How the half-way leaders fare over the weekend
The good news for Jordan Spieth is that he managed to hold on to the lead despite dropping two shots in his last four holes for a two over par round and a two round total of four under. He goes in to the weekend at Augusta with a one shot lead over Rory McIlroy.
The sort of bad news for Jordan Spieth is that only 6 of the last twenty players to be leading at Augusta at the half-way point managed to hold on to their lead to win the tournament. Of course he’s one of the six to have achieved that feat, doing so last year. In fact the last two tournaments have been won by the man who lead after two rounds. Bubba Watson managed it in 2014 and just made the cut, which wasn’t the case for several former champions who got the chop.
Day 2 proved a tougher affair for all involved with only five players managing to shoot sub-par rounds as tough pin positions and swirling winds took their toll on the scorecards.
One of those five players is Rory McIlroy who is the only player to shoot under par in each of the first two rounds. McIlroy has yet to win the Masters but he’s ideally placed. This isn’t a tournament which lends encourages spectacular comebacks.
Although the half-way leader has only won 30% of the last twenty tournaments they have gone on to finish in the top five 58% of the time. Which is good news if you backed Spieth each-way.
That’s not to say that because he’s leading now things can’t go drastically wrong. Back in 2007 Brett Wetterich shared the lead with Tim Clark after two rounds only to finish all the aay back in 37th. Thanks largely to a terrible eleven over round on the Saturday.
McIlroy knows all about Master collapses having led through three rounds in 2011 only to fall apart on the final day, shooting 80 to finish in 15th place. He has since gone on to win four majors. The Masters is the only one missing from his trophy room but his 4th placed finish last year proves he can stay the course over the four rounds.
The stats aren’t exactly in Jordan Spieth’s but then they’re not exactly in Rory’s either. Only three of the last twenty winners were in second place after two rounds and the last man who won from that position was Tiger Woods back in 2001.
Three of the last seven winners were in third pace at this juncture in the tournament which is good news for Danny Lee, Scott Piercy and Hideki Matsuyama who are currently tied for third. To give the trio even more hope eight of the last fourteen winners were in either 3rd, 4th or 5th place after two rounds. Positions which these three men technically occupy.
A half-assed theory perhaps but that’s what half-way stats are all about.