Golf Magazine

The Masters: What the Second Round Lead Means

By Theteesheet @theteesheet


Yesterday we took a look at what the first round lead has meant over the last 11 years. We discovered that first round leaders are in the top 10 over 50% of the time after round three. In other words, if your guy is in the lead after round one, you could be optimistic for an exciting weekend. 

Not surprisingly, it gets even better even if a player is leading after the second round. Nine of the 15 players with the lead (or tied) after the second round are in the top 10 after round 3 (i.e. 60% of the time). 33% of the time, the player with the second round lead wins or is in the playoff. 

2002 - 2012: Masters Round Two Leaders and final results [click to enlarge]
2002 - 2012: Masters Round Two Leaders and final results [click to enlarge]

So you may be feeling confident if your guy has the second round lead.

We also considered players in the top 10 after round 2. Over the past 11 years (as mentioned yesterday, we chose from 2002 from when the significant changes to the golf course at Augusta National), there have been 133 players within the top 10 (or tied). 52.6% of the time, that player will also finish the tournament in the top 10. That's pretty good odds. If your guy is in the top 10 after the second round, historically that player is a coin flip to finish in the top 10. Not bad.


Alternatively, let's look forward to the weekend and see where the ultimate Champions come from.

2002 - 2012: Masters Champions and Playoff Participants standings after each round [click to enlarge]
2002 - 2012: Masters Champions and Playoff Participants standings after each round [click to enlarge]

This chart looks a bit more dramatic. It is difficult to come from behind at the Masters.

Only one player has ever come from outside the top 10 after the second round to win the Masters over the past 11 years. That was Charl Schwatzel in 2011 in in that case he was not far off in 12th place after the second round and only one stroke from T7th. 

Len Mattiace in 2003 came from the pack to get into a playoff. That year, Mattiace was 9 strokes off the second round leader and the ultimate Champion Mike Weir. Mattiace had to shoot a 65 on Sunday to get into the playoff and ended up sitting around for an hour before the playoff and double bogeying the first playoff hole. 


Well, thanks to Fallon and Colbert (channeling Rebecca Black), we learned that Saturday comes after Friday. Moving day is key here at the Masters because the winner almost always comes from the top of the leaderboard. As much as we love to hear the roars over the back nine, winners have not come out of the pack in recent years. 

In 9 of the past 11 years (82% of the time), the Masters champion has been in first or second place after round three. It would be interesting to compare this to a normal tour event.

It's not easy to make a move on Sunday wherever you are. Since 2002, only 23 players from outside the top 10 after the third round have finished in the top 10 (120 players). In other words, on average less than 20% of the top ten finishers come from outside the Saturday top 10.

Even so, it does not make it easier to win for a player outside the top 10 after the third round to win round. It's been 8 years since a player from outside the top 10 after the third round has managed to finish as high as 3rd was Retief Goosen -- altough in 2015, he was still 7 strokes from making the playoff with Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco. 

However, all hope is not lost. There is some truth to the idea of Saturday being "moving day". There has been more movement from Friday to Saturday in the past 11 years. Of the 135 third round players in the top 10 (and ties) from 2002, 54 came from outside the top ten after the second round. A much better 40% of the time you can make the move on Saturday into the top 10 compared to the tougher 20% Sunday. 

Even so, it is still difficult to make that big move on Saturday from outside the top 10 to a position to win. Since 2002, a paltry 7 players have managed to get from outside the top 10 after Saturday into the 4th place or better for the fourth round tee off. As noted above, it is critical to be in the last couple of groups to win the Masters.


1. Moving Day on Saturday is not just a saying ... it's critical

History shows us that you have to make your move Saturday of you want to contend for the green jacket. If you are in the top 10 after Friday, you need to move into 4th or better by the end of Saturday. If you are outside the top 10, it is an uphill battle and you really need to make a move Saturday. It is possible as Charl Schwarzel and Len Mattiace showed, but it is an uphill battle.

2. Don't forget to go shopping for your pimento cheese sandwich ingredients

Despite PimentoGate and the controversy with this year's pimento cheese sandwiches at Augusta, you can still make as close to the authentic as possible. Don't forget to check out the most comprehensive Masters pimento sandwich recipe test ever.

While your at it, pick up some lemons and tea for a homemade Arnold Palmer too. 

Douglas Han


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