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How The US Golf Media Rate The Chances Of The Irish At The Masters

How The US Golf Media Rate The Chances Of The Irish At The Masters
By Colman Stanley Updated

Four Irish golfers are in the field for the Masters this week, with three from the Republic. It has, without a doubt, added an extra buzz on these shores to the already compelling week of the Masters.

Add to this the inspiring story of Seamus Powers’ rise to the world’s Top 50. From Waterford to the PGA Tour, via Tennessee and slogging it out at the second tier Web.com events.

You also have an aged Padraig Harrington, whose belief seems as strong as ever, and is adamant that he is going there to compete and to “try and win”. After a fourth place at last year’s PGA Championship, it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see him somewhat in contention on Sunday.

Shane Lowry is the most in form of the Irish, and on his best run since winning the 2019 Open. The ball striking stats and analytics are also in his favour.

How’s Rory going to do this time? This question is one of the main annual topics at the Masters, and has become part of the tournament’s make up over the last decade or so.

With these details in mind, we have taken a look at some of what the American media has been saying about their chances, in particular an article from Golf Digest which ranks every player in the Masters’ field.

We'll begin with the highest ranked Irish golfer on their list, Shane Lowry, whom they have at 14th. They note obvious positives such as his “world-class” short game, his desperately unlucky second place finish in February’s Honda Classic, and his recent good form which includes a couple of top 15 finishes.

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However, the most telling comment made by Golf Digest isn’t one that speaks too kindly for the Clara man’s chances. The Masters is the only major he has yet to secure a top 10 finish in, and in fact, he has managed top 5 finishes in the other three.

Thankfully, slightly more advanced metrics are in his favour. The popular No Laying Up podcast tweeted the top ball strikers over the last three months, using stats from DataGolf. The measurement combined strokes gained off the tee plus strokes gained on approach. The list has Lowry in 6th place, among the big sharks such as Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, and Justin Thomas.

DataGolf also provide their own alternative often maligned world ranking system, which they describe as follows; “The Data Golf Rankings are a ranking of the best golfers in the world according to our model. They are determined by averaging the field-strength adjusted scores of each golfer across professional and amateur tournaments, with more recent rounds receiving more weight.”

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In this model Lowry is 11th in the world, as opposed to 34th in the official rankings. The bookies also recognise his potential with some bookies seeing him as 14th favourite at 33/1 odds.

Other stats in Lowry’s favour include sitting in the top 20 of strokes gained putting in this season’s PGA Tour, a part of his game that has held him back at times. He also 5th in scoring average, one place above world number Scottie Scheffler.

Next on Golf Digest’s list is Rory McIlroy, whom they have as their 16th favourite to take home the green jacket. And of course they have mentioned his uncanny habit of often having terrible first rounds only to end the week in the top 10.

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He opted out of the World Matchplay in favour of last week’s Valero Open, where he duly missed the cut. Is it an ominous sign, or has he used it to iron out some kinks?

If he can sort out his opening round woes, you wouldn't bet against him to complete the career Grand Slam, which would, and it goes without saying, elevate him to a whole other level of greatness.

Golf Digest have Seamus Power as their 41st pick for the Masters, sandwiched between Abraham Ancer (ranked 14th in the world), and two-time champions Bubba Watson. Not bad company to be in.

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41st is about right, and is the same as his world ranking. Power, in terms of stroke-play has suffered a dip in form recently, missing three of his last four cuts. The merit of his tied fifth place at the World Matchplay is difficult to judge given the differences with stroke play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vD42C0GCFQ

Harrington is 78th on the list, with Digest noting that “this could well be the last time he tees it up at this hallowed ground.” They may be right and it is his first time here since 2015, made possible by his tied 4th in last year’s PGA Championship.

The 2021 Ryder Cup captain and three-time major winner has found good form recently, finishing tied 2nd in the Rapiscan Systems Classic on the PGA Champions Tour (the senior tour) last weekend.

This form along with bullish confidence after the performance where he said “I’m not going there to make up the numbers. With my head, I’m going there to play my best golf and compete and try and win, to get my head in the right place. Physically I can do it, so it really is just getting your head in the right place,” all bodes well for his chances of making the cut at the Masters.

See Also: Rory McIlroy Plans To Copy Former Champion's Strategy In Bid To End Masters Hoodoo

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