inviting if you stand over the ball as a left-hander," Donald said. "The golf course may have always demanded a certain right-to-left ball flight for the right-handed player, but considering where they’ve moved the tees, it’s exaggerated. It’s a harder shot for a right-hander."
"I certainly wouldn’t mind having (Phil) Mickelson’s cut shot off many of those tees," he said.
Martin Kaymer added that he wanted to be Mickelson for a day.
"I wish I could play the Masters left-handed," said Kaymer. "I can fade it all day. And if you’re left-handed, that’s what you get to do."
Kaymer, as you'll remember, is the same guy who once tried to change his entire game to be better at the Masters.
So if anything, it's at least in the heads of some golfers.
Mickelson was asked about this in 2011 before Watson had even won one jacket.
"I don't think the golf course favors one side or the other, but there are a couple of holes that I feel more comfortable on left-handed, but there are a couple of holes that I feel more uncomfortable playing left-handed."
"I think Bubba has been playing very well, and the one thing that he does extremely well, better than most players, is he has very creative shot-making. I think he's going to be a factor; he's been playing such good golf that his creativity and golf skills should get him into contention, not just this week, but at multiple Masters."
Pretty good forecasting, eh?
Still, I hold on to the notion that it's length and not handedness that leads to wearing green on Sundays. You can read this article on FiveThirtyEight for proof of that.
That two of the longest hitters in the game happen to be left-handed is a coincidence to me, for the most part.
Here's the PGA Tour rank in driving distance for the three lefties we're discussing
Weir 2003: 68th
Mickelson 2004: 30th
Mickelson 2006: 17th
Mickelson 2010: 13th
Watson 2012: 1st
Watson 2014: 1st
That's a trend, my friends, and while having that right-to-left fade might help a little bit I would imagine hitting wedge shots into par-5s helps a lot more.
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