Riviera and the mysterious clue to this year's Masters Green Jacket

Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson both strengthened the correlation between Riviera Country Club and Augusta National last year

When Adam Scott captured last year's Genesis Invitational, his odds for success at the upcoming Masters were slashed from 45/1 to 22/1.

Winning any big event so close to the Augusta National showpiece was bound to get the bookmakers running for cover.

But in the case of the Genesis, it was absolutely justified.

On first glance, there are some obvious differences between the tournament's host course, Riviera Country Club, and Augusta National.

Riviera is on the West Coast of America, has Kikuyu fairways, Poa Annua greens and is a par 71.

Augusta is in the Deep South, has Bentgrass greens and is a lengthier par 72.

But let's now start to join the dots.

Lefties highlight intriguing link

The first clue lies in the success of left-handers. They jump into the mind easier as they're such a rare breed.

So, first up, we have Phil Mickelson. The Californian is famous for winning the Green Jacket three times but less well known is that he's a back-to-back champion at Riviera.

Next up: Bubba Watson. Yes, Mickelson's fellow southpaw also has five wins across the two courses. This time it's three victories at Riviera and two at Augusta National.

Watson won both titles in the same year (2014) once. But, here's a thing, so did another left-hander, Mike Weir! The Canadian was a surprise winner at Riviera in 2003 and then caused an even bigger upset to land The Masters two months later.

Weir doubled down and defended his Riviera crown 12 months later.

The correlations have been strengthened in subsequent years.

Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, won at Riviera for the second time last year. And 2017 Riviera winner Dustin Johnson captured the Green Jacket in November.

Scroll back further and there are more. Ever wonder where three-time Masters winner Nick Faldo scored his final PGA Tour victory? That would be at Riviera in 1997, less than a year after he'd produced his stunning Masters comeback over Greg Norman.

Talking of 1996, that was the year 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler rolled back the years to win at Riviera.

Couples cracks the code

Fred Couples is quite a pivotal figure in the Riviera-Augusta link. He was another to win both events in the same season in 1992.

As Freddie headed into his 40s and 50s there were still two places where he would pop up on the leaderboard. I'm sure you can probably guess.

Couples once said of Riviera: "It's a shotmaker's course. I feel like I'm a very good iron player. It's a second-shot course." Those words apply equally to Augusta National and a look at the stats hammers home the point.

When Bubba won both events in 2014, he finished sixth for greens in regulation at Augusta and third in that same category at Riviera.

It's been a trend and it told the story perfectly in 2020. Scott finished 1st in greens in regulation when winning at Riviera. Masters hero Johnson finished top of the GIR rankings when hoisting the silverware at Augusta.

A final stat on the two courses: seven of the last nine Masters winners who stopped off at Riviera that same season, placed in the top 15 in the Genesis. That includes the last two Augusta victors, Tiger Woods and DJ.

Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods have both revved up for Augusta with a solid display at Riviera
Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods have both revved up for Augusta with a solid display at Riviera

In other words, anyone finishing in the top 15 at Riviera due to strong greens in regulation numbers should definitely go into the notebook as a likely winner of the year's first major.

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