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Volume 22 No. 23
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Predicting the Masters: Thomas leads by thin margin

If Justin Thomas wins the Masters, his corporate partners could win with TV exposure.
Photo: getty images

Justin Thomas has the highest probability of winning the Masters this year, and if he does, he will generate approximately $5.4 million in television exposure for his corporate partners, according to an analysis conducted by Block Six Analytics for Sports Business Journal.

 

Block Six’s revenue above replacement model looks at the economic impact of both on-course and off-course performance.

“While the term ‘Moneyball’ was first coined for baseball analytics, golf is the sport that best fits the moniker,” said Block Six CEO and founder Adam Grossman.

For the on-course metric, Block Six analyzed how each PGA Tour player has performed this season compared to his competitors in the areas of distance, accuracy, risk and the number of strokes on driving, approach, rough, sand and putting.

The RAR algorithm then used this data to project what each player’s average winnings will be per 2019 tournament.

Then, to determine who is most likely to win in Augusta, Block Six compared the performance of each player so far this season to that of every competitor in the previous four Masters tournaments.

The analysis gave the edge to Thomas, who was ranked No. 5 in the World Golf Ranking as of April 1. Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy (ranked No. 10 and No. 3, respectively) trailed by a thin margin. In fact, less than 2 percentage points separated Thomas from the next nine golfers.

Brandt Snedeker, who is No. 42 in Block Six’s overall 2018-19 RAR season-to-date ranking and No. 50 in the world, has a win probability of 5 percent, according to the model.

If Thomas dons the green jacket, the brands whose logos adorn his apparel — Titleist, FootJoy, Citi and Polo — will bask in his exposure. Advertising during the tournament is limited to a handful of brands, and none of Thomas’ partners advertised during last year’s event, according to a Sports Business Journal analysis of iSpot.tv data.

Block Six identified which logo activations generated the most value for players in the 2018 Masters and applied those values to their projected 2019 results. Value was determined by how long the logos appeared on screen, how much of the screen the logo occupied, how close the logos were to the center of the screen and how clear the logos were. The analysis also took into account how many people watch the tournament on TV.

“Compared to team sports, winning disproportionately impacts viewership numbers in golf,” Grossman said. “Not only do broadcasts focus on the leaders of the tournament in later rounds of the tournament, but viewership spikes for later rounds.”

For example, the second round of the 2018 Masters averaged 4.96 million viewers while the final round had 17.63 million viewers. This means that the winners will gain the most exposure when the most people are watching the broadcast.