Sergio Garcia’s evolving maturity has been credited with a significant role in his first major win at last week’s Masters. Clearly his positive attitude and determination helped. But what were the other keys to his victory?
Garcia his several iron shots close down the stretch, but his most significant advantage during Masters week was his driving. Not only was he accurate, he was long … in some cases very long, such as his 341-yard blast – uphill – on No. 8 in the final round.
Garcia’s driving prowess comes as no surprise. He ranks second behind Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: off-the-tee, which measures players against each other in how well they drive the ball. Garcia is 1.254 shots per round better than Tour average, giving him more than a five-shot advantage over the course of a typical event. Garcia ranked fourth last season in the category behind only McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.
Emphasizing how important driving is at Augusta National, Justin Rose, who lost in a playoff to Garcia, ranks ninth this season on Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee. The Englishman finished last season ranked fifth, one spot behind Garcia.
Augusta National does not make advanced statistics publicly available, although every shot is tracked and measured. Golfweek did a little digging and found some fascinating numbers.
For the week, Garcia hit 45 of 56 fairways (80.36 percent), which was 12.8 percent better than his PGA Tour average this season and second best in the Masters field behind Soren Kjeldsen (82.14 percent).
But Garcia was not just accurate, he was even longer off the tee than official stats might suggest. Like week-to-week PGA Tour events, the Masters selected two holes (the fifth and the 15th) that run in opposite directions where players were likely to hit driver and that have flat landing areas to track average driving distance. Garcia’s average distance on the eight shots on those holes was 291.5 yards.
That is 12.7 yards shorter than his season average heading into the event. However, take every tee shot Garcia hit during the Masters on par 4s and par 5s, and his average was 300.7.
Even that number is slightly deceiving, because the Spaniard hit 10 drives past 300 yards on Saturday and nine drives past 300 Sunday, along with a 299-yard drive on 13 Saturday and a 298-yard tee shot on 17 Sunday.
Garcia’s combination of power and accuracy was on full display last week on the ninth hole. His driving distances on that 450-yard, downhill par-4 were 376, 353, 345 and 350 yards, and this longest approach shot for the week was just 124 yards.
Now driving: Sergio Garcia
(Every tee shot Garcia hit at Augusta National on par 4s and par 5s:)