What makes the ultimate Masters champion?

Masters Green Jacket Close Up

What would the ultimate Masters champion look like? 

They would be long off the tee, with the ability to shape the ball. Their iron shots would land on the very yardage they intended to hit, in the very spot they were aiming for.

From around the greens, they would be able to play it high and low, with and without spin, not to mention exquisite feel to contend with the glass-like surfaces of the Augusta National greens.

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If the ultimate Masters champion did exist, they would look something like this. 

Driving   

The tee shots at Augusta are considered a drawer's paradise (for right handed players, that is). Seven of the tee shots require a right-to-left shape, with 10 and 13 being the most severe. But recent years have shown that a fade can also be beneficial, if you’re a left-hander that is.    

Bubba Watson, below, was No.1 in driving distance on the PGA Tour when he won his Green Jackets in 2012 and 2014. Being a leftie, the Floridian could sling his fade round some of the tightest corners on the coure, leaving shorter distances for his approach shots. This meant he could see lines that other players could not.  

Bubba Watson

Iron Play

The greens at Augusta need to be played in sections. The precarious slopes and rapid speeds mean that getting the ball close requires imagination and bravery. Tiger Woods has both.  

On the week of his sensational comeback in 2019, Woods hit 58/72 greens in regulation, bettering his closest challenger in that category by three. No matter where Woods, below, found himself off the tee, he could map out a route to the green. 

Tiger Masters Irons

He saw gaps that others couldn’t, played conservatively when needed, and attacked pins when others felt it was too dangerous to do so. This is why the 15-time major champ is the perfect candidate to approach the greens at Augusta. 

Chipping   

Every blade of grass at Augusta National looks like it's there for a reason. The fairways look like pristine carpets and the greens are like marble. But to stop the ball on those surfaces requires a short game that's got something special. Enter Phil Mickelson, below.  

Phil Mickelson Chip Masters

The three-time Masters champ can glide his loftiest club underneath the ball off the tightest of lies, without disturbing any of the turf below it. The clean and accurate strike produces masses of spin, allowing him to stop and release the ball on a steep slope. 

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Mickelson’s short game is one weapon that every golfer would love to have in their arsenal around Augusta. 

Putting  

The green speeds at Augusta can be anywhere from 12 to 15 feet on the stimpmeter. That’s fast. Very fast.

Jordan Spieth, below, is one of the greatest long-range putters to ever play the game. In 2015, he ranked first in putts made from 20 to 25 feet, holing 25% of his 81 attempts from that range. That's scary good.

He also topped the rankings for total putts per round, only needing 27 putts for every 18 holes he played. This is beneficial for every tournament - but it's absolutely massive at Augusta.   

Even if Spieth has an average time from tee to green, he has the best chance of making up shots with the flat stick.

Jordan Spieth Putting Masters

Mental toughness 

Augusta National is as tough a test mentally, as it is physically. To watch your ball trickle off the green after missing your target by a yard can be draining. That's what sets Jack Nicklaus, below, apart from all the rest. 

Jack Nicklaus Masters Putter

The six-time masters champ - the most decorated champion in Masters history - said "I never missed a putt in my mind". He sustained that thought  for every major championship he competed in, winning a record 18 in total throughout his career.

The most impressive of those wins came during the 1986 Masters. An inspired Nicklaus - then 46 years old - put together a back-nine of 30 to see off Tom Kite and Greg Norman by one (becoming the oldest Masters champion on record). 

The 'Golden Bear' proved once again that without the right mindset, physical ability is futile.  

"The golf course is perfection and asks for perfection," says three-time winner Nick Faldo.

So, you need to be perfect then.

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