The Economist’s nerdy Masters analysis is bad news for Tiger Woods fans

April 5, 2019

The fifth major of Tiger Woods’s most recent comeback begins next week at the 2019 Masters. There’s little doubt that most Tiger Woods fans right now are already handing him the green jacket (his fifth, by the way).

But The Economist is ready to throw cold water on their high hopes and Tiger’s chances at Augusta.

The long-running financial magazine launched their new EAGLE prediction model this week. EAGLE, which stands for Economist Advantage in Golf Likelihood Estimator, aims to forecast golfer’s performance in major championships. But instead of using wins and tournament finishes, EAGLE relies solely on players’ scores, adjusted for course conditions and difficulty.

EAGLE determined that Woods has a 2.2% chance of winning next week, with his expected average score to be 0.42 above par. That 2.2% figure is less than half of the 5% chance many betting outfits give Tiger at the Masters.

Leading the way in The Economist‘s Masters prediction model is no surprise: World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. EAGLE has DJ’s chances at 8.5%, which is significantly higher than runner-up Justin Rose, who has a 5.2% chance of winning. Rory McIlroy is in third place.

Those results line up perfectly with the top 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Before the Tiger Woods fans among you curse the system for its Tiger prediction, check out what it shows Tiger’s trend line doing over the past year and half.

The Economist created a graph showing EAGLE’s expected score to par per round for top players since 2008. At the start of his comeback in late 2017, Tiger’s expected score was 2.6 strokes above par per round which, as The Economist notes, is worse than 85% of Masters competitors.

Head over to The Economist's website (economist.com) to see the full graph and results.
economist.com

But Tiger’s trend line shows a steep climb from that point to where he stands today at 0.42 strokes above par, which puts him among the top 10 golfers.

Other interesting (and accurate) results in the graph include a steep fall for Jordan Spieth over the last two years, and Dustin Johnson’s steady climb from the start of his career until now.

The 2019 Masters kicks off Thursday, April 11, at Augusta National Golf Club.

Tiger Woods' chances a the Masters are not looking too good, according to The Economist.
Stephen Spillman/USA TODAY Sports