Can Augusta form help predict this year’s Open winner at St Andrews?

Some of the game's greats have won a Masters and also lifted the Claret Jug at the Old Course and it may not be a coincidence

When Zach Johnson won the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews, it wasn't immediately obvious why he was the one to emerge with the Claret Jug.

True, he'd already shown he could win a Major title by landing The Masters but surely a past victory at Augusta National was hardly the best predictor for success on the Old Course?

Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo had won on both iconic layouts but presumably that was because they were just great golfers who could succeed anywhere.

And yet, three of Seve's five Majors and four of Faldo's six were won across the two courses.

On first glance, Augusta National and St Andrews are like chalk and cheese: one a tree-lined parkland track in the United States and the other a wide-open links on the windy Scottish coast.

But golf historians will be aware that Augusta's creators, Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie, had strong connections with St Andrews.

Golf writer Geoff Shackleford noted in a 2010 feature for Golf Digest International that St Andrews "influenced the genetic code of several key holes" at Augusta National and when the Georgia layout was designed and constructed, the Old Course was very much on their minds.

Shackleford quotes two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw, who says of Jones and Mackenzie: "They created so many shots that remind one of how you think and play your way around St Andrews."

Ballesteros, Faldo and Johnson have shown that those rather unexpected historical ties could mean something. But does the logic behind it extend further? Is there more correlating form between the two par 72s than we imagine.

Let's look back at past Open results at St Andrews and the Masters records of the leading finishers...

2015 Open - St Andrews

Won Zach Johnson - won 2007 Masters

T2nd Louis Oosthuizen - lost play-off at 2012 Masters

T2nd Marc Leishman - tied 4th 2013 Masters, 5th 2021

T4th Jordan Spieth - won 2015 Masters, runner-up 2014 and 2016

T4th Jason Day - tied 2nd 2011 Masters, 3rd 2013

T6th Sergio Garcia - won 2017 Masters

T6th Justin Rose - runner-up 2015 and 2017 Masters

T6th Danny Willett - won 2016 Masters

T6th Jordan Niebrugge

T10th Adam Scott - won 2013 Masters

T10th Brooks Koepka - runner-up 2019 Masters

Wow!

So the top 11 players in the 2015 Open at St Andrews contain the Green Jacket winners from 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Five more from that top 11 have been Masters runners-up.

Another has two Augusta top fives, leaving then amateur Jordan Niebrugge as the only one of the 11 not to have some serious Masters history.

2010 Open - St Andrews

The top six in the 2010 Open at St Andrews were Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Retief Goosen.

Oosthuizen, Westwood, McIlroy and Goosen are all Masters runners-up.

Casey owns four top six finishes in the Masters while Stenson has a top five.

2005 Open - St Andrews

Take a look at the top 10 from 2005 and Augusta klaxons are going off all over the place.

Tiger Woods won that year. He had four Green Jackets at the time and has gone on to add two more.

Two more Masters champions - Fred Couples (1992) and Jose Maria Olazabal (1994 and 1999) - finished in a tie for third.

Another double Masters champion, Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1993), tied for fifth with two fellow Augusta winners, Sergio (2017) and Vijay Singh (2000).

Goosen (2002 and 2007 Augusta runner-up) was also tied fifth.

2000 Open - St Andrews

Tiger cruised to an eight-shot victory in the 2000 Open at St Andrews, three years on from his 12-shot romp at the 1997 Masters.

Couples was solo sixth, eight years on from his 1992 Augusta triumph, while two other Augusta runners-up, Ernie Els and Tom Lehman, finished tied second and tied fourth respectively.

Summary

In short, all four Open Championships held at St Andrews since the turn of the century have absolutely confirmed the Augusta National link.

Crucially, the vast majority of high finishers on the Old Course had already shown they could thrive at Augusta so Masters form can be a predictive tool for this year's Open Championship.

In fact, throw in Jack Nicklaus' two wins at the Old Course in 1970 and 1978 and seven of the last nine Open champions at St Andrews had already won a Green Jacket.

That's quite a stat and good news for current Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

Starting from 1963, only three of the last 10 Open winners at St Andrews hadn't already tasted Masters glory.

However, Oosthuizen would go on to lose a playoff at Augusta National in 2012, 1995 Open winner John Daly was third at the 1993 Masters and Tony Lema was runner-up at the 1963 Masters before winning the Open a year later.

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