By Dan Parker
The team at Arccos have plotted each of Hideki Matsuyama's 278 shots at last week's Masters and have provided a series of fascinating stats around his historic victory.
The Stats Behind Hideki Matsuyama's Masters Win
Hideki Matsuyama's Masters victory last weekend was as historic as it was captivating to watch.
As he slipped on the green jacket, he became Japan's first winner at Augusta National and Japan's first male winner of one of golf's four Majors.
His win was epitomised by his driving accuracy, supreme short game and an exhibition in ball striking on back 9 on Saturday afternoon, all of which that captured the imagination of the golfing world watching on.
The team at Arccos have plotted all 278 of Matsuyama's shots across the week and, using their excellent Stokes Gained Analytics software on the Arccos Caddie app, we're going to take a look at the statistics behind Matsuyama's famous victory.
Explainer: What is Strokes Gained Analytics?
All of the strokes gained analysis compares Matsuyama's golf to the average Tour pro and not to how the rest of the field played last week.
This therefore gives us a greater understanding of where Matsuyama performed better versus the average Tour pro, whose handicap is expected to be around +6.
Let's take a look at the stats behind Hideki Matsuyama's Masters win.
As you can see, Matsuyama's final round 73 was actually a loss of -0.9 strokes against the average Tour pro.
Despite this, he gained a fairly mammoth +2.4 strokes with his driving across the round.
This was thanks to his mixture of distance but, most importantly around Augusta National, his accuracy off the tee.
The average Tour player will hit 54% of fairways during a round and Matsuyama's 79% on Sunday kept him in a safe position throughout the round whilst other around him failed to make a challenge to his lead.
He missed no drives to the left on Sunday, with the 21% of his missed fairways going to the right.
We often hear a lot of golfers talk about eliminating one half of the golf course off the tee, and this is exactly how Matsuyama plotted his way around Augusta National on Sunday with his healthy lead.
Related: Who Is Hideki Matsuyama's Caddie?
He was by no means short off the tee either. He averaged 308 yards on Sunday - versus the 280 averaged by a Tour pro - and had a long drive of 350 on the 9th hole, which he would convert for a birdie.
It's hard to look past how well Matsuyama drove the ball all week too, not just on Sunday.
Using Arccos' strokes gained analysis for the entire week, he gained +0.7 strokes off the tee on Thursday, +2.0 on Friday and +1.2 on Saturday.
The Saturday Back Nine
Matsuyama put on an exhibition of ball striking after the short rain delay on Saturday afternoon at the Masters.
While everyone was waiting to see which one of Rose, Spieth or Thomas was going to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck, it was Matsuyama who made the most significant move on moving day.
His 6-under back nine was thanks to some incredible approach play as he capitalised on his accurate driving.
His Saturday 65 saw him gain +3.3 strokes on the average Tour pro in approach shots.
When this was broken down by Arccos, you can see his seven approach shots from 200+ yards helped him the most.
He hit 12 greens in regulation (67%) on Saturday which is the same as the average Tour pro, but his proximity to the pin on these approach shots helped him gain significant strokes on the average pro.
His average distance to the pin when he hit a green in regulation was just 13ft, compared to the average of 23ft.
This contributed to him using the putter just 25 times for the round and gaining the substantial lead he was able to consolidate into Sunday.
It seemed like he had the ball on a piece of string during that stunning back nine, and the stats certainly back that up when we see just how close to the pin he consistently put the ball in the softer Saturday afternoon conditions.
Super Steady Short Game
If we go back to Sunday's round of 73, it was Matsuyama's rock solid short game that meant very few doors were opened for the chasing pack.
The up and down for birdie on the 13th hole certainly sticks out in the mind and, after two shots that arguably should have gone out of bounds, Matsuyama was able to capitalise on his luck by making a vital birdie to put pressure on the charging Xander Schauffele.
For the round, he gained +1.0 strokes on the average Tour pro with his short game.
He was most effective with the delicate, feel chips we saw him play within 25 yards of the green.
He made up-and-down 100% of the time from within this range, with an average distance to the pin of just 3ft compared to the 10ft average by other Tour pros.
As you can see though, he struggled on his chips between 25 and 50 yards, making up-and-down just 33% of the time and leaving himself an average 23ft from the pin on these approach shots.
This was the first time all week he lost strokes to the average Tour pro from this range and it could be argued that this was because he protecting his lead and being slightly more cautious on the Sunday back nine.
But it was the up-and-down for birdie on 13 that was a turning point in the final round, matching his closest rivals' birdie on the same hole when a 6 or even a 7 was possibly on the cards.
Golf is a game of incredibly fine margins, especially across four days at golf's most famous venue and Arccos' stroked gained analysis app has allowed us to see the stats behind Hideki Matsuyama's Masters win.
Dan is a recent graduate based in Solihull. Dan completed a Masters degree in International Journalism at the University of Sussex, where he started his own cricket podcast and website.
Throughout his studies, Dan worked for American Golf branches in West Sussex and Coventry, becoming a custom fit specialist during his two years with the company.
Dan primarily looks after buyer's guides and equipment reviews on the Golf Monthly website, but also can be found on the occasional opinion piece online.
Dan is a left handed golfer, has a handicap index of 10 and is a member at Fulford Heath Golf Club in Worcestershire.
Dan is currently playing: Driver: Cobra King Speedzone Fairway: Cobra King Speedzone Hybrid: TaylorMade Rocketballz 21° Irons: Wilson Staff D7 (5-GW) Wedges: Cleveland RTX 3 52°, 56° Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham
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