2017 Masters: How Par-5s Can Determine the Champion

Apr 8, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Charley Hoffman and Sergio Garcia walk to the 2nd green during the third round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Charley Hoffman and Sergio Garcia walk to the 2nd green during the third round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

Four holes on Sunday could determine the 2017 Masters champion.

The 2017 Masters gets down to the business of selecting a champion today. While the old cliche tells us the tournament won’t really start until the second nine, if you want to predict this year’s Masters champion look no farther than the four par-5’s.

Augusta National opened its doors in 1933, the final course designed by famed architect Alister MacKenzie. Its reputation preceding, the course’s otherworldly beauty serves as camouflage for one of the most challenging setups in the world.

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Kyle Porter of CBS Sports wrote an interesting piece last week on the importance of the par-5s. The statistics clearly bear out the importance of these four holes: while you don’t have to decimate Nos. 2, 8, 13 and 15 to win the green jacket, you better get some help if you don’t.

Entering Sunday’s finale, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia share the lead at 6-under, and will enjoy the final tee time. Theirs will be far from a victory march, however, with Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and a host of others ready to step up to the challenge.

With the stage set for a Sunday showdown at the Masters, here’s how the contenders shape up.

Justin Rose is in the driver’s seat for a reason.

2017 Masters
Justin Rose. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Rose, the gold medalist from the Rio Olympics and 2013 U.S. Open champion, made a major run on Saturday and looks have all the momentum heading into his final pairing with Garcia.

While he started Moving Day off with a bogey on the par-5 second hole, he’s still played the par-5s overall to seven-under, including birdies on No. 13 each time through.

The Englishman has been here before, with three top-tens in his last five Masters appearances. With his combination of power off the tee and outstanding ball-striking, he’ll likely be looking at plenty of birdie putts down the stretch on Sunday.

Sergio Garcia, in position to break through, needs to dial in.

Five years ago, Garcia famously told reporters that he didn’t believe he had what it takes to win a major championship. Today, he’s in a much better place personally and emotionally, and he could be just hours away from putting all of that behind him for good.

At 6-under for the tournament, Garcia has actually played the par-5s at just five under. Three of those birdies came on Saturday, with his miraculous recovery on No. 13 keeping him in striking distance. His biggest challenge on Sunday will simply be maintaining patience, especially as he follows Fowler and Spieth.

Fowler and Spieth can feed off each other’s energy throughout Sunday’s round

Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are appointment viewing anywhere they go. Add in a championship pairing at the Masters, and you’re likely to see history being made with each shot.

Fowler is a ridiculous 9-under on the par-5s this week. He actually birdied all four of them on Saturday, as he battled to a 1-under round of 71. He’s simply given far too many shots back on par-4s, where he’s five over. If he can get that under control at all on Sunday, the green jacket could be his.

2017 Masters
Rickie Fowler. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Spieth’s Augusta story is quickly becoming the stuff legends are made of, even after just three appearances. He’s basically two holes away from winning in all three of his Masters appearances, and he’s somehow just two off the lead after finding himself ten back on Thursday night.

If you want to see how important the par-5s are, check this out. No player has ever won at Augusta with an eight or worse on their scorecard. Spieth made quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 15 on Thursday, and has clawed his way back into contention. Take that quad away, and Spieth is heading into Sunday with a two-shot lead, and undeniable favorite.

Not only does Spieth lead the Tour in par-5 scoring so far this year, he has wisdom way beyond his years. If he makes the turn at two or three under on Sunday, the entire atmosphere of the tournament will shift to him.

Masters leaders have no room for error on Sunday

While these four have likely the best chance at the green jacket, the list doesn’t end with Spieth. From Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore, on to Adam Scott and Thomas Pieters, there are plenty of players who can make a quick jump up the leaderboard.

How did ProGolfNow’s Sam Belden do with his 2017 Masters power rankings? Take time for a quick lookback.

Next: 2017 Masters Power Rankings

There’s nothing quite like the pressure of a Masters Sunday. As a result, it seems like anything can happen. While the players can’t avoid the stress, focusing on four prime scoring chances can make things a lot easier.