Masters Tournament: Does early-year success lead to a green jacket?

Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Does winning an event prior to the Masters give players a better chance of capturing a green jacket? Jordan Spieth won an early-year event, but Bubba Watson did not prior to their respective wins at Augusta.
By Dan McDonald
PGA.com

Series: The Masters

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | 12:32 p.m.

As we enter the home stretch of tournaments leading up to the Masters Tournament in April, there will be a lot of talk about how a win could jumpstart a player and give them the momentum needed to capture the green jacket.

But how much does an early-year win actually translate into success at Augusta?

For all of you looking at how to pick players for your upcoming Masters pool, we took a look at the past 30 years of Masters champions to see what tournament or what month a win is most likely to lead to a Masters win.

MASTERS 2017: A look at the projected field for this year's tournament

It turns out, however, that not winning an early-year tournament historically provides the best chance to conquer Augusta National. Over the past 30 years, 14 times the eventual champion had not won that season.

For those players who did capture a trophy in the early months of their Masters championship year, March is the month that leads to the greatest success. On eight occasions, a March tournament winner has gone on to claim a green jacket.

But what about players who have won multiple times before heading to Georgia? Only three times in the past 30 years has a two-time winner prior to the second weekend of April won the Masters — Sandy Lyle in 1988, Tiger Woods in 2001 and Mike Weir in 2003.

Some other notable facts about Masters champions during this period:

  • Every player who has won had at least one previous win on Tour.
  • Of the 14 players who had no early-season wins, nine of them had won the previous year. Larry Mize had the longest pre-Masters drought at 4 years.

So, if you’re using this method to pick your pool this year, watch out for the players you think are due for a win this season or those who find paydirt over the next month.

Here's a look at each champion over the past 30 years and which tournament was won (or not won) prior to their Masters win:

Year Champion Jan-April win prior to Masters win Win date prior to Masters
2016 Danny Willett Omega Dubai Desert Classic Feb 7th
2015 Jordan Spieth Valspar Championship Mar. 15th
2014 Bubba Watson Northern Trust Open Feb 16th
2013 Adam Scott No 2013 wins Aug 2011
2012 Bubba Watson No 2012 wins May 2011
2011 Charl Schwartzel Joburg Open Jan 16th
2010 Phil Mickelson No 2010 wins Sept 2009
2009 Angel Cabrera No 2009 wins Nov 2007
2008 Trevor Immelman No 2008 wins Dec. 2007
2007 Zach Johnson No 2007 wins Apr. 2004
2006 Phil Mickelson BellSouth Classic Apr. 2
2005 Tiger Woods Ford Championship at Doral Mar 6
2004 Phil Mickelson Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Jan 25
2003 Mike Weir Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Nissan Open Feb. 2, Feb. 23
2002 Tiger Woods Bay Hill Mar 17
2001 Tiger Woods Bay Hill, The Players Mar 18, Mar 25
2000 Vijay Singh No 2000 wins Mar 1999
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal No 1999 wins Mar 1998
1998 Mark O’Meara No 1998 wins Feb 1997
1997 Tiger Woods Mercedes Championship Jan 12th
1996 Nick Faldo No 1996 wins Jun 1994
1995 Ben Crenshaw No 1995 wins Apr 1994
1994 Jose Maria Olazabal Turespana Open Mediterrania Mar 6th
1993 Bernhard Langer No 1993 wins Apr 1992
1992 Fred Couples Nestle Invitational Mar 22nd
1991 Ian Woosman Fujitsu Mediterranean Open Mar 3
1990 Nick Faldo No 1990 wins July 1989
1989 Nick Faldo No 1989 wins Oct 1988
1988 Sandy Lyle Phoenix Open, Greensboro Open Jan 31,Apr 3rd
1987 Larry Mize No 1987 wins 1983